Last week proved to be another in a long line of disappointments to befall the unemployed and especially the 99ers. H.R. 589, a bill that would have added 14 weeks of unemployment benefits to Tier 1 was shot down due to a seldom enforced House rules violation. According to Arthur Delaney of HuffPost:
Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) then used a parliamentary maneuver to successfully block the amendment.
“An amendment to an appropriation bill shall not be in order in changing existing law,” said Rehberg. “The amendment directly changes existing law.”
Rep. Lee’s office said that the House rule used to block H.R. 589 has been waived for Republican priorities, but apparently not for this vital piece of legislation that would help more than two million who have exhausted all unemployment benefits.
You can read more about the blocking of the bill by republicans at: http://www.crewof42.com/?p=4761
Congress.org offered the following explanation of how the bill could have been brought forward without the concern of a rules violation:
The kicker is that the amendment could have easily been drafted so that it did not change existing law. The amendment, which is identical to H.R.589, would have added 14 weeks to the length of Tier I benefits. If it instead added the 14 weeks by creating a new tier it would have qualified under the rules governing amendments for the continuing resolution and been givend a vote. Sure, Scott and Lee could have been more cautious with their amendment, but the Republicans did not have to block it. Rules like the one used by Rehberg t block the vote are routinely ignored.
At this point it’s unclear when the Democrats will have another shot at holding a vote on this. The Republican leadership is not going to bring the bill to the floor under regular order, so it will have to happen in the form of an amendment to a larger bill. It may be months before the Republicans hold another open debate that allows members to offer amendments.
Rep. Lee’s office indicated that H.R. 589 currently has 67 co-sponsors and more are added each day, but Republican support will be necessary for this bill to move forward under any circumstances. A Lee staffer said that Republicans need to work with them to move forward this legislation, but they have offered nothing so far.
Gregg Rosen of the American 99ers Union offers 99ers some hope going forward:
I know folks keep saying, “we have been down this road before”, but in actuality it really is not the same road. When I had a job (when was that???) and use to give seminars on retraining the brain to get past fear as relates to business challenges, I always used the following analogy:
If you were bitten by a dog as a child, there is the possibility that you developed a fear of dogs. You could find yourself years later walking down the street, see a dog coming your way and in turn without thinking, you cross to the other side of the street. Was that the same dog that bit you? No. Because one dog bit you years ago does that mean all dogs will bite? No. This is our subconscious mind making a generalized association to try and protect you. As complex as the mind is, the subconscious mind has two simple functions, lead you toward pleasure and assist you in avoiding pain. Unfortunately as I just mentioned, the subconscious mind makes very broad based associations. Hence the irrational fear that if one dog bites me, all dogs will do the same.
It is only when we stop and understand that an event, while it may seem similar in nature, does not have to produce the same result, can we then break free of the fear and move forward without hesitation.
While this is a setback for the unemployed, Rep. Lee’s office said that they will exhaust every effort to make this legislation a reality, but no further plans were offered. They did reiterate that convincing House Republicans such as John Boehner and Eric Cantor of this legislation’s importance is vital to ongoing efforts. Those who support this legislation will need to concentrate their efforts on contacting Republicans, since Democrats seem supportive of the measure.
As the ranks of those who exhaust unemployment benefits swells during 2011, the problem of too few jobs and too many unemployed will become even more devastating. Unfortunately, a deaf and dumb (in more ways than one) Congress seems also blind to the fact that millions of jobless will not have any financial safety net.
The real unemployment rate
Even as Congress bickers about budget cuts, unemployment is not improving as would be expected during a “recovery”. The BLS releases their monthly, seasonally adjusted employment report, which currently shows unemployment at 9%. Gallup, on the other hand, does not use seasonally adjusted numbers and their latest report shows unemployment at 10% and underemployment at a whopping 19.6%!
