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Extend jobless benefits? It's counterproductive

| Friday, April 11, 2014, 8:57 p.m.

With only labor force shrinkage seeming to reduce stubbornly high joblessness, this is no time to extend unemployment benefits that discourage seeking work. And with midterm elections looming, this is no time for the Republican-controlled House to be suckered into the Democrat-controlled Senate's political game by voting for such an economically unsound measure.

Senate Democrats who were joined by six Republicans in passing a five-month extension of long-term unemployment benefits hope that vote will press the House to follow suit. But House Republicans must realize that extending unemployment benefits is counterproductive for the jobless and the economy.

Extensions “in the past five years have kept at least 600,000 people out of the labor force, because people tend to ride a gravy train,” writes Aloysius Hogan of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in USA Today, citing Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and National Bureau of Economic Research analyses.

He also notes there's no funding budgeted for another extension, which would cost about $2 billion a month — and mainly go to Democrat-dominated, heavily unionized, high-unemployment states.

GOP strategists tell The Washington Times that House Republicans won't be “bullied” into extending unemployment benefits again and aren't feeling pressured politically to do so, despite the Democrats' claims. Standing firm, as they must, is the right thing for GOP House members to do — both economically and politically.

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