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Opening Arguments

99 weeks

Now that evil, selfish conservatives are being beaten back by the benevolent, kind-hearted liberals so the downtrodden unemployed can start getting checks again, I have a question: Where is that line between compassion and heartlessness?

A bill advancing in Congress that would restore unemployment benefits for millions of Americans could help about 80,000 Indiana residents who have been out of work more than six months.

[. . .]

But it won't help those who have already exhausted their maximum 99 weeks of benefits, said Mark Lotter, a spokesman with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

"It would not do anything for them. There are no additional weeks of benefits" for those people, he said.

[. . .]

The proposal before Congress would restore payments averaging $309 a week for almost 5 million people whose 26 weeks of state benefits have run out. Those people are enrolled in a federally financed program providing up to 73 additional weeks of unemployment benefits.

Guess I answered my own question: 99 weeks is the great dividing line. Below that line, to block  the benefits is, as President Obama instructs us, the use of "parliamentary roadblocks by a partisan minority," which has caused "millions to struggle with no fiscal safety net." Shame on you, Republicans! Bad, bad partisans! But above that line? Screw you, even though your need for a safety net is even greater. Hey, we can't keep paying you deadbeats forever, so use your free time to go beat up on the evil partisans for us.

That 99 weeks is not uniform across the country, by the way. To be eligible for the full time, the unemployed have to live in a state with a jobless rate higher than 8 percent. How fair is that?