Federal long-term unemployment benefits expired at the end of 2013 and Congress has yet to approve a bill extending those benefits. Democrats just want to get it done while Republicans claim to want to get it done but they are insisting on cutting things that benefit poor people which is like saying “Here’s $5 for unemployment benefits and I’ll just take that $5 that I gave you for food in return. Now go and be not poor!”
A lot of Republicans are simply dead set on denying any extension of the unemployment benefits. Their pushcart of thought seems to go like this: People on long-term unemployment are lazy and are just collecting unemployment because they can. Taking away the long-term unemployment benefits will force them to get off their lazy asses and find a job and then they can empower themselves to be not poor.
There are a few things wrong with this, the most important of all being that people who are on unemployment are required to look for jobs are a prerequisite to continuing to get unemployment. So they are looking for jobs. The jobs just don’t exist. Recently, a new Washington D.C. Wal-Mart posted openings for 600 jobs. How many applications did they get? 23,000! I’m sure those 22,400 people who no longer have unemployment will be even extra motivated to find the jobs that don’t exist.
Then there’s the myriad other problems that the long-term unemployed face like companies refusing to hire them because they’ve been unemployed so long and the mental health problems that go with being unemployed in a culture where you are defined by your job. Not to mention Congress hasn’t done anything to actually help these people when there is a long list of things that could be done immediately. Take massive, much needed, infrastructure spending for example.
But no, the only answer that Republicans can come up with to lift people out of hardship is to create more hardship for them. Yeah, that’ll work. So now, the unemployed are back to only receiving 26 weeks of unemployment benefits in an economy that takes them on average 35 weeks. What could possibly go wrong?