A tribute to the 99ers: We are not invisible.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Passing H.R. 589

I became involved with the 99ers in July, 2010. Activists had been advocating for TierV/extended unemployment benefits beyond 99 weeks prior to my involvement. To date there has been 1 vote on Tier V. S3706 failed to pass the Senate. In the House, H.R. 6556 was introduced in Dec. 2010 during the waning days of the Democratic majority in the 111th Congress. H.R. 589, the 112th Congress sibling of HR 6556 was introduced in Feb. 2011 and referred to committee. The committee must be very busy because no one has heard much about H.R. 589 since February.

Many passionate, bright, energetic individuals have devoted day and night spreading information about the benefits of passing unemployment benefits on top of the 99 week maximum. Still the answer from Congress is "we're just not that into Tier V." Perhaps it's time to try another approach.

Currently written, H.R. 589 would add an additional 14 weeks of unemployment benefits in Tier II and be available to all, including those unemployed that have max'ed out at 99 weeks anytime in the last 13 months. While much will be the same 14 weeks from today (or whenever H.R. 589 passes) 14 weeks of benefits would be a godsend for millions of unemployed and the businesses where the unemployed will spend those benefits. Houses (and therefore neighborhood housing values) will be preserved. Homelessness will be prevented. Some will find work, others will find a path to self employment.  14 weeks means survival for many.

Herein lies the path to passage for H.R. 589.  Unemployed, unemployment fairness advocates and umbrella groups organizing on behalf of the unemployed must concentrate on a vision for week 15. Specifically, show the benefits of H.R. 589 as it expires for the first group of recipients. Contrast that vision with a picture of another 15 weeks without anything for millions. If the unemployed can articulate these 2 different scenarios and connect on a visceral level with the populace as a whole, momentum for H.R. 589 can build. What starts as a few voices can in fact become a loud loyal chorus.  Isn't that right, Wisconsin? 


  1. When does our Government start acting on behalf of the people in this country? People will only be patient to an extent. When the Government has reduced its own people to poverty while they are living lavishly it will only be a matter of time before they start loosing their patients. Some of our elected officials are already protesting in the streets. The Senate is way out of control and they are pushing buttons with people. We need HR 589 to go to the floor and like a year ago. Millions of unemployed have been without benefits for a year and better. When do the people of this country matter? Instead our Government tries to save the world and sends money to help them when we are suffering here. If they find the money for other countries without a blink of the eye then they better start funding the now poor middle class.

  2. As far as I have been able to find out Oregon has reached out to 99ers with the passage of S.B.638.It provides an emergency extension of unemployment benefits with state money. I looked it up on www.leg.or.us/index.html Looks real enough. Now lets see what happens. I still firmly believe in 589 and will do my best to help it no matter the outcome here in Oregon Ill fight for the people and for my country period.

  3. The US government has indeed turned a blind eye by doing nothing about an unemployment rate still 2+ points higher than when the banks melted down. Banks are doing fine, the rest of us... Further with many economists predicting unemployment of 8%+ as the new norm, no one has yet produced a model for overall prosperity while so many will be in poverty. Scary and shortsighted. Still, as a collective, the long term unemployed have yet to give DC reason to fear a voting block. The "screw you, I'm staying home" method of Nov. '10 seems to have backfired. Time to try other strategies to get the pol's attention.

    It's great that Oregon has step to the plate. Since most States are upside down financially, declaring war on the poor and middle class and sucking up to big biz, I don't expect much. Still yea for Oregon.

    Thanks to both of you for jumping on. Would love for you to add your ID.

  4. You say " H.R. 589 would add an additional 14 weeks of unemployment benefits in Tier II and be available to all, including those unemployed that have max'ed out at 99 weeks anytime in the last 13 months" What about those who have been unemployed since 2008 when all these tiers started. Do we get left out of any benefits again? I still can't find a job and I know it's because of age (I'm 61) and the fact that my resume say's my last job was in March 2008.

  5. My heart goes out to you. I can't imagine what you are going through. I do believe based on the time frame you offer that you should have been eligible for up to 99 weeks depending on your state. As for what HR 589 will look like in final form, who know? It still hasn't gone from committee to the floor.