As President Obama prepares to announce a plan this week to create more jobs, another fight over extending federal unemployment benefits is likely in the offing between the White House and the Republican-led House of Representatives.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
The president has called for another extension of benefits. He is expected to bring up the issue next week as part of his jobs package. Since 2009, Obama has been successful in pushing for a 99-week extension, which has been reauthorized five times – most recently as part of the 2010 tax deal that extended all of the Bush tax cuts. But last month’s debt-ceiling package did not include an unemployment extension. The 99-week benefit is set to expire in January.
Now, with the August debt-ceiling deal, at the very least, Republicans have to demand spending cuts to pay for the billion tab for an extension. Moreover, they have to ask whether paying unemployment benefits for almost two years is good for the U.S. economy.
Obama didn’t help his cause when he picked Alan Krueger to chair his Council of Economic Advisers. Krueger, the Wall Street Journal editorialized, has written about unemployment insurance’s tendency to extend how long recipients remain unemployed.
But with at least five jobseekers for every job available, that hardly seems like a viable position in the current context.
Nonfarm payroll employment continued to decline in September (-263,000), and the unemployment rate (9.8 percent) continued to trend up, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The largest job losses were in construction, manufacturing, retail trade, and government.
150,000 jobs must be created each month just to stay even with the new folks entering the job market, thats the break even number. We lost 263,000 jobs. You can now be served your burger and offered fries by a newly graduated college student with a BA in business and a yard man with a PHD rakes your leaves.
Mr. President, Whatever You’re Doing Isn’t Working. When you were sworn in almost 2 years ago the unemployeement rate was 8 per cent. You and the people you have gathered around you are not solving the problems, they have gotten worse.
Whether someone is democrat, independent or republican is not important. Can That Person Do Their Job?
The economy has lost almost 5.8 million jobs over the last year, and 7.2 million jobs during the 21 consecutive months of job losses. This is the Obama record, we can berate George W Bush for other things. The unemployment rate increased to 9.8 percent. This is the highest unemployment rate in 26 years. Many of the people who voted for Obama were not even born the last time the unemployment rate was this bad.
We need a lot less talk and a lot more action. Job losses really picked up earlier this year, and the current recession is now the worst recession since WWII in percentage terms, and 2nd worst in terms of the unemployment rate, the 1980′s recession was worse.
The economy is still losing jobs at about a 3.2 million annual rate, and the unemployment rate will probably be above 10% soon. There are limits to how bad it can get. It would be hard for the unemployment rate to rise above 100 per cent. Keep your ears tuned for some politician using that last line in his explaination of how things could be worse.
The Department Of Labor reports on weekly unemployment insurance claims. In the week ending Nov. 27, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 436,000, an increase of 26,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 410,000. The 4-week moving average was 431,000, a decrease of 5,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 436,750.
When the things you are trying aren’t working then try doing different things. When the people you have put in charge of a situation fail to improve that situation replace them with new people with new ideas. Never say lame things like it could have been worse or here’s what I inherited from the previous administration (especially after you have been running the show for almost 2 years).
Wikileaks: Obama Pressured Spain Into Dropping Bush Torture Prosecutions
Remember when this story first came out, and it really looked as though Spain would carry through on a war crimes prosecution of Bush and his administration officials who authorized torture. So now we know what really happened, thanks to Wikileaks: The Obama adminstration applied pressure to shut it down.
It’s premature to speculate as to motives, but the continuing reports of torture at Bagram and the Obama administration’s seeming indifference probably had at least a little to do with it. They wouldn’t want to set a precedent that might be used against them SINCE THEY HAVE CONTINUED THE SAME BEHAVIORS AS THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION.
In its first months in office, the Obama administration sought to protect Bush administration officials facing criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies the that governed interrogations of detained terrorist suspects. An April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid to the State Department—one of the 251,287 cables obtained by WikiLeaks—details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution.
The previous month, a Spanish human rights group called the Association for the Dignity of Spanish Prisoners had requested that Spain’s National Court indict six former Bush officials for, as the cable describes it, “creating a legal framework that allegedly permitted torture.” The six were former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; David Addington, former chief of staff and legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney; William Haynes, the Pentagon’s former general counsel; Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy; Jay Bybee, former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel; and John Yoo, a former official in the Office of Legal Counsel. The human rights group contended that Spain had a duty to open an investigation under the nation’s “universal jurisdiction” law, which permits its legal system to prosecute overseas human rights crimes involving Spanish citizens and residents. Five Guantanamo detainees, the group maintained, fit that criteria.
Soon after the request was made, the US embassy in Madrid began tracking the matter. On April 1, embassy officials spoke with chief prosecutor Javier Zaragoza, who indicated that he was not pleased to have been handed this case, but he believed that the complaint appeared to be well-documented and he’d have to pursue it. Around that time, the acting deputy chief of the US embassy talked to the chief of staff for Spain’s foreign minister and a senior official in the Spanish Ministry of Justice to convey, as the cable says, “that this was a very serious matter for the USG.” The two Spaniards “expressed their concern at the case but stressed the independence of the Spanish judiciary.”
Two weeks later, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and the embassy’s charge d’affaires “raised the issue” with another official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The next day, Zaragoza informed the US embassy that the complaint might not be legally sound. He noted he would ask Cándido Conde-Pumpido, Spain’s attorney general, to review whether Spain had jurisdiction.
On April 15, Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), who’d recently been chairman of the Republican Party, and the US embassy’s charge d’affaires met with the acting Spanish foreign minister, Angel Lossada. The Americans, according to this cable, “underscored that the prosecutions would not be understood or accepted in the US and would have an enormous impact on the bilateral relationship” between Spain and the United States. Here was a former head of the GOP and a representative of a new Democratic administration (headed by a president who had decried the Bush-Cheney administration’s use of torture) jointly applying pressure on Spain to kill the investigation of the former Bush officials. Lossada replied that the independence of the Spanish judiciary had to be respected, but he added that the government would send a message to the attorney general that it did not favor prosecuting this case.
The next day, April 16, 2009, Attorney General Conde-Pumpido publicly declared that he would not support the criminal complaint, calling it “fraudulent” and political. If the Bush officials had acted criminally, he said, then a case should be filed in the United States. On April 17, the prosecutors of the National Court filed a report asking that complaint be discontinued. In the April 17 cable, the American embassy in Madrid claimed some credit for Conde-Pumpido’s opposition, noting that “Conde-Pumpido’s public announcement follows outreach to [Government of Spain] officials to raise USG deep concerns on the implications of this case.”
Still, this did not end the matter. It would still be up to investigating Judge Baltasar Garzón—a world-renowned jurist who had initiated previous prosecutions of war crimes and had publicly said that former President George W. Bush ought to be tried for war crimes—to decide whether to pursue the case against the six former Bush officials. That June—coincidentally or not—the Spanish Parliament passed legislation narrowing the use of “universal jurisdiction.” Still, in September 2009, Judge Garzón pushed ahead with the case.
The case eventually came to be overseen by another judge who last spring asked the parties behind the complaint to explain why the investigation should continue. Several human rights groups filed a brief urging this judge to keep the case alive, citing the Obama administration’s failure to prosecute the Bush officials. Since then, there’s been no action. The Obama administration essentially got what it wanted. The case of the Bush Six went away.
The lame-duck congressional session due to start next week must grapple once again with extending unemployment benefits to jobless Americans, or millions could begin seeing their benefits dry up after November 30.
The Senate is due to begin a post-election session Nov. 15, before the current 111th Congress closes. The new 112th Congress will convene in January, when the results of the November midterm elections take effect, allowing Republicans to stampede once again to majority status in the House, and causing the Democrats’ majority in the Senate to shrivel.
Independent economists are urging Congress to extend unemployment compensation benefits, both to help struggling out-of-work Americans, and as a further economic stimulus.
One such analysis goes so far as to make the case that such an extension would fit within the mandate of last Tuesday’s elections.
Although data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated faster private sector employment growth than in recent months, the national unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.6 percent for the fourth straight month. Those economic jitters were a main motivator for voters at the polls, which badly punished Democrats.
The U.S. economy is still missing 7.5 million jobs compared to where employment stood at the start of the recession in 2007. An analysis from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute (EPI) finds that, to return to the pre-recession unemployment rate within five years, the labor market would have to add around 300,000 jobs every month for that entire period.
“Exit polls from Tuesday’s election reveal that what voters want is for Congress to create jobs and end high unemployment. Soon Congress will have a good opportunity to do just that,” according to the EPI analysis. “On November 30th, the federally funded extended unemployment insurance benefits are set to expire. These benefits serve two very useful purposes. One is to provide a lifeline to the unemployed and their families during the deepest and longest downturn since the 1930s.
“But importantly, these benefits also boost spending in the economy and therefore generate jobs. In the paper A Good Deal for All, we estimate that the continuation of unemployment insurance extensions through 2011 will create or save 723,000 full-time-equivalent jobs,” the analysis says. ” With a jobs deficit of 11 million jobs and an unemployment rate of 9.6%, Congress must seize this opportunity.”
Chad Stone, chief economist at the Washington-based Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, concurs.
“Among the 11 fiscal policy measures that the Congressional Budget Office analyzed for increasing economic growth and employment in the next year or two, CBO put aid to the unemployed at the top of the list,” Stone says, adding that failure to approve an extension would “endanger an already fragile economic recovery and cause substantial job losses.”
Extension of unemployment benefits is not a new issue on Capitol Hill. Congressional Democrats have had to pass such extensions several times this year, each time having to muscle through Republican filibusters in the Senate. They approved the most recent extension over the summer only after millions of out-of-work Americans had already started losing benefits.
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.