By Jason Sattler

5 Times George W. Bush Extended Unemployment Insurance Benefits

December 20, 2013 1:49 pm Category: Memo Pad, Politics 41 Comments A+ / A-
5 Times George W. Bush Extended Unemployment Insurance Benefits

In his December 14, 2002 weekly radio address, President George W. Bush reminded Congress that “no final bill was sent to me extending unemployment benefits for about 750,000 Americans whose benefits will expire on December 28th.”

He went on, “These Americans rely on their unemployment benefits to pay for the mortgage or rent, food, and other critical bills. They need our assistance in these difficult times, and we cannot let them down.”

What was the unemployment rate in December 2002?

It had just risen to 6.0 percent.

The unemployment rate today is 7.0 percent and at the end of this year 1.3 million Americans — including 20,000 veterans — who have been out of work for more than six months will have their unemployment insurance benefits cut off. Republicans in Congress have refused to extend these benefits, though the Congressional Budget Office predicts failing to do so will cost the economy 200,000 jobs.

The Republican Congress heeded George W. Bush’s call to extend unemployment insurance as they had the March before. They passed a bill and he signed it.

In 2003, the American economy was still dealing with the residue of the dot-com bust and economic shock of the 9/11 attacks — but it was still considerably stronger than the America that lived through the Great Recession and continues to see its growth hindered by government austerity.

The extended unemployment benefits Congress is about to let expire actually began under George W. Bush, long after his 2003 extension expired as unemployment dipped below 5 percent again. In 2008, as the financial crisis began to rock the economy, President Bush signed an extension of 13 weeks, 39 weeks total in most states, for anyone living in a state with unemployment over 6.0 percent. He also signed unemployment extensions that specifically helped the victims of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.

All five times Bush extended unemployment benefits, he did so with the majority of Republicans in Congress supporting him.

At the peak of the crisis, when unemployment was around 10 percent, Congress and President Obama extended benefits to 99 weeks. The current maximum is 73 weeks.

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  • Independent1

    Amazing isn’t it? How a party can become so obsessed with trying to further its own corrupt ambitions that it loses all sense of humanity, decency and common sense?? The GOP has become so hellbent on doing everything it can to prevent Obama and the Democrats from achieving even one identifiable positive thing for America (economic/job growth) that they’re willing to let even those of have fought so hard for our freedoms suffer; thousands of those on long term unemployment are veterans who were sent to war primarily by none other than the party which is now doing everything it can to punish them.

    When are more Americans going to become outraged by what has become a self-centered, bigoted and utterly corrupt group of non-politicians who have the audacity to call themselves Republican Congresspeople???

    • RobertCHastings

      Those who feel no outrage are hypocrite “Christians”, Republicans who want to believe they represent good family values, values based upon the teachings of Jesus. Unfortunately, they have been taught these values by their fellow Christians who have an apparent political bias and agenda. As the article points out, the plight of the unemployed is no different today than it was 11 years ago, under a different president and a different Congress – but, that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

      • Jim Kaye

        It’s all Political Theater to keep the people divided and protect the Status Quo!!! Welfare is nothing but a tool to lower the wages for Corporate profit!!! Since most of the Governments deficits go to Welfare programs or Subsidies. The National Deficit is the inflation being taken out of the economy and distributed to a select few. Both parties are corrupt as can be!!!! The ponzi scheme of printing dollars for oil is at the end of it’s life span!!!! It has sucked the wealth out of most of the western countries!!!! Buy Bitcoin and say good bye to the US Dollar (Petrodollar)

    • charleo1

      In explanation of Republicans. They’re sick, lost, and a long way from home.
      And, they are scared, under internal attack, and can feel their strength ebbing away. They are desperate as a political organization, to somehow demonstrate to their dwindling, and divided base, and to themselves, that they are still important. That the Country needs them, and may not move ahead without them. That they still have enough power to shut down the Government of the most powerful Nation on Earth! Yet, the Country does move on, as it must. The World never rests, or waits, while compasses are checked, or, familiar paths are found. There is always tomorrow to prepare for, and, America hasn’t the time. So, even as they bluff, and bluster, and try to make themselves appear bigger, with their false bravado, and mock charges. These too, only serve to confirm their precarious, predicament. But, we must be vigilant. In their current condition, cornered, and confused, they still have the capacity to harm. Blindly lashing out at an enemy which they feel is all around them. They are dangerous, and the enemy they feel,
      is their former constituents, and Countrymen. So battered, and dazed are
      they, in their constant state of upheaval, and war, and the fog of war. They fail to recognize, they are adrift in their own backyard.

