The Democrats’ secret plan to extend unemployment

posted at 6:31 pm on December 14, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

When “The Deal” was struck in the House this week there was one element which nearly had some of the congressional Democrats in open revolt. (And may still proved to be a problem in the Senate.) The progressive members wanted to tie an extension of unemployment benefits into the mix. But doing that without being willing to find the money to pay for it was going to prove a deal buster for the GOP, so it didn’t make the final cut. Never one to give up on an idea once he’s gotten his teeth into it, Chris Van Hollen has cooked up a plan.

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent reports that Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is organizing Democrats to vote against any farm bill that does not also include an extension of emergency unemployment benefits.

Van Hollen, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee and a former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is considered an influential member of the caucus.

He says the farm bill, which generally enjoys bipartisan support but is especially important to Republicans representing rural districts, provides Democrats’ next opportunity to force the Republican Party’s hand on unemployment.

In general terms, this is nothing unusual for congressional tactics. Attaching a difficult bill as an amendment to a “must pass” measure like the Farm Bill is a time honored tactic. But there are two problems with this one. First of all, there’s not much of an appetite for yet another compromise running around the Hill at the moment. The Farm Bill already had enough controversy surrounding it with conservatives without trying to tie some bells and whistles to it.

Second, the unemployment extension is already in hot water. It can certainly be passed, as it has in the past, but the Democrats are going to need to come up with a way to pay for it. Or are they? There are apparently some people from the Starboard side of the aisle making the case for an extension, such as the American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Strain. (H/T Outside the Beltway)

In normal times states (typically) offer 26 weeks of unemployment (“UI”) benefits to qualifying workers. During recessions, the federal government has in the past supplemented the offering of the states, providing additional weeks of UI benefits to workers who are unemployed for longer than 26 weeks. This is a reasonable and prudent measure – if 26 weeks is deemed long enough for a worker to find a job in normal economic conditions, then it’s not long enough during a recession, when jobs are much harder to come by. This is doubly true for a downturn as serious as the Great Recession. When the labor market is in better shape, of course, the emergency federal extensions are allowed to expire.

As you can see from the figure below, in the two recessions prior to the Great Recession emergency federal UI expired when the long-term unemployment rate — the share of workers who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer — was 1.3 percent. The long-term unemployment rate is currently at twice that level.

This is a rather different approach than the one Rand Paul took recently, but it makes one thing clear. It’s the season of surprises in Washington, and we’re probably going to see a number of battles between the parties turning out in strange and unfamiliar ways as we move into the mid-term election season.


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Democrats are going to need to come up with a way to pay for it.

When has THAT ever been a priority to Democrats?

VibrioCocci on December 14, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Keep Obama in preznit!

Murphy9 on December 14, 2013 at 6:41 PM

a way to pay for it.

China?

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 14, 2013 at 6:45 PM

is organizing Democrats to vote against any farm bill that does not also include an extension of emergency unemployment benefits.

Last time I looked, (R) was (nominally) the majority party in the house. There is no fillibuster in the house, and AFAIK bills pass with simple majorities. So what am I missing here?

bofh on December 14, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Like the pic.

Mooooooo!

petefrt on December 14, 2013 at 6:48 PM

Never one to give up on an idea once he’s gotten his teeth into it, Chris Van Hollen has cooked up a plan.

This article is a very good reason the Democrats always win, politically. When they want to do something they keep trying until all avenues have been exhausted. There is almost always some trick, maneuver, or technicality they can use to get something forced through. This is why I tend not to believe Republican politicians when they whine about “how nothing can be done.”

Doomberg on December 14, 2013 at 6:52 PM

Oh, I thought they meant further wrecking the economy?

Never mind….

viking01 on December 14, 2013 at 6:56 PM

The Democrats’ secret plan to extend unemployment the stimulus

…Nazi Pelosi…made me correct that! ^ ^ ^

KOOLAID2 on December 14, 2013 at 6:58 PM

The Dems can wish all they want. Their leader didn’t get an extension of the unemployment benefits in the regular budget bill and told them to suck it up.

