August 05,2020

ICYMI: On unemployment, Pelosi cares more about a win than the American people

By Marc A. Thiessen

Washington Post

Published August 4, 2020


It should not be this hard to reach a bipartisan compromise when it comes to the $600-a-week federal unemployment supplement Congress approved earlier this year to help Americans who lost their jobs during the lockdown. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has made clear she prefers to let the benefits remain expired rather than compromise with Republicans, so that she can blame President Trump for the pain inflicted on Americans.


Economists on both the left and right agree that we need to responsibly phase out the temporary federal enhancement. Ending it with no replacement would hurt workers and damage the economy. But continuing it in its current form would hold back our economic recovery by creating a disincentive for millions of Americans to return to work — because they can make more money staying home.


According to the University of Chicago and American Action Forum, 60 to 70 percent of individuals on unemployment are making more than they did in their last job thanks to the federal supplement — and the bottom 20 percent of wage earners are making, on average, double what they made before. If the $600 supplement continues unchanged for six more months, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that “roughly five of every six recipients would receive benefits that exceeded the weekly amounts they could expect to earn from work during those six months.”


The federal supplement did not affect employment during the lockdown, because the economy was shut down and there were no jobs available. But now that businesses are reopening, employers trying to rehire workers are finding that they can’t compete with enhanced unemployment. Nearly 1 in 5 small businesses report that they have had an employee turn down a job offer to remain on unemployment.

…But Democrats don’t want a bipartisan compromise. They are insisting on extending the $600 a month until January with no changes and have refused to even pass a temporary extension of the program while the two sides negotiate.