When “Heartless” Is Responsible

The Neverending Emergency....

The Neverending Emergency….

Nancy Pelosi just designated the extension of unemployment benefits yet again—they were first extended in 2008 and have been continuously extended ever since—as Congress’s top priority for 2014, which is instructive. She called the Republican determination to end the extensions as “immoral;” others in her party and the media have called it heartless. “Starting tomorrow, too many American families will face the New Year with uncertainty, insecurity, and instability as a result of congressional Republicans’ refusal to extend critical unemployment insurance,” she said. “The first item on Congress’ agenda in the New Year must be an extension of unemployment insurance. That must be our priority on day one.” The budget deal cut between House Democrats and Republicans ends the extensions, unless something is done.

Pelosi’s argument is intellectually dishonest. I would like someone to define the exact point at which the number of families dependent on as yet unsuccessful job-seekers would no longer be regarded as “too many.” Isn’t any number too many? If the nation decides that it should provide a living stipend to the unemployed as long as they are jobless as policy, then so be it: I think that would be a mistake, as the Welfare experiment demonstrated and as the federal disability assistance programs continue to demonstrate, but that’s a debate that needs to be had. As seems to be habitual with the Democrats, they apparently want to make this the policy deceptively and without admitting so, by the device of never-ending “emergency extensions,” with spokespeople like Pelosi ready to hammer any opposition as a “heartless.”

Sure, I suppose its heartless. I suppose, if one regards the Federal Treasury as one big social welfare pool, that it’s also heartless to insist that the Federal Government isn’t responsible for paying for the food, housing, medical care, clothing, WiFi and cable TV service for Americans who can’t afford these necessities as well. I can’t argue that. Yup, it’s heartless. The fact that the United States is not a socialist nanny state that believes that tax payers should pay for all the basic human needs of non-taxpayers is, I suppose, heartless, but for better or worse, the core values of the United States were based on self-reliance, independence, working to support yourself, over-coming diversity, community support, risk-taking, coping with adversity, strength of character, and the free market.  Though inveterate America-haters like Noam Chomsky and others disagree, the consensus of historical opinion is that the model has been remarkably successful, if one measures success by achievement, entrepreneurial success, innovation, national wealth, national character, and positive impact on world affairs. If one measures success according to what percentage of the public is dependent on the government, higher being better, then one would disagree.

Extending the unemployment benefits permanently is a policy that would please the latter group, and if that group will make its case honestly and directly, I won’t find ethical (as opposed to rational) fault with the decision to enact it. Doing so under the false representation that it is an “emergency measure,” however, is irresponsible, dishonest, and an attempt to bypass proper legislative process. That this is the Democrats’ goal should be obvious, since at no time have Pelosi and her minions offered a specific target unemployment percentage when the “emergency” would be over. This should make it obvious that they never see the emergency as being over, as indeed it won’t be, for someone. For that someone, the number of families without unemployment checks arriving will be one too many.

Let the advocates of perpetual unemployment stipends make their case, and let the public weigh in, knowing the real costs and consequences. If they see a time when they would not call the proponents of ending extended benefits “immoral” and “heartless,’ then let them explicate what that time is. Otherwise, doing the heartless thing is the only responsible course. We have a policy regarding unemployment, and we should stick to it, until we decide, openly and honestly, that another one is preferable.

__________________________

Facts: The Hill

66 thoughts on “When “Heartless” Is Responsible

  1. A pity that the extension will happen anyways. These are people who think that unemployment benefits are the most efficient means of stimulus, and who think that there would be no repercussions to increasing the minimum wage (hint: they are fucking morons).

    Milton Friedman in the 70’s suggested that we could – easily – have a federally-provided minimum income of around $30,000… All it required was the elimination of all federal welfare programs.

    I would be much more in favor of such a thing, but it too would never happen, because it would still remove a huge amount of power from the federal government – they wouldn’t get to tell you what you received, you would be able to decide for yourself.

  2. Perhaps, the case of the homicidal Texas teen that sought leniency due to “affluenza” would be quite instructive to Ms. Pelosi regarding the outcome of providing for all wants without responsibility for personal behavior.

    I was pleased to see Jack that you brought up the lack of defining a standard by which policy is measured. I have not yet seen a program that was ever defined as receiving adequate funding. Policy advocates rely on the tired argument that policy failure is due to underfunding and not simply faulty policy.

