Four Republicans, including Scott Brown of Massachusetts, broke ranks Monday to help Democrats move an extension of unemployment benefits forward. The Dow may be over 11,000 again, but real unemployment is hovering around 17 percent, close to an all-time high.
(Real unemployment refers to people who are unemployed or underemployed or who have given up looking for work.)
The Senate on Monday agreed to consider a temporary extension of unemployment benefits after four Republicans joined Democrats in voting to debate the proposal, which has become the focus of an intensifying fight over deficit spending.
Despite objections from conservative Republicans, the Senate voted 60 to 34 to move ahead with a measure that would keep checks flowing to jobless Americans who are exhausting their benefits and maintain federal subsidies for health insurance for the unemployed. The measure must clear other procedural hurdles, but Democrats hope to win its approval this week.