We Still Need a Robust Jobs Bill

June 2, 2010 at 4:27 pm

As David Leonhardt explains in today’s New York Times, Congress shouldn’t let the need for long-term deficit reduction prevent it from passing a jobs bill to address today’s historically high unemployment rates. Or as I put it last week, the current deficit to worry about is the jobs deficit.

One argument we can quickly toss aside is that the time for stimulus has passed and that we no longer need extra unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and COBRA health insurance for unemployed workers. As the chart shows, Congress has provided extra weeks of UI benefits in every recession in the last six decades, and it has always waited for the unemployment rate to fall substantially before terminating the program.

In fact, the highest the unemployment rate has been when the temporary program expired was 7.3 percent (in April 1985). Right now it stands at 9.9 percent.

Last week the House passed a bill to extend through November the program providing extra weeks of UI benefits, but the House dropped provisions that would also have extended COBRA coverage and fiscal relief for states. These changes make little economic sense. Leonhardt is right to point out the high stimulative value of fiscal relief, which “prevents layoffs of teachers, emergency medical technicians and other workers.”

The ball is now in the Senate’s court. When it returns to work next week, the Senate needs to enact a more robust and effective jobs bill.

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More About Chad Stone

Chad Stone

Chad Stone is Chief Economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, where he specializes in the economic analysis of budget and policy issues. You can follow him on Twitter @ChadCBPP.

Full bio | Blog Archive | Research archive at CBPP.org

1 Comments Add Yours ↓

Comments are listed in reverse chronological order.

  1. Arabella #

    Could you please take a more active public role in getting the truth out there?
    I was apalled to hear Joe Scarborough & Mark Halperin the other day on Morning Joe/MSNBC attacking the President for spending at three times the rate of Bush and “tripling the deficit”.

    Puzzled by this last statement, I did a little research and discovered it came from the RSC “Balanced Budget” caper and publicity drive – I found the budget article on The Foundry. They are using the 2007 budget & national debt as the baseline for comparing the President’s performance, since that’s when Democrats took over the majority in Congress?!!! Convenient, huh? They then take a $7 trillion debt & compare it with the president’s proposed $17 trillion debt in 2019 to justify their claim. Totally bogus, but they do a good job of communicating and somehow US media no longer do any research or fact-checking themselves. But it is shocking when national media figures totally mislead the public.

    As a voting member of the public, who wished this administration was more aggressive at communicating and neutralizing some of the balderdash, since I find your organization and site very helpful and I never see your fellows on the talk shows or your Op-eds blanketing key media….I’m just going to pitch the idea to you. Nobody out there knows just how much of the GOP/Bush economy persists in Obama’s budget responsibilities, they don’t realize or understand that Bush 2001 & 2003 tax cuts, without offsetting funds, incurred huge carrying costs which persist, or that TARP fell on Obama to pay for, or that federal corporate tax revenue is very low because of so many tax breaks loopholes. On the other hand, nobody is educating them…except the very busy Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, The Foundry, etc. which, based on my review of their materials, don’t mind being “light” on the truth…or even far from it.

    Public opinion is important. Many of my friends like the President but keep coming up with “his irresponsible spending” as justification for reconsidering their vote. A series of well-placed Op-eds, media interviews and TV appearances could go a long way….hence I’m being very forward and out-of-line in suggesting/hoping you’ll consider!

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