Earlier today, I learned from trusted sources on the Hill that Senator Harry Reid will propose only a 15 day unemployment and COBRA extension.
Such a move is absolutely pathetic and unacceptable. 1.2 million Americans are expected to lose their unemployment benefits at the end of the month. While a 15 day extension will allow people to continue receiving aid, states will have already begun notifying hundreds of thousands that they will stop receiving aid.
Many people will be confused and not realize that they are indeed eligible for unemployment benefits. This will cause people to miss required steps for applying for unemployment like documenting applying for jobs. Others will become confused and simply not file for unemployment anymore. Thousands of people will effectively be disenfranchised from unemployment due to this weak 15 day extension of unemployment which does nothing substantial to meet the jobs crisis this country faces.
Furthermore, states will waste valuable funds sending out notices that unemployment benefits were canceled. Some states will send out notices saying they were canceled, scramble to find the funds to send out new notices that their unemployment is good again, only to scramble a third time to find funds to say its canceled again. The Senate's failure to pass a long term unemployment extension like the 6 month extension the House passed earlier this year, will mean states already broke will waste lots of money sending out confusing notices.
Meanwhile State governors are at the White House this week on their hands and knees begging for more money from the federal government. Since states by law are not allowed to go into debt, without federal aid they will have to cut essential services in order to balance their budgets. States face a $357 billion budget shortfall and local governments are facing an additional $80 billion in budget deficits.
However, Republicans in Congress have made it known that they will filibuster any request that gives more money to the states. Democratic Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware said "These solutions are being held hostage by petty bickering."
Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger speaking yesterday on ABC This Week, criticized Republicans opposed to more stimulus funds for states are engaging "in a kind of politics".
Its time for the Senate GOP to stop engaging in politics and listen to the voices of its nation's Governors - both Republican and Democrat- who are calling for more stimulus funds.
Its time that the Senate passes a real jobs bill like the $154 billion dollar jobs bill like the House did back in December. The House Jobs bill took $75 billion in money earmarked for the Wall Street bail out and instead gave the money to states that actually need the money. The House Jobs Bills also extended by six months eligibility for unemployment benefits and COBRA subsidies.
In the light of the Senate decision to pass only a 15 day extension of unemployment, we are calling on concerned citizens to join the Jobs for America Now campaign, , call yours Senators, and demand a real jobs bill similar to the House version which includes a long term extension of unemployment & COBRA benefits and desperately needed money for states.
Click here to call your Senators and join the Jobs For America Now campaign for a real unemployment extension and additional aid to states.