A Democratic Congress proved ineffectual with creating jobs in the numbers required to dramatically shrink the unemployment rate, but the new Republican House seems more ineffectual in that regard. As Rep. Lee’s office stated, there were over 600 amendments to the continuing resolution, but H.R. 589 was the only offering that included unemployment or jobs language. 600 amendments and only one job bill from the House. Not only is that omission ignoring the elephant in the room, it’s destroying families, neighborhoods and communities.
How many jobs are needed to just keep up with population growth?
Each month the talking heads say that unemployment is improving because tens of thousands of jobs are being created each month. Not only are those talking heads wrong, they never give people the real story. It takes more than 120,000 new jobs each month to simply keep up with new entrants to the workforce.
This means that in 2011, in the “best” case scenario, the monthly NFP number has to be over 200,000 before the unemployment rate is reduced by even one basis point excluding the impact of the BLS’ favorite trick of fudging the labor force participation rate, which we have discussed extensively in the past.
Where are the jobs bills?
While an inattentive Congress trumpets smaller deficits by cutting aid to the poor, jobs continue to be sent to other countries. Here is a small sample of how companies are sending work elsewhere at the expense of American workers:
The closure of Palm would be the second time a manufacturer has announced a plant closing in Bowling Green this month. Cooper-Standard Automotive announced their hose plant would shut down this year. Work there is being moved to Kentucky and Mexico.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a site where you can keep track of all the job creation bills being offered by the Republican controlled House http://www.whenarethejobs.com/. As I mentioned earlier, that job creation bill total stands at zero.
Ignoring a lousy jobs situation will not make it go away, but that seems to what Congress is now doing. That purposeful oversight will continue the nightmare for millions of jobless who need jobs now.
Protests in North Africa, Middle East and Wisconsin are likely to spread widely once people finally realize that in order to save the biggest banks and the wealthiest investors, the regulatory bodies designed to protect the public have not done their jobs. When Congress can decide to cut heating subsidies for poor families, but not increase taxes on the most wealthy, it’s obvious that Congress no longer works for all the people, it now works for only a select few with deep pockets.
Tuesday, February 22 at 8:00 Eastern another #99erAid Twitter action is being conducted. The first twitter 99erAid action was very successful and produced some much needed 99er attention. Organizers are hoping for more media participation during this event. If you have a twitter account, drop by and add your thoughts. If you don’t have a twitter account, now is a great time to sign up.
Donalee King has more on this effort at 99ers – Listen Up… This is How it is Done / Twitter #99erAID Round 2 Tomorrow
99er advocate needs your vote
99er and ending hunger advocate Kim Doyle Wille is in the running for a cash prize to help her implement her idea to help alleviate hunger.
My idea, which I actually already started last September, is ‘Plant a Row to End Hunger’. Here is the video: http://bit.ly/ezU3ia. Here is the link to vote at Survey Monkey: http://bit.ly/eBUPaI. When I voted last week, my entry was listed first on the page but I’m not sure that is still the case as once one votes, (to prevent multiple voting/cheating from same IP address), the user can not return to the voting page. The voting is simple and only requires clicking a dot next to the idea and the ‘Submit’ tab with NO personal info required!
You can help Kim by watching the video and voting for her effort.
The Daily List
Congress.org has a great media contact list:http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/media/ as does http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=111
You can find your representatives contact information at: http://conservativeusa.org/mega-cong.htm, or at http://www.congress.org/congressorg/directory/congdir.tt.
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I’m looking for stories from people who have been rejected during the hiring process for being unemployed. Have you been the victim of a temp agency that won’t give you an interview because you are unemployed? Have you seen jobs ads for “employed only” or “unemployed need not apply”? Have you lost a chance at a job due to a poor credit score? Send your job rejection experiences to [email protected].
You can also view my updates and new posts at Twitter: http://twitter.com/layofflist and Facebook
Huffington Post is kind enough to give me a chance to post my work at their site. I hope to be able to spread the 99er word using their larger audience. You can see my efforts at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-thornton.