Florida’s extended (extended) unemployment benefits: The good, the bad, the ugly

First, the good news for my unemployed brothers and sisters:

Due to stagnant (and in some cases, rising) unemployment throughout the country, the Obama Administration approved another round of extended benefits for laid-off Americans earlier this month. Although there is confusion surrounding who will actually get these benefits, under the best case scenerio, unemployed Floridians will receive 20 more weeks of benefits to help you get through another four months of job searching.

Well, some of us will receive those benefits (about 250,000 according to the St. Petersburg Times). Which brings me to the bad news.

If you already exhausted your benefits before the bill was passed on Nov. 6, you probably aren’t eligible (although the state says you can apply).  Also, only those Floridians who will run out of all benefits between Nov. 6 and Dec. 27 qualify for the extra weeks.

There is a lot of confusion on who qualifies for the new extension and since the state unemployment office doesn’t make much sense explaining it, they’ve set up a webpage for you to check if you qualify (click on the button that says “Check your eligibility).

That fine print has some advocacy groups upset. The National Employment Law Center just released a study that found over a million American workers will be ineligible for benefits in January 2010. Federal workers have it worse; they estimate over three million of those workers will remain unemployed.

But things get uglier.

The state has already run out of the money to pay for benefits, partly due to the Florida Legislature’s inane idea to not accept federal stimulus money for unemployment insurance. So, as unemployment rises to record levels, there is another cloud on the horizon. Due to a clause in state law, businesses will be taxed extra for unemployment benefits next year. And by “extra,” I’m mean a tax hike approaching 120 percent, which I’m sure can’t be good for companies barely keeping afloat.

Talk about a vicious circle.

I went to a teabagging party and all I got was an anti-Obama sticker

Well, I didn’t personally go. I have a friend in the hospital, which seemed a little more important at the time. But citizen journalists from around the nation did attend today’s teabagging events. And I think they were a little disappointed, too:

Ybor City Stogie has a nice slideshow of the Tampa teabagging party.

Wonkette does a nice re-cap of the D.C. protest with pithy captions.

Did you know that some of the teabaggers still think Barack Obama is not really a U.S. citizen? NO WAY!!! The same blogger also chased by teabaggers in Cleveland.

Rumproast.com has a particularly chilling video of a tea bag protest planning party featuring a conspiracy theorist convinced that the TV’s conversion from analog to digital is part of Obama’s master plan. Actually George Soros’ master plan. Actually .. nevermind, just watch it.

A Pensacola progressive blogger takes the mic at a teabagging event. You have to watch this.

Texas threatens to secede. Obama, can we let ’em?

I’ll have more after my neck stops twitching.