      • Independent1

        As you mentioned that despite the GOP’s every effort to prevent it, the country must still move forward, it was encouraging to see that the GOP’s obstruction isn’t totally preventing the country from moving forward with this in the news yesterday showing a restatement of America’s 3rd quarter GDP growth showing that we are moving forward faster than anyone previously believed:

        From a CNN email news update:

        Wow! The U.S. economy suddenly looks a lot perkier in the third quarter than originally thought, according to revised data released by the government today.

        Gross domestic product — the broadest measure of economic
        activity — grew at a 4.1% annual pace in the third quarter, up from the 2.8% pace that was originally reported in November. The government typically reports its GDP figures at least three times, and today’s report is the final number for the third quarter.

        This is encouraging news, especially after economists had largely written off the previous GDP revision for the third quarter because
        much of the growth came from businesses building up their inventories.

        • charleo1

          It is absolutely encouraging. What a fight, eh? Dragging the Republicans every step of the way! I’ve never seen, a Party act in such a deliberate, and intentional way, as to prevent a recovery from occurring. Willing to use the misery of people losing their jobs, homes, and running through their savings, as leverage. And with every tidbit of hopeful economic news, they’d run to the nearest mic, and try to shoot it down! Telling Americans, it was getting worse, and would never get any better, unless support was cut for the unemployed, and taxes lowered for the rich. In my book, it was the single most protracted, and undeviating act of un-Americanism, in the face of a National crisis, America has ever endured. Now, if we look back 5 years ago this month, it was literally impossible to judge what kind of horrible, and in many ways, unprecedented dire, fiscal shape this Country, and the World economy was in. There were no financial expert anywhere, that could with certainty tell us what the financial future held. And these jack asses, I truly believe, even today, would stand by while the Country went down the tubes. If they thought for one second, the other Party would get the blame, and they’d score a political victory. So, another piece of good news is, the GOP got their wish. It’s Obama’s economy alright! And their shame to live down.

      • tax payer

        Republicans love to save money for the tax payers and the Democrats love to give tax payers money. So, who should we choose to be there for us. Let me see, Oh yes, Republicans.

        • highpckts

          What about the $600 checks Bush had mailed out to everyone for no discerning reason?? You are full of it! Did you not read the article? Bush extended unemployment 5 times!!!

          • tax payer

            That was in the Past and we are in the Present. I never received a check, so did they mailed it to you? I want my money because it’s mine. Wait a minute I was never unemployed, so I didn’t deserve that $600.00. You keep it.

          • highpckts

            It wasn’t mailed to just the unemployed!! I am making the point that it is not just the Dems that “give” away money and you have a very selective memory!!

        • Independent1

          I’m starting to believe that your nothing more than a mole, a right-wing biased troll pretending to be a clueless dumbcoff. You keep spouting garbage that you’ve been educated about time and time again. You’re intentionally refusing to accept facts that are given to you because you’re nothing more than one of the trolls that should be banned from the NM like Montana Bill and Germansmith.

          I’ve got to make Joe Conason wise about you. It’s starting to get really tiring listening to your constant whining about issues that anyone with 1/2 a brain should have remembered because not only myself but numerous other NM posters have educated you on your nonsense ideas multiple times already.

          • tax payer

            Well, at least you think I am smarter than the average Joe. Do you really think I would shed tears, if I were to be banned? I don’t think so. So, I have a suggestion for you try to skip my comments. No one forces you to read them. You do it because you want to otherwise you would skip my comments. I am here because I want to and, if I leave who are you going to argue with? Yourself? We are different and that’s the way it is, so accept it or move on because I plan to stay. Oh, by the way what set you off this time?

          • tax payer

            Say, who is Joe Conason.? Your brother? Your Priest? Your Broker? Your Professor? Your what?

