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June 9, 2021

Biden Adopts GOP Objections on Unemployment Incentive

Being jobless no longer has to be a way of life, he says, at least come September.

Another relic of the COVID-19 outbreak may soon be on its way out.

Seeing the success of states that have opened up their economies and are putting the brakes on the federally backed enhanced unemployment benefits, Joe Biden announced he won’t seek another extension to the program when it expires in September.

Speaking from the beach enclave of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware — a town where, much like the rest of America, employers are practically begging for applicants — Biden said that ending the unemployment program “makes sense.” Never mind that clearer heads have been saying this for months now.

Back in Washington, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki echoed her boss, saying Friday, “I think the question is, do you think Americans, given seven million are still out of work or more than that, could benefit from eight more weeks or 10 more weeks of these $300 unemployment benefits? Our view is they can and they should.” This was their reaction to a second consecutive month of disappointment on the jobs front, as expectations went unmet once again.

Seven million still out of work? Well, as The Washington Free Beacon reports, “U.S. job openings reached a record high [of 9.3 million] in April, a reflection of the ongoing labor shortage that economists blame in part on the Biden administration’s enhanced unemployment benefits.”

Even Democrats are beginning to see the connection. Business owners “want to make money, they want to be open, but they’re having a problem getting people” due to expanded unemployment benefits, said Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) last month. “Every single business owner that I know that has reached out to me has talked about this as their number one issue.”

Perhaps that’s why Biden may be taking the cue of more than half the states, which have already announced an early end to the payouts. The plays to emotion and blaming of “cruel” Republicans notwithstanding, Americans seem to innately understand that we’re not fully recovered from the China virus until we regain full pre-pandemic employment — and we remain roughly seven million jobs short.

It’s likely, however, that the recalcitrant states that have Democrat governors are using the extra federal COVID funding to fatten their coffers and build their welfare system back better. As an added bonus to Democrats, this is artificially driving up wages toward their fanciful dreams of $15 an hour. In fact, The Wall Street Journal recently quoted three economists who came up with a shocking factoid: “Economists Casey Mulligan, E.J. Antoni and Steve Moore estimate in a new study that in 21 states households that qualify can receive a maximum wage equivalent of $25 an hour in cash without working. In 19 states, the maximum benefit is the equivalent of $100,000 a year in salary for a family of four with two unemployed parents. Not working is a rational economic choice.”

Needless to say, it’s a gravy train the Left would like to keep rolling.

Not only do the expanded unemployment benefits discourage people from returning to work, but they’re placing businesses already strained by the uneven recovery in an untenable position of trying to compete against generally non-taxable benefits with inflationary wages. Using the aforementioned Rehoboth Beach as an example, employers there are concerned about the sustainability of the recovery and the impact of increased wages on their bottom line. It’s a sign of a tight labor market when a convenience store chain resorts to both sign-on bonuses and free food to entice workers. (Or that they could work at a craft brewer nearby for a free case of a coveted variety of beer as a bonus.)

Come September, we’ll find out just how willing Americans are to work. By that point, schools should be back to normal and offices will be opening up to bring back the life we knew just 18 months ago. No more excuses, either for them or from an administration whose overall goals may have been thwarted by governors unafraid to trust the real science of common sense.

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