Thursday, December 9, 2010

To Extend or Not to Extend

The White House and Congress have been trying to reach a consensus over whether or not to extend two things: unemployment benefits and Bush-era tax cuts.  As has been the case with much of the legislative discussions during a “divided” time, the two issues are apparently contingent upon each other, rather than the needs of the nation.


But we digress.  Here, today, we’re focusing on the pros and cons of extending unemployment benefits.  Here’s what we’ve come up with.

PRO: Anyone who has been out of work for an extended period of time understands how scary it would be to know the one lifeline you have to paying your bills and taking care of your loved ones is about to go away.  Throw in a recession with a poor employment outlook, and amplify that fear accordingly.

CON: Are we, by continuing to pay unemployment, encouraging these long-term unemployed individuals to stay that way rather than accept a lower-paying job?

PRO: Money we give to the unemployed will be spent quickly and put back into the economy immediately… which is a good thing, at least in the interim, for the economy.

CON: The mental health and self-esteem of people who go for long stretches of time without some type of full time job suffers.  Even if the job is something simple, just having a purpose can make a big difference.

CON: Are we looking at a repeat of the 1970s, where people stayed on welfare for decades?

CON: The US government doesn’t have any money to pay these benefits with.  We’ll likely borrow and add to our national debt.

PRO: Unlike previous and current Washington D.C. expenditures, at least with unemployment benefits, we know where the money is going – to people, goods, and services that may keep our economy from getting worse.

Or will it?  It seems cruel to take this lifeline away from good people in unfortunate situations and an unfortunate economy.  Yet people have a way of becoming resourceful when they’re required to do so.   And nothing inspires creativity like rock bottom.  If passiveness got us into this situation, maybe only proactive determination will get us out.

What do you think? Should Congress extend unemployment benefits?

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