  3. “over-coming diversity, community support, risk-taking, coping with diversity”

    Hi Jack,
    Did you mean ‘adversity’ ?

    Btw, what is also horrible is that one party to a political bargain repudiates it almost at once. Who would make another deal with them, ever ?

  4. Jack,

    I did forget to mention an aspect when I discussed the method of operation of statist regimes. Along with the two characteristics — vilification of a single group as the source of national woes and increased government as the cure for those woes — there is another you alluded to here.

    That is the perpetual identification of crisis or emergencies that never seem to end.

    This isn’t about helping the unemployed. It’s about vote buying and power.

  5. Jack,

    You ask, “If they see a time when they would not call the proponents of ending extended benefits “immoral” and “heartless,’ then let them explicate what that time is.”

    I can’t speak on behalf of ‘they,’ but I’ll suggest an answer:
    “When the unemployment rate is closer to its long term average level, and closer to its pre-recession levels, than its current high levels.”

    In return, I’d like your answer to the question:
    “If you see a level of unemployment so high that you WOULD call opponents of extended benefits cruel and heartless, I’d like to know what it is.” 8%? 10%? 15%? 25%? How many people do you think have to be unemployed for you to consider an unemployment policy as sensible? (Hint: check Herbert Hoover).

    The tone of your comments on this post, and many of the commentators, are long on moralizing and short on economics. Does anyone seriously believe that swings in the GDP and unemployment rates are due solely to fluctuating work ethics among the citizenry? Because that’s the only variable you mention as relevant. What about sales? Demand? Revenue? Exports? Capacity utilization? What’s Nancy Pelosi got to do with that?

    Most economists would suggest there’s a difference between 5% unemployment and 15% unemployment that no amount of exhortation can overcome. Lack of demand drives unemployment far more than do lazy people.

    You’re in danger of mimicking the driving philosophy of the right-wing branch of the GOP (but I repeat myself), whose mantra seems to be:
    “Somebody, somewhere, must be getting away with something – and they must be stopped!”

    The flaw of our economic policy of the last five years has been that it’s been driven by boogeymen fear of inflation (didn’t happen), rising government interest rates (ditto), and a crashing value of the dollar (ditto again). All these Cassandras succeeded only in driving up unemployment – a far greater tragedy to a great many more people than the bondholders and importers who benefit from the cut-spending crowd’s policies.

    It is disingenuous of you to claim that it’s “obvious” that the goal of the democrats is to permanently extend unemployment benefits. It is NOT true, and therefore hardly “obvious.” When unemployment is at the disastrous levels it has been for the last five years, it is the responsible thing to do for government to prime the economic pump, and unemployment benefits go more to the bottom line of the GDP than nearly anything else. (And don’t give me the anti-Keynesian line – Keynesian principles have been roundly affirmed in recent years – go check the Austerian European countries who have wrought even more havoc than we have, because they listened even more to your kind of advice than the US did).

    • Bravo. Well put. I too, was a bit put off by Jack’s tone here. No one wants ANY unemployment benefits but there are people in need. And these people don’t want assistance, they want jobs. But virtually all of the rust belt jobs have gone overseas. This has decimated entire cities – Flint, MI being an easy example.

      As for AM’s reference to Friedman above, I’ve never been a huge fan, but the idea of a “minimum” salary to all people is not a bad one and Progressives talk about the same idea all the time as well.

    • Your knee is jerking. I said that if the Democrats want permanent Welfare (after the disastrous results of the last round), let them make the case honestly. You deflected the point and ducked. I knew when the the first round of extensions came along, this would be the scenario. Wow—four years later, and what a surprise! “It is disingenuous of you to claim that it’s “obvious” that the goal of the democrats is to permanently extend unemployment benefits. It is NOT true, and therefore hardly “obvious.” ??? Seriously? You believe this? Are you hypnotized? I know you wouldn’t lie to me, but golly: when have Democrats ever, EVER, voluntarily ended or reduced a hand-out that turned citizens into government dependents and reliable Democratic voters? Again, what’s the level? Obviously any level means some considerable numbers of job-seekers will lack for for funds—when won’t Pelosi say cutting them off is “heartless”? Never. How could you claim otherwise? I was unemployed for four months after unemployment ran out—gee, why are today’s unemployed more desperate and deserving of continuing aid than I was? After the extensions are cut off (ha ha), will the remaining unemployed forced to exist under the old rules be considered mistreated? Paying the unemployed isn’t “priming” anything. Building and repairing roads and bridges is…those shovel-ready jobs that the last phony stimulus managed to neglect.

