The Easy Way to Extend Unemployment Benefits

There’s a relatively painless way to pay for the extension of unemployment benefits.

The Republican Party, having blown massive holes in the federal budget when they were in power, have suddenly rediscovered fiscal responsibility.  Although tax cuts for the rich never need to be offset, the GOP insists on offsetting the extension of unemployment benefits wth spending cuts.

Fine.  Cut every single earmark in every single House district represented by a Republican.

I don’t know whether it adds up, but let’s try it.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

11 thoughts on “The Easy Way to Extend Unemployment Benefits”

  1. Will that actually save money? I thought an earmark directed already allocated money to a specific project and that in the absence of the earmark the money was still allocated, just not directed that specific project.

  2. It was the Obama Democrats who actually wrote the offset rule into law, wasn't it? I know that was a couple of months ago, and they are both stupid and dishonest, but still, I'd expect them to treat us better than this.

  3. So, how do you help the economy to recover and decrease unemployment by forcing employers to bid against unemployment benefits.

  4. So what you're saying is that there should be a vote, and make Senate Republicans vote against the earmarks of their brethren in the House? If that's what you're saying, good idea. Either they vote (on whatever industry paints house GOP in the worst light) for waste and abuse and increasing deficits, by not extending, or they vote to trim the deficit by cutting outlays by whatever means the house deems fit. Two ways to lose, choose one. I like it.

    Long time reader, first time commenter.

  5. Employers have to pay UC taxes at a rate based on unemployment compensation paid out to their former employees (and of course they have to pay this for each employee). Does extending benefits increase the rate that employers have to pay? Or do extensions explicitly forbid such adjustments?

  6. "bid against benefits", Charles? The benefits aren't some flood of cash, though they stave off such desperation as would compel acceptance of utter serfdom. I suppose you'd bring back the poorhouses?

  7. CharlesWT, the answer is that you increase the number of buyers for the company's product by increasing the size of the economy by $1.61 for every dollar paid in unemployment. The economy is stuck because people aren't spending money. Banks and companies are saving money while the working class doesn't have much to spend because there is a significant number that aren't employed and many, many more saving for when they eventually get axed too. We have a giant economy full of business ready to take money from people in exchange for goods and services, lets give consumers money to spend. It really is that simple.

  8. Well, the treasury is allowed to print what it pleases, so it could do that. Otherwise a marginal and progressive income tax with fewer loopholes would work great. Because business exists to provide its owners income (or just with money if you want to avoid the income label) any money you take from the top in taxes will always work its way back that way and on its way it will grow the pie that every gets to eat from. Taxing money from the richest and giving it to the poorest to spend or use (see health care, roads etc) benefits everyone when the richest are hording cash and freezing the economy. The owners of business get to make more money next year than they did this year (that's the pie getting larger) and the poorest get to work and not starve (or continue to live at home which is more likely these days). It is a good idea when money isn't frozen but I'm not prepared to argue that at the moment.

  9. Deputy, the Consumer Price Index says prices have dropped slightly in the last six months, and there's almost no inflation in the last year. Some economists are tearing their hair out about a possible liquidity trap: deflation could lead to a long-term persistent failure of our economy to grow.

    So far as I know, nobody is worried about significant inflation right now – and, in fact, there is a case to be made in favor of inflation, or at least for some method of devaluing the US dollar. It would make our industries more competitive with imports, and because we've been able to borrow in US dollars it would help our fiscal situation. It would, however, be painful for those on fixed incomes.

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