by digby

I can hardly believe this is happening, but apparently, it is:

Since the U.S. recession began in December 2007, Congress has extended the length of unemployment benefits for the jobless three times. Now, the lawmakers may have reached their limit.

They are quietly drawing the line at 99 weeks of aid, a mark that hundreds of thousands of Americans have already reached. In coming months, the number of those who will receive their final government check is projected to top 1 million.

It’s a deadline that has rarely been mentioned in recent debates over jobless benefits, in which Republicans have delayed aid because of cost concerns. The deadline hasn’t been lost on Teauna Stephney, a 39-year-old single mother from Bothell, Washington, who said she could become homeless once her $407 weekly checks stop in June.

“What are people like me supposed to do?” said Stephney, who said almost two years of benefits haven’t proved long enough for her to find work after she lost her last job in August 2008. Referring to lawmakers, she said, “I would like them to come and talk to me and spend a day in my shoes.”

Democrats who have pushed through the past extensions agree there’s insufficient backing to go beyond 99 weeks, largely because of mounting concern over the federal deficit, projected to reach $1.5 trillion this year.

“You can’t go on forever,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, of Montana, whose panel oversees the benefits program. “I think 99 weeks is sufficient,” he said.

“There’s just been no discussion to go beyond that,” said Senator Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat.

Right, the deficit projections are so dire that we need to throw people into the streets today. Because the "atmospherics" are problematic:

Baucus said extension legislation would fail in the Senate because of both the deficit and the negative “atmospherics” of lengthening the weeks of aid into triple digits.

“The best thing to do is get this economy turned around” to create jobs, said Baucus.

Ya think?

I seriously cannot believe that they are going to do this when the country is still hovering at 10% unemployment. Just what are these people supposed to do? Become prostitutes and thieves? Break down and take that job that Goldman Sachs has been offering? (Same thing, actually ...)

Stuart Rothman blithely describes the politics of this as "damned if you do, damned if you don't" because voters are “sensitive these days to spending and deficit issues and yet there are going to be people who need help, and if the administration ignores them, they’ll look rather callous.” Well, they'll "look rather callous" because they are callous. Unless people believe that most of these people really would rather stay home and collect 200 dollars a week than work at a real job with benefits and that there a millions of unfilled jobs out there that they could be doing, this is a cruel and unnecessary capitulation to the deficit fetishists.

The ruling class has determined that Americans need to suffer for their sins. After all, they themselves have all suffered terribly and it's only right to share the pain:
You’ve now asked the current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. to repay these earnings. As you can imagine, there has been a tremendous amount of serious thought and heated discussion about how we should respond to this breach of trust.

As most of us have done nothing wrong, guilt is not a motivation to surrender our earnings. We have worked 12 long months under these contracts and now deserve to be paid as promised. None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house.

On March 16 I received a payment from A.I.G. amounting to $742,006.40, after taxes...

The long term unemployed have been coasting for too long while the poor overclass has been subject to all manner of indignity. It's their turn to do their part.