Jobless Benefits as Entitlement

Temporary safety net or permanent entitlement program? That’s the question some conservative voices are asking as Congress eyes yet another filing extension for federal unemployment benefits. The Washington Post reports:

[C]omplaints that extending unemployment payments discourages job-seeking have begun to bubble into the political debate. […]

[Arizona GOP Sen. Jon] Kyl told the Senate he questioned why anyone would see unemployment benefits as helpful to the economy, or to the job market. ”If anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work,” Kyl said. “I am sure most of them would like work and probably have tried to seek it, but you can’t argue it is a job enhancer.”

Conservative employment experts are now weighing in with a similar message. James Sherk, a labor economist at the Heritage Foundation, for example, told the Post that the extension of emergency benefits — which now run for 99 weeks in high-unemployment states — have turned a safety net program into something more like welfare.

“It is appropriate and natural for Congress to extend the time limit of unemployment insurance with the job market as bad as it is,” Sherk said. “But by quadrupling it, it is no longer an unemployment insurance program but a welfare program.”

read the rest here: Jobless Benefits as Entitlement « The Washington Independent.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Economics, Entitlements, Liberals, United States of America, Welfare

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