MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Jobless benefits will run out for 2 million people during the holiday season unless they are renewed by a Congress that’s focusing more attention on a quarrel over preserving tax cuts for people making more than $200,000 a year.
Another key issue is government spending.
“I am not voting for any new spending, period, until we get a deficit reduction plan in place,” said Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn.
“I heard the message loud and clear from the voters,” Rep. Peterson told John Williams on WCCO radio Friday morning.
Rep. Collin Peterson Talks With John Williams
An extension of jobless benefits enacted this summer expires Dec. 1, and on Thursday, a bill to extend them for three months failed in the House.
“It will be painful but that is what has to happen,” Peterson said.
In Thursday’s vote, 21 Republicans joined with Democrats in favor. Eleven moderate-to-conservative Democrats opposed the bill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., promised to bring the measure back to the floor after Thanksgiving to try to enact an emergency measure that extend benefits at least through the holidays.
Every recession since 1950 has featured an extended federal benefits program financed with deficit dollars. That’s a precedent Democrats refused to break when battling with Republicans for months earlier this year to extend the program.
But allowing benefits to expire in the holiday season may draw negative attention to Republicans, especially when measured against their insistence on renewing tax cuts for upper-income taxpayers.
The additional jobless benefits programs began in 2008 under President George W. Bush but were made more generous under last year’s economic recovery act.
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