20 More Weeks of Unemployment Aid

The Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that would extend unemployment benefits for up to 20 weeks in states with rates of joblessness above 8.5 percent, which means the jobless in those areas could get up to 99 weeks of benefits. (States with lower rates would get 14 weeks.) This is the “second stimulus” some have buzzed about (though Democratic leadership has avoided the term); it contains other measures to boost the economy as well, all of which were in the original $787 billion stimulus package but were set to expire. This includes an extension of a first-time homebuyer tax credits, credits for homeowners who lived in the same place for at least five years, and would allow businesses who suffered operating losses in 2008-2009 to seek refunds on taxes paid over the past five years. The legislation will likely pass the House Thursday and be quickly signed by President Obama.