      My answer to your question is none of the above. Just because there’s more unemployment than usual is no reason to make it profitable. Now I’ve said when it is a sufficient emergency that the destructive policy of making the unemployed permanent wards of the state is justified. Now I want a real answer to mine, from Pelosi and the Democrats…I trust you, I have no reason to trust them. If the answer is when the percentage dips under 7%, fine. With current policies and Obamacare guaranteed to lead to full-time job reduction, it’s not going lower any time soon.

      • Jack, the president has already established his boundary for how many people turing away would be heartless:

        “If we can save just one child, we should take that step.”

        After all, if there were only one unemployed person in the country, it would be heartless not to give them as much money as he needed (So long as he votes the right way, naturally. If not, we’ll still give him the money, but call him a hypocrate for accepting it.)

        • Well, to nitpick a bit, if there were only one unemployed person in the country with a child, it would be heartless…. 😉

          –Dwayne

      • Jack,
        You ask. “when have Democrats ever, EVER, voluntarily ended or reduced a hand-out that turned citizens into government dependents and reliable Democratic voters?

        Answer: 1996, Clinton, welfare reform. Want proof? Look how the left squealed at the time at what he did. And he did move people off welfare rolls and into jobs.

        In fairness, though, it’s easy to cut welfare and balance the budget (Clinton did both) when you’ve got a healthy economy. In fact, that’s what you should do (and he did).

        It’s when you’ve got a crappy economy (thanks GWB) with anemic growth and an over-extended private sector that we need government to step up to the plate and provide stimulus, including humane stimulus.

        (I completely agree with you, however, about the desirability of public works projects, and the failure to provide enough in the first Obama stimulus).

          • He knows it, Jack. He also despises Clinton for being so illiberal as to give in to it. However, this false contention is commonly used by the Left these days in hopes that people have forgotten this minor point… or are too young to know about it. Charles wasn’t wise to try it here.

          • Jack,

            You assumed my answer correctly, because it was a straightforward question, and I had the right answer – Clinton.

            Here’s a parallel question: who was the last Republican president to reduce the deficit? (Note the most recent president of any party to do so was Bill Clinton).

            Answer: Not GW Bush, not GHW Bush, not Reagan (not by a long shot), not Ford, not Nixon, not even Eisenhower. In fact, you have to go back all the way to Calvin Coolidge to find a reduced deficit under a Republican administration; whereas you can look at the very last Democratic president to find such.

            I suggest the “Democrats are nanny-state” meme-pushers get a little more data-based.

            My source: http://useconomy.about.com/od/people/fl/Deficit-by-President.htm

            • You know better—pointing to the other guy is also a deflection. Like all Presidents, fair or not, Clinton deserves credit for all the good stuff that occurred during his watch, and the elimination of the deficit was one of them. He had a relatively crisis-free administration, not counting those of hos own making; the GOP Congress reined him is, and the dotcom boom and the bonus from the collapse of the Cold War also helped. And Andrew Jackson was the only President to eliminate the National Debt. Discussing “Democrats” is meaningless unless one confines oneself to “today’s version of Democrats.” Clinton promoted discrimination against gays. LBJ believed in strong national defense. Nixon was a proponent of big government social programs. But there’s no arguing that the Nanny-state philosophy and the advocacy for European-style socialism is a current Democratic obsession, and I doubt you could or would deny that. I’m sure Barry will find the exception in his archives, but I think only current Democrats use the argument that “the US is the only major nation in the world that doesn’t/ does […].” It’s an “everybody does it argument” too, as well as assuming that the United States, which is not like other countries in so may ways, should aspire to be so.

            • Answer: Not GW Bush, not GHW Bush, not Reagan (not by a long shot), not Ford, not Nixon, not even Eisenhower. In fact, you have to go back all the way to Calvin Coolidge to find a reduced deficit under a Republican administration; whereas you can look at the very last Democratic president to find such.

              Charles, you disappoint me. Reagan didn’t reduce the deficit directly, nor was it ever really his strategy. Reagan grew the GDP at a rate higher than the federal deficit increased–a highly sustainable model that would have allowed the federal government to continue operating and continue borrowing what was needed indefinitely.

              You yourself have been on record on this site a number of places supporting this premise.

              Clinton owes the balanced budget deal primarily to GOP Speaker John Kasich (which of course didn’t actually balance the budget, but put the budget on a 10-year path to being balanced–eventually). He would have been a fool NOT to sign it. I wonder why such a deal didn’t happen during Clinton’s first two years when he had solid Democrat majorities in both houses? Did I forget about when that happened?

              I agree, BTW, on GHW Bush–he signed anything that crossed his desk.

              But . . . really . . . . “when you’ve got a crappy economy (thanks GWB)

              Really?

              You’re ***STILL*** blaming Bush? STILL?!? REALLY???

              And I note that while pointing to the “last” Democrat president as a hero of deficit reduction, you fail to mention at all what the current Democrat president has done in that area.

              –Dwayne

        • “In fairness, though, it’s easy to cut welfare and balance the budget (Clinton did both) when you’ve got a healthy economy. In fact, that’s what you should do (and he did).

          It’s when you’ve got a crappy economy (thanks GWB) with anemic growth and an over-extended private sector that we need government to step up to the plate and provide stimulus, including humane stimulus.”

          You sound like a blinder wearing party hack.

          Clinton did both when we had a healthy economy (thank you Reaganomics – highly influenced by Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics). Clinton did it because the conservatives had Congress. Not quite a score for you guys.

          The crappy economy, thanks to GWB? Still blaming Bush? Will he still be the scapegoat for you lefties in 2083? You do realize the economic crash came because of foolish lending practices that occurred because Leftist policies incentivized or compelled the foolish lending practices. Please tell me you do realize that.

          We’ve had this conversation time and again. That you double down on wrong ideas that have been corrected for you is telling.

      • “It is disingenuous of you to claim that it’s “obvious” that the goal of the democrats is to permanently extend unemployment benefits. It is NOT true, and therefore hardly “obvious.” ??? Seriously? You believe this? Are you hypnotized? I know you wouldn’t lie to me, but golly: when have Democrats ever, EVER, voluntarily ended or reduced a hand-out that turned citizens into government dependents and reliable Democratic voters? …

        What have their actions got to do with their conscious goals? Of course those aren’t their goals, even though they are utterly reliable in implementing those; they need that sort of invincible ignorance to stay right with themselves.

        I was unemployed for four months after unemployment ran out—gee, why are today’s unemployed more desperate and deserving of continuing aid than I was?

        That is a very good question. Are you willing to stay for an answer, or is it rhetorical, like jesting Pilate’s question? Fair warning: so far, these things have only partial and uncertain answers anyway, and still require a lengthy treatment.

        • Of course it’s rhetorical. There are people with exactly my prospects and circumstances in the time (times, actually) of my unemployment who have received extended benefits, while I did not. To say they “need” them is nonsense–it’s nice to have, but it is neither logical or equitable to say that how others are faring in the job market should change the needs of Jack 2 from what those of Jack 1 were.

    • There is a fallacy in your logic. The Austerians definitely screwed up, but it does not follow that the Keynesians are right. They are both wrong, judging from the historical record – and therefore, it is not “the responsible thing to do for government to prime the economic pump”, rather than for it to go and find out what it should be doing first and only then doing it (hint: Professor Phelps’s book Rewarding Work is a good starting point for a U.S. context).

    • Wrong as usual.

      “The tone of your comments on this post, and many of the commentators, are long on moralizing and short on economics. Does anyone seriously believe that swings in the GDP and unemployment rates are due solely to fluctuating work ethics among the citizenry? Because that’s the only variable you mention as relevant. What about sales? Demand? Revenue? Exports? Capacity utilization? What’s Nancy Pelosi got to do with that?”

      Demand for labor is indeed an issue. Why aren’t new jobs being created, why are those with the wherewithal to hire not hiring? They are unsure of the future of the economy. As long as they are unsure, they won’t take the unjustifiable risk of expanding. That insecurity comes from one place: our incompetent government behaving like a bull in the china closet of our economy.

      As for capacity utilization, it has been said that America is among the LEAST developed nations in terms of our actual potential. How about we loosen the ridiculous regulations that stifle enterprise.

      “You’re in danger of mimicking the driving philosophy of the right-wing branch of the GOP (but I repeat myself), whose mantra seems to be:
      “Somebody, somewhere, must be getting away with something – and they must be stopped!””

      Strawman on two counts.

      Your very last paragraph about Keynesianism being affirmed is bunk. PM Lawrence, demonstrates here

    • The flaw of our economic policy of the last five years has been that it’s been driven by boogeymen fear of inflation (didn’t happen), rising government interest rates (ditto), and a crashing value of the dollar (ditto again). All these Cassandras succeeded only in driving up unemployment – a far greater tragedy to a great many more people than the bondholders and importers who benefit from the cut-spending crowd’s policies.

      when the federal government has dumped several trillions of dollars into the market via QE, the only possible result is inflation and increased interest rates.

      Just because rational people look at the idiotic policies of the administration and for see the eventual consequences doesn’t mean they are “harming” anything.

      The reason the economy continues to limp along the bottom is because the people in charge are idiots, not because we see the inevitable.

      Only a fool looks at policies identical to Japan’s in the 90s and expects any difference in result.

      • Ablative,
        How long have you been predicting inflation? 2 years? 3? 4? 5? If you’d been an investor following your advice, you’d have been broke by now. Any prospects of that inflation yet? Not if you think the bond market knows what it’s talking about.
        Want to place a bet on interest rates another year from now?

        • Things haven’t gone tits up because stable systems remain stable long after a rational observer would predict collapse.

          Right up until they don’t.

          The economic collapse followed record growth, and yet it all fell apart.

          Only a moron thinks that over 4 trillion in USC can be pumped into the market without it having to come out somehow.

          There are only two methods – inflation and spikes in interest rates.

          We saw this exact thing over two decades ago in Japan. Why do you think it will be different? Magic?

          • You are aware, of course, that for three decades Japan has had inflation never topping 4%, averaging lower than that – aren’t you?
            Here’s your data:
            http://www.tradingeconomics.com/japan/inflation-cpi

            And you are aware, of course, that interest rates in Japan have been abou zero for the last decade – aren’t you? The highest they ever hit in the last three decades was 6% for a touch in 1990.
            Source: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/japan/interest-rate

            So what is this you’re talking about when you say “There are only two methods – inflation and spikes in interest rates. We saw this exact thing over two decades ago in Japan.”

            Really? What set of historical data have you been smoking?

        • Oh, and you best pray that interest rates don’t increase from their forced low – if they go back to even their historic average, the cost to pay our debt service will more than triple.

          And do you know why that would be bad, chuck?

          • An economy that’s been artificially propped up is still a bad economy. It only means that when the hammer falls and reality reasserts itself, it will come with a severity proportional to the years of neglect and political facade building. You might want to ask the Soviets about that.

  6. Well Obama and his minions have already decided that America should be a Socialist nanny state. Bread and circuses for the masses to keep them happy while self reliance, independence, and working for yourself are undermined by high taxes and accusations of “heartlessness”. Oh, I only wish we have a Margaret Thatcher in Congress to confront Nancy Pelosi with her massive demagoguery.

    • Wayne, effective taxes in the US are among the lowest in the developing world. Not statutory, effective. You could look it up.

      • Well, living in California I have seen federal, state, sales taxes, and corporate taxes go up enormously especially since Obama has been crowned and Jerry Brown is our Governor. Businesses flee the state for places like Texas. Anyway, why do we want to heavily tax people in middle/high income brackets since they are the ones that create new jobs? We want the economy to grow, right?

    • How do you define “developed”, Charles. Is there any such thing, anymore? Hardly in Europe, where socialism is well into the process of not only extinguishing all prosperity and incentive, but is fast doing so to the very population as well. BTW: That contention that Americans are undertaxed is just a bit mindblowing. I’d expect that sort of nonsense from Nancy Pelosi, of course, but then again, she’s a semi-deranged pathological liar. I’d suggest you step away from her collective.

  7. Word choices are powerful things. Unemployment insurance is what it’s called, and as the program is run by an employee and employer giving a portion of income in exchange for a payment in the event of unemployment, that is an accurate term. ‘Benefit’ may fit the extension portion that we had until recently, but to call the program as a whole that is misleading.

  8. That this is the Democrats’ goal should be obvious, since at no time have Pelosi and her minions offered a specific target unemployment percentage when the “emergency” would be over.

    The answer is, 6% state-level unemployment. That figure is built into the legislation you’re objecting to (but, I suspect, don’t actually understand).

    I’m simplifying, because the actual legislation uses two measures of unemployment and is actually a couple of different programs. There are good technical reasons for that, but it makes it harder to explain. But in a nutshell:

    The amount of Federal unemployment offered is based on the unemployment rate in the state you live in. If your state has an unemployment rate of below 6%, like Hawaii, then it cuts out relatively quickly; the most anyone can get is “tier one,” 14 weeks of Federal unemployment insurance. The amount of Federal unemployment available increases as the state unemployment rate increases, to the current maximum of 47 weeks, for residents of states with unemployment rates above 9%.

    Conversely, the amount of unemployment available would drop as unemployment lowers. If unemployment drops to below 6% in all the states, then no federal extensions other than the short-term “tier 1” extensions would exist anywhere.

    So the answer to your question – already built into the legislation – is 6%.

    • Thanks. Good.
      Then it should be debated in public on that basis, not on the basis of “morality.” Find me the quote where Pelosi or other Democratic leadership commit in print and video to 6%. Without that, I have no assurances, nor do you, that when the next extension comes up for debate, the new target won’t be 5%, or 4%. And why shouldn’t it be? I do not see why unemployed citizen X gets cut off in Hawaii when the exact same individual would keep getting checks in Michigan. How is that logical or sensible? Why should an individual benefit from the misfortune of the pool around him?

      Thanks sincerely for the clarification. Glad we flushed you out.

      • Without that, I have no assurances, nor do you, that when the next extension comes up for debate, the new target won’t be 5%, or 4%.

        What’s written in law represents a far greater commitment than anything said in any other format. What politicians say on Sunday news shows is not legally binding; what is written in legislation is.

        Furthermore, what you’re asking – an assurance that binds future congresses – is legally impossible (short of amending the Constitution), and is therefore unreasonable to ask for. Under our Constitution, every Congress is free to amend what previous Congresses did.

        (And that’s how it should be – do you really want a Congress facing 2030’s problems to be bound by the decisions made by 2014’s Congress?)

        The best assurance you have is democracy. Unemployment insurance is a popular issue right now because lots of people are unemployed and know unemployed folks. When unemployment falls, unemployment insurance will become less popular, and a Congress that insists on extending it unreasonably will lose elections, and a new Congress will make new decisions. It’s not a perfect system, to put it mildly, but I don’t know of a better one.

        To answer your final question, obviously the exact same individual in Michigan would have much worse odds of finding a job, and therefore needs more assistance. You might as well ask why we throw a life preserver to someone who has fallen off a boat in the middle of the Atlantic, when we might not throw the preserver to the exact same person if he were sitting in a kiddie pool in the yard.

        • 1. Yes, I know, but the point is that these are extensions. They run out, and then everything is up for grabs again. I assume the goal line will keep being moved, because that’s how these games are played. This is a little like your past insistence that the ACA is going to reduce the deficit rather than explode it. There is the matter of well-established patterns of political behavior, which can be conveniently forgotten, ignored or denied, if we are determined to make the same blunders over and over again.

          2. “Obviously the exact same individual in Michigan would have much worse odds of finding a job.” Why do you say this? It depnds on the job, the industry, and the individual. Always. If I am looking for a job is Michigan, the fact that the auto plants aren’t hiring has little impact on my job opportunities. Why should a computer programmer benefit from the collapse of the legal market?

          • 4% or whatever.1a. We’ve had the conversation about “all federal programs cost more than the CBO projected” twice. Both times, I pointed out the easily verifiable fact that NOT all federal programs cost more than CBO projections. Even if you limit it to just large federal programs, or to just large federal programs that provide an entitlement of some kind, or to just large federal programs that provide a medical coverage entitlement of some kind, it’s easily verifiable that some programs have cost less than the CBO projected.

            The biggest fiscal changes to Obamacare since the last CBO projection are (1) medical inflation has been much lower than the CBO predicted, and (2) many fewer states have signed on to the Medicaid expansion than the CBO projected (alas). Both of these changes are easily verifiable facts, and both will significantly lower the cost of the ACA.

            So yes,logically it is likely (not certain) that the ACA will reduce the deficit, as the CBO has projected more than once. Your only rebuttal to this (so far) is to say government programs always cost more than projected. – a claim that is demonstrably false.

