Skip to comments.House Democrats prepping for fight over proposed cuts to jobless benefits (Commiecare™ also arrives)
Posted on 12/26/2011 3:52:52 PM PST by Libloather
House Democrats prepping for fight over proposed cuts to jobless benefits
By Vicki Needham - 12/26/11 07:15 AM ET
House Democrats are critical of GOP proposals that make sweeping changes to the federal unemployment benefits program, but are holding back specifics on how they intend to work out those differences as both sides line up for a battle over extending jobless assistance.
The two sides face a deep divide on what to include and how to cover the $200 billion cost of jobless benefits legislation that is expected to extend the policies through the 2012 elections.
On the cusp of early talks between House and Senate conferees over how to pass a yearlong payroll tax cut extension which includes a reauthorization of federal unemployment benefits and a Medicare "doc fix" Democratic leaders would only say Friday that "there will be time to get to those specifics" and that there "are differences between the two parties and they will have to be addressed."
House Ways and Means ranking member Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) said Friday that "those differences have been expressed before and they're significant ones that need to be worked out" putting Republicans and Democrats on widely divergent paths over how to overhaul the unemployment benefits system.
Levin has been particularly critical of the House Republican proposal to cut benefits by 40 weeks from a maximum of 99 weeks to 59 weeks within six months. The plan included in the House passed payroll tax bill called for an immediate 20-week cut in January followed by another 20-week reduction in the summer.
He also said last week that drug-testing and GED requirements were off the table in earlier negotiations. But that could change as both work towards a compromise.
Levin also expressed frustration on Thursday saying that House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) didn't vet the GOP proposal by discussing the plan with Democrats on the committee.
"Camp never talked to Democrats on the panel," he said.
He got some support from House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) who questioned on Thursday why House Republicans hadn't held hearings on their added components of the measure, including the proposed reforms to unemployment benefits.
Hoyer said Friday that he also wouldn't discuss specifics on how Democrats want to proceed on the bill's issue during the conference but told reporters that what the two-month "agreement reached today gives us is the opportunity to do that."
Before House Republicans signed off on Thursday on the two-month payroll tax deal, they continued to hawk their bill, including the changes to the unemployment benefits program some called egregious by Democrats on both sides of the Capitol and most non-starters at best.
The House GOP argued that the differences were minor between the two parties and could be worked out quickly while Democrats called the stance a case of "make-believe."
House Republicans, including Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), who was named a conferee by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), called the drug testing provision justified because he has heard from small businesses in his district that can't hire because applicants aren't passing drug tests.
The plan doesn't call for mandating drug tests in states, but, instead, allows states to set up their own system.
Georgia Republican Jack Kingston has introduced a bill that would require drug screening assessments in the form of questionnaires approved by the National Institutes of Health.
Those identified by the assessment as having a high probability of drug use would be required to pass a drug test and would be subject to random screenings as long as they receive benefits, according to the legislation. Applicants who fail would be responsible for the cost of the test and may take one additional retest at their own expense.
Kingston argues that screening applicants, rather than testing each one, is less expensive and has been upheld by in the judicial system.
Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch gave the issue a thorough airing in June 2010, eventually backing off the idea because it lacked support in the Senate.
Ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee Chris Van Hollen blasted the GOP proposal to allow states to drug test benefits applicants as "insulting" in an interview which aired on C-SPAN Sunday.
Were willing to look at reforms, said Van Hollen, "but the Republican rhetoric has been insulting to a whole lot of working Americans who lost their jobs through no fault of their own.
The reality is that people are not out of work because they have substance abuse problems, people are out of work because there are four people looking for every job thats available in America, he said.
Meanwhile, advocates of extending unemployment benefits for 99 weeks for another year acknowledge that there will probably be a compromise on how many weeks to provide states 73 is the maximum number of federal weeks on top of a maximum of 26 weeks provided by the states for 99 total.
Under President Obama's jobs proposal, the program would likely gradually drop the maximum number of weeks to 79.
Advocates for 99 weeks estimate that the number will fall somewhere between 79 and 99 and could allow for waivers to states facing double-digit unemployment eight states exceeded 10 percent in November, two fewer than in October, according to recent figures from the Labor Department.
The government expects the cost of benefits to fall as unemployment drops in the states.
The vast majority of states 43 in all saw their unemployment rate decrease in November, a month that saw the biggest decline in the national rate in nearly a year.
With the unemployment rate dipping to 8.6 percent last month, only three states New York, Rhode Island and Wyoming saw a rise in unemployment, each by one-tenth of a percentage point, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In addition, Judy Conti, federal advocacy director with the National Employment Law Project, said the unemployment benefits program needs an overhaul that better addresses the modern workforce. But those changes need to go through more congressional hearings before pushing them through Congress with little examination.
Republicans also have argued that their plan closely resembles ideas included in Obama's job's bill but advocates have called those assertions a "gross mischaracterization" and that the changes included in the bill are a veritable "wish list" that proponents don't consider a serious starting offer.
"Reforms need to be enacted but not the ones in the GOP bill," she said.
The Republican plan could attract some support on a proposal to eliminate unemployment benefits for millionaires, which would reduce federal deficits by $20 million over 2012-2021, according to the proposal.
Still, supporters caution that an overhaul of the federal unemployment benefits system needs to be carefully reworked.
