Pelosi: Extending Unemployment Benefits Would Create ‘600,000 Jobs’

Edwin Mora | December 15, 2011 | 2:43pm EST
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( -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that extending unemployment benefits would add “600,000 jobs to our economy.”

She also said that the money from unemployment benefits creates a “safety net” for the U.S. economy because it “injects demand into the economy -- creating jobs.”

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“Christmas is 10 days away,” said Pelosi at a press briefing on Capitol Hill today. “The president and Democrats in Congress have been very clear. We're not going home without enacting a payroll tax cut for America's working families and extending unemployment insurance for millions of Americans.”

“The payroll tax cut that the president proposed would put $1,500 in the pockets of 160 million Americans,” she said. “The unemployment insurance extension is not only good for individuals. It has a macroeconomic impact. As macroeconomic advisers have stated, it would make a difference of 600,000 jobs to our economy.”

Pelosi did not name those “macroeconomic advisers.” She continued: “Again this is important because this is about the safety net not just for these individuals, but for our economic system that, in times of unemployment, we have a safety net and that is important.”

“Again, [not only] a safety net for individuals, but a safety net for the economy,” she said, “and again this money when received is immediately spent, it’s urgently needed, and injects demand into the economy, creating jobs.”

Pelosi said President Barack Obama will not sign the Republican bill to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance benefits, which passed on Tuesday. That legislation is paid for by extending the standing pay freeze for federal workers for one more year, mandating that federal workers make larger contributions to their pensions, and raising the insurance rates for mortgages held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Millionaires would also be banned from collecting unemployment benefits and food stamps under the bill. Furthermore, Medicare Part B and D premiums would go up for those in the high-income bracket.

On the other hand, Democrats who rejected the House legislation want the bill to be paid for by raising taxes on the rich, which they define as people making more than $1 million a year.

President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The president will not sign the bill that the Republicans passed –"having issues that have nothing to do with the payroll tax, like the Keystone Pipeline and again [a] diminished, diminished proposal for the payroll tax cut and in the unemployment insurance,” Pelosi told reporters. “Under the Republican bill, 1 million Americans will lose there unemployment insurance in January; 2 million by February; and the difference between the president's bill and the Republican bill is 3 million people losing their unemployment insurance.”

“After avoiding the issue and opposing a payroll tax cut, Republicans reluctantly passed through the House a bill that was doomed from the start,” said Pelosi. “It had the seeds of its own destruction there.”

The House bill was expected to fail in the Democrat-majority Senate on Wednesday morning. That was prevented by Republicans blocking a vote on the legislation, arguing that the $1-trillion omnibus appropriations bill to keep the government funded should take precedent. If the omnibus spending bill does not pass by Friday, when the last Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded expires, the government could shut down.

Although Senate Democrats indicated they would support dropping the millionaire surtax to pay for extending a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits after a White House meeting on Wednesday, they adamantly oppose several provisions of the Republican bill, such as forcing a quick administration response on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and reforms to long-term benefits for the jobless.

The Keystone XL pipeline project, a joint venture with TransCanada, would create an estimated 20,000 new jobs in the United States.

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