Money Matters - Simplified

Jobless aid extension blocked again

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), the only Democrat who joined Republicans and voted against the extension of tax cuts and emergency economic provisions.

The adage ‘third time lucky’ did not hold true for the legislation extending unemployment benefits through November.

The Senate voted 57-41 in favor of abandoning efforts to dole out more assistance to state governments.

The vote also does away with the emergency unemployment benefits given to millions of jobless workers.

Bill was revised
The legislation was blocked for a third time as all the 40 Republicans and one Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, objected to the bill stating that even the latest slimmed-down version of the bill would add $33 billion to the deficit.

Emergency jobless benefits, which provide up to 99 weeks of support, expired June 2. The bill needed to muster 60 votes to be passed and be valid through November. It fell 3 votes short.

"We just can't keep kicking the can down the street and say, 'Oh, we'll take care of it later on. It'll be offset later. That's all we've been doing these last couple of years, and I'm fed up with it," Sen. George Voinovich, a centrist Republican from Ohio said.

“We’ve tried and tried. This is our eighth week on this legislation. We are here. We’re willing to work,’’ rued Reid.

However, Sen. Bryon Dorgan, D-N.D., tends to differ from Voinovich.

Dorgan said, "Now, they're going to make their last stand on deficits by trying to take money away from the unemployed, in terms of extending benefits. That's sort of a bizarre priority as far as I'm concerned."

Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, blamed the Republican stubbornness for killing the measure.

Reid had scaled back the package, from the initial $140 billion to about $100 billion. The initial budget would have added $80 billion to the deficit.

The Democrats had agreed to scale back unemployment benefits by about $25 billion in order to cut costs. They had also agreed to lower the funding for Medicaid aid to states.

Blame game continues
“We’ve tried and tried. This is our eighth week on this legislation. We are here. We’re willing to work,’’ rued Reid.

The failed measure comes as a body blow to President Obama’s plan to spend more to bolster the economy.

The White House however avowed that it would continue to push for the bill.

"The president has been clear: Americans should not fall victim to Republican obstruction at a time of great economic challenge for our nation's families," Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said.

As things stand, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have been able to agree on a permanent solution without adding to the budget deficit.

What has ensued is a series of temporary fixes in the bill and fingers pointing towards each other.