            (Also, one of your commentators rebutted me by saying a new CBO projection showed increased deficits from the ACA, but the actual CBO statement turned out to say just the opposite.)

            1b. Historically, Congress has stepped in to extend unemployment compensation during times of extended high unemployment, and each time – without exception – has pulled back once unemployment dropped to pre-recession levels. (If this weren’t so, we wouldn’t have to pass a new law each time there’s a new recession, because the old law would still be in place).

            What you claim will happen – reducing the boundary to 4% or whatever – has never, ever happened in our history. So it’s NOT “how these games are played,” at least when it comes to unemployment insurance extensions.

            2. When there are less auto jobs in Michigan, there are also less jobs for everyone else, because those former auto workers now have less money to spend buying kid’s graphic novels or hiring lawyers. So 9% unemployment in Michigan means fewer jobs for virtually all sectors of the economy, not just fewer jobs for the worst-affected industries.

            (Also, remember, to qualify for unemployment you first have to lose a job for no fault of your own – i.e., be laid off. But the vast majority of people who are laid off, are in industries that have been cutting back jobs, not in industries where jobs are readily available.)

            3. High unemployment is not caused by lack of motivation to find work. Rather, evidence shows that in high-unemployment times, there are far more job seekers than job openings – so no matter how motivated the job seekers are, many will not be able to find jobs.

            Under those circumstances, extending unemployment is the morally right thing to do. People need help through no fault of their own; we have the means to help them; therefore we should help them.

            The same thing would not apply in an economy with a 4% unemployment rate.

            4. As someone else alluded to, unenployment insurance is good for a weak economy, because it keeps the money flowing through stores and utiltieis and anyplace else unemployed people spend money, and those stores are therefore less likely to need to lay off more workers. So it’s not just the morally right choice, it’s economically smart.

            • People need help through no fault of their own; we have the means to help them; therefore we should help them.

              I know I just wrote this, but it’s too simplistic, and I regret writing it. Obviously there are other factors to be considered, such as “would spending the money on this mean we’d have to give up spending the money on something more important”?

              Nonetheless, given the historic magnitude of the current unemployment crisis – worse than any since the Great Depression – I think the case for spending money on helping the unemployed in areas which are worst-hit by the crisis is extraordinarily strong.

              That said, it’s not enough to just help the unemployed; we have to reduce unemployment. Unfortunately, I don’t see either party pushing for any such programs.This cartoon I once made is now outdated – because today Democrats do want to do something (extend unemployment insurance) to help the unemployed, and Republicans oppose doing that. But if I had the foresight to make the panel 4 dialog “so tell me – what are Democrats doing to fight unemployment,” then the cartoon would be entirely up-to-date.

              • Yeah, those fucking heartless Republicans…

                They want people to have jobs… How fucking dare they.

                Thank god Democrats are there to increase the cost of business, reducing any incentive or ability for an employer to expand.

                Truly, they are the saviors of the servile class.

                • Lefties like to alleviate symptoms because it LOOKS like doing something. Unfortunately it solves no problems that cause the symptoms (because most of the problems are caused by Leftist policy)

            • It warms my heart to see that you are still a complete moron.

              Name two federal program, in the last 50 years, that have cost less than initial projections.

              We were promised a reduction in costs, not a moderate slowing of their increase. That states haven’t signed on to an expansion of medicaid shouldn’t be a shock since Medicaid sucks balls – it is a joke of epic scale, and the desire of the Left to leave it alone so long as the sun burns hot in the sky is astonishing.

              The initial CBO estimates relied on accounting tricks that would send a CPA to federal prison – double-counting revenue, assumptions that had no basis in reality…

              The ACA will cost at least 1.8 Trillion over ten years, double the initial projection. We know this because the free-ride before benefits kick in is over now. Now it is all actual, as written expenditures, and in a move that is a apparently only shocking to the Left, it seems that when the government has to start actually spending money it has to spend a lot of it.

              And there has never – in my lifetime – been an extension of unemployment benefits past two years.

              And no, unemployment benefits are NOT good for the economy, which you would know if your entire view of economics didn’t require so much magical thinking.

              You are taking money from the productive and giving a portion of what you take to people who are not productive. To suggest that is a good and nobal thing makes me want to beat you with a sock of quarters.

