Sunday, December 05, 2010

Pros/Cons Of Extending Unemployment Benefits

There is news this weekend that Democrats in Congress are insisting that a one year extension of long term unemployment benefits be included in proposed legislation to continue the Bush tax cuts for everyone. So what are the pros and cons of extending long term unemployment benefits? The pros side is pretty easy to explain, because anyone that has been out of work for two years understands just how scary it would be to know that the one lifeline you have to paying your bills and feeding your family is about to go away. Also, extending long term unemployment benefits has a positive effect on the US economy because unlike the rich, people who are on unemployment will spend all of their check quickly and that money is put back into the economy immediately.

The cons to extending unemployment benefits are more complicated and more politically driven by those on the extreme left and right of the political spectrum. Many conservatives believe that it is a mistake to continue unemployment benefits for too long, because it encourages people to stay unemployed instead of accepting employment in another field or with a lower annual income. There are also cons to the mental health and self esteem of a person who goes many years without a full-time job. Conservatives argue that long term unemployment will eventually lead to another problem that effected Americans in the 1970's and that problem involved some people staying on government welfare for decades.

Another aspect to whether or not it is a wise use of taxpayer money to extend unemployment benefits past two years is that the US government does not really have any of their own money to pay these benefits with. Instead, just like so many other US federal government programs - the US government will borrow the needed money from other nations and wealthy individuals around the world and further add to an ever growing US federal debt. While there are pros and cons to extending unemployment benefits, I believe that it would be wrong to cut off millions of Americans from their unemployment benefits during a recession and worst of all to do it during the holiday season. Unlike most of the waste already infesting Washington D.C., at least with unemployment benefits we know where the money is going and we know that money will be spent on goods and services that will help keep our economy from getting any worse.

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