Rand Paul is advocating some tough love for the unemployed, more specifically the “long-term unemployed.” The Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program is set to lapse later this month ending unemployment benefits beyond the 26 week mark. However, extending the program another year would come with a $25 billion price tag. Here’s an important question to ask: How long should we keep paying for the unemployed?
“When you allow people to be on unemployment insurance for 99 weeks, you’re causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy,” Paul stated on Fox News Sunday.
“I do support unemployment benefits for the 26 weeks that they’re paid for. If you extend it beyond that, you do a disservice to these workers.” (NY Daily News)
While The Washington Post thinks the long-term unemployment rate is still “historically high”, it does ask: “Will a program that was meant to provide ’emergency’ aid to the long-term unemployed get extended indefinitely, year after year?” At what point does long-term unemployment benefits become an undesirable American habit?
On the other side, as The Register-Guard points out, “unemployment insurance programs boost consumer spending” because “people on unemployment spend almost all their benefits immediately.” However is this really a viable ongoing solution or just a band-aid? Perhaps it’s as House Speaker John Boehner says, the president should focus on creating more jobs, not more government programs. Not everyone is happy with Rand Paul’s statements, but maybe it’s time to show some tough love for the unemployed. Or at least start looking for other solutions.
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