  • 4sanity4all

    Besides extending unemployment benefits, there are other things that Congress could do to help hasten the recovery. First, pass a jobs bill, stimulating the economy has always helped, in every recession and depression. Pass a law that it is illegal to refuse to hire a person who has been unemployed for that reason alone, assuming that the job seeker has the qualifications. Amend the tax code to make it an economic plus to create jobs. These are not huge fixes, but they would signal employers that Congress is behind a solid recovery. Such signals have worked in the past. I am old, and I have never seen so many politicians working so hard against the interests of the people they are supposed to represent. Have they forgotten the millions of people in their home states, and are they only concerned with their wealthy benefactors?

    • Independent1

      I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, I doubt Republicans are going to allow anything to move forward that would help with the economy, especially with so many intransigent tea party representatives in the house determined to prevent the economy from really reving up because it may give Democrats an advantage in the 2014 and 16 elections.,

    • sigrid28

      I find your to-do list just right. Two more things that are on my wish list, voting on a system to put in place a living wage and restoring food assistance programs like WIC and SNAP. Replacing sequestration with sensible cuts and reorganization would restore many of the 750,000 jobs lost in that debacle. If the 1% could just commit to going on a diet from their enormous profits for one year, plowing some of their wealth into jobs and better wages and benefits for workers–just for one year–they might be surprised to find that even they will feel the benefits of a society rolling along on an economy that has a little spring in its step.

    • Duckbudder

      “are they only concerned with their wealthy benefactors?”

      YES!

  • Dominick Vila

    One of the greatest ironies, when we hear the Tea Party diatribes about fiscal responsibility, is the contradiction between what they purportedly advocate, and their record. Longing for a return to the good ole days when an inept administration transformed a budget surplus into a resumption of deficit spending in one year, when we engaged in two unfunded wars and hid the cost under the nebulous umbrella of unfunded liabilities, when friends of the administration were given sole source contracts that cost taxpayers $1T and were seldom finished, and when distortion, deceit, and outright lies resulted in the death and displacement of hundreds of thousands of people is not just suicidal, it is pervasive.

  • FT66

    It is quite unbelievable that they allowed “W” five times to extend the unemployment benefits. Most of old/long service congress people were there then and approved it. Did the suffering then, differ from what unemployed are going through now? If these long service people in congress were lenient that time,why not now? They can have the power to cut off their benefits, but unemployement have also the power to vote them out come 2014. If anyone don’t agree with me, they better ask Romney what happened to him in 2012 election.

    • tax payer

      He lost because his opponent made promises he couldn’t keep. Unemployment is just a way for these people to milk the system because really how can someone not find a job in 99 weeks? They can’t, if they don’t make an effort.

      • pisces63

        What non realitiy are you living in? I watched my son-in-law lose a job at christmas in 2011 and not find a permenant position until Nov. 2012. My daughter lost hers through a bank downsizing in 2008, remember the time? She stayed on line from dawn to evening filing and looking for positions. Most positions, now, you do have to go on line. That pounding the pavement no longer works. So when the dimbulbed republicans say they are sitting on the couch, they probably are, searching the web for a job. She had to request an application, do assessments and even interviews on line. It took her over a year to get her present position. Apparently, you haven’t been out there searching in a long while, have you? Even where I work, I got my position through a temp agency after 14 years as a housewife and been here since, 27+ years. I had a face to face interview for what every position I got here. Not on line, either. Bank America just shut down, here in the Cleveland area, costing thousands their jobs. One lady with 3 children was denied food stamps while receiving just $200 every other week. You may call it fair but paying an insurance premium for a benefit is not a handout, unless, you will forgo insurance payments if your house catches fire. Isn’t that a hand out, too, using the dichotomy of ass holes?

        • Independent1

          pisces, I sympathize with you completely; finding a job today that pays enough to make it worthwhile is a monumental struggle. Unfortunately, tax payer is totally devoid of any mental capacity whatsoever and any sense of compassion as well. He/she has also lost all common sense and ability to reason. Providing tax payer with any information whatsoever, is an effort in futility.

          Best wishes for happy holidays, and a happy and healthy new year!!

          • pisces63

            Thank you and to you and yours a Merry christmas and Happy New Year, too.

        • tax payer

          Say what?

  • paulyz

    One thing about unemployment benefits; to continue them indefinitely is basically welfare. After a certain amount of time there should be job training to get these people employed again, not becoming dependent on it. If the economy is improving, why aren’t these long-term unemployed being trained for work, meanwhile, Millions of Illegals take jobs away from them.

    • FT66

      You do not train them without having jobs waiting for them. Create jobs first, then train them for jobs which are there waiting to be taken. Contrary to that, you will be totally doing nothing.

