Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., who is leading the extension fight in the Senate, made a unanimous-consent request Tuesday to extend the insurance for a year. It failed to advance. “We’ve asked, as Democrats, that this UI proposal be part of the budget negotiations,” Reed said. “We’ve had to seek a stand-alone legislative vehicle” instead.
Even if Reed, Sanders and others succeed in the Senate, there is still the GOP-dominated House to deal with. The only real hope of renewal seems to be if the White House can broker a deal with House Speaker John Boehner. But unless enough liberal Democrats oppose the budget deal because it doesn't include EUC, where's the leverage?
In the vast majority of states, the jobless who are covered by unemployment insurance are eligible for 26 weeks of state compensation at an average of $300 a week, plus 37 weeks of extended compensation under EUC at an average of $269. In the three states with the worst official unemployment rates—Illinois, Nevada and Rhode Island (plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands)—they can collect the maximum allowable 47 weeks under EUC. But in seven states, the long-term unemployed can only collect less than 26 weeks. In Georgia, the worst case, it's only 18 weeks, plus just 25 weeks of EUC compensation.
As Kossack gjohnsit has explained, killing the EUC could mean that the official unemployment rate—an undercount that is now at 7 percent—will go down. Not because people losing their compensation would find jobs, but because they would drop out of the labor force altogether and therefore no long be counted. The longer one is unemployed, studies have shown, the harder it is to find a job, in part because employers are less likely to hire someone out of work for an extended period. Brad Plumer pointed out over a week ago:
That means many workers could drop out of the labor force completely and thus won't be included in the "official" unemployment rate, which could fall as much as 0.25 to 0.5 percentage points.
In other words, it will look as if the labor market has improved, even though it hasn't. Indeed, some researchers argue that the expiration of benefits could even hurt the economy further by reducing consumer spending. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that this lapse could whittle 0.2 percentage points off GDP next year.
It doesn't take "some researchers" to figure that a couple of million people without work or government assistance will definitely be reducing their spending and hurt the economy. Obvious, one would think, even to the wooliest-minded tea partier. But not to the likes of Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who, as Laura Clawson notes
, lies about unemployment benefits.
In fact, all or almost all the Republicans, as well Democrats who go along with this devil-take-the-hindmost budget deal, obviously don't care what happens to these long-term unemployed. There are still 4.1 million of those, two-thirds of them already uncovered by unemployment compensation, and millions more who have already dropped out of the labor force because they couldn't find jobs in an economy that has been officially in recovery for 53 months. Out of sight, out of mind and shit out of luck.