CBS Celebrates: Democrats 'Won A Major Battle' On Unemployment Benefits

Chip Reid, CBS After the network pushed Congress for weeks to extend unemployment benefits, CBS's Early Show cheered the expected passage of the legislation on Tuesday. Co-host Harry Smith noted how Democrats "have enough votes to break a GOP filibuster" and White House correspondent Chip Reid later added: "Democrats appear to have won a major battle in the long fight to extend unemployment benefits."

Reid portrayed the Democrats as standing on the side of the American people against obstructionist Republicans: "...this unemployment benefits extension has been stalled in the Senate since June. If it passes, millions of Americans will start getting about $309 a week." A headline on screen read: "Jobless Relief; Senate Set to Extend Unemployment Benefits."

Describing White House attacks on the GOP over the issue, Reid declared: "President Obama accused Republicans of indifference to out of work Americans for refusing to extend benefits." After a clip of the President was played, Reid explained Republican objections: "they support the extension but want the $34 billion cost paid for by an equal cut in the budget." A clip of House Minority Leader John Boehner was played, but Reid chose to end with Obama: "The President fired back, saying the Republicans have a double standard."

Following Reid's report, Smith had brief discussion with business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis about the extension of benefits: "We're talking about an awful lot of people who are very dependent on this. A lot because this economy, the rebound hasn't happened the way so many people anticipated." Jarvis replied: "...when they lose those $309 checks on a weekly basis, it not only has an impact on them individually, but it also has an impact on the economy overall. And that's because when people get unemployment checks, research has shown it usually goes directly back into the economy." Jarvis failed to offer any criticism of the extension. In addition, neither her nor Smith placed any blame for the still weak economy on Obama administration policies.     

Here is a full transcript of the July 20 segment:
7:00AM TEASE

HARRY SMITH: Unemployment battle. Senate Democrats may finally have the crucial vote needed to pass an extension of jobless benefits. But Republicans say how are you going to pay for that? We'll have the latest on the battle.

7:09AM SEGMENT

SMITH: Now to the ongoing battle over unemployment benefits. Senate Democrats are expected to have enough votes to break a GOP filibuster today. CBS News chief White House correspondent Chip Reid has the latest on that. Good morning, Chip.

CHIP REID: Well, good morning, Harry. You know, this unemployment benefits extension has been stalled in the Senate since June. If it passes, millions of Americans will start getting about $309 a week, unemployed Americans, of course. And passage now appears all but certain.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Jobless Relief; Senate Set to Extend Unemployment Benefits]

JOE MANCHIN [GOVERNOR, D-WEST VIRGINIA]: Let me introduce to you, officially, the newest member of the United States Senate, Carte Goodwin.

REID: With that appointment, Democrats appear to have won a major battle in the long fight to extend unemployment benefits. Carte Goodwin, now interim senator from West Virginia, replacing the late Robert Byrd, should give the Democrats the 60 votes they need to end a Republican filibuster and send the bill for a final vote. Monday, President Obama accused Republicans of indifference to out of work Americans for refusing to extend benefits.

BARACK OBAMA: It's time to do what's right, not for the next election, but for the middle class.

REID: 2.5 million workers have been waiting six weeks for relief since benefits expired June 2nd. Republicans say they support the extension but want the $34 billion cost paid for by an equal cut in the budget.

JOHN BOEHNER: We want to make sure they've got the help they need, but if Washington's going to spend that money, then we ought to find offsets in other spending, so that we're not adding to the debt.

REID: The President fired back, saying the Republicans have a double standard.

OBAMA: The same people who didn't have any problem spending hundreds of billions of dollars on tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are now saying we shouldn't offer relief to middle class Americans like Jim or Leslie or Denise, who really need help.

REID: Now, in addition to Goodwin's vote, Democrats are also counting on two Republican votes, the two Republicans from Maine, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. Harry.

SMITH: Chip Reid in Washington this morning. Thank you very much. Joining us now is CBS News business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis. Good morning.

REBECCA JARVIS: Good morning, Harry.

SMITH: Want to take this out of the political arena and put it into real life for a little while. We're talking about an awful lot of people who are very dependent on this. A lot because this economy, the rebound hasn't happened the way so many people anticipated.

JARVIS: Harry, you're making a really valid point there, which is that many millions of people have been unemployed for more than six months. It's a problem that has lasted a lot longer for a lot of people. And so when they lose those $309 checks on a weekly basis, it not only has an impact on them individually, but it also has an impact on the economy overall. And that's because when people get unemployment checks, research has shown it usually goes directly back into the economy. So if you're unemployed, you get a check, you spend that check immediately as opposed to putting it in the bank and letting it sit there.

SMITH: It's very interesting, we talk about unemployment numbers a lot. Unemployment rate right now is 9.5%. It's finally below 10%. But it seems to be languishing in this sort of state of it's really so much higher than we've – we're really accustomed to.
        
JARVIS: It is much higher than we're accustomed to and that 9.5% number equates to about 14.6 million people who are out of work 8.5 million of them lost their jobs as a result of the recession. And what's also scary about that number is that it doesn't equate to numerous people who have given up looking for work and who aren't collecting unemployment benefits and who aren't accounted for in the system. So it's actually an even a larger problem than what the numbers show.

SMITH: Rebecca Jarvis, as always, thank you so much. Do appreciate it.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC