Unemployment Extension 2014, President Barack Obama on Saturday called for bipartisan legislation to extend unemployment insurance, an all-important benefit for the longtime out-of-work.
“Just a few days after Christmas, more than 1 million of our fellow Americans lost a vital economic lifeline – the temporary insurance that helps folks make ends meet while they look for a job,” Obama said in his weekly address.
“Republicans in Congress went home for the holidays and let that lifeline expire. And for many of their constituents who are unemployed through no fault of their own, that decision will leave them with no income at all.”
The insurance expired last week when lawmakers failed to continue a 2008 recession-era federal law providing nearly a year of benefits, paid for by U.S. taxpayers, that kicked in when state jobless benefits ran out.
Congress will start the new year with an old fight: whether to extend jobless benefits for 1.3 million long-term unemployed. Obama urged lawmakers to restore the benefits.
“Right now, a bipartisan group in Congress is working on a three-month extension of unemployment insurance – and if they pass it, I will sign it. For decades, Republicans and Democrats put partisanship and ideology aside to offer some security for job-seekers, even when the unemployment rate was lower than it is today. Instead of punishing families who can least afford it, Republicans should make it their New Year’s resolution to do the right thing, and restore this vital economic security for their constituents right now,” Obama said.
Democrats argue the program is needed to sustain economic recovery and offer a lifeline to those struggling to keep their heads above water financially. Republicans counter the benefits are an economic drain and a disincentive to looking for work. The Congressional Budget Office estimates continuing them for another year will cost about $26 billion.