    • Bill Thompson

      Our economy works on demand not a supply-side system. Ronald Reagan created the supply-side mentality, it has been a miserable failure. Jobs are created when people have a livable wage with expendable income it creates jobs and demand. Once demand rises to the level that a producer can no longer meet that demand is when a person will be hired and not one minute before. Supply-side economics is voodoo economics when will the people of this country learn put the money in the hands of the working people not rich.

    • charleo1

      One thing about unemployment benefits, is they are not generous enough
      to become dependent on. A common misnomer about unemployment benefits, is they are welfare. While in fact, are only available to people
      who have qualified for them by being previously employed. And,
      becoming unemployed, through no fault of their own. In other words,
      they weren’t fired for cause, or quit their jobs to collect them. Another
      fact about unemployment benefits is, they often make the difference between remaining unemployed for a much longer time. Or retaining
      vital necessities, to reenter the workplace. Such as phone, or internet service, so they are easy for prospective employers to contact. And,
      transportation to both seek, and be work ready. Or to retain a
      permanent address, without which, it is nearly impossible to be
      considered for a position. Remember, not everyone has a relative, or
      friend capable of taking them in. And unfortunately, in a tough job
      market, employers often pass over those listing seedy motels as a
      home address. And finally, these benefits are not wasted money. Far
      from it. Economists tell us unemployment benefits are one of the most
      effective ways to inject capital quickly, and directly into the economy. Important in boosting the bottom line of businesses, who are struggling
      along with their communities, to weather the financial storm. As nearly
      !00% of these dollars will go directly into the local economies. Creating demand, stimulating growth, and serving to create more jobs. And of
      course, thereby eliminating the overall need for additional assistance.
      Looking at our present circumstances, only slowly coming out of a long,
      and, arduous recession. The deepest since the the Great Depression of
      the 1930s era. Benefits should be extended in those areas where the
      unemployment rate continues to be above a healthier, and more normal
      rate of, 51/2%, to 6%. As the economy is now showing good signs of a vigorous recovery. Economist warn not to withdraw these vital programs
      too soon, and risk missing this opportunity to restore economic growth.
      A situation in which all, both the rich, the poor, and the vital Middle Class
      win a more prosperous future.

    • pisces63

      They do not continue indefinitely. This is a paid for benefit, not free. I see it on my pay stub and I have NEVER used it. The extensions only work in states with high unemployment rates. i.e., In say Iowa, withan unemployment rate of 3%, the extensions are not there. In a state with a percentage highter, over 8%, they qualify for the extension of benefits. This is not blanket and it has it’s provisos. IF only two states have high unemployment rates, those are the only two to receive the extended benefit, paid for.

      • Independent1

        There are currently 22 states with unemployment rates higher than the national average of 7%. From 7.1% to 9%. These 22 states are evenly distributed; 11 red and 11 blue.

    • pisces63

      As for training programs, this congress denied the funds for training programs already in the works. They are no longer there because of the republicans. Millions of nothing take away nothing. When are you going to get rid of the lie and even if they take jobs, I bet you dollars to donuts, republicans or their rich shills are hiring them under the table while bitching about their presence, insurance coverage, etc. It’s how they roll!!

    • pisces63

      Will someone tell me how you become dependent on something that is limited? That isn’t working for me. Any one else???? That’s like becoming dependent on cast when you have a broken limb. It isn’t there forever.

  • howa4x

    The reality is that there was a different Republican party during the Bush years, one that was fiscally conservative but had empathy for struggling Americans. Enter the tea party into the ranks of the republican party and the change in philosophy begins. The original TP started as disaffected working class people who saw the 08 bailouts of the wealthy bankers as heresy. Crafty and unscrupulous politicians like the defrocked Dick Armey saw that energy and was able to turn a leaderless movement’s energy against the ACA which was sold to them as another socialist giveaway of their money. The other prong to vent their angst was the debt which had swelled by Bush but Obama needed the stimulus and that is where they made their stand. Now there was 2 issues they could focus their energy on. The Koch bros saw an opportunity to create an anti Obama movement and added the loosening of environmental regulations to the Pyre. Now with an infusion of Koch money and a field of candidates the TP was off and running sweeping along with the republicans into power. Moderate senators and representatives were swept away and a new meaner breed of politician arrives. These are people who had to work hard for what they got and began to resent anyone on any form of government relief. Also there was an virulent anti Obama rhetoric that emerged with a background of racism. Signs depicting the President sitting on the ground in a mud hut with a bone in his nose were common at TP rallies. He was seen as a Kenyan Muslim socialist and there was a need to oppose anything he proposed.
    The movement morphed into the makers and takers philosophy. Now people on any form of relief were labeled takers and a drain on the economy. This is the motivation behind the food stamp cuts and the willingness to gut any social program including SS and Medicare. Club for Growth and other groups provided the intellectual basis for these decisions and a new universe of right wing talk shows became the cheering section.
    This is the witches brew that Bush didn’t have to deal with. The Idea compassionate conservatism died when he left office.

