Due to this administration’s failed economic policies, we are suffering through the worst employment crisis since the Great Depression. Republicans have worked to ensure that a safety net is available for Americans when they lose their jobs, but have also promoted reforms that will protect taxpayers by reducing historically-high unemployment benefits in areas of the country where the unemployment rate is stable or falling. House Republicans have a Plan for America’s Job Creators to turn this economy around so more Americans can count on paychecks, not government checks.
In the bipartisan payroll tax and unemployment insurance extension passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in February, several bipartisan reforms to unemployment insurance were included. One of these changes included allowing the federally-funded extended benefits program to expire in states where unemployment has been stable or fallen relative to the same period in any of the past three years. This week, as a result of this change, extended benefits will end in eight states (CA, NC, FL, IL, CO, CT, PA, and TX) where unemployment rates are stable or falling.
There are two important items to be aware of when responding to questions about the expiration of extended program benefits. First, this reform was initially proposed by President Obama in his American Jobs Act and was subsequently supported by Republicans and Democrats when it was included in the final package that President Obama signed into law. Second, extended benefits are ending this week in these states because their respective unemployment rates are stable or falling. This “rise requirement” has been a key condition for paying these extended benefits over this program’s history.
Below you will find some sample charges and responses to help you prepare for potential constituent communication on this subject. Please do not hesitate to contact Conference at 5-5107 if you have any questions or need additional assistance.
Charge: Republicans cut 3 to 4 months of unemployment benefits for workers in 8 states.
Response: This bipartisan reform contained in H.R. 3630, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, was first proposed by and then signed into law by President Obama. Under the president’s proposal, full federal funding for unemployment insurance extended benefits remains available if the unemployment rate in any state has risen compared to the rate over the same period in the last three years. Because some states no longer satisfy this “rise requirement,” they are no longer eligible to pay these weeks of federal unemployment benefits. House Republicans have a Plan for America’s Job Creators to turn this economy around so more Americans can count on paychecks, not government checks.
Charge: States that are no longer eligible for the extended benefits program will not receive federal unemployment insurance funding for the long-term unemployed.
Response: Not true. H.R. 3630 extended federally funded unemployment insurance benefits through the end of calendar year 2012. The Emergency Unemployment Compensation program provides the bulk of federal funding for unemployment insurance benefits for states and has been routinely extended in recent years. When eligible workers lose their jobs, the Unemployment Compensation program may provide up to 26 weeks of income support through the payment of regular state unemployment compensation benefits. After that, and as a result of the extension of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program earlier this year, federal unemployment benefits may be available for up to either an additional 53 weeks (now) or an additional 47 weeks (starting in September 2012). The variation depends on the unemployment rate in a given state. House Republicans have a Plan for America’s Job Creators to turn this economy around so more Americans can count on paychecks, not government checks.
Charge: Due to reductions Republicans pushed through earlier this year, states are being haphazardly denied federal funding under the extended benefits program.
Response: States become ineligible for the extended benefits program when their unemployment rate is stable or declines relative to the same time over the three previous years. This program was intended to provide additional assistance to states with historically high and rising unemployment. When state unemployment rates fall, a state may become ineligible for additional extended benefits, but that’s how the system was intended to operate and something which even the president proposed continuing. As state unemployment goes down, their dependence on taxpayer assistance is also reduced. Meanwhile, even with the expiration of extended program benefits, all states remain eligible for additional federal unemployment benefits through the larger Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. House Republicans have a Plan for America’s Job Creators to turn this economy around so more Americans can count on paychecks, not government checks.
Background: On February 22, 2012, President Obama signed H.R. 3630, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. The bill contained provisions proposed by President Obama in legislation he submitted to Congress in September of 2011 that would require the continued use of a three-year lookback to determine if a state is eligible for additional, federally funded unemployment benefits under the extended benefits program. As a result of using the three-year lookback as opposed to a two-year lookback the program has historically applied, states that have seen a leveling out or decrease in their unemployment rate will no longer be eligible for extended unemployment benefits under the extended benefits program.
Under current law, 100 percent federally funded unemployment insurance benefits may be extended for up to a further 13 or 20 weeks by the permanent extended benefits program under certain state economic conditions. Up to 13 weeks of benefits are made available if the total unemployment rate is at least 6.5 percent (or a maximum of 20 weeks if the total unemployment rate is 8.0 percent) and is at least 110 percent of the state’s average true unemployment rate for the same period in either of the previous three years. Historically, states were authorized to use lookback calculations based on two years of unemployment rate data (rather than the current lookback of three years of data) to determine extended benefits eligibility. The president proposed and signed into law the recent legislation maintaining the current three-year lookback through calendar year 2012.