Morning Action: Senate’s Bipartisan Unemployment Benefit Extension is Harmful, Ineffective

UI.  Alex Brill writes in National Review that “the recent Senate agreement on unemployment benefits is a reminder that bipartisan cooperation isn’t always a good thing.”

The deal combines two big policy mistakes that I have criticized before: a corporate welfare provision that lets employers underfund their workers’ pensions and a (largely retroactive) extension of unemployment benefits that does nothing to cure the long-term unemployment crisis.

He explains the pay for is a gimmick and the extension of unemployment benefits is inherently ineffective at actually helping people find work.  He continues:

But the recent bipartisanship on unemployment benefits is tenuous. While some Republicans may see Friday’s deal as a way to disarm one of the Democrats’ easiest campaign talking points — the GOP does not care about the struggling worker — any Republican victory on this front will likely be short-lived. Agreeing to extend unemployment benefits before the campaign season is in full-swing will not ultimately deflect Democrats’ criticism, but rather allow Democrats to sharpen their focus on another faulty populist policy, raising the minimum wage.

TRANSPORTATION.  New projections show highway levels of Trust Fund are worse than was believed (sub. req’d):

The Highway Trust Fund may fall below critical levels as soon as July, forcing the Department of Transportation to delay payments for state highway and transit projects in order to maintain a positive balance.

The DOT updated its Highway Trust Fund ticker March 16 showing that the highway account will likely dip below $4 billion—the amount needed to meet funding obligations as they are due—in July with insolvency possible in August.

OBAMACARE.  In two weeks, Obamacare’s individual mandate kicks in, and the Heritage Foundation explains what that means for many Americans:

In two weeks, Obamacare’s centerpiece—the individual mandate to purchase government-approved health insurance—kicks in.

Are you “covered,” as the White House keeps asking in its endless advertising? Because if you don’t have health insurance by March 31, you will have to pay a penalty on your income tax form next year.

For 2014, the penalty for not purchasing insurance will be either $95 or 1 percent of your annual income (whichever is greater). But as Heritage expert Alyene Senger explains, “Very few, if any, people will end up paying just $95, because individuals with an annual income of only $9,500 or less would likely qualify for Medicaid or a hardship exemption from the mandate.”

IMF.  The Heritage Foundation has a Q&A on the International Monetary Fund and U.S. Aid to Ukraine, and they explain the IMF package and aid to Ukraine are in the same legislation due to “corruption in the congressional process”:

The IMF reform package will have no impact whatsoever on the eventual level of U.S. bilateral aid to Ukraine, nor will it have much impact overall on total IMF lending to Ukraine. Nevertheless, the Obama Administration, along with members of Congress from both parties, are exploiting the urgent need to help Ukraine by seeking to attach to the Ukraine legislation the broader and unrelated IMF reform package.

The actions by the Obama Administration and the U.S. Senate to connect these unrelated issues in one piece of legislation represents a corruption of the congressional process, and that legislative body’s failure to deal with the Ukraine issue on its own merits.


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New projections show highway levels of Trust Fund are worse than was believed

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