Welfare State Metastasizes: Senate Votes to Extend Unemployment Benefits.


The Senate voted earlier today to move ahead with an extension of unemployment benefits for people that had reached the end of their rope. On December 28th of last year, benefits ran out for approximately 1.3 million. In 2014, they will run out for an estimated 3.6 million more.

As the Washington Post reports:

The Senate voted narrowly Tuesday to move ahead with a measure to extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless, despite Republican demands for corresponding budget cuts.

On a 60 to 37 roll call vote, Democrats just cleared the hurdle needed to set up a full debate of the legislation. Six Republicans voted with 54 members of the Democratic caucus to pass the cloture motion that permits the measure to move ahead.

The procedural vote in the Senate came as the two parties jockeyed over the political issue of rising income inequality, with Democrats pushing more aid for the jobless and an increased minimum wage. Obama’s Tuesday speech will be followed later this week by several prominent Republicans touting conservative alternatives around the 50th anniversary of the launch of the “War on Poverty”.

According to establishment economists, the recession was over by the end of 2009. Here we are, 5 years later, and millions of people are apparently still reliant on federal unemployment benefits. These benefits have been extended a few times before already, as an ostensible “emergency” measure. This is no longer an emergency measure. Democrats are pushing to turn this into a permanent dole.

In a recent phone call with reporters from CBS, House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said that she didn’t “subscribe to the idea that the unemployment benefits need to be paid for…we have always considered this an emergency, an emergency that springs from a downturn in the economy.” Apparently, costs are not an issue in an emergency. They do not have to be paid for. Congress can just pull the money out of thin air (which they do in a manner of speaking, but not without consequence). This accurately sums the up the economic theory that drives the US government: “We can spend money out of thin air, and it will create real economic growth.” It is part of an ideology known as Keynesianism. For obvious reasons, this is the only school of economic thought that the US government likes to empower.

Many House Republicans will support this measure. Probably most of them will. It’s an election year. Who’s gonna run on a platform of allowing the full-time “emergency measure” to run out for millions of people? Therefore, the government will tax, borrow, and inflate to pay for the measures.

In typical fashion, Democrats are relying on sob stories to sell the measures. As CBS reports:

For now, Democrats seem to be counting on the sad stories of those about to lose their benefits that have flooded local newspapers – not to mention the public pressure on lawmakers home for the holidays – to help secure an extension of benefits.

On a call with reporters earlier this week, several House Democratic women invited Mary Lowe of Ironton, Ohio, to share her story with reporters. Lowe had a bachelor’s degree in health care administration and worked in a major medical center for 15 years until her employer began large-scale layoffs. She was laid off from a position as the general manager at a local restaurant chain, and has applied for jobs paying as little as $10 an hour but was deemed too qualified. She supports her husband, whose business had gone under and who suffered a stroke two weeks ago, and her adopted daughter, Sophie, on benefits of about $325 a week.

“The callous indifference displayed by lawmakers is just beyond comprehension,” Lowe said while fighting back tears. “I hope and I beg that they restore and renew these benefits, and do it without delay. It really directly will impact whether I can keep my home.”

…Renew the benefits, or she does not get to keep her home. If she doesn’t get an unemployment check, she loses her house. Got that? Lawmakers owe her a house, which really means voters owe her a house. YOU owe her a house.

A Hart Research poll commissioned by the nonpartisan National Employment Law Project shows that 55 percent of American voters believe the benefits should be extended, as opposed to just 34 percent who say they should be cut off. They also pointed to two traditionally Republican groups — seniors and white non-college-educated voters — who favor extending the benefits (seniors by a margin of 61 percent to 31 percent and white non-college-educated voters by a margin of 52 percent to 37 percent). Women also favor extending the benefits by a 20-point margin.

Thirty-nine percent of people surveyed say they would be less likely to support their member of Congress for re-election if the lawmaker opposed extending benefits; just 21 percent said they would be more likely to support them (35 percent said it would not affect their vote). Those numbers are particularly pronounced among women, seniors, Latinos and moderates.

It should not be a surprise to anyone that Welfare programs in America have majority support. Approximately half of all adult US citizens do not pay an income tax. Therefore, they are not paying for these Welfare programs. It really is free money, for them. Of course they support these measures. They are under the impression that they won’t personally be paying for them. Currently, a majority of voters perceive that they will not be paying for these welfare state measures. So, they support them.

There are jobs out there. The problem is this: They are beneath the wage rates that many people want to work. Many unemployed individuals would rather live on the welfare dole than work a minimum wage job, either because it would require a lifestyle hit, or because they feel that they are socially above such work. Because this option exists, the unemployed masses are not taking their job hunts seriously. Why should they? Unless they have an inner drive to excel, they may as well take it easy on the dole. Politicians have thus far sent the message: “Don’t worry, the checks will keep coming.” Endless unemployment benefits are going to create another underclass of individuals perpetually teetering on the brink of destitution, clamoring for an extension and expansion of Welfare state benefits whenever possible; that is, until they begin to perceive that it is costing them something.

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