The best solution for unemployment is a good job. However, if that is not available, it is great to have a safety net that supports workers while encouraging them to continue looking for jobs.
The latter is precisely what the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program does. The Senate is now debating the program’s reactivation, which is facing Republican opposition.
Conservatives basically said that continuing the program discourages the unemployed from looking for work. This contradicts the very basis of this benefit, which requires individuals to search for a job in order to receive unemployment compensation. The stereotype that only lazy people get unemployment does not fit in an economy where, according to estimates, there are three times more unemployed than vacant positions.
At the same time, this is a return to the nasty dynamics that dominated the House of Representatives’ leadership last year, with lawmakers seeking to take advantage of a Democratic proposal to push an ideological agenda.
That is why, in return for reasonably accepting a moderate three-month extension of this benefit, legislators have plans to request the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, tax cuts, deregulation, de-funding Obamacare and budget cuts to programs that would be detrimental to those that the benefit extension seeks to help.
After last Friday’s unemployment numbers, which show that the critical situation that the Great Recession caused in the labor market still persists, it is disgraceful that some lawmakers still refuse to extend this compensation.
What this involves are a few additional hundreds of dollars to help the long-term unemployed feed and protect their families. This would also move the economy faster than tax cuts.