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.

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • NSU needs to be more candid when its plans go awry

    Many area residents were disappointed to learn this week that the NSU Fitness Center, and its all-important indoor lap pool, won’t open next month, as originally announced.
    This latest delay is no surprise.

    July 28, 2014

  • Higher premiums a just reward for drunken drivers

    Over the past several years, Oklahoma has slipped in many of the polls that count. This week, we learned Tulsa is No. 4 on a list of cities with high rates of fatal DUI accidents. Is anyone really surprised?

    July 25, 2014

  • Maybe it’s time to think about having another BalloonFest

    The 18th annual BalloonFest was the last one held, in 2010. In summer 2011, when the Daily Press staff hadn’t heard anything about the much-anticipated event, we started asking questions.

    July 23, 2014

  • If you see a drunken driver, take the time to call in a report

    If you see something, say something. You’ve heard the warning, and seen it imprinted on placards at airports. In the wake of 9/11, it became a national mantra, mainly aimed at spotting potential terrorist activities. But it’s good advice anytime, and for any reason, even at the local level.

    July 14, 2014

  • City officials should stop squabbling and try to work together

    It’s bad enough that the Chamber of Commerce scandal has given Tahlequah a black eye. But if the bickering among city officials doesn’t stop, the community will have a complete set of shiners for its public face.

    July 11, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

    July 9, 2014

  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

  • With confidence in Congress at 7 percent, time for a new slate

    Note to Congress: We don’t like you. Not at all.
    A Gallup poll released Monday, June 30 confirmed what most of us already know: the American public is disgusted with the House and Senate. The survey recorded the lowest level of confidence since Gallup began asking the question in 1991: a whopping 7 percent. That’s not a typographical error; it’s a single digit.

    July 2, 2014

  • New chamber head needs to be free from scandal’s taint

    Every time another layer is peeled off the unfolding saga of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce embezzlement case, those going through the records hope they might see a light at the end of the tunnel. So far, that hasn’t happened.

    June 30, 2014

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Stocks