The Times West Virginian


January 3, 2014

Compromise over extending unemployment benefits needed

Last month, the U.S. Congress broke its typical gridlock and reached a compromise on a budget bill.

What was not included, however, was the extension of a five-year federal program that provided unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless. The end of the program last Saturday affected 1.3 million people immediately and could affect hundreds of thousands more who remain jobless in the months ahead if a legislative remedy is not found. Under the program, the federal government provided an average monthly stipend of $1,166.

The program is backed by President Barack Obama’s administration and Democrats in Congress, but many Republican lawmakers have balked at its $26 billion annual cost. Since 2008, the program paid out benefits to the unemployed after their 26 weeks of state benefits ran out. At its peak, the program offered up to 73 weeks of federal benefits — which are typically offered during periods of high unemployment.

We encourage Congress, with compassion for the millions of American affected, to continue last month’s trend and work toward another compromise.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said this week that there will a Senate vote Monday on extending the long-term jobless benefits. He’s confident the bipartisan legislation will pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate, but it faces an uncertain future in the House of Representatives, where Republicans are in the majority.

The Senate bill is sponsored by Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller and Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Jack Reed. The measure would continue the federal jobless program for three months while a compromise is sought.

“I hope we can get that done,” said Reid.

“I’m happy to see Dean has joined us. He’s broken away from the tea party folks who don’t want to do anything.”

Heller said in introducing the bill last month before the holiday break that that “providing a safety net for those in need is one of the most important functions of the federal government.”

It should not be a partisan issue. President George W. Bush, in 2002, noted that out-of-work “Americans rely on their unemployment benefits to pay for the mortgage or rent, food and other critical bills. They need our assistance in these difficult times, and we cannot let them down.”

Even though those collecting state or federal unemployment benefits must demonstrate their efforts to find job — an essential requirement — there have been comments from some quarters demeaning those who don’t quickly find new positions when they lose their jobs.

“I do support unemployment benefits for the 26 weeks that they’re paid for,” Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said last month. “Beyond that, you do a disservice to these workers. When you allow people to be on unemployment insurance for 99 weeks, you’re causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group.”

James Sherk, a labor policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said extended unemployment benefits can give workers “a false sense of how much time they have before they have to start broadening their net to less-than-ideal positions.”

It’s not that simple when you’re dealing with people in danger of losing their homes, their way of life, even their families.

There is improvement in the nation’s economy, but it’s not back to the pre-recession level.

Congress is days away from an opportunity to help so many Americans who want to work. It’s time to forge another compromise.

Text Only
  • United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project

    The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
    That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.

    July 27, 2014

  • COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard

    I love to talk to readers.
    I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.

    July 27, 2014

  • Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial

    NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
    And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.

    July 25, 2014

  • Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives

    It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
    We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.

    July 24, 2014

  • Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely

    The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
    It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
    It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.

    July 23, 2014

  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life

    Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
    And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.

    July 20, 2014

  • COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?

    Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
    I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.

    July 20, 2014

  • Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions

    This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
    The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    July 18, 2014

  • Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year

    It’s happening again.
    It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
    But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.

    July 17, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads