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Unemployed or Know Someone Who Is? Latest on Benefits Debate

A look at the current debate over the extension of unemployment benefits.

Credit: Tredyffin-Easttown Patch
Credit: Tredyffin-Easttown Patch

Unemployment benefits for nearly 1.3 million Americans who’ve been out of work for more than 27 weeks expired last week because Congress did not renew the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program before leaving for the 2013 winter holidays. 

The program, which began in 2008, has provided extended federal assistance for eligible workers who remained jobless after their state relief ran out.

Yesterday, however, this group of unemployed Americans received hope for an extension of their lapsed benefits by an unexpected -- and narrow -- decision on Capitol Hill. With just 60 votes, the minimum needed, the U.S. Senate opted to advance a bill to reinstate the program.

There are still substantial hurdles to clear. Later this week, the Senate will likely vote on whether or not to approve the bill. If it makes it past that vote, the bill will face an even greater challenge in the more conservative House of Representatives.

That’s the real trick. As currently drafted, the bill comes with a price tag around $6.4 billion.

Here’s both sides of the debate:

Yea: If they get their way, President Obama and many other Democrats would see the bill passed with “no strings attached.” Obama argues, “I can’t name a time where I met an American who would rather have an unemployment check than the pride of having a job. The long-term unemployed are not lazy, they’re not lacking in motivation, they’re coping with the aftermath of the worst economic crisis in generations.” 

Nay: On the other hand, some federal lawmakers worry that extending this unemployment program will only serve to prolong America’s problem with unemployment. Jeff Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama cautions that unemployment insurance is treating the symptoms of the problem, but not the root cause. “It’s an aspirin for a fever,” he says, “but the fever has been raging for weeks now.” There is also the concern among conservatives about the impact of this extension on the national budget and our economy, adding debt when we can least afford it. 

Do you think Congress should pass the bill?  If so, should it be paid for in the budget at the expense of other programs? Tell us what you think in the comments or in a blog post.

MAC January 08, 2014 at 05:09 PM
No. When people remain unemployed for longer than six months they (in most cases) become much LESS employable, AND less likely to be out there pounding the pavement looking for a job...... It is statistically proven that most people on unemployment comp. tend to find a job right after their 'benefits' run out. Hmmmm, wonder why that would be?...................................................... Where is the incentive for people to do everything possible to work to support themselves, if their governments are always there—as DADDY—to support them with Food Stamps, UC etc (all of which "benefits" are being paid by BORROWED and PRINTED $$$ now)?!!
Jim Flynn January 08, 2014 at 08:05 PM
You are just an idiot
D V January 08, 2014 at 10:10 PM
True that duration of joblessness correlates with extended and increased unemployment benefits. This doesn't mean, however, that the unemployed are sitting on their butts eating their government cheese until one day the tap runs dry and they're forced into unwanted employment. That's contrary to common sense, tendentious, and, well, just plain stupid. The fact is, there is a also a correlation between the level and duration of unemployment benefits and the mean recovery wage of re-employed workers. In other words, given higher and longer-lasting benefits while job-searching, people can and do hold out for a better job and re-enter the workforce at a higher wage. My employer in 2008 was capsized by the credit crunch and I found myself on unemployment up until one week short of my benefits ending - and not because I was riding high on government largesse. Had I taken the first (paltry) offer that came along, I might still have my 401K and a healthier savings account, but the bank would now own my house and my kid would be going to a different school system. It was rough in the short-term, but by waiting for the right job, my current income and long-term prospects are far better, and I'm paying my property taxes and mortgage rather than some landlord in Black Rock. And since I and my erstwhile employers paid into the system all my working life, I had very little compunction, believe me, about getting my own back when I really needed it. While the first rule of economics is People Suck, they also are acutely aware that UC is finite, and unless they've become discouraged by months or years of diligent but fruitless job-searching, any temptation to relax one's efforts is quickly allayed by the realization that finding a job as soon as possible but at a fair wage is crucial to long-run survival.
MAC January 09, 2014 at 01:50 AM
DV, glad that you were diligent and persistent, and that your waiting for a better offer worked out well for you. Not all UC recipients can say the same, though.......................................... Due to human nature, including the temptation to be lazy when there is money coming in without actually going to work, millions of UC recipients DO "sit on their butts" instead of diligently seeking jobs!.......................................................................... From "Principles of Economics" by John Taylor: "unemployment compensation in most of the United States typically runs out after 26 weeks; the evidence shows that many people stop searching and take a job just when their unemployment compensation runs out."... (pg. 542)
D V January 09, 2014 at 07:19 AM
Quick reading comprehension test, MAC. Which of the following statements is true of this sentence?: "Many people stop searching and take a job just when their unemployment compensation runs out.".............................................................. A. The people were sitting on their butts until their unemployment compensation ran out................................................................ B. Most people on unemployment compensation search for jobs but do not want to work.......................................................................................... C. When their unemployment compensation runs out, people should not take a job........................................................................................................... D. Before the people's unemployment compensation ran out, they were searching for work........................................................................................ Only one choice is correct. It's confusing, isn't it? I wanted to give you a real challenge. Let's see if you're up to it!!! :)
Kristy Ludlam Waizenegger January 09, 2014 at 07:54 AM
Once again an individual is so unwilling to accept an opposing opinion that name calling is used. Is it so terrible to try and have a frank discussion about a topic? I don't know what the answer is but we all know there are simply some jobs that are never coming back so at some point the only option is to try and get work in a different field or come up with another plan - there are no other options - we all have to find a way. That's the reality and I have no idea why anyone would be so outraged that name calling becomes the only option.
MAC January 11, 2014 at 01:11 AM
Agreed, Kristy. There is no denying that now 1) some 92 MILLION able-bodied Americans are unemployed 2) many, many of those would have taken some kind of job by now if their UC were exhausted. I do grant that Obama, with his ANTI Free Market ideology, and caving to the radical Environmentalists, has deepened and stretched out "The Great Recession," making finding employment increasingly difficult, tragically for the individuals and for our entire nation's Prosperity.......................... Jim and DV don't like these common sense views, and want to deny these simple facts. They must believe that incompetent Career Politicians, like PBO, can 'fix' the problems THEY created! Groucho Marx had it right: "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies."......... p.s. to DV--you'd be better off spending the time with your "kid" instead of taking a half hour to compose and revise a word 'trap' for me. I'm not going to walk into it--not worth my time.
D V January 11, 2014 at 11:42 AM
I will grant you this - moving the goalposts every time the game gets rough gives the unemployed a false sense of security. Why face reality when the government will continue to subsidize your endless search for that one perfect job? This hampers the workforce from moving from one economy (say, manufacturing) to another (service). Now that inconsistency has raised expectations to an unreasonable level, people on UC are more likely to take advantage. Endless extension after extension is a mistake, both economically and psychologically.
Jim Flynn January 11, 2014 at 06:27 PM
I agree. Let's let people starve if they can't get a job
Pam Georgas January 11, 2014 at 06:50 PM
I think people should be required to do community service/volunteer after a few months of collecting unemployment. This would do a couple things, keep people active and networking, and fill gaps of work that need to get done in their community. It could be anything from stuffing envelopes, organizing collections for local food banks, to creating community gardens, to serving on a local government board. Many people make valuable business connections through volunteer work.
D V January 11, 2014 at 10:28 PM
That's a very emotional reaction, Jim. You'd probably be surprised at the kinds of decisions the prospect of starvation motivates people to take that they otherwise would not. And it's not deciding to sit on their butts, I tell you that. Searching for a job (in earnest) is itself a full time job, which doesn't leave much time, I'm afraid, for mandatory garden tending and canned-food drive coordinating. That's another reason UI collectors are loath to take part-time or temp work that has little hope of panning out into gainful permanent employment, hours available for per diem work and time left on the clock for beating the bushes for a "real" job being a zero-sum equation.
Pam Georgas January 11, 2014 at 10:36 PM
Many people with full time jobs find the time to volunteer in their community, so I don't buy the excuse that people out of work have no time to spare because they are too busy. I think its a fair expectation to ask for something in return for those seeking extended unemployment to be financed by the taxpayers. Why would anyone find that unreasonable?
D V January 12, 2014 at 12:22 AM
Why? Because it's based on the premise that people who collect unemployment compensation, a system into which they have already paid, are incurring an ongoing debt to society which they are morally, if not economically, obligated to pay off. Their only (or primary) obligation is to make earnest, continual efforts to secure gainful employment. Your proposed community-service expectation plays into the wrong-headed mindset that UI collectors who play by the rules are nonetheless sponging off the taxpayers, which is an unfair judgment. Imagine proposing that old folks who collect Social Security into their nineties should be expected to bequeath a portion of their estate to the U.S. Treasury. Would you call that reasonable, too?
Pam Georgas January 12, 2014 at 08:11 AM
I don't think we have a system that is self-sustaining that 'we pay into' that is built/designed to cover large numbers of people for longterm unemployment. As far as the social security system it will also eventually not work because it was originally designed based on a consistent\same number of the population of people paying in each year, as well as a life expectancy which has largely changed.
Jim Flynn January 12, 2014 at 01:00 PM
DV You know how we women get sometimes
D V January 12, 2014 at 05:56 PM
Is this an alter ego? Or are we seeing the real Jim Flynn coming out? - that's always interesting. Anyway, "there are simply some jobs that are never coming back so at some point the only option is to try and get work in a different field or come up with another plan - there are no other options - we all have to find a way" is a practical outlook that doesn't involve either side laying a guilt trip on those on the other side of the argument. I think that's the take-away message for this weekend, and since tomorrow's Monday - everybody, GET BACK TO WORK!
Tom Kelly January 13, 2014 at 07:48 AM
The biggest problem I have with MAC's argument is that she once again is demonizing and blaming the poor and the unemployed for their plight. Somehow, it's their fault. I don't know why the arch-conservatives always have to blame the poor or infer that they are lazy or unmotivated, when statistics prove that the opposite is true. And what her argument fails to understand is that NO MATTER HOW HARD THE UNEMPLOYED TRY TO FIND JOBS, THEIR EFFORT DOES NOT CREATE A SINGLE JOB. If there are not enough jobs for all the people who want them, people are going to be unemployed. And our government should not turn its back on 1.3 million people who have been out for longer than six months.
Pam Georgas January 13, 2014 at 09:00 AM
I don't think the unemployed should be demonized. Categorizing everyone who is unemployed as a certain personality is wrong. However government should not be acting as a bank with unlimited funds to give out. We do not have a system that accounts for large numbers of people to collect longterm unemployment. I don't think asking people on extended unemployment to volunteer 10 or so hours a week is condescending. It is just business. If you are getting longterm pay by the government, asking for some compensation in the form of work is not unreasonable. Our entire society, since the days of trading beaver furs, has been based on fair trade and compensation for work.
Kristy Ludlam Waizenegger January 13, 2014 at 11:47 AM
Government cannot be the sole solution to this problem. People have done extraordinary things to change their situation. Some people relocate. Others learn a new trade. Some take jobs in retail, etc., to make money in the meantime. What is the solution if one's job is never coming back?
