Benefits on the Line for Millions of Unemployed

The Senate Finance Committee is preparing a jobs bill that would combine job-creation tax credits for businesses with only a three-month extension of the expanded federal jobless benefits now slated to end later this month, sources familiar with the proceedings said today.

Details thus far are scarce, but committee chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) is said to be working to get bi-partisan support. Let’s hope the Senators keep in mind that they must extend jobless benefits before the February recess, otherwise one million unemployed Americans will lose their benefits March 1, and millions more will follow.

A three-month extension of the emergency (EUC) and extended (EB) jobless benefits, as well as COBRA health subsidies, is far better than no extension at all — for sure. But 15 million Americans are out of work, long-term unemployment is soaring, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates (see sidebar) that unemployment will remain high for years:

CBO expects the unemployment rate to average a little over 10 percent for the first half of 2010, and it will probably not dip below 9 percent until 2012.

Clearly, extending the jobless benefits through 2010 is what’s needed, and a majority of Democratic Senators agree.

There is a strong moral imperative to providing support for the millions made jobless by the Big Bankers’ Great Recession. But there are clear economic benefits for doing so as well. Unemployment insurance payments help save and create jobs in the communities where they are spent. Economist Mark Zandi of Moody’s estimates that for every $1 in unemployment payments, the economy gets a $1.69 in stimulus. The Economic Policy Institute has warned that without continued jobless benefits through 2010 another 800,000 Americans could lose their jobs.

Don’t let the lifeline be cut off!

Take action to tell Congress it’s time to extend jobless benefits through 2010, create jobs for the 15 million unemployed and put America back to work.

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