Watch Live: The Washington Ideas Forum 2014

Congress Blocks Unemployment Benefits

In an ideal world, Congress would pass short-term stimulus and long-term deficit reduction. In a less ideal world, Congress would add short-term stimulus today, but leave long-term deficit reduction for the near future. In an even less ideal world, Congress wouldn't add stimulus but at least keep the stimulus we have today and push off long-term deficit reduction for some other year.

But in the real world, we get neither. Congress votes against extending unemployment benefits for up to two million people without work, the most basic and obvious piece of welfare/stimulus, while it debates whether we should add $3 trillion to our long-term debt or merely $2 trillion plus change. It's the will of the people, or something?

The House failed Thursday to pass a bill that would have given the unemployed three more months to file for extended jobless benefits.

Congress has extended the deadline to file those applications four times in the past year. The last jobless benefits extension -- which lasted six months and cost $34 billion -- faced a lot of opposition on deficit conscious Capitol Hill before it finally passed in mid-July.

The $12.5 billion bill that was on the floor Thursday needed two-thirds approval, or 275 votes, a tough hurdle. The vote was 258 to 154.

Read on at CNN. Here is a FLASHCARD explainer that sums up the arguments for and against unemployment benefits.

Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

You don't have to tell her how big she is. You don't need to touch her belly.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

You don't have to tell her how big she is. You don't need to touch her belly.

Video

Maine's Underground Street Art

"Graffiti is the farthest thing from anarchy."

Video

The Joy of Running in a Beautiful Place

A love letter to California's Marin Headlands

Video

'I Didn't Even Know What I Was Going Through'

A 17-year-old describes his struggles with depression.

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

More in Business

Just In