Johnnyreb on December 14, 2013 at 6:58 PM

This article is a very good reason the Democrats always win, politically. When they want to do something they keep trying until all avenues have been exhausted. There is almost always some trick, maneuver, or technicality they can use to get something forced through. This is why I tend not to believe Republican politicians when they whine about “how nothing can be done.”

Doomberg on December 14, 2013 at 6:52 PM

…and we know what will happen…two minutes before the deadline!
(they will be extended!)

KOOLAID2 on December 14, 2013 at 7:02 PM

They have invited the spender in chief Obama to the house to teach them how to spend money they don’t have. He’s the expert.

tmgrant on December 14, 2013 at 7:02 PM

Funny how we have to pay unemployment benefits to people the government doesn’t consider as being unemployed.

Been out of work for more than a year? You’re no longer counted in the unemployed metric. But we’ll pay you unemployment benefits anyway.

BobMbx on December 14, 2013 at 7:02 PM

And watch Republicans cave to them, getting it passed.

rickv404 on December 14, 2013 at 7:04 PM

Teh crazy, it burns!

BallisticBob on December 14, 2013 at 7:10 PM

Funny how we have to pay unemployment benefits to people the government doesn’t consider as being unemployed.

Been out of work for more than a year? You’re no longer counted in the unemployed metric. But we’ll pay you unemployment benefits anyway.

BobMbx on December 14, 2013 at 7:02 PM

That ain’t the half of it: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/12/14/a-democratic-congresswoman-just-actually-called-for-unemployment-benefits-to-be-distributed-to-working-men-women/

davidk on December 14, 2013 at 7:10 PM

Teh crazy, it burns!

BallisticBob on December 14, 2013 at 7:10 PM

Winner by a nose!

davidk on December 14, 2013 at 7:11 PM

I don’t understand why the GOP doesn’t just tie a dedicated “fee/tax” to something like say, first run movie tickets.

Who wouldn’t be happy to pay an extra buck to make sure their unemployed comrades can continue on UC for another 6 months?

Certainly any Good Proletarian would be more than happy to contribute to the good of the Collective.

I don’t see Hollywood objecting to such a fee/tax.hey would be proud to be on the leading edge of such an effort to provide such benefit to The People!

Bruno Strozek on December 14, 2013 at 7:33 PM

Why does Congress even need to do anything? Can’t the Lyin’ King just decree this?

oldroy on December 14, 2013 at 7:39 PM

Wait. I though the recession was declared done and over? Shouldn’t we stick back to the 26 weeks then?

Mo_mac on December 14, 2013 at 7:47 PM

Why do they bother trying to do anything in secret anymore? It’s not like the GOP, the courts, the law enforcement folks, or any other damn person would do a damn thing.

Midas on December 14, 2013 at 8:00 PM

Well according to San Fran Nan unemployment payments help the economy.

Ergo if we were all unemployed, the economy would skyrocket off the planet.

ajacksonian on December 14, 2013 at 8:01 PM

Oh look a political party that fights for their constituency…

Skywise on December 14, 2013 at 8:05 PM

Oh look a political party that fights for their constituency…

Skywise on December 14, 2013 at 8:05 PM

They also create more unemployed with their policies, so they know how to expand their constituency, too!

Its a two-fer!

ajacksonian on December 14, 2013 at 8:18 PM

Why is an extension needed? Our economy is chugging along, the President tells me so, and few are out of work. At the present recovery rate we can eliminate UI very soon.

monster_man on December 14, 2013 at 8:45 PM

But doing that without being willing to find the money to pay for it was going to prove a deal buster for the GOP, so it didn’t make the final cut.

Now wait a minute: I thought republicans were powerless to stop democrats since we only have the House of Representatives? Now we magically have the power to prevent democrats from pushing things we don’t agree with?

Geez, it’s so confusing.

xblade on December 14, 2013 at 9:21 PM

But you see, these Democrats must do something.

Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing something stupid.

As an alternative, we could force a corncob up our President’s backside .. it would be doing something .. and don’t get all judgemental on me about whether it’s good or bad .. I wasn’t the one who wanted to do something.

J_Crater on December 14, 2013 at 9:41 PM

ere are apparently some people from the Starboard side of the aisle making the case for an extension, such as the American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Strain.

