As Democrats and Republicans wrangled over tax cuts for the richest Americans, time ran out for millions of people who have been unemployed for up to 99 weeks. Congress has failed to agree on how to extend benefits for the long-term unemployed and some 2 million people who have been out of work for 6 months or longer face being cut off before Christmas, NPR reports. Tempers and protests are beginning to flare over the pending crunch. Unemployed New Yorkers in Santa hats protested the benefit cut-off at the Rockefeller Center tree-lighting ceremony.
The parties blame each other for the failure to reach agreement on extending benefits. Democrats accuse Republicans of ignoring the plight of the unemployed, while the GOP says it would be happy to vote for an extension of benefits, as long as the money comes from budget cuts elsewhere. "Make no mistake, I agree that they need help, but as I look at it, are we going do it from the bank account, or are we going to put it on the credit card?" said Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown.