U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has apparently concluded that too many Americans are collecting a government check while sitting on the couch watching Netflix, or the equivalent, because purposely idle people are making more money by not working. To remedy that, he wants to implement a return-to-work bonus payment.
The current benefits scenario is making it difficult in particular for small businesses seeking to staff up after COVID-related restrictions have been relaxed.
Specifically, extended unemployment benefits provide a disincentive for people to return to the workforce in the senator’s opinion, so Sasse wants to provide a signing bonus to reverse that trend in legislation that he is about to introduce.
Among the provisions of Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package known as the American Rescue Plan Act was an $300 per week federal unemployment benefits payout through Labor Day on top of state benefits.
In a statement, the Never Trump lawmaker who voted to convict in Impeachment 2.0, explained what he has in mind in the National Signing Bonus Act.
“The emergency UI program is now penalizing people for going back to work. Now, as millions of Americans are vaccinated each day, we’ve got crummy job numbers. We’ve got to get America and Americans up and running,” Sen. Sasse asserted.
His solution: Anybody who gets a job by July 1 becomes eligible for a lump-sum signing bonus of 101 percent of two months of federal unemployment benefits.
“There are 7,400,000 jobs open in the US – but fewer than 300,000 people found new work last month. Why? This tragedy is what happens when Washington know-it-alls decide to pretend they’re generous by paying more for unemployment than for work. This obviously hurts our economy, but more precisely this hurts people on every Main Street in the nation,” Sasse added.
The senator was referring to just-released U.S. Department of Labor statistics showing that the economy only added a meager 266,000 jobs (rather than the one million that some economists anticipated) in April and that unemployment hit 6.1 percent rather than falling to a projected 5.8 percent.
Common senses suggests that the actual unemployment figure might be far higher.
Whether or not it’s a good idea, Sasse’s legislation seems unlikely to gain any traction in Congress as long as it’s under narrow Democrat control.
Despite the job numbers, Biden touted the American Rescue Plan and said that “our economy is moving in the right direction,” adding that “it is clear we have a long way to go.”
Both Montana and South Carolina are opting out of the federal unemployment benefits sweetener. Montana is offering a $1,200 return-to-work bonus of its own as an incentive.
Some private-sector employers are on their own offering signing bonuses to new hires.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, about 25 percent of Americans currently receiving government benefits earn more by being jobless than working.
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