No doubt there are at least 1 million unemployed people in the U. S. that are currently looking on in various stages of distress as they hear talk relayed by CNN Money that Congress may be pulling the “Jobs Bill” (American Jobs and Tax Loopholes Closing Act of 2010), the piece of legislation that includes a $35 billion unemployment benefits extension provision, from consideration on Capitol Hill. Those 1 million unemployed are just the latest Americans to exhaust their unemployment benefits. The 2010 Unemployment Extension Bill would have extended benefits for those currently reaching the end of their eligibility period — and retroactive to the beginning of June — until November. But that may not happen at all now.
The news went from bad to worse after the tax and benefits bill failed for a third time Thursday, going down 57-41 in a Senate cloture vote. As both parties squared off and began blaming each other for the failure of the bill to pass, Senator Kent Conrad (R-ND) told the Washington Post that: “People are in the mood of letting the dust settle before finding the next step.”
“People” apparently refer to the senators, mostly powerful and connected millionaires who aren’t hanging on to their lives via a weekly unemployment benefits check, because the “people” the benefits extension was meant to help were again placed in the limbo of uncertainty, of continued joblessness, and, due to the Senate’s inability to agree on legislation, no income. The “settle” part of Conrad’s comment referred to shelving the bill until after the Senate returns from its July 4 recess, which occurs on July 14.
Now, CNN Money has reported that Congressional aides are saying that the Senate is considering pulling the bill from consideration altogether. Unfortunately for those unemployed who were hoping for a last minute victory in the Senate Thursday, or even one before the Senate recesses for the July 4th weekend, pulling the bill could become a permanent condition.
According to the U. S. Department of Labor, an estimated 2 million or more Americans will lose their unemployment benefits between the first week of June and by the time the Senate reconvenes after recess.
At the same time, the 99ers petition to President Barrack Obama to issue an Executive Order seems to have fallen short of its goal. The 99ers sought an extension whereby those who had exhausted their unemployment benefits (the longest period of which is 99 weeks, hence the name of the informal group, the “99ers”) would also gain some relief in the sluggish economy that not only has seen record unemployment throughout the United States, but a job market that is nearly nonexistent. According to the Orlando Sun-Sentinel, Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA), who had been chosen by the 99ers to hand-deliver their petition to President Obama, nixed the idea by explaining that an extension could not be granted via Executive Order but had to be enacted through Congress.
Currently, the U. S. Department of Labor estimates that there are 15 million Americans unemployed (9.7 percent of the potential workforce). Of that number, roughly one-third currently receive unemployment insurance benefits, although it has been reported that the number receiving unemployment benefits is nearer to 10 million. However, the Employment and Training Administration, which keeps track of unemployment benefits filing numbers, places that number at around 5 million throughout May and June. By mid-July, if some version of the “2010 Tax Extenders Bill” or “Unemployment Extension Bill” isn’t passed, or an emergency measure isn’t presented and passed, that number will nearly be cut in half.
And although many, like Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, have warned that now, when several economic indicators are looking promising, is not the time to stop assisting the unemployed, many of whom are simply trying to maintain the households and their lives until they can find gainful employment, it may have reached that point. With a solid-bloc “no” vote from the Republicans on each vote, and the Democrats unwilling to pass a Republican-sponsored measure that would not tax multinationals and hedge fund managers, the American Jobs and Tax Loopholes Closing Act of 2010, with its provision of unemployment benefits extension, may never be passed.
And if pulled, it may never be resuscitated.