Barack Obama speaks about extending emergency unemployment benefits in the East Room of the White House in Washington on January 7, 2014. 

Obama game to cut a deal on jobless benefits—in three months


The president is game to cut a deal to pay for unemployment benefits—after a three month extension is passed, that is.

According to an interview with Senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer, the president is game to negotiate a way to pay for long-term unemployment benefits if Congress will pass a three-month extension.

1.3 million Americans’ jobless benefits ran out just after Christmas, leaving millions unable to pay for even the most basic expenses. 

“That will give us three months to work out how to do it for the whole year,” Pfieffer told USA TODAY.

The president has previously not offered any off-sets or “pay fors” to pass the bill.

“The president believes that we should pass this right away with no strings attached,” National Economic Policy Adviser Gene Sperling said on Monday. “Fourteen of the last 17 times in 20 years that it’s been extended, there’s been no strings attached.”

When asked if he’d be game to negotiate on the year-long cost if not the three-month extension, Sperling would not say.

But on Wednesday, Pfieffer said that while they wouldn’t look for offsets for the $6.5 billion three-month extension, they’d be game to discuss “pay fors” for the $35 billion full-year re-authorization of the jobless benefits.

“We’re happy to engage in conversations about how to do it; there are lots of ways to do it,” he said. “We’re happy to talk to them to find a way to do it, because it’s important.”