Lost in the “fiscal
Senate Democrats and House Republicans try to bang out some sort of
compromise, it’s important to know that President Obama is fighting for
more than just tax fairness, but for the millions of long-term
unemployed out there still facing a rough winter ahead. Yes, the
economy is improving and the jobless rate is going down, but there’s still over two million Americans out there facing a real cliff if benefits are cut off on December 29.
cliff slope” negotiations are federal jobless benefits.
Groups backing an extension of unemployment benefits have launched a new round of lobbying to convince Congress to extend federal benefits to the long-term jobless.
A coalition of advocates including the National Employment Law Project (NELP) held more than 40 meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill during the first week of the lame-duck session to make their pitch for a $30 billion extension of the program.
The assorted labor union, civil rights and anti-poverty groups face a tough path to winning the extension at a time when lawmakers are looking for ways to reduce the budget deficit. Lawmakers started talks at the White House on Friday to prevent the nation from going over a so-called “fiscal cliff.”
But the groups are hopeful they can win another extension, and received a shot of confidence this week when Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said stimulus measures should be included in any deficit-reduction package.
“People get it, understand why it’s important and why it could be so bad for their states,” Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator with NELP, told The Hill on Friday.
“We’re sensing a lot of support.”
So that’s a good thing. At least the Democrats are reminded that it’s on the table, and that while going over the deadline may be a pretty hefty part of the President’s leverage in getting the wealthy to pay higher taxes, the payroll tax cut and the unemployment benefits are still up in the air. If those are allowed to expire, a lot of working class and unemployed Americans are going to take an immediate hit come January.
We’ll see what comes of it all. Republicans know they can do a lot of damage here by blocking these measures. The President cut a deal when he needed to two years ago to preserve these. Democrats will make sure these get spared again, from the President on down.