Obama prepared to drop jobless benefits as part of budget deal
By Andre Damon and Barry Grey
7 December 2013
The White House said Friday it would agree to a budget deal with the Republicans that excludes an extension of federal benefits for the long-term unemployed, which are scheduled to expire at the end of the month.
By the administration’s own figures, allowing the federally-funded extended benefit program to expire will end cash assistance for 1.3 million people immediately after the holidays and impact an additional 3.6 million people in the first half of 2014.
With this cruel and callous act, Obama and the Democratic Party are prepared to join with the Republicans in condemning nearly 5 million people and their families to destitution. In prior recessions, emergency unemployment benefits, beyond the standard aid offered by the states, have never been terminated when unemployment remained at such high levels as those prevailing today.
Obama’s own Council of Economic Advisers this week pointed out that long-term unemployment in the US is 2.6 percent, more than double “any other time that we have allowed benefits” to lapse.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney made clear on Friday that Obama would not make an extension of long-term benefits a precondition for reaching an agreement in current talks between leaders of a House-Senate conference committee tasked with coming up with a budget by December 13.