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White House: We’ll Push for Another Unemployment Extension in November

Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs indicated that President Obama might push for another unemployment extension in November, when the extension the Senate plans to authorize today expires.

The Senate is taking a cloture vote today, and hopes to push through a majority-rules vote as soon as possible thereafter. The House needs to then approve the bill, which finally goes to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law. The reauthorization of benefits will extend retroactively to June 2, when 300,000 people a week started to be dropped from the rolls, until Nov. 30. The benefits will aid people who have been unemployed for more than six months in states with unemployment over 8 percent, providing up to 99 weeks of benefits.

Sam Stein at Huffington Post writes that, at a daily press conference yesterday, Gibbs argued the unemployment rate will likely be no better in November, meaning that the White House might push for more benefits:

Gibbs defended the president’s approach, calling unemployment benefits “emergency spending” at a time when the unemployment rate is 9.5 percent. Asked whether that same mindset would hold true at the end of November, when the soon-to-be-passed round of unemployment benefits expire, Gibbs replied:

“I think it is fair and safe to assume that we are not going to wake up and find ourselves at the end of November at a rate of employment one would not consider to be an emergency.”

The press secretary did not offer a definitive number at which the employment situation in this country would suddenly become more tolerable. But he did arbitrarily note that a rate of 9 percent of 8.5 percent would not be “something at where [sic] you decide not to continue unemployment [insurance].”

8.5 or 9 percent is still very, very high. Never before has Congress let emergency unemployment benefits lapse with unemployment over 7 percent. But economists do not expect unemployment to fall to that level until around 2013.

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