Unemployment Extension 2014: Democrats Lose Interest In Extending Benefits Due To The Mid-Term Elections

The 2014 unemployment extension is dead in the water with both Republicans and Democrats trying to blame each other for allowing the unemployment benefits bill passed by the Senate to expire in the House of Representatives.

In a related report by The Inquisitr, the original unemployment extension bill would have extended benefits until June 1, 2014. But since that date has passed even if a vote occurs on June 9, when congress reconvenes, the 2014 unemployment extension bill would only pay a lump sum of retroactive unemployment benefits through December 29, 2013. Because of this obvious problem some Republicans and Democrats are working together to create a new unemployment extension bill they hope will meet the demands of John Boehner.

Many reports have tried to blame the failure of the 2014 unemployment extension on congressional gridlock. But Christine L. Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, claims Republicans are primarily to blame:

“It is easy to chalk up this failure to Congressional gridlock, but we should resist the urge to be so glib with the lives of those struggling just to get by, who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. It is House Republican leaders and not some indeterminate ‘gridlock’ who have chosen to run out the clock on the Senate’s unemployment extension.”

Unfortunately, the unfair situation is largely due to the looming 2014 mid-term elections. The facts are that the expiration of the 2014 unemployment extension bill came as applications for unemployment benefits fell to a seven-year low. While everyone talks about the unemployment rate being 6.3 percent, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the country’s U-6 jobless rate (which is the real United States unemployment rate) for the 12 months ending in March is more than double at 13.4 percent. Pushing out the unemployment extension to 99 weeks was also around double the rate at which unemployment benefits have been allowed to expire in previous US economic recoveries.

Democrats who are up for re-election this fall are fully aware of these numbers and how people tend to blame the party that is currently in power and in the White House. Thus it’s believed Democrats do not want to draw attention to continued high unemployment rates when their recovery plans were supposed to have fixed the issue by now. Republicans apparently believe that their supporters do not care enough about the issue to make it part of their platform.

Jim Manley, former spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, blames Republicans for the problem but also claims that Democratic politicians believe people have largely forgotten about the 2014 unemployment extension:

“At a time when the economy is slowly but surely getting a bit better, I’m not sure the number of those affected is really going to drive the issue at the polls. It’s wrong but many people have forgotten about this issue. There’s a lot of gripping stories out there, but people just aren’t paying attention. Republicans aren’t feeling the pressure.”

Kyle Kondik, director of communications for the University of Virginia’s Center on Politics, agrees that Democrats are looking to other issues for the 2014 mid-term elections:

“It’s something the Democrats have been pushing for on the Hill, but hasn’t been a huge deal in some of these races. If Democrats are looking for an economic argument they think minimum wage is a more popular thing.”

What do you think is the best way to tell both Republicans and Democrats that the 2014 unemployment extension is worth passing in a new bill? How many weeks do you think should be considered “fair” based upon the long economic recession we’ve all been experiencing?

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