The unemployed will now stop getting checks once they run out of their state benefits or current tier of federal benefits.
Top Democrats tore into one of their Republican counterparts yesterday for blocking an extension of unemployment benefits that would provide assistance to millions of jobless Americans.
The Senate adjourned last week without approving extensions of cash and health insurance benefits for the unemployed after Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Kentucky, blocked the measure by insisting that Congress first pay for the $10 billion package. The emergency measure needed unanimous consent to pass.
Bunning, who is retiring at the end of this year, said he doesn't oppose extending the programs, he just doesn't want to add to the deficit. Democrats claim the bill is an emergency measure that should not be subject to new rules requiring that legislation not expand the deficit.
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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/02/26/senate.jobless.benefits/story.jim.bunning.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Jim Bunning is being blamed for furloughing thousands of federal employees and threatening state jobs." width=300 height=169]
CNN Financial News Producer
More than 1 million Americans woke up this morning with a new and potentially devastating worry: they’re no longer able to apply for extended unemployment benefits.
Because the Senate failed to push back the Feb. 28 deadline to apply for this safety net last week, those without jobs are no longer able to apply for federal unemployment benefits or the COBRA health insurance subsidy.
Federal benefits kick in after the basic state-funded 26 weeks of unemployment coverage expire. During the recession, Congress approved up to an additional 73 weeks, which it funds.
These federal benefit weeks are divided into tiers, and the jobless must apply each time they move into a new tier.
But because the Senate did not act, the unemployed will now stop getting checks once they run out of their state benefits or current tier of federal benefits.
That could spell disaster for those who are counting on that income. In total, more than 1 million people could stop getting checks next month, with nearly 5 million running out of benefits by June, according to the National Unemployment Law Project.
Lawmakers repeatedly tried to approve a 30-day extension last week, but each time, Sen. Jim Bunning, R-KY., prevented the $10 billion measure from passing, saying it needed to be paid for first.
Filibuster threatens highway jobs
Meanwhile, Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today blamed Sen. Bunning’s filibuster for furloughing thousands of federal employees and threatening state jobs while shutting down highway construction projects nationwide.
"As American families are struggling in tough economic times, I am keenly disappointed that political games are putting a stop to important construction projects around the country," wrote LaHood, in a press release. "This means that construction workers will be sent home from job sites because federal inspectors must be furloughed."
LaHood was referring to Bunning’s filibuster blocking a bill that would, among other things, provide a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund, which is a federal fund set up to pay for transportation projects around the country.
As a result, Secretary LaHood says up to 2,000 DOT employees will be sent home without pay.
AIG selling Asia unit for $35B
Troubled insurance giant AIG has reached a definitive agreement to sell its Asian life insurance business to Britain's Prudential PLC in a deal valued at $35.5 billion.
The deal includes $25 billion in cash, which AIG says is the largest cash proceeds it's received from any sale during its current restructuring efforts.
The deal marks yet another step in getting AIG out from under the more than $100 billion it borrowed from the federal government beginning in 2008 to avoid collapse.
AIG’s CEO said in a statement that the deal will allow AIG “to realize value on a faster track to repay U.S. taxpayers” and will give the company “greater flexibility” with its restructuring plans.
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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2007/POLITICS/12/26/senate.pro.forma/art.cap.dome.gi.jpg caption="he Senate voted to push forward a $15 billion jobs creation bill that would give businesses a tax break for hiring the unemployed."]
The Senate voted Monday to push forward a $15 billion jobs creation bill that would give businesses a tax break for hiring the unemployed.
Five Republicans - including newly elected Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass. - reached across the aisle to approve the procedural measure, which passed by a 62-30 vote. One Democrat did not support it. A final vote on the bill should take place in a few days.
The 4-prong bill would:
*Exempt employers from Social Security payroll taxes on new hires who were unemployed;
*Fund highway and transit programs through 2010;
*Extend a tax break for business that spend money on capital investments like equipment purchases;
*Expand the use of the Build America Bonds program, which helps states and municipalities fund capital construction projects.
CNN Financial News Producer
The number of Americans filing first-time claims unemployment insurance fell sharply last week to the lowest level in more than a year
Initial claims for jobless benefits fell by 43,000 to a seasonally adjusted 440,000 in the week ended Feb. 6, the Labor Dept. said. And the number of people who continue to collect benefits for a week or more - known as continuing claims – dropped by 79,000 to just over 4.5 million in the week ended Jan. 30, the most recent data available.
