Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

PolitiFact Florida | St. Petersburg Times
Sorting out the truth in state politics

AFL-CIO's statement on Rubio's position on jobless benefits rated half true

The statement

Marco Rubio "opposes extending unemployment benefits."

AFL-CIO, in a campaign mailer.

The ruling

Does the AFL-CIO detail Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio's position correctly?

First, a little background: When workers lose full-time work through no fault of their own, they are usually eligible for unemployment benefits, small weekly payments intended to partially make up for lost wages. Employers pay taxes to fund the program, and states administer it based on federal guidelines. How much a person gets and how long benefits are paid varies by state. Usually, the benefits last about six months.

In tough times, though, Congress often extends benefits, because of the difficulty of finding jobs when unemployment is very high. Congress has been arguing about extending benefits again after extending them five times since President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

This summer, Republicans in the House and Senate balked at extending jobless benefits to about 3 million Americans without first finding a way to offset the $34 billion cost. Republicans proposed to pay for the extension with unspent funds from the 2009 economic stimulus package.

The Senate passed the extension July 21, without cost offsets, by a vote of 59-39. Maine Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins joined all but one Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, in supporting the extension without a way to pay for it.

The House passed the benefits extension the next day 275-152. Six Florida Republicans supported the extension in the House — Gus Bilirakis, C.W. Bill Young, Mario Diaz-Balart, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Bill Posey and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

How would Rubio have voted?

No, spokesman Alex Burgos told us.

"Marco opposes Washington's continued borrow-and-spend binge that is growing our debt and threatening to diminish America," Burgos told PolitiFact Florida. "While he believes unemployment benefits are legitimate government safety net programs, he would only have supported the last round of extensions if specific cuts were identified to offset the cost."

Burgos' explanation mirrors the one Rubio gave to the St. Petersburg Times' Adam C. Smith on July 20, when the debate over benefits was raging.

Smith wrote that Rubio would support extending benefits "only if specific cuts were identified to offset the $34 billion cost." He then quoted Rubio as saying, "At some point someone has to draw a line in the sand and say we are serious about not growing debt."

The key to Rubio's position appears to have gotten lost in translation by the AFL-CIO, which said in a mailer that Rubio "opposes extending unemployment benefits." Really, Rubio opposed extending benefits without a way to pay for it, which was the main Republican argument in Congress. We rate the AFL-CIO claim Half True.

Edited for print. For more, go to

AFL-CIO's statement on Rubio's position on jobless benefits rated half true 09/23/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 23, 2010 10:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  2. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick Friday night in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case


    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  5. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101