Yesterday, Congress voted not to extend unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed. In the midst of what is thought (hoped?) to be the American recovery from recession, unemployment remains discouragingly high and not poised to improve any time soon.
For Now, Benefits Are Set To Expire
The proposed benefits would have extended benefits beyond the 26 weeks required in most states up to more than triple that time. From the Wall Street Journal:
Lawmakers in both parties expect a compromise eventually to be reached—but not until December, after the current program expires. Without an extension, 800,000 unemployed workers will lose their benefits by Nov. 30 and two million by the end of December. A similar lapse in benefits occurred last summer as Congress struggled to break another impasse.
It’s A Red And Blue Split
Unfortunately, the welfare of unemployed Americans has become an issue divided along party lines: The majority of Republicans favor ending the benefits, insisting that they’re doing their part to reduce deficit spending—it should save about $12 billion—while the Democrats largely support the extension, taking a more personal “The government should care about you, personally” message that conveniently paints the Republican party as callous and bottom-line oriented at the expense of its people.
Is It Right And Wrong, Or Better And Worse?
We’re not so rigidly divided along party lines, and therefore see validity in both sides. Yes, reducing our national deficit would be ideal, but at what cost? On the path of economic recovery, it’s always one step forward, one step back.
Tell us in the comments: Do you think that unemployment benefits should be extended, or that a reduction in national spending is more necessary right now?