Democrats challenge Republicans: extend lifeline to 99ers


Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Bobby Scott, D-Va., this week introduced legislation to extend emergency benefits to the long-term unemployed and challenged the Republican majority in the House to "bring this to a vote as soon as possible."

The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Expansion Act would provide 14 weeks of emergency unemployment benefits to jobless workers who have exhausted all their benefits.

"Millions of workers across the nation are experiencing a true state of emergency.  Our bill would ensure these long-term unemployed workers get the long overdue assistance they need to support their families, make ends meet and contribute to our economy," Rep. Lee told a press conference in the nation's capital this week, joined by Rep. Scott, Gregg Rosen of the American 99ers Union and Dr. Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute.

Lee, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said the unemployment rate in the 9th Congressional District, which she represents, remains "off the scale," especially among people of color.

Noting that the Republican leadership has given "a lot of lip service to creating jobs" but has yet to "even produce a plan," Lee said when Republicans hear from 99ers, "the chronically unemployed who live in their districts," she is hopeful some Republicans will be moved to respond.

"I represent 19 groups and tens of thousands of individuals from every corner of this great nation who have come together with a common goal: extending unemployment insurance for all Americans," said Rosen, co-founder of the 99ers union.

Rep. Scott noted that studies have shown "the U.S. economy grows by $1.61 for every dollar the government spends on unemployment compensation."

"Put simply," the congressman said, "unemployment compensation is one of the most efficient and effective ways to stimulate the economy."

On the other hand, Dr. Shierholz argued that last year's extension of tax cuts to the wealthy is the "least cost-effective forms of stimulus" because the rich are "much less likely to spend that money in the near term."

Lee said she and co-author Scott are arguing "this is an emergency" in order to exempt the legislation from Congress' pay-as-you-go requirements. But, short of that, they are discussing with the Obama administration and House Democratic leaders other ways to make up the estimated $14 to $16 billion needed, according to Josh Richman of the Bay Area News Group.

Image: Burt Lum // CC BY 2.0

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  • I want the Republicans to know that we as 99ers are trying to survive and take care of our families our biggest mistake was to let republicans into the House even though the President isn't worried about the 99ers American people who will be losing there lives because they don't have options. Glad they are eating and sleeping well. The Republicans will not and should not ever be in the Government because they care about rich people and themselves!! They will not be voted in again and the Speaker of the House is by far the worst of them all he needs to be taking a stand to save us and help us but he won't it is a shame they were voted in ever!!!!!!

    Posted by yoknows, 02/16/2011 2:14pm (5 years ago)

  • I am a Republican yet I definitely believe this extension should be passed for the 99ers. I thought it was passed back in December of 2010 but with all the confusion and lack of explanation of exactly what type of relief was made available, I was mis-lead personally by believing this relief to 99ers had been passed. This was a complete shock once I learned there was no relief to 99ers afterall. I had actually made plans of receiving the relief only to be denied. This misunderstanding even made my situation even worse due to Pawn loans and promises I made believing the relief was only days away. I have already been devastated and now I am facing eviction and a move into a homeless mission at least for a while. I am 50 and I even have a Bachelors Degree. Damn.

    Posted by Robert Eargle, 02/15/2011 9:16am (5 years ago)

  • I will be happy to help. However living in a District represented by Frank Wolf it is difficult to get my representative to move on socially progressive policy. Wolf is kept in office by money from many old time Northern Shenandoah Valley businessmen and land owners and does little to help out those who are progressives. To be honest, even though Wolf is bad on the progressive agenda, he does go out of his way to help the large number of Veteran's in his district who are returning from the War, and those with individual social security issues, but overall he is bad on the majority of the Progressive Agenda we are working for.

    Posted by Charles Fischbein, 02/14/2011 5:26pm (5 years ago)

  • Anyone who expects that the Republicans will do anything to help the ordinary citizen is engaging in false hope.

    The Republicans only care about the wealthy.

    Posted by Ronald Humphrey, 02/14/2011 12:12pm (5 years ago)

  • I would like the republicans to sit back and just take 5 minutes to think about those of us in our 50's who have worked their entire life, never unemployed until now. Both my husband and myself have worked since we were both 16. To start a family, buy a house and save a little money now and then, start a retirement fund, put children through college and only to lose that job due to the economy. Now losing unemployment due to the fact no jobs, overqualified etc. Also to no longer be receiving unemployment (99er's). Going through our savings account GONE, going through retirement fund GONE and trying to hang onto the only thing we have left our home. Just think if you or your parents were in this situation. Just think what would happen. Almost at bottom and see no help. HELP US PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!! We are not asking for much, just enough to get by.


