Friday, September 19, 2008

Democrats Propose Extension of Unemployment Benefits

Senate Democrats this week introduced legislation to extend unemployment benefits to out-of-work Americans.

The measure, authored by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), will provide an additional seven weeks of unemployment insurance for people who have exhausted their benefits. The bill also provides 13 additional weeks of benefits to unemployed workers in states that have been hit particularly hard by the economic downturn and have unemployment rates above 6%. States which would benefit from this provision include: Alaska, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

“The Bush Administration’s poor stewardship of the economy has contributed to a spike in unemployment, skyrocketing gas prices, and rising inflation. And yet there has been very little help for working families,” said Reed. “When parents are out of work for long periods of time, it has a severe financial impact on families and their communities. This critical legislation would throw a lifeline to 3,000 Rhode Islanders and hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country.”

The bill is endorsed by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and 14 Senate Democrats.

“As our economy continues to suffer and unemployment rates continue to climb, we must ensure American workers have access to the support they need just to get by,” said Obama. “By the end of this year, more than a million workers will have exhausted their unemployment insurance benefits and that is unacceptable. This Administration has failed to extend these benefits during these tough times, and we cannot wait any longer."

The legislation is also cosponsored by Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

“Under George Bush’s leadership, we have seen eight straight months of job losses and in the past year alone, more than 19,000 people have lost their jobs in Connecticut,” said Dodd. “Yet this administration continues to turn its back on the people most affected by this economic crisis. This legislation will provide much needed relief to workers in Connecticut and across this country who need it the most.”

Said Stabenow: “Our economy has endured eight years of the failed economic policies of a Republican administration with a philosophy that simply doesn’t work. It is clear that the fundamentals of our economy are not strong. This extension of unemployment insurance will not only provide support to families who need it most, but it is one of the fastest, most effective ways to stimulate the economy.”

A similar measure has been introduced in the House of Representatives.