Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Jobs Bill

Considering all the very public battles in the press between conservatives and liberals, it is no surprise that the President’s proposed jobs bill did not pass the Senate vote. It failed to garner the required majority of 60 votes to move forward on the measure. A major component of the bill that was not supported by both parties was the provision to extend unemployment benefits for the nation’s unemployed masses, some of whom have been without work for as long as 40.5 weeks. The provision would have extended unemployment benefits for an additional year, with the average person being able to collect a total of 99 weeks split between state and federal level. But now with the failed measure comes the reality that more than 6 million Americans are going to lose their benefit in 2012. Proponents of the extension argue that cutting the benefit will have a negative impact on the economy, since those collecting the funds are usually the ones that spend the money immediately. With no money coming to the jobless, the unemployment funds will be removed from the domestic economy. Opponents, on the other hand, argue that continually extending unemployment benefits discourages the jobless from actively seeking gainful employment and choosing to remain on the government “payroll”. The local thought is that while the President’s bill failed as a whole, the unemployment benefit extension may be submitted for passage as a separate measure. That would reduce the cost from the $447 billion price tag of the entire bill to a more palatable one of “only” $44 billion. Perhaps if the bill includes major provisions for actually getting the jobless back to work, then both parties would agree. I would think that the view of the situation depends on which side of the fence you are on…are you gainfully employed or are you relying on the unemployment check to pay your bills? I am sure that there are jobs available to some that choose to draw unemployment. As always, in my opinion, programs that are intended to provide help to those who need temporary assistance can and are abused. And, while the nation’s businesses continue to deal with the current economic and political climate, unemployment may continue at our current rate of 9.1%.