Right on schedule, President Obama signed into law this morning H.R. 3548, a federal extension
of unemployment insurance. The bill extends jobless benefits to
unemployed Americans set to exhaust their insurance by December 31 in
states (like Illinois) where unemployment ...
Right on schedule, President Obama signed into law this morning H.R. 3548, a federal extension of unemployment insurance. The bill extends jobless benefits to unemployed Americans set to exhaust their insurance by December 31 in states (like Illinois) where unemployment rates are high. According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, 28,000 unemployed individuals have already run out of benefits and 12,000 more will by year's end. The legislation also extends through June an $8,000 tax credit for new homebuyers. In a statement following the signing, the president said the bill "will help grow our economy, help create and save jobs, and help provide necessary relief to small businesses." The Illinois AFL-CIO's Michael Carrigan agrees. From the Sun-Times:
"With Illinois' unemployment rate still over 10 percent, many families need this extension," said president of the Illinois AFL-CIO. "For most, their unemployment check is what keeps food on the table, and as we head into winter, their homes heated. Our economy is slowly rebuilding, but until the job market rebounds we have to protect those who have lost their jobs."
But Congress might not be done. Yesterday, CongressDaily reporter Peter Cohn talked to Rep. Jim McDermott, the Ways and Means Income Security Subcommittee Chairman who ushered the latest bill through the House. The Washington Democrat told him that before the end of 2009, he will push to extend unemployment insurance benefits through all of 2010, which would ensure that anyone who loses their job next year or exhausts their current benefits would still have access to federal unemployment insurance. (Our backgrounder is here). More from Cohn (subscription required):
The projected cost of such a program is potentially $80 billion to $85 billion, according to preliminary estimates.
Ways and Means Income Security Subcommittee Chairman Jim McDermott, D-Wash., said it was his preference to renew the unemployment insurance programs in one fell swoop rather than resort to a piecemeal approach.
"It is not a cheap program, but you've got to remember, it is a bridge to the economy getting better, which people say is going to get better in the third quarter of 2010. So if somebody loses their house in March, and then gets their job back in September, it really is a terrible hole you're created for them. So I really think there will be justification and I think there will be support on a bipartisan basis," McDermott said.
In the coming months, we'll be keeping an eye on this proposal.