    Posted by karin, 02/14/2011 11:25am (5 years ago)

  • I would like to challenge just one Republican or any member of Congress for that matter, who opposes this bill, to step into the life of a 99er. Just for one moment, imagine what it is like to walk into work one day and be given two or three weeks notice. And you think you'll be fine; you're a professional, you're educated, you've supported yourself for decades. But the problem is there are milions of other people in the same position. In the mean time you are trying to pay your daily bills on unemployment and for many, that is 25 to 50% of your normal income. Soon your savings is gone, then your retirement. Now you've exhausted the last of your UI extensions. So you are selling possessions if you are lucky enough to still have a roof over your head. In the meantime you have sent out thousands of resumes and possibly been selected to go to a few interviews. And been so close to a job but there was that one person who was a little more perfect or a little more qualified. Or perhaps you were overqualified. Or you've been out of the job market so long people consider your skills rusty because you're in a high-tech occupation. Your well-meaning friends tell you to get a job for less pay or in retail or whatever, not realizing those jobs are already in demand and McDonalds is not clamoring to hire the person with an MBA. And really, is our solution to take a whole class of working professionals and turn them into working poor? That doesn't seem like a good solution. As a nation we are willing to bail out banks and corporations and even other nations. We spend money on obscure research. Yet we quibble over what is really a drop in the bucket to provide a small yet crucial lifeline to people who have worked hard, who want to work, who are asking for help to merely survive until the nation who created this mess helps create a solution? If it wasn't so tragic it would be laughable. And I challenge you, Member of Congress, who I am pretty sure is making more than that tiny liltte UI payment, to come live even a week in this world where you have to pay your mortgage, utilities, bills, feed your family, and everything else and somehow keep your strength and spirits up so that you can spend more hours over more days on job hunting activities that yield so little results, so focused on daily survival that you can't even summon up the strength to worry about 20 years from now when you should have been retiring but can't because you spent your retirement money now and then what? Once you have done that, you will have the right to say two years is more than enough time to have a job or you won't support this until someone finds a way to pay for it. These people paid your salary for years with their taxes. It's your turn to find a way to pay for it, don't you think? I am so ashamed of our government right now (:

    Posted by Xenia Chilkowich, 02/13/2011 4:46am (5 years ago)

  • Egypt revolution started with (no jobs and no food) when you have millions in the streets I guess something will get done then? The same thing could happen right here in the good old USA. Soon people will loose faith in our government and we will be on the news around the world just like Egypt.


    Posted by Steve, 02/12/2011 8:33pm (5 years ago)

  • thank you congress woman barbara lee and bobby scott for sticking to your word in trying to provide aid to millions of americans..we are in a state of emergency..obama please pass this bill

    Posted by 99ers, 02/12/2011 6:14pm (5 years ago)

  • the rich rule this country.Repuclicans in governement are rich, stuck up snobs who will only fight for the wealthy citizens. This unemployment issue should be the # 1 focus of every individual in government. Instead they rather hold democrats hostage to pass their xtension of tax cuts. If the wealthy put 2% of their income toward the economy we wouldnt be in such a bad state, but what do they care. Their main focus is to save their money like they can take it to the grave when they die. My suggestion is take it to the street like the people of egypt did. They werent getting positive results from their government so they took matters into their own hands and were sucessful. The amount of greed, dishonesty, and corruption that this country stands for is sickening. its just they know how to hide it well thats why hard workin folks like us dont know what the truth is. Its the wealthy that control media so they only let us hear what they think we should know. There must be millions of unemployed americans in this country and your telling me we cant get our current economic situation known to the public. I have seen a 2 min segment on 60 sec, thats it. Like the situation in arizona people are going to take matters in their own hands. Republicans i would be a lil more alert cause u never know when chaos can happen. while u [expletive] are eatin ur 100 dollar salads people r losin hope. When one is backed into a corner where he cant go no more he will come out swinging and at that point no holds barred. only the strong Survive.

    Posted by bless, 02/12/2011 3:34pm (5 years ago)

  • It's great that there are still some people who care.

    Posted by Barbara99er-GA, 02/12/2011 10:05am (5 years ago)

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