Steve Bantly: Ending benefits counterproductive

January 10, 2014 

The decision of House Republicans to allow federal unemployment benefits to end adds another dimension to their economic ideology: abandoning 1.3 million struggling job seekers is mean-spirited and counterproductive. Republicans say the unemployed become dependent on benefits instead of looking for work. In most cases, these workers have long-term work histories, but now compete in a job market with eight applicants for each opening.

Current Republican economic ideology began with the “supply-side” and “trickle-down” policies of the Reagan and Bush administrations, with large tax-cuts to corporations and the wealthy. That was supposed to grow the economy and create jobs. Instead it produced huge government deficits and mediocre economic and job growth. They also embraced self-regulated “free markets,” causing Wall Street investment bank failures and eventually the Great Recession, with more huge job losses.

The economy has not fully recovered. Continued high unemployment and weak consumer spending are the main reasons for our troubled economy, not government spending. If 70 percent of the economy consists of consumer spending, how does cutting unemployment benefits help consumer spending to bolster a weak economy?

Congress needs to reinstate these benefits. And must we continue dealing with Republican ideology after the 2014 mid-terms?

STEVE BANTLY

Merced

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