Tahlequah Daily Press

Editorials

January 13, 2014

Extend benefits for jobless – for now

TAHLEQUAH — When it comes to extending unemployment benefits for Americans who lost their jobs in the wake of the 2008 “Great Recession,” the public is understandably ambivalent.

On one hand, a sudden and widespread loss of individual incomes will deliver a serious blow to the economy, since people who don’t have money can’t spend it. Many businesses, especially the smaller mom-and-pop operations, would be hit on the bottom line, and leaner profits could translate into more job cuts, furloughs, and loss of employee benefits, perpetuating the already vicious circle.

On the other hand, benefits have already been extended to the point that many fear unemployment insurance will become another entitlement program, and  those receiving checks from the government will give up pounding the pavement in this tough job market.

Cherokee County residents have mixed feelings, like everyone else. A poll on the Tahlequah Daily Press website last week asked whether benefits should be extended, and the 100-plus respondents were almost split down the middle: 49 percent for, 49 percent against, and 1 percent undecided.

On the national level, support for the extension is a bit higher, at 58 percent, and that largely falls along party lines. A Quinnipiac University survey showed 83 percent of Democrats support the extension, while independents and Republicans only do so by roughly 42 percent.

At any rate, it all might be moot, since Congress may not take action – due to extreme partisan politics or paralyzing ineptitude, or most likely, both.

The Senate did barely pass the measure, with conditional support from a handful of Republicans who wanted a plan to pay for it. The revamped legislation trimmed the 47 weeks of the previous jobless benefits extension to a maximum 31 weeks. These, as in the past, would kick in when state-funded benefits ran out, typically at 26 weeks.

Democrats worked out a 10-month proposal paid for through other types of extensions – to the sequester cuts on mandatory spending, and the reduction in Medicare payments to providers. The caveat: Sequester cuts would be delayed until 2024 so as not to damage the current fragile economy. The plan would save around $17 billion. As of Friday, though, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – who like his counterparts in both parties, is evidently no brain surgeon – may have botched the deal when he refused to allow Republicans to amend the latest plan.

At this point, it’s doubtful the House will even take up the measure. But it should, if for no other reason than the qualified support of respected columnist Charles Krauthammer, who writes for the Washington Post. Krauthammer is not concerned about increasing the deficit, because the cost is a comparative blip on the radar. He’s worried about creating a new entitlement class, though he acknowledges most Americans do want to work. He’d like to see legislation that details an “unwinding” of the benefits extension so its temporary status is crystal-clear.

One proposal that hadn’t gained much steam Friday would eliminate the ability of folks on Social Security Disability Income to get jobless benefits. This is more than fair, since it’s a form of double-dipping to which those in the workforce don’t have access. And it would save an additional $1 billion.

For some, a jobless benefits extension might be the lesser of two evils. For others, it might be the best way to keep the economy ginning along until it gets stronger. Whatever the reason, it’s a sure bet that most folks receiving the benefits aren’t, and never were, deadbeats. True entitlement leeches seldom work long enough to accrue any benefits.

For some long-time workers, jobless benefits are a justifiable lifeline, even if the rope can’t be infinitely long. Later this year, we should give some of those in Congress a taste of what it feels like to stand in that line.

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Editorials
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    April 18, 2014

  • Community cleanups a good way to ensure our collective success

    This is our community – and it’s no better than what we make it. Let’s make it look great.

    April 16, 2014

  • Attack at school in Pennsylvania: Mental illness root of problem

    Washington’s crusade against guns was dealt a severe blow on Wednesday. No, it wasn’t the Supreme Court curtailment of the Second Amendment right of all Americans to own firearms. It wasn’t an executive order handed down by the administration. It was the brutal assault by a high school student in Pennsylvania against his fellow students – with a knife.

    April 14, 2014

  • People with faulty zippers should be booted from office

    We may forgive, but we shouldn’t forget, because there’s serious work to do in Washington. That work will never be accomplished as long as flawed zippers - literally or figurately – are a pervasive problem.

    April 11, 2014

  • Do your part to fight animal and child abuse

    It’s hard to change the habits of an abuser, especially when mitigating factors – such as alcohol or drugs – are involved. And these patterns tend to repeat themselves in successive generations. But all of us can take one small step to help eradicate this epidemic, and that is to report it when we see it.

    April 9, 2014

  • NSA head lies to Congress, and seems to get away with it

    Is there an obvious pattern of criminality within these governmental agencies? If so, why isn’t the Judicial Department investigating?

    April 7, 2014

  • Pass for rich kiddie rapist proves that justice isn’t blind

    Someone in Wilmington, Del., needs to keep an eye on Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden for the next few months, because she might improve her standard of living due to a sudden influx of cash.
    There’s no other way to explain why Jurden would have sentenced an ultra-wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter. It’s an outrageous miscarriage of justice that once again proves when it comes to the U.S. justice system, the elite get a pass almost every time.

    April 4, 2014

  • Maybe it’s not $3.2B, but state should still account for tribal cash

    In an editorial published last week, the Daily Press said that through tribal compacts, the state of Oklahoma received about $3.2 billion in annual revenue, partly attributable to the 117 casinos (or 118, in some reports) run by 33 tribes in the state. The information we accessed for that piece was confusing, and had a typo or two, which may have led us to overstate – to a considerable degree – how much money the tribes actually give the state.

    April 2, 2014

  • Tribal compacts should mean state has money to perform its functions

    Oklahoma should be rolling in the dough. The statistics bear that out. Thirty-three American Indian tribes operate 117 casinos in this state. Thanks to “compacts,” these tribes have been sharing the wealth with the state of Oklahoma. And thanks to the casinos, that wealth is substantial.

    March 28, 2014

  • It’s time to turn in your candidate announcements

    If you are running for a political office for which Cherokee County voters can cast ballots, it’s time to turn in your announcement. We’ve already run a few, and expect several more. The primary elections are Tuesday, June 24, with the registration period to vote in this election closing Thursday, May 30.

    March 24, 2014

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
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