Press Release from the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, May 17, 2011:
Extending benefits will cost taxpayers millions and keep the unemployed jobless
Nashville, TN – The Tennessee Center for Policy Research (TCPR) today called on Gov. Bill Haslam and legislative leaders to scrap a proposal that would extend unemployment benefits in Tennessee for an additional 20 weeks.
The last-minute proposal, filed by Sen. Lowe Finney and House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, would extend unemployment benefits for 28,000 unemployed Tennesseans. The plan would cost taxpayers $60 million in federal, state, and local tax dollars.
Unemployment insurance is traditionally offered for a period of 26 weeks. However, Congress has already extended these benefits to 79 weeks. The Finney-Fitzhugh proposal would tack another five months onto this, extending unemployment benefits for a total of 99 weeks, or nearly two years.
Studies show that the extension of these benefits has actually harmed, not helped, the economy and those that receive them. Economists widely agree that extending the benefits causes the unemployed to remain jobless. Even former top Obama Administration economic advisor Lawrence Summers has stated that “government assistance programs contribute to long-term unemployment by providing an incentive, and the means, not to work.”
“While it is touted as a measure to ‘protect’ the unemployed, this proposal is bad for everyone,” said TCPR president Justin Owen. “It strips taxpayers of an additional $60 million that our state and federal government don’t have to spend. It also harms the very unemployed who are stuck in a rut. We need to be throwing them a rope, not dumping buckets of water on them.”
The proposal, SB2114-HB2156, will be evaluated this week, as lawmakers are seeking to wrap up the legislative session for the year.
The Tennessee Center for Policy Research is an independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan think tank committed to achieving a freer, more prosperous Tennessee. Through research and advocacy, the TCPR promotes policy solutions grounded in the principles of free markets, individual liberty, and limited government. For more information, visit www.tennesseepolicy.org.