President Bush's chief economic adviser, Michael Boskin, this week confidently declared an end to the recession that he predicted would never come. But even if Boskin is technically right in applying the arcane formulas of economics, the recession is by no means over for the 8.7 million Americans without jobs.
Less than half that army of unemployed, however, is receiving unemployment benefits. The reason: Either they never qualified under increasingly stringent federal standards, or if they did qualify, their benefits have expired.
Maryland Sen. Paul Sarbanes has been in the forefront of a drive to extend the unemployment benefit by another 20 weeks, and yesterday the Senate Finance Committee voted in favor of the extension by the substantial margin of 16-4. But President Bush threatens to veto the measure on the grounds that it would violate last year's budget agreement which requires that any new federal outlays be offset by spending cuts.
Of course Bush could get around that simply by declaring the needs of unemployed Americans an emergency -- just as he did for the Kurds, the Panamanians, the Bangladeshis, the Egyptians and the Israelis, to name a few.
We hope that the full Congress will see the emergency at home now, and pass the unemployment benefits extension by a margin sufficient to make a veto futile.