Thursday, December 9, 2010

Unemployment Benefit Extension Returns To Front Burner

In a deal struck between President Obama and Senate Republican leaders, legislation extending federal unemployment benefits for an additional 13 months, up to a total of 99 weeks, could be on the way to passage in both houses of Congress very soon. Trading the unemployment extension desired by Democrats for extension of Bush era tax cuts to even the wealthiest Americans for 2 years, Obama went against the grain of his own party politically. In his own defense, Obama said at a press conference yesterday “A long political fight carried over into next year might have been good politics, but it would be a bad deal for the economy, and a bad deal for the American people.”

The compromise package, carrying a price tag of a $700 billion increase in the nation’s deficit, includes the tax cut extensions, unemployment benefit extensions, a 2% cut in FICA taxes withheld from paychecks of working Americans, reinstatement of a 35% estate tax on inheritances of more than $5 million from a single decedent and $10 million per couple, and extension of the college tuition tax credit due to expire December 31, 2010. Also, businesses making capital investments next year will be permitted to expense the entire amount, rather than amortizing it over the life of the asset. The tax savings in 2011 are expected to total $120 billion for wage earners, and $150 billion for businesses.

Defending the deal, which comes on the heels of dual Senate defeats for proposals to extend the Bush era tax cuts only to families earning less than $250,000 per year, and then only to those earning over $1 million per year, Obama said: “The number one priority is doing what is right for the American people.”
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