06/24/2010 - The long-term unemployment rate is at a record level. So is the federal deficit. Both of these are serious concerns. But it is possible -- in theory, anyway -- for Congress to be both compassionate and prudent. In the short term, lawmakers should resolve the logjam that has allowed federal benefits to lapse for more than 900,000 unemployed. In the longer term, they should heed the example of House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), who gave a brave speech this week not only setting out the fiscal challenge but offering specific, credible suggestions for savings.
But first, the immediate crisis. More than 40 percent of the unemployed have been without work for six months. More alarming, nearly one-fourth have been jobless for a year or longer, according to calculations by the Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative. Generally, states pay for the first 26 weeks of unemployment benefits; in periods of high unemployment, the federal government steps in to cover additional weeks. During the current recession, benefits can last up to 99 weeks.
Read the article Time for Tough Economic Choices on The Washington Post Web site.