Why is that not surprising? I hope those at AEI don’t really believe they are advocates of anything but the same old liberalism.

rickv404 on December 14, 2013 at 10:31 PM

Obama is president for another three years. That will guarantee that unemployment is extended.

PD Quig on December 14, 2013 at 10:48 PM

Last time I looked, (R) was (nominally) the majority party in the house. There is no fillibuster in the house, and AFAIK bills pass with simple majorities. So what am I missing here?

bofh on December 14, 2013 at 6:47 PM

What you’re missing is the fact that the Speaker is a fracking democrat!

Alabama Infidel on December 14, 2013 at 10:52 PM

You know, if Democrats could return employment levels back to where they were when Repulbicans last controlled the House, Senate, and Presidency (December, 2006, Employment-Population Ratio = 63.4%), then over 11.8 Million more Americans would be employed right now(!), and we wouldn’t really be worrying about extending unemployment benefits!

ITguy on December 15, 2013 at 12:49 AM

No doubt Wacko-Bird McCain/Grahmensty is on board and singing.

pat on December 15, 2013 at 12:55 AM

The Democrats’ secret plan to extend unemployment

While some Democrats certainly do secretly like high unemployment numbers, I think you meant that they want to extend unemployment benefits.

itsnotaboutme on December 15, 2013 at 3:31 AM

Last time I looked, (R) was (nominally) the majority party in the house. There is no fillibuster in the house, and AFAIK bills pass with simple majorities. So what am I missing here?”

THe last time I looked there was still no Republican leadership in the House. Anyone, who is Speaker of the House, that blames a movement for tactics he authorized, is certainly not a leader. If nothing else happens, after the mid-terms, the Republicans need new leadership in both houses of COngress. Neither Boehner, nor McConnell, are going to be the leaders that make a difference in the final 2 years of the Divider in CHiefs administration. To say that Barack Obama has been extremely lucky in the quality of his opposition, would be an understatement. 40 votes to repeal Obamacare is not, nor has it ever been, a sound strategy, yet it was one that Boehner authorized for 2 years.

bflat879 on December 15, 2013 at 7:42 AM

What is so secret about the left forcing everyone into government dependency?
Why else do you think Obama has been scaring everyone who owns a business from hiring or expanding by threatening, confiscating, regulating, and spending America’s economic house into confusion and disarray, if dependency-thus control-wasn’t the Marxist strategy?

Don L on December 15, 2013 at 8:06 AM

What you’re missing is the fact that the Speaker is a fracking democrat!

Alabama Infidel on December 14, 2013 at 10:52 PM

Far worse than that. He is identical to a high level agent of the Democratic left. No mere Democrat would have the power to undermine America as does these pretend protectors whom the moderates in the right keep insisting that we elect.

Don L on December 15, 2013 at 8:11 AM

A compromise unemployment insurance plan: Full unemployment amount for 26 weeks, Weeks 27 through 99 benefit to decrease by 2% per month. Week 100 and beyond benefit = $0.

Dasher on December 15, 2013 at 9:01 AM

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is organizing Democrats to vote against any farm bill that does not also include an extension of emergency unemployment benefits.

Wait, I thought voting against the farm bill meant you were an evil person who hated poor people and family farmers. I think Böhner should schedule the vote and let all the Dems vote against it. Then we can be the ones slapping them around next year: “Look, they killed your health insurance and they hate family farms. Throw them out!”

Kafir on December 15, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Gee, imagine that, a couple tens to hundreds of billions of dollars added to all those 23 (LOL as if!) Ryan says he is saving us.
The Democrats asked for 10 trillion a year for unemployment, but we took them to the floor and cut out 98% of that spending, meaning we saved another 98 trillion dollars over the next 10 years.
Bask in the glory of the great saviour, Paul Ryan!

astonerii on December 15, 2013 at 9:50 AM

I wish that our guys played like this.

jukin3 on December 15, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Secret?

Philly on December 15, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Oh look a political party that fights for their constituency…

Skywise on December 14, 2013 at 8:05 PM

They also create more unemployed with their policies, so they know how to expand their constituency, too!

Its a two-fer!

ajacksonian on December 14, 2013 at 8:18 PM

And then they give ‘em free stuff to ensure their voting loyalty for the next 50 years!

OccamsRazor on December 15, 2013 at 6:20 PM