Huffington Post is reporting on the debate between Senators to extend the 5th tier of unemployment beyond the current limit of 99 weeks.
Obviously, this is a topic of great concern in districts where unemployment is epidemic and legislators realize that there are not enough jobs available to put all the unemployed back to work.
These Senators comprehend that the unemployed are here to stay for a least the next few years and extraordinary measures need to be taken to protect middle class America from sliding into homelessness.
Senators in wealthier districts and states attempt to look tough on spending and realize that their voters have no sympathy for people trapped in high unemployment areas.
The debate goes back and forth, with most Senators wanting to appear proactive but refusing to offer incentives to the other Senators in order to pass the bill.
According to Arthur Delaney from the Huffington Post who quoted the Senators at the heart of the debate:
“You can’t go on forever,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) told Bloomberg on Thursday, citing the politics of breaking 100 weeks and also the need for deficit reduction. “I think 99 weeks is sufficient.”
But unemployed constituents are getting a more encouraging message from some senators’ offices. In response to constituents concerned about exhausting benefits, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of Senate leadership, has a letter expressing firm support for adding more weeks of benefits after securing the current extensions for the rest of the year.
“Once I ensure that every New Yorker receives the full 99 weeks to which they are entitled,” said the letter, posted by the Rochester Unemployment Examiner (and confirmed as valid by HuffPost), “I will work with my colleagues to create a fifth tier of benefits. More than 25,000 New Yorkers have exhausted the full 99 weeks of benefits and I am committed to providing them further relief.”
Unemployed folks tell Huffington Post they heard similarly encouraging words from staffers for Ohio Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown (a spokeswoman confirmed that Brown supports more weeks) and mildly supportive talk from other Democrats’ offices, including that of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-Nev.) — but nothing definitive.
It’s called Tier 5. To fight the recession, Congress has added four tiers totaling 53 weeks of federally-funded benefits, called “Emergency Unemployment Compensation,” to the 46 weeks of benefits made available by states. To people facing the end of their benefits with no jobs in sight, it’s essential that Congress add a fifth tier.
However, it remains to be seem if the Senators will bow to pressure from the long term unemployed to help them stay above water until the economy turns around.
My bet is that they will talk the talk but not walk the walk.
I think the words ” nothing definitive” says it all.
However, 99ers can only keep up the pressure and by resistance tactics such as faxing their resumes enmasse to the offices of Senators.