Two Million Americans Could Lose Their Unemployment Benefits by Christmas

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Photo: Dorthea Lange/Library of Congress

Republican Senator Scott Brown wasn't sure how best to say "Merry Christmas!" to the two million Americans who've found themselves the unfortunate victims of long-term unemployment, a hallmark of this, our greatest recession. First, he thought maybe one of those photo cards of his family in matching reindeer sweaters? But then, hours before extended unemployment benefits were set to expire at midnight last night, he decided what better way than to block a Democratic proposal to extend them for another year? Jobless benefits typically expire after six months, but Congress, who has let benefits lapse twice this year already, already extended them for up to 99 weeks. (The latest data shows a quarter of the unemployed have been out of work for more than a year, and 10 percent have been unemployed for at least two years.) Republicans insist the considerable cost of the benefits — $160 billion in the past year — be offset by cuts to prevent the $13.8 trillion deficit from rising. Fiscal responsibility should be paramount. Here's an idea: How about those Bush-era tax cuts for billionaires? No? Well, we're sure some other glaringly obvious cost-cutting measure will turn up any day now.

2 million lose jobless benefits as holidays loom [MSNBC]