              Only the left thinks taking money from people under the threat of force is nobal.

  9. Let me make a simple suggestion: when jobs are in short supply, government should offer some level of safety net. When jobs are plentiful, the safety net should be withdrawn (much as Ampersand describes as being built into the current legislation).

    I can’t imagine anyone arguing the opposite: that we should cut back on social support programs when the economy is in the tank, and increase the dole when anyone can get a private sector job!

    Oh wait – yes I can. The GOP believes in the first part, namely cut benefits when the economy is lousy. That’s what I’d call cold and heartless, as well as stupid economics.

    Of course they would disagree with the second part, because frankly, the only agenda they seem to have is less government period, regardless of the economy. Which implicitly suggests government should have no connection whatsoever with economic conditions. Which seems absurd on the face of it, at least to me.

    • Switching subjects, Charles. We’re not talking about safety nets–there are plenty of safety nets, nor have ai sated anywhere that the government should not take action in times of economic crisis. We are talking about one program that was designed as a limited assistance program, not permanent welfare, which is what supporters of endless extensions want to morph it into by simply name-calling and treating the government like a charity.

    • From Krugman. I was going to leave a comment, but there’s no need. When you start quoting Krugman as factual, you’ve just thrown the remnants of your credibility down the commode and given it a hearty flush.

        • I don’t think that’s an ad hominem. If it is it would be some flavor of “poisoning the well”. But I don’t see it.

          If anything it’s just a conclusion without any supporting premises. It may be valid it may not.

          • Texagg,

            Here’s the full quote I was calling ad hominem, from stvplln:

            “From Krugman. I was going to leave a comment, but there’s no need. When you start quoting Krugman as factual, you’ve just thrown the remnants of your credibility down the commode and given it a hearty flush.”

            If that isn’t an ad hominem argument, then please tell me what one looks like!

            • It only means that you can be judged by the company you keep, Charles. If you regard Paul Krugman as a sterling source, go ahead. But I certainly don’t have to accept him… and I don’t. Frankly, I consider him to be a wide-eyed political hack, thinly disguised as an economist.

  10. … the core values of the United States were based on self-reliance, independence, working to support yourself, over-coming diversity, community support, risk-taking, coping with adversity, strength of character, and the free market.

    That should be qualified in two further ways:-

    – It also rested on various forms of sharp practice, from the “honest graft” of politicians down to everyday practice, e.g. Trollope’s observation that Europeans regarded cheating workers out of their pay as completely improper, but Americans did not.

    – It was in a time and place where those things paid off, e.g. Trollope wondered if his above mentioned observation was connected to European workers needing their pay for their very survival, while Americans (in his day) always had fall back options.

    … the consensus of historical opinion is that the model has been remarkably successful, if one measures success by achievement, entrepreneurial success, innovation, national wealth, national character, and positive impact on world affairs.

    No, actually. The consensus outside the U.S.A. holds that that group of features, of “core values”, was merely one factor, with the advantages of nature and the inflows of capital together outweighing that group.

    Otherwise, doing the heartless thing is the only responsible course. We have a policy regarding unemployment, and we should stick to it, until we decide, openly and honestly, that another one is preferable.

    Well, that is rather building in the assumption that there never can be the sort of emergency that precludes such an approach. I don’t think that those doing the slow encroachment can argue that, precisely because they are doing a slow encroachment, but your position “proves too much”: it rules out coping with any genuine emergencies of this sort, with the hidden assumption that such cannot happen (possibly as a result of having heard “wolf” cried too often – but remember, in the story there really was a wolf).

    • Huh? How one deals with a problem requires consideration and debate, or action based on experience and accepted principles. In any event, this is sophistry applied here.The “emergency” is mitigating, but the use of emergency rationalizations do not abate. why?

  11. An emergency is a situation that poses an immediate risk to health, life, property, or environment. I think defining needing yet another extension of unemployment benefits as ‘an emergency’, is dishonest and plays into the hands of people who’d rather not work. But that is the ‘progressives’ agenda and is a cynical power play .

  12. Unemployment benefits, although they are placed with good intentions, have begun a crippling and enabling vice to many Americans. As many of you stated it becomes almost a sure income source for many who then become less motivated to find a job to support themselves. Something definitely needs to be done for those who abuse its initial purpose.

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