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Dems Scale Back Unemployment Benefits Extension

After hitting a wall of moderate Democrats wary of more deficit spending, House leaders on Wednesday scaled back their sweeping proposal to extend certain tax breaks and emergency unemployment benefits.

While most of the roughly $50 billion savings under the amended bill comes from trimming Medicare payments to doctors, the revised proposal — which House leaders are hoping to pass today — also shortens the deadline extension for unemployment benefits and COBRA health benefits by one month.

Translation: While the original bill extended the filing deadline through the end of the 2010, the newer bill extends the filing deadline through November (i.e., just beyond the midterm elections).

(Of note: Neither proposal would create new tiers of benefits.)

If the House passes the bill today, it then moves to the Senate, where Democratic leaders will have to rally the 60 votes needed to defeat the likely GOP filibuster. Whether they can do it before they leave for their week-long Memorial Day vacation remains a real question.

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