4.8 Million To Lose Jobless Benefits On Dec. 31st

Why would you not extend unemployment benefits when coming off such a historic recession?

I love the way these things are just numbers in a spreadsheet to assholes like Paul Ryan, don't you? Mr. "Never Had To Work A Real Job Because I Got Social Security." I know so many people living in quiet despair now, ashamed to even talk about it when other people have jobs. And the few things that give them some sense of hope and dignity -- food stamps, unemployment benefits -- are just pieces on a political chess board. You can be damned sure that if they're extended, it will only be at the expense of some other vulnerable group and we'll call it a "success."

Well, most revolutions start with hungry people:

WASHINGTON — Unless Congress acts, during the last week of December an estimated 1.3 million people will lose access to an emergency program providing them with additional weeks of jobless benefits. A further 850,000 will be denied benefits in the first quarter of 2014.

Congressional Democrats and the White House, pointing to the sluggish recovery and the still-high jobless rate, are pushing once again to extend the period covered by the unemployment insurance program. But with Congress still far from a budget deal and still struggling to find alternatives to the $1 trillion in long-term cuts known as sequestration, lawmakers say the chances of an extension before Congress adjourns in two weeks are slim.

“Why would you not extend now, when you’re dealing with the nearly unprecedented levels of long-term unemployment coming off such a historic recession?" -- Gene Sperling, White House economic advisor.

As a result, one of the largest stimulus measures passed during the recession is likely to come to an end, and jobless workers in many states are likely to receive considerably fewer weeks of benefits.

In all, as many as 4.8 million people could be affected by expiring unemployment benefits through 2014, estimated Gene Sperling, President Obama’s top economic adviser.

“Historically, there has not been a time where the unemployment rate has been this high where you have not extended it,” Mr. Sperling said in an interview. “Why would you not extend now, when you’re dealing with the nearly unprecedented levels of long-term unemployment coming off such a historic recession? This would be the wrong time to do it.”

Democrats are pushing for an extension of the emergency insurance program as part of the broader budget talks designed to avert a repeat of the government shutdown in October. But negotiators in the House and Senate are discussing a relatively small deal focused on replacing or altering the sequestration cuts, which would probably not include an extension of the jobless program.

Both Republicans and Democrats are skeptical that even such a small deal is possible given how divided the parties are.

Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington and chairwoman of the Budget Committee, “clearly supports the policy, is interested in doing it and is hopeful there will be a path in this budget conference,” said a senior Democratic aide with knowledge of the discussions. “She will continue to work with Republicans to see if it’s possible in this deal.”

Republican aides declined to discuss the talks. But Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the House budget chairman, “is committed to finding common ground,” said William Allison, a spokesman. “He hopes both parties can work together to cut spending in a smarter way.”

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