Saturday 15th of August 2020

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Obama Suggests Additional Aid For Jobless

Laid-off workers may be getting a package of additional assistance that includes an extension of unemployment insurance and healthcare benefits. While no one in the administration is officially asking for another round of economic stimulus incentives, aides said such options include:

  • More time for the enhanced jobless benefits that are scheduled to expire Dec. 31.
  • Extending a tax credit for laid-off employees who opt to continue their medical coverage through COBRA, which allows them continue with their former employers’ insurance program for up to 18 months as long as premiums are paid.
  • An extension of the first-time home buyer tax credit that is scheduled to end soon.

Congressional leaders are aware of these considerations but there have been no moves to act on them. The existing economic stimulus plan was passed at an amount of $787 billion.

Obama said during his weekly video address that the health care overhaul recommended by his administration would actually help create jobs. That is, if the entrepreneurs know they will still have insurance if they change jobs, they will take the risk of starting their own businesses and hire workers.

The president said he has met citizens “who’ve got a good idea and the expertise and determination to build it into a thriving business. But many can’t take that leap because they can’t afford to lose the health insurance they have at their current job.”

Small businesses are credited with massive job creation. To help them, they could purchase health insurance through a network “where they can compare the price, quality and services of a wide variety of plans,” Obama said. The government would subsidize the insurance for many businesses and individuals under a Senate Finance Committee version of a health bill, the president said.

Republicans already blame ongoing job losses on Democratic policies and said the president’s health proposals won’t help. The jobless rate in September increased to 9.8 percent – the highest since June 1983 – as businesses eliminated more positions than expected.

In the Republican rebuttal, Rep. Candice Miller of Michigan said the first stimulus plan hasn’t come close to reaching its goals. “Washington Democrats’ job-killing agenda makes me think they’re living on a different planet from the families living in America’s suffering heartland,” she said. Instead, Miller said, larger tax cuts for small businesses would do a better job of helping stimulate the economy.

She warned that Democrats “intend to fund their government-run health care plan with cuts to Medicare benefits” and new levies on businesses. Add to that a House-passed energy bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that “would increase electricity bills, raise gasoline prices and ship more American jobs overseas,” Miller said.