Pam Georgas January 13, 2014 at 12:21 PM
You are right Kristy. Many people who have lost their jobs, particularly in industries that have changed...have taken the opportunity to 'reinvent' themselves often based on their passion; opening restaurants, starting new businesses, etc. This is a healthy way to deal with the situation, both for citizens, and the economy. There are many, many openings for high-tech jobs, many companies are so desperate to fill these positions, they are paying in full to educate and train interested people. There are also many self employed folks who are taking part time retail jobs to help make up for income in the bad economy.
MAC January 13, 2014 at 12:50 PM
Tom, your “biggest problem” is that you chew on sour grapes and seek every possible opportunity to “demonize” Conservatives like myself. I am NOT “blaming” the “unemployed for their plight” as much as I am blaming Obama!................................................. I agree with many common sense posts here by Pam and Kristy, and even D V, who wrote that “moving the goalposts every time the game gets rough gives the unemployed a false sense of security. Why face reality when the government will continue to subsidize your endless search for that one perfect job? This hampers the workforce from moving from one economy (say, manufacturing) to another (service). Now that inconsistency has raised expectations to an unreasonable level, people on UC are more likely to take advantage. Endless extension after extension is a mistake, both economically and psychologically.”
MAC January 13, 2014 at 12:52 PM
Obama has actually been waging a ‘War’ FOR POVERTY and DEPENDENCY, while he has been KILLING American jobs in energy, Health care, the Insurance field (or aims to, with “Single Payer”), even restaurants and retail—because average household income has steadily declined during the past five years!............... With the UN-affordable Obamacare law he has killed millions of jobs and caused millions more to have their incomes cut by employers being forced to CUT their hours back to part-time! And those effects are beyond the people WITHOUT affordable health insurance—in CT alone—“At least 26,451 polices will be cancelled in 2013 and 23,504 in 2014. That will leave 41,169 individuals in 2013 and 38,601 in 2014 with cancelled health care coverage.” ............................................................................................ Btw, how has ObamaDOESN’TCare been working out for you and your employer? Dr. Scott Gottlieb, M.D., at Forbes, wrote that “national insurers like Aetna and United Healthcare and Cigna (who have largely stayed out of these [“Exchange”] schemes) decide not to get in. For these insurers, their decision to stay out of the exchanges is looking smart.”
Tom Kelly January 13, 2014 at 06:15 PM
MAC, please don't get personal and say I am chewing on sour grapes. In case you have not realized it, or are in denial, President Obama won the election last year. Outside of this little town of Trumbull, Democrats are doing quite well, so there are no sour grapes coming from me. It's you conservatives, led by your leader, Rush Limbaugh, who are in a constant state of agitation. I'm quite sure you listen to him everyday to get charged up with contempt for so many of your fellow citizens. In this case, I am not advocating unemployment benefits as a permanent solution. It was intended to be, and it isn't. I also have no problem asking recipients to perform some work or some volunteer service in exchange for getting their benefits. However, there are 1.3 MILLION Americans unemployed for over 6 months who just lost their checks, and in this economy, I certainly think we should extend them. Republicans extended unemployment benefits FIVE TIMES under President Bush. I didn't hear a peep out of you then, because it was Republican policy that wrecked the economy in the first place.
MAC January 14, 2014 at 01:02 PM
Tom, if your tender feelings are hurt when I respond to your “personal[ized]” jabs at me and other Conservatives, then your solution is simple. DON’T try to goad me—just make your arguments without your (very frequent) insults to any available Conservative or Republican……………………………………………… Most of what you wrote here yesterday is either demonstrably false, a straw man argument or ad hominem, or irrelevant to this discussion. The problem is jobs. We're losing jobs permanently, in CT and nationwide. Your CT Dem friends in Hartford (Malloy et al) who “are doing quite well”—for themselves, their cronies, the state employees (who always vote for them), and their own political POWER—are Job KILLERS, as is Obama! “The state’s unemployment rate would approach a gloomy 11 percent if more than 64,000 people hadn't left the workforce since mid-2010…More than 64,150 working-age adults ‘simply stopped looking for employment during the last three years,’… “So while Connecticut’s sluggish recovery has not only failed to restore jobs lost since 2007, the state’s economic malaise (has) driven many adults out of the work force….current employment in Connecticut remains below 1989 levels, the UConn report states.”……………................... http://www.ctmirror.org/story/2013/12/22/ct-jobless-rate-near-11-had-60000-not-left-workforce
MAC January 14, 2014 at 01:46 PM
