By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
More than 100,000 Coloradans could lose their unemployment benefits over the year and an estimated 8,863 Colorado jobs are at stake if Congress fails to act on extending unemployment benefits, according to a White House report released yesterday.
But Republicans say that without offsetting the $12.5 billion extension with cuts elsewhere, they simply won’t support the proposal, even if it comes back around through a compromise proposal.
The benefits expired on Wednesday, leaving 100,471 workers in Colorado facing the possibility of losing their temporary support over the course of the next year, according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
Colorado would have had 11,756 fewer jobs as of September 2010, and failure to act could cost the state 8,863 jobs by the end of the year, according to the White House report.
President Obama is in the process of negotiating with Republicans over extending both unemployment benefits and tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush. Concessions could be made on extending tax cuts for the rich that could inspire Republican leadership to back extending unemployment benefits.
But Congressman Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, said yesterday that he will not vote in favor of a second proposal if costs are not offset. Coffman rejected the extension last week.
“A proposal would have to be fiscally responsible and not increase the deficit,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Congressman Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, said yesterday that she is not certain how Lamborn would vote on a second proposal, but said the congressman is not interested in adding to the nation’s $13.7 trillion debt. He also rejected the extension proposal last week.
“He believes the long-term solution to unemployment is to grow the economy through sound fiscal policies,” said Lamborn’s spokeswoman, Catherine Mortensen. “Congressman Lamborn is certainly sympathetic to those families struggling in the worst economy since the Great Depression, but he would rather help people find jobs than simply give them a government handout.”
Meanwhile, the Colorado AFL-CIO union has a message for both Coffman and Lamborn: “Don’t leave Colorado’s economy in the cold this December. Keep our communities and jobless families afloat …”
Workers say Congress should be focusing on the unemployed and not extending tax cuts for the rich. They say extending unemployment benefits will only add to the economy, whereas not extending the benefits could be disastrous.
“The domino effect of the unemployment insurance expiration will affect more than just the families of the unemployed,” says the Colorado AFL-CIO. “When jobless families are unable to pay their mortgage, buy groceries or generate tax revenue, local communities, businesses and governments all suffer.”