    • Independent1

      I agree with your whole post except for the 1st sentence – from my vantage point I haven’t seen that Republicans have been fiscal conservatives for decades nor have they had empathy for any Americans below the 1 or 2 Percenters.

      In fact, my impression was that during at least the 1st six Bush years, the Republican Congresses that were voted in were very irresponsible not only financially but also ethically irresponsible as well They rubber stamped virtually every piece of legislation Bush sent to them as if he was a dictator, rarely questioning anything, and because if their large majorities, they did not allow even allow the Dems to bring forward possible amendments to his irresponsible bills.

      Because of this, Bush got away with signing 2 unfunded tax cuts, starting two unfunded wars, also getting a drug benefit giveaway to Big Pharma called Medicare Part D passed with a caveat that greatly increased Big Pharma’s profits (the govt can’t negotiate drug prices) and a number of other unfunded pieces of legislation for state mandates such as the No Child Left Behind fiasco. The only thing the GOP stood up to Bush over was trying to privatize Social Security. I’m not sure how you can classify GOP Congresses that allowed Bush to run up 250 to 500 billion in deficit spending every year he was in office, none of which he included in his budgeta, which ended up adding almost 7 trillion to our debt in 8 years as being “fiscally conservative”.

      • howa4x

        True I stand corrected they weren’t fiscally responsible

      • pisces63

        Plus, everyone seems to forget, NSA received added power and funding, a month after 9/11 under the Patriot Act. Information went digital so they could tap into phone lines and any communication via the internet. Those of us with a clue who protested were labeled unAmerican and unpatriotic. Their powers of surveillance and intrusion were greatly enhanced and now everyone takes this phony gasp because they found out other countries were spied upon. Germany I disregard. She isn’t going to tell me they haven’t been under scrutiny since Truman, is she? After all, Andrea, your country started the last two major WW’s.

        • Independent1

          I understand all that. But to be quite honest, your local phone company, Google, and many retailers, know as much about you as NSA. Google,Yahoo and other outlets, scan people’s emails and on-line activity just like NSA. Within minutes of making a purchase at a retailer, I either get emails from them and other retailers promoting the products I was just looking or when I’m on other websites, advertisements pop up promoting the products I was just viewing. Anyone who thinks they have any degree of true privacy today’s world, totally irrespective of NSA, is purely delusional and getting overly fanatic about the loss of it; is a total waste of time. People have to start learning to live with it, or move to an island in the middle of an ocean with no outside communication whatsoever.

          • pisces63

            I know. I can order from a specialty store on line and within minutes I have other, like stores jumping at me. My point about NSA is the total hipocrisy going on. It was fine one month after 9/11, exactly, with few people pushing back and the help of the search engines, mostly involuntary, and now there are law suits, etc. Where were they before this administration? They’ve come too late to the party with all this righteous indignation.

          • Independent1

            I couldn’t agree more!! And the most indignant have totally lost sight of the fact that NSA surveillance has helped save lives; And no one really knows how many lives have been saved because they have no idea the extent of the disasters that the terrorists whose lives have been snuffed out, may have perpetrated on innocent people all around the world, including America.

  • centerroad

    How do we restore our compassion, our empathy?

  • Neil400

    OMG, this is one of the most intelligent and well thought out threads of discussion I have ever read through. There are many of you here that really have your facts straight about which congress and president did what and when. I am so tired of people who can only mouth the words they hear from the tea-baggers or hear or read on the far right media with not so much as an afterthought about whether or not their [facts] are straight let alone if they are even true. You are restoring my faith in America and the Americans there-in, thank you.

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