Rush Limbaugh beats Hillary!!! "Hillary Clinton...ranks dead last on a new top 10 poll of who Americans admire most, and at the bottom of who the world admires most, behind celebs like Angelina Jolie and Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to the new YouGov.com poll conducted for the Times of London...On the U.S. list, she does even worse, coming in 10th of 10 listed and most named. Among Americans, Pope Francis is the most admired, followed by the president, evangelist Billy Graham and former President George W. Bush. Even Rush Limbaugh, the nation's most popular conservative talk radio host, beat Clinton. He came in ninth.".................................................................. http://washingtonexaminer.com/hillary-clinton-ranks-last-on-u.s.-most-admired-list-behind-rush-limbaugh-bush/article/2542028.............................................................. So glad that Tom brought up the brilliant (and funny) Rush Limbaugh, who I WISH were my "leader," instead of our misguided and incompetent "AGITATOR"-in-Chief, Obama. The only things BHO is really good at (besides reading from TOTUS) are killing jobs, and stirring up the malcontents and uninformed to envies and animosities, such as with his typical, tired old pontificating on "income inequality."
D V January 14, 2014 at 11:21 PM
And this dis-informative recounting of a poll of dubious worth is relevant to unemployment how?
MAC January 15, 2014 at 12:29 AM
D V, I guess you did not read Tom's defamatory post including this slam against Rush Limbaugh and those millions who listen to his excellent, informative and entertaining # 1 rated radio show:....... Tom wrote "It's you conservatives, led by your leader, Rush Limbaugh, who are in a constant state of agitation. I'm quite sure you listen to him everyday to get charged up with contempt for so many of your fellow citizens."... .............................................. As to the poll, “YouGov is a professional research and consulting organization, pioneering the use of technology to collect higher quality, in-depth data for companies, governments, and institutions so that they can better serve the people that sustain them.  “In 2007, YouGov acquired Polimetrix, a venture-funded, non-partisan online polling firm founded by Stanford University Professor Douglas Rivers.”… .................................................... Do you doubt that Americans rate Hillary "dead last" of the 10 they most admire? It appears that her lies about 'Benghazi-gate,' and the shameful way she treated her ambassador--and the families of the other three Americans needlessly slaughtered there--have been making an impression (a NEGATIVE one) upon people.
D V January 15, 2014 at 12:47 AM
Did I say anything about Tom or Rush, or what Tom, or Dick, or Harry said about Rush or Hilary or about the price of onions last Friday? No. Do I question the reliability of that poll the meaningless results of which your second-hand source willingly distorted? You betcha. Are either of those relevant to the issue at hand? No. Incidentally, is there some reason you feel you need to Recommend your own posts, as if such a thing makes a difference? Don't think for a moment it's not obvious. Kinda funny really.
Tom Kelly January 15, 2014 at 05:39 AM
If you look at MAC's comments across every single issue, they always come back to her central theme....a condemnation of Obama and Democrats, a rant against socialism and statism, and more blame of Obama and the Democrats. On this particular issue, she calls Obama a "job killer," while refusing to acknowledge that the economic meltdown took place during President Bush's watch. Job killer? The country was losing 700,000 jobs a month and in free fall when Obama was sworn-in. 700,000 jobs a month! Bush and the Republicans passed FIVE unemployment extensions (with no offsets so the national debt was increased each time). George Bush had the worst 8 year record of jobs of any modern president. MAC also fails to point out that there has been 46 months in a row of private sector job GROWTH in this country. I do not say the economy is perfect, and the national debt is too high, but to blame is all on Obama is silly and non-factual. As for the poll, there are many polls. The one MAC cites was taken by people in 13 countries, and then they looked at the responses from just Americans when they said Hillary ranked behind Rush. However, there have been many polls that show that Hillary and President Obama are the most admired politicians in America....google it, and those results will come up. MAC also fails to note that the popularity in several polls of the Republican Party is at an all-time low in the history of polling on political parties, and they've lost the popular vote in 5 out the last 6 presidential elections. The Tea Party has even a lower favorability rating than the Republican Party. MAC is angry, and it comes through in all of her posts, and her hostility is focused on her fellow Americans. The one thing on which I will agree with her on this issue is that it's all about jobs. Not extending unemployment benefits does not create a single job, in fact, it costs the economy 250,000 jobs because there is less spending because people don't have the money. That's bad news for the people having trouble finding jobs already. MAC blames them, but there are still 3 people applying for every one job in this country, and until there are more jobs, millions of Americans will be out of work no matter what.
Kristy Ludlam Waizenegger January 15, 2014 at 09:50 AM
Tom You do the exact same thing! You find a way to trash and blame republicans in all of your posts, you just do it with a smile on your face and in a more passive aggressive way but it doesn't change a thing. This is not how problems get solved. We need to stop this nonsense of who did what and we need to solve problems. We cannot rely solely on government to fix every person's situation. The reality is there are some jobs that are never coming back so what is the answer? The answer is that people have to reasess their situations. Life is hard but we all have to play the hand we are dealt. Some people are going to have to consider trying something different. Some people are going to have to relocate. Some people are going to have to go without things they were used to having and cut back. This is reality. If people are waiting for the government to fix their situation they are going to be waiting a long time.

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