Are “temporary” federal unemployment program extensions really all that temporary?


Not so much, according to Michelle Malkin. She’s got some great information that was fed to her by a House Ways & Means staffer, in light of the “economic stimulus” package that politicians are currently arguing about.

The Senate is arguing over whether or not to extend the normal 13 week unemployment benefits to add another 26 weeks of eligibility. Sounds nice, right? Wrong. It doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t improve unemployment figures. If anything, it just keeps people on their couches longer.

Here’s what the extension of similar benefits in the past got us:

  • The extensions went on years longer than originally promised
  • It cost taxpayers billions of dollars
  • It didn’t reduce unemployment

Here are some snippets from the staffer:

But does “temporary” really mean this program will operate only “through the end of 2008,” as the legislation’s proponents suggest? Looking back at the history books reveals a different story – of past “temporary” unemployment benefit programs that were repeatedly extended, operating for years and costing tens of billions of dollars more than originally expected.

Unemployment benefit program 1991-1994
Original proposed program length: 8 months
Original estimated cost $7 billion
Actual length: 29 months
Actual cost: $39 billion
Number of extensions: 5
Unemployment rate at start of program: 7 percent
U rate at end: 6.4 percent

Unemployment benefit program 2002-2004
Original proposed program length: 10 months
Original estimated cost $9 billion
Actual length: 29 months
Actual cost: $26 billion
Number of extensions: 2
Unemployment rate at start of program: 5.7 percent
U rate at end: 5.8 percent

1. SFC documents suggest the “temporary” extended unemployment benefits program would operate only through CY 2008 and cost $10 billion. But these sorts of programs never work out that way.

a. CRS reports that no “temporary” extended benefits program created since 1970 has expired without being extended.

b. Programs created in the 1980s and 1990s were extended 6 and 5 times, respectively.

c. The prospects a temporary program created today will expire at the end of 2008 as the SFC proposes – with the window of eligibility shutting two days after Christmas – is both dubious and would be without precedent in the last generation.

b. Today’s 5.0% rate is below the average of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

c. During the Clinton Administration (1993-2000), the average unemployment rate was 5.2%.

e. Creating an extended benefits program now will create a precedent to repeat this action every time the unemployment rate reaches this historically modest level. That will cost billions of dollars and encourage more and longer unemployment.

Yet again, an expensive program paid for by the taxpayers, which doesn’t really solve any problems or encourage individuals to make aggressive changes in their lives. It just keeps more people on the dole for longer periods of time while the rest of us work our butts off to pay for the programs.

3 thoughts on “Are “temporary” federal unemployment program extensions really all that temporary?

  1. I find this highly offensive that it is implied that I am sitting on my couch watching soaps or Looney Toons all day. I have been out of work since first week in Feb., I am registered on at least 5 web sites, and several local employment agencies. Mean while Michigan’s governor is sending jobs to California by setting up an unemployment benefits debit card with Chase Bank. So before you start spouting off about how hard you are working and I am sitting on my butt, think about the confusion between unemployment and welfare. People who are on unemployment were working, they had to work a minimum of 15 weeks to be eligible, my self it was more like 8 years since last time I collected unemployment, which lasted for 3 weeks before I found other employment. This is the longest period I have gone through not working in my 21 years of adult life. Our government is to blame for our poor economy. Our government is the opposite of the American dream. They tax and tax, growing by leaps and bounds, making it harder for business to prosper and spurt new growth. So maybe instead of raising taxes to pay for people who are not working, they should not spend so much, reduce the tax burdens so that people and business can prosper. Hell they can’t even run their own restaurant, with out a million dollar red hole.

    Well back to looking for a $7.15 an hour job to make up for the $20.19 an hour one I lost.


  2. Henry Jones

    There’s 9 million people who want to work and 3 million jobs. No matter how aggressive or marketable they are, 6 million people will not get jobs. It’s simple math. Do you really want 6 million starving pissed off people, many with guns, on the street?

    Don’t you think that it’s time that you start following the commandment of Jesus Christ to love thy neighbor? And if you have no humanity, do you not at least fear burning in Hell for all eternity?

    Matthew 25: 31-46

  3. Tracy Coenen

    Extending unemployment benefits has nothing to do with love, hate, or humanity. I invite all 9 million of those people who want to work to go and snap up those 3 million jobs. Then we’ll deal with those who are left without. We live in one of the richest countries in the world with an abundance of opportunities for people. God helps those who help themselves.

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