"We have to solve the larger issues that relate to a one-year extension," Levin said.
you know what? Cut the jobless benefits when the economy improves. this is dumb
Give it to boner he’ll f it up
Imagine a second term with no restraint. My vision is of ACORN/SEIU/BLACK PANTHER types standing at the door of Congress and escorting Conservative lawmakers to special camps for their own safety. On reelection, with a wave of his arm, Hussein could snuff out the last remaining flicker of our remaining liberties.
Let us never, ever forget that decline was solely because BLS dumped the people who gave up looking for work. The number of people without work DID NOT decline.
(slightly edited) [T]he number of people not in labor force... figure is quite interesting because it is used (by the administration) to manipulate the unemployment rate (U3) reported by the MSM. Remember, as the people not seeking work increases, the reported (U3) unemployment rate decreases. That is the "trickery" behind the unemployment rate drop of 9% in October, 2011, to 8.6% in November, 2011.
Unfortunately, it appears the majority of Americans don't give a rip.
I really wish the Repubs would back off on unemployment pay cuts and really focus on cutting elsewhere. Reason being is that this is really going to hurt come election year with dems saying “ rRepubs want to cut off your unemployment checks” diatribe. They need to go thru the Fed Budget and really cut with some teeth...this unemployment cutting in these harsh economic times are going to backfire bigtime. Pick your battles, win them...
The dems need have no worries.. they`re only up against the same GOP that`ll oh-so-predictably bend over, grab its ankles and surrender at the first threat of political consequence for actually taking a stand.
Continue unemployment benefits through the election. That’ll keep people from looking for work and keep the unemployment rate higher. Go along with the stupid minor crap the dems are pushing for and it will keep the economy from recovering on it’s own, making the election easier for us.
Yep. The Democrats piss me off. However they always have a plan and work to get it passed. What are the Republicans doing???????? I hope they are not crying with their tail between their legs. I hope they are working on this vacation trying to come up with a defense plan and then go offense and get er done.
Say, anyone know what the minimum 'pay-or-be-jailed' Commiecare premiums will be? I've looked everywhere but can't find anything.IIRC, that soon to be Unconstitutional 'pay-or-be-jailed' BS doesn't kick in until 2014. 'If' ObamaDeathCare® is still around by then.
I'd think that if it was coming Jan 1, 2012 it'd be all over FoxNews by now. Or for sure covered by Glenn Beck on his GBTV show. But not a peep by either.
O.k., look, you can’t Trade Mark the term Commiecare; everyone’s using that term and it couldn’t have been original with you. That would be like trying to trade mark “Obamacare”. These are terms in general usage.
Beyond that, I’ve asked myself the same question and haven’t found much in the way of a satisfactory answer. I think there are two reasons for that. One is that I’ve been reading about States “opting out” of Obamacare so there may not be a one-size-fits-all answer to the question; its going to vary from State to State. Second reason is that as I understand it, with Obamacare/Commiecare the thrust of the penalties isn’t jail, but rather fines levied by the IRS which could well lead to property confiscation. This is not widely understood by the General Population, (which isn’t very bright to begin with), but if you don’t buy insurance, the Feds fine you via the IRS; then of course, the IRS starts its collection proceedings, all the while adding interest and penalties to the fine. I think the fine starts out at something like $600.00 the first year and then as the plan is longer in effect, the initial fine amount goes up to as much as $2,500.00.
This will work a marvelous Commie style Federal confiscation of property, both personal and Real estate property because when the IRS is involved, nothing is exempt from siezure to satisfy the amount owed. AND, you can’t vacate an IRS levy by way of bankruptcy. AND, your State exemptions from seizure to satisfy debts are trumped by Federal IRS laws; so.........they can seize your house, all your possessions, your automobiles, tools, truck, bank accounts..........everything! THEN, if the amount doesn’t satisfy the levy, they can proceed with criminal proceedings to incarcerate you. At that point, incarceration in Club Fed would probably look like a relief from the agony of IRS persecution.
So, just as the case with the new rules with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, where the Feds now own/operate or control over 50% of the residential real estate market, Obamacare is truly a mechanism for wealth transfer from the self-employed or those employed by a small employer who doesn’t provide health insurance. AND if you get laid off, lose your insurance, and can’t find work....poof, they come in and seize everything; then, if they do what they’re doing with Fannie Mae, they’ll convert your home to HUD Section 8 housing and move “their” people into your former home.
Its absolutely mind boggling!
Your absolutely correct! The number only appeared to go down because a huge number of people gave up looking for work and that category isn’t in the official statistics. See shadowstats.com. Another way of looking at the numbers thats even more revealing is that while the criminal feds reported fewer UNemployed, they didn’t report that the number of EMPLOYED went down. Meaning, there are fewer jobs being held.
I wouldn’t bet on that; the Supremes aren’t immune from the effects of big money and the Insurance lobby has almost as much money as Ben Bernanke, (they just don’t have the presses). There’s no honor in gov’t.
Ok, so we don’t extend unemployment and then we still lose election because we will be blamed for people being out on the streets, homeless, etc. Your way or what I suggest, either way, we are screwed.
Just saying- this is bad bad time to not extend. Pick the battles you know you can win...That is how we win. Not the way the Pubies are doing it; they go for something so unreal that they know won’t pass in Senate, then the Senate, outsmarts them, and the Repubs come out looking like idiots...So tired of it..Repubs just don;t know how to fight when they have the power....and they only have 1/3rd of the power....