There may be a different route to passing the 2010 Unemployment Extension Bill (official name: American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010) without having to go through what looks like a stalemated Congress. The 99ers — those self-proclaimed unemployed who have exhausted their 99 weeks of unemployment — have made a bold move and petitioned President Barack Obama to sign an executive order to extend unemployment benefits for those who have reached their eligibility limit. The call for the executive order was directed to Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) to be hand delivered to President Obama and Senior Political Advisor David Axelrod in the hope that Congress could be circumvented and the unemployed could get their benefits, which many so desperately need.
San Diego Unemployment Examiner Donalee King is at the forefront of the drive to get Congressman McDermott’s aid in getting the request to the President. On behalf of the 99ers, she made an impassioned appeal in her Tuesday article for “a call to action for Unemployed Americans — especially all 99ers” to call Congressman McDermott and encourage him to hand deliver the 99ers petition to the President. King was instrumental in initially contacting McDermott’s office.
If the 2010 Unemployment Extension doesn’t pass, not only will the nearly-a-million strong 99ers remain without an income, but hundreds of thousands more will loose their benefits within the coming weeks (an estimated 1.2 million from the first of June through the first of July). The 99ers petition not only addresses the growing number of unemployed but the political stalemate, noting that an Executive Order would effectively circumvent the partisan politics and the posturing for elections. A presidential Executive Order would immediately provide relief to the millions of Americans who are in economic straits.
Joining the 99ers in their campaign is radio and television talk show pundit Ed Shultz. Shultz championed the 99ers cause on his MSNBC television show, “The Ed Show,” making an open plea to President Obama to sign an Executive Order so that benefits could go to the millions of 99ers that have been without benefits for weeks (some since March). Ed Shultz also discussed the idea of an Executive Order on his radio show, “The Ed Shultz Show,” on Tuesday, asking Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) if the President should actually sign such an order.
Brown replied, “He (Obama) needs to step in and do whatever it takes to help the situation, Executive Order if that’s the way he wants to go, but we continue to try to get this done in the Senate.” Brown, whose state of Ohio has been hard hit by the current “Great Recession,” warned that if a version of the 2010 Unemployment Extension Bill did not pass soon, the nation would see more foreclosures, layoffs, a perhaps a reversal in the minimal gains the economy has shown in recent months.
Several attempts to get an unemployment benefits extension bill passed in the Senate has been unsuccessful. Senator John Thune (R-SD) presented an alternate bill to that of Democratic Senator Max Baucus bill (the current version before the Senate) which decreased taxes and took money from the unused stimulus funds to pay for the unemployment extensions. It was voted down because it didn’t address the tax loopholes Congress was trying to rescind.
The Baucus bill went up for a cloture vote on Thursday and Republicans stonewalled it. All 38 voting Republicans voted to continue debating the bill. They were joined by one Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and one Independent, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.
On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) proposed sending provisions through with a standalone vote. Although the Senate was able to push through the provision on extending the suspension of a cut in Medicare reimbursements, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) objected to the unemployment extensions provision (Republicans contend their refusal is based on lowering the national debt). Instead, McConnell suggested paying for the extension with stimulus money again. Reid objected.
At present, the U. S. Department of Labor estimates that there are 15 million unemployed in the United States, with 9.7 million collecting unemployment benefits during the month of May. The 99ers constitute about one-fifth of the remaining unemployed. And while the Senate debates the 2010 Unemployment Extension bill, hundreds of thousands more join their ranks.
“The Ed Shultz Show” via Examiner.com