You know what? If I hear one more Beltway insider tell me there is "no political will" for another tier of unemployment benefits, I think I'll scream:
My inbox is filled with desperate people who have exhausted their unemployment benefits and are hoping that somehow Congress will include additional weeks of coverage in future legislation.
But after speaking with a number of House and Senate staffers in recent hours, it appears less and less likely that a so-called "Tier 5" of unemployment coverage will become law anytime soon.
According to one House staffer, the problem is while many on the Hill believe that adding a Tier 5 of additional weeks of benefits makes good economic sense, any such legislation faces several formidable hurdles.
One of the reasons they cite is "lack of political will." You want to know what they mean by "political will"? They mean they're not being deluged with calls, letters and faxes. (Although there is an online petition. Hint, hint.)
You know why they're not being deluged with calls, letters and faxes?
Because people are confused. They think that last extension of the filing deadline added additional benefits - and it didn't.
For the past month, I had to dig deep to find details on that bill, and got confusing and misleading responses from everywhere. (Believe me, I was motivated.) I even talked to Hill staffers who thought the bill added additional benefits. All it did was move the deadline for filing for the extension that already existed. It didn't do a thing for people who'd used up their benefits in this jobless recovery.
So is it any wonder the American public is confused? It doesn't help that there's no major TV coverage - and the big-name progressive groups like MoveOn are strangely silent on this crucial economic issue. (Not to mention the Democratic leadership. Hel-lo? Mid-term election issue, anyone?)
People know there aren't any jobs. And while the Tea Party folks seem to think everyone else is unworthy of a helping hand, most people don't want their neighbors and relatives to suffer during a major recession. Since they were barraged with news stories about passing an unemployment extension, they think the problem was already taken care of.
I know. My benefits just ran out with no job in sight, and everyone I've told - intelligent, informed people who are political junkies - told me I wouldn't have to worry because the new legislation added more benefits. It didn't.
It's not that people don't care. It's that they don't know.
Call your Congress critters. Tell them if we have money to bail out Wall St., we have money to help people who can't find these mythical jobs.