Debate Club

Should Congress Extend Federal Unemployment Benefits?

Should Congress Extend Federal Unemployment Benefits?

Unemployment insurance is money received from the United States by workers who are no longer employed, through no fault of their own. Over the past month, nearly 400,000 Americans have filed for jobless benefits each week. Currently, over 7 million Americans collect some form of unemployment insurance.

Each state is responsible for its own unemployment insurance. Most offer a term of around 26 weeks during which a citizen can collect benefit checks. In urgent economic times like the current recession, Congress is authorized through the Social Security Act to distribute federal unemployment benefits as an extension of state funds. The current Emergency Unemployment Compensation extension, which is set to expire on Jan. 3, 2012, covers unemployed workers for up to 99 weeks.

With the expiration of these benefits fast approaching, debate over further extension of jobless benefits has grown throughout the country and in Congress. The Obama administration has argued that unemployment insurance can create jobs while providing much-needed care for those who cannot find work. Opponents point toward an already enormous national debt as a reason to discontinue any extension, and they argue that unemployment benefits stifle job seekers.

Should Congress extend federal unemployment benefits? Here’s the Debate Club’s take:


The Arguments

#1
78 Pts
Unemployment Insurance Is Financial Life Support for Millions

Yes – Unemployment Insurance Is Financial Life Support for Millions

Howard Rosen Resident Visiting Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics

#2
72 Pts
Putting People Back to Work Must Be the Ultimate Goal

Yes – Putting People Back to Work Must Be the Ultimate Goal

Geoff Davis U.S. Representative, Kentucky's 4th District

#3
65 Pts
Unemployment Insurance Will Promote Economic Recovery

Yes – Unemployment Insurance Will Promote Economic Recovery

Sander Levin U.S. Representative, Michigan’s 12th District

#4
34 Pts
Withdrawing Unemployment Insurance Will Not Solve Job Crisis

Yes – Withdrawing Unemployment Insurance Will Not Solve Job Crisis

Carl E. Van Horn Professor of Public Policy and Director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University

#5
15 Pts
Americans Don't Turn Their Backs on Americans in Need

Yes – Americans Don't Turn Their Backs on Americans in Need

Lloyd Doggett U.S. Representative, Texas’ 25th District

#6
7 Pts
No Free Lunch in Subsidy Programs

No – No Free Lunch in Subsidy Programs

Chris Edwards Economist at the Cato Institute

#7
-6 Pts
More Unemployment Insurance Won't Stimulate Growth

No – More Unemployment Insurance Won't Stimulate Growth

James Sherk Senior Policy Analyst in Labor Economics at the Heritage Foundation


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