Skip the Mailbox, Unemployed People, Your Check Isn't There

Cynthia Dermody

man holding unemployment posterIf you're one of the more than one million unemployed folks who hasn't received a benefits check since May, prepare to keep waiting a little longer. Maybe a lot longer.

It appears members of Congress will not vote on a $33.9 billion unemployment benefits extension package before they head to their beach houses, golf courses, and resorts for a week-long Independence Day break. A filibuster in the Senate prevented the bill from moving forward yesterday.

As always, the holdup is a Democrat-Republican thing. Both parties are willing to fund the benefits; the question is whether it comes out of the nation's savings account or gets put on the credit card, adding to what is already a mountain of debt.

We have this discussion in my house all the time. Our (very hefty) day care bill comes due, but there isn't enough in the checking account at this very moment to cover it. So we can either take it from the savings account or charge it.

We have enough debt, thank you, so for household expenses we usually delve into the savings and promise ourselves we will put it right back as soon as the next paycheck comes in. But somehow the money never finds its way back there.

Instead the imaginary money earmarked for savings replenishment gets spent on groceries, a new ceiling fan because it's unbearably hot, and those iPod speakers I feel are really justified because how could we have a barbecue without music and still show our faces afterwards?

I'm guessing that's the way it works in government, too, which is why I understand the Republicans not wanting to add to the debt. They want the money to come from unspent funds in last year's economic recovery package, which they claim was a big failure anyway.

The unemployment bill would have provided up to a total of 99 weekly unemployment checks averaging $335 to people whose 26 weeks of state-paid benefits have run out, according to the Associated Press. The benefits would be available through the end of November.

The current bill proposed borrowing the money to pay for that. Democrats didn't like the GOP counterproposal of using recovery package money because they want to spend that on "jobs programs." The Republicans say if the Democrats would only cut a number lawmakers' "pet projects" from the stash, they could come up with the unemployment money.

Priorities, men and women of Congress. It's time to sit down and decide how much you really need those iPod speakers.

Where should the unemployment money come from -- the nation's savings account or put on our credit card?

Image via aflcio/Flickr

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