Will Congress let holiday-season jobless benefits expire?

With Thanksgiving over, lawmakers have to decide before November 30 whether to extend unemployment benefits through the holidays

Unemployed workers rally for benefit extensions. The average family receives about $290 per week from jobless benefits.
(Image credit: Getty)

Jobless Americans might have to make their Thanksgiving leftovers last a little longer this year. Going into the Thankgiving break, Congress was at an impasse over extending benefits to approximately 2 million Americans unable to find employment. Republican legislators are unwilling to support a $12.5 billion emergency package unless it is offset by spending cuts, and many voted against an extension last week. Congress must pass the extension before next Tuesday or millions of Americans won't receive their holiday season benefits. Should it do so?

Yes. Failing to do so hurts us all: Think the U.S. can't afford this? asks an editorial in the Philadelphia Daily News. "Think again: We can't afford not to." If millions of Americans have their funds cut off, it will also "kneecap the rest of us who are still working" — including those who sell gas, food, and heating to folks who can no longer afford them. Voting to extend the benefits is the only way to prevent this recession from getting worse. That's just "simple math."

"DN Editorial: Unemployment benefits should be extended"

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No. Ending benefits might help the economy: Liberal economists say benefits stimulate the economy, says Moses Kim at Seeking Alpha. But they were extended plenty this year, and "nothing happened." The only thing "long-term jobless benefits do is remove incentives for people to look for jobs, or better yet, create jobs." We need a "change in psychology." Maybe this cut-off will do the trick.

"Economic reality setting in"

The Congress millionaires' club doesn't care: Is it any wonder Congress is willing to let unemployment benefits "slide" in favor of partisan bickering? asks Paul Harris at The Guardian. Almost half of our representatives are millionaires, an "exalted status" they share with a "mere 1 percent of the rest of Americans." They have no idea what happens when the money runs out. If poor people were ever elected to office, we wouldn't be having this debate.

"U.S. Congress aka the millionaires' club"

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