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President Obama urged Congress to extend unemployment benefits quickly after the Senate’s cloture vote on the measure today.

This week Democrats are talking up the need to extend unemployment benefits.  If our economy has improved why do this?  How long does one need to receive unemployment benefits?  The Senate just passed a cloture vote on a 60 to 37 vote to move ahead with a measure that will extend benefits in some states to 73 weeks – close to a year-and-a-half in benefits.

The Heritage Foundation says this could lead to fewer Americans finding jobs quickly:

Sure, liberals are touting the three-month extension (which isn’t offset by spending cuts elsewhere, despite its hefty $6.5 billion price tag) as an act of compassion for struggling unemployed Americans. But the data shows a different picture: Give people unemployment benefits, and it’s likely they will take longer to find employment.

“Extended unemployment benefits are not an economic free lunch,” explains James Sherk, a senior policy analyst in labor economics at The Heritage Foundation. “Economists have consistently found that they prolong workers’ job searches, raising the unemployment rate.”

“Many liberals argue this is a plus—it helps the unemployed hold out for higher wages,” Sherk continues. “But higher wages discourage businesses from hiring, which means fewer new jobs.”

Specifically, Sherk has noted studies that “show that extending UI [unemployment insurance] benefits to 99 weeks has increased the national unemployment rate by roughly 0.5 percentage points.”

President Obama responded to today’s Senate vote calling “unemployment insurance a vital economic lifeline.”  He said that “if we don’t provide unemployment insurance it makes it harder for them to find a job.”  The studies that The Heritage Foundation noted today refutes that.

President Obama after criticizing Congress for leaving Washington on Holiday break (forget that he spent 15 days in Hawaii on the taxpayer dime) encouraged Congress to pass an extension quickly. “Voting for unemployment insurance helps people and creates jobs, and voting against it does not.  Congress should pass this bipartisan plan right away, and I will sign it right away,” Obama said.

Democrats ignored the extending benefits all year last year.  Why the focus on it now?

It’s a symptom of the Democrat economic failures under the leadership of President Obama, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Congressman Bruce Braley is also complicit in his cheerleading and support of Obamacare and other job-killing policies as well.

Democrats tout that unemployment is down to 7% nationally, but that doesn’t paint the whole picture.  The simple fact is that “real” unemployment has gone up, not down since 2009.  Here are some facts that we are not hearing from Democrats pushing for an extension.

  • The Labor Force Participation rate is 63% which is down from 65.7% when President Obama took office in 2009.  There were 734,000 discouraged workers when President Obama took office. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics accessed 1/6/14)
  • There are 7.7 Million Americans who are currently working part-time because they can’t find full-time employment. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics accessed 1/5/14)
  • 27% of unemployed Americans have been unemployed for a year or more, up from 11% when President Obama took office.  (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics accessed 1/5/14)
  • The “real” unemployment rate in Iowa, including those who have given up looking for work or are involuntarily working part-time is 9.3%.  This is up from 8.7% when President Obama took office. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics here and here accessed 1/5/14).

If Democrats would like to solve the unemployment problem they can start by repealing Obamacare, end uncertainty with our tax code, ease restrictive regulations that are job killers, and address our deficit spending and debt.

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