June 23, 2014
Unemployment Extension 2014: New Senate Bill To Be Introduced This Week By Dean Heller And Jack Reed

A new 2014 unemployment extension bill in the Senate will be introduced by Senators Dean Heller and Jack Reed this week. But some people may not be happy that the new unemployment benefits package will not include retroactive payments.

In a related report by The Inquisitr, studies of the long-term unemployed show that they increasingly require professional help for depression after going for more than 52 weeks without a job. Much of the debate over the 2014 unemployment extension has focused on whether the federal government can afford the bill when the federal deficit is already so high. But if you consider the amount of money being spent on foreign aid, then the CBO estimated cost for the EUC is only about half that amount.

Now the CBO obviously has not had a chance to run the calculations for Heller and Reed's new bill but the biggest changes seemed to be focused on reducing the cost so that Republicans in the House of Representatives may be more open to the idea. Unfortunately, this is done by cutting retroactive payments but Reed says the most important point in the new legislation is how it gives unemployment insurance payments for those who were cut off earlier than usual this past December:

"This means the benefits will be available going forward for the long-term unemployed, and those that were cut off when the program expired will be able to pick up where they left off. So, for instance, if you were eligible for 6 more weeks of EUC benefits when the program was cut off on December 28, and you are still looking for a job now, you are eligible to receive federal UI help for those 6 weeks. Our goal is to try to help those out of work get the help they need."

Reed admits the new 2014 unemployment extension bill is not perfect but claims the changes are necessary in order to push the legislation through both sides of Congress:

"I would rather fix the entire problem, but there's not the votes to do everything," Reed said. "I understand that some people will say, 'this is not fair. I was cut off for two months before I was able to find a job and this bill isn't retroactive so it won't cover me.' I agree that this program should never have been forced to expire and it is unfair that partisan gridlock in the House prevented the bipartisan, Senate-passed Reed-Heller fix from ever getting an up or down vote and becoming law."

The biggest problem the new Senate bill faces is that it retains one of the major issues from the first failed attempt. In order to pay for the 2014 unemployment extension plan, Heller and Reed are suggesting so-called "pension smoothing," which means "giving companies the option to lower the amount of money they have to pay into their pension plans over the short term. Therefore, that would leave more money in profit for the feds to tax." They are also wanting to extend U.S. Customs users fees through 2024. This is pretty much the same method that was supposed to pay for the last version of the bill and PolitiFact calls it a "gimmick" that's "mostly false" because they are essentially borrowing money now with the promise that it will be paid for many years down the road... assuming that Congress doesn't change things along the way as it often does.

How do you think Congress should pay for the 2014 unemployment extension bill? Do you believe it's reasonable to borrow money for the EUC now based upon a promise to pay it off later with future taxes?