A Labor Dept. spokesman said the snow storm that crippled much of the East Coast last week did not impact the number of jobless claims filed, but at least one analyst expects that next week's numbers – reflecting claims from this week - will definitely be impacted by Wednesday’s blizzard.
The largest increase in initial claims for the week ending Jan. 30 was in Pennsylvania (+10,495) with layoffs in the construction, trade, and service industries.
The largest decrease was in New Jersey (-1,819) due to fewer layoffs in trade and service industries.
CNN Financial News Producer
Auto sales numbers in the U.S. rose in January, although the overall results from the world’s major automakers were disappointing. Sales were hurt by weak consumer demand and the well-documented problems at Toyota.
Looking at the big picture, Ford, General Motors and Nissan all reported sales gains compared to a year ago. Honda, Chrysler and Toyota said January sales fell.
In particular, Ford's sales were good enough to lift its market share and vault it back into the No. 2 position in terms of U.S. sales, passing Toyota.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/01/25/stimulus.breaking.law/smlvid.boston.construction.file.gi.jpg caption="A shot of stimulus funds is aiding construction projects." width=292 height=169]
CNNMoney.Com Senior Writer
One of the most important questions surrounding the stimulus program is also one of the most controversial: How many jobs has it created?
The Obama administration credits the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act with turning around the economy and bringing America out of the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Without it, things would have been a lot worse.
Critics, particularly congressional Republicans, say that stimulus has done little to help the economy. They point to the high unemployment rate and to pork-barrel projects they say have done little good.
CNNMoney takes a closer look at the jobs debate.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/OPINION/01/26/fetterman.braddock.stimulus/tzleft.john.fetterman.jpg caption="For decades, Braddock, Pennsylvania, has been in decline as it lost jobs and people."]
Special to CNN
In 2001, I came to Braddock, the poorest town in Western Pennsylvania, to serve the community's severely disenfranchised young people by starting an employment and GED program. Their lives were the embodiment of what happened to Braddock and this region: chaos through abandonment.
However, tough times and severe hardship are nothing new. It's been this way for decades.
Once one of the most important steel manufacturing centers in the world, Braddock - what's left of it - solemnly affirms one of the great economic maxims of our society: socialism for the rich, and capitalism for the poor.
CNN Financial News Producer
The Federal Reserve’s efforts to stabilize the financial system paid off handsomely last year as the central bank raked in a record-setting profit of more than $52 billion.
That reflects the highest earnings in the Fed’s nearly 100-year history.
Let’s put that into perspective: In 2008, oil giant ExxonMobil reported the largest annual profit in U.S. history, making $45.22 billion on the back of record-high oil prices.
And unlike most government agencies, the Fed funds itself from its own operations, and its member banks are required to return all profits to the U.S. Treasury after certain deductions. That means Ben Bernanke and Co. returned about $46 billion to taxpayers. Not too shabby an accomplishment for Time’s “Person of the Year 2009.”
The Fed's 2009 profit marks a 47% increase over 2008. It comes as the central bank took in interest payments on an expanding portfolio of securities issued by the Treasury and by the government-sponsored mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Editor's Note: This article continues our series excerpted from AC360°'s contributor David Gewirtz's upcoming book, How To Save Jobs, which will be available in December. Over the next few months, we'll be excerpting the first section of the book, which answers the question, "How did we get here?" Last time, we looked at outsourcing the American dream. This time, we look at something rarely discussed: the national security risks offshoring creates. To learn more about the book, follow David on Twitter @DavidGewirtz.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/28/art.vert.book.gewirtz.jobs.jpg width=292 height=320]
David Gewirtz | BIO
Editor-in-Chief, ZATZ Publishing
What's particularly disturbing in a post-9/11 America supposedly more aware of national security issues is just how much confidential American data is finding its way into the hands of foreign nationals.
According to the same U.S. Trade Commission report described last week, "Some of the earliest U.S. services outsourced to India included medical transcription services, payroll accounting, credit card call collections, mortgage and insurance claim processing, and data processing."
That means individuals and companies in foreign countries have access to our credit card records and much of our personal identity information, our confidential medical records, and even detailed information about our homes. According to a study by McKinsey Global, nearly 45 percent of the Indian business process outsourcing market consists of financial work, administration work, and payment processing activities.
In a world where identity theft is a huge problem, giving foreign nationals access to our most confidential private information is a dangerous security risk. Consider this: the countries most likely to engage in cyber-espionage with the United States are also the countries with lower-wage employees - places where we're actively sending our most confidential data.