WASHINGTON — White House officials have put a number on the amount of people who stand to benefit from extending unemployment and COBRA benefits in Minnesota: 21,600.
The law is expected to impact some 2.5 million nationwide through the extension, which runs through November. Not counted, however are those who have accumulated 99 weeks off the job because this latest extension capped benefits at that limit.
That report underscores arguably the biggest legislative week for Democrats and the White House on the economy of the last 18 months. In addition to the unemployment extension, this week President Obama signed laws aimed at Wall Street reform and reducing government administrative waste.
“So, taken together, we made enormous progress this week on Wall Street reform, on making sure that we’re eliminating waste and abuse in government, and in providing immediate assistance to people who are out there looking for work,” Obama summed up today.
Republicans aren’t so quick to call this a good economic week, however. Unemployment, while down in recent months, is well above where it was when Obama took office. GOPers have criticized the Wall Street reform bill in almost all aspects and the extended unemployment benefits were paid for through deficit spending.
The unemployment vote particularly will be a key issue through the fall, with Democrats applauding the vote as compassion for those hit hardest by the economic downturn while Republicans hold fast to concerns about the ever-rising deficit (forecast at $1.47 trillion this year) and a national debt that has now risen above $13.2 trillion.