Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NY Needs More Aid for Unemployed, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Says by Kenneth R.. Bazinet - NY Daily News

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The legislative battle ahead won't be easy for Democrats, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says.

Out-of-work New Yorkers and the city's richest taxpayers are holding their breath as Congress and the White House begin dealmaking to decide what bills come up for a vote during the lame-duck session.
"No question the obstruction makes this very difficult, but we don't choose battles because they are easy," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said of the legislative battle ahead with Republicans empowered by their recent landslide election victories.
Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate convene Tuesday at the White House with President Obama in what both sides expect will be a contentious parley over the agenda in the abbreviated congressional session.
The only items certain to pass Congress are budget resolutions to keep the government from shutting down. Otherwise, it's a crapshoot.
A holiday season extension of jobless benefits for long-term unemployed Americans is among the longshot legislation languishing in Congress.
"People must come together, do what's right, and secure critical assistance for 200,000 New Yorkers who are out there looking for work," Gillibrand said.
New York City's jobless rate now stands at 9.2%, slightly below the national average but still devastating for those hit by layoffs, as well as city retailers who depend on a strong holiday shopping season.
Still on the table before the 111th Congress adjourns are the much more widely discussed middle class tax cuts and separate cuts for the rich.
The White House insists the President will not agree to make permanent cuts for the rich, cuts that affect about 2% of all Americans - those making $250,000 or more a year.
But a temporary extension of the tax cuts for the wealthy could be part of a deal in exchange for making the middle class cuts permanent, Democratic sources said.
GOP Speaker-in-Waiting John Boehner contends the only way the economy will rebound is if all the tax cuts remain permanent. The White House counters if that were the case the economy would not have collapsed during the Bush administration, when they were put on the books.
One compromise, offered up by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), would extend tax cuts for families earning up to $1 million instead of $250,000.
New York City residents pay about $50 billion in federal taxes annually, according to calculations prepared for the Daily News by the nonpartisan Fiscal Policy Institute in Albany.
Other agenda items that appear doomed during the last-gasp congressional session - unless Obama can pull off an 11th-hour coup - include repealing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for gays and lesbians, and Senate ratification of the START nuclear nonproliferation treaty with Russia.