States Work to Cut Unemployment Benefits
As 32 state governments now owe more than $45 billion to the federal government to cover state unemployment benefits, many now seek to reduce them to limit the impact to local businesses.
“It’s a disincentive to move to the state of Florida with a new business or for a business that’s here to expand if they have to pay all this money per employee,” State Rep. Doug Holmes said. Holmes has sponsored a bill in Florida that would reduce the length of state unemployment benefits by six weeks.
Similar bills are pending in states such as Arkansas and Indiana. Indiana lawmakers have proposed measures such as capping benefits, increasing eligibility requirements and changing the way benefits are calculated. Proposed changes would not affect individuals already receiving state benefits, and would also have no effect on federal unemployment benefits, which kick in once an individual exhaust state options.
The resulting strain on businesses’ and governments’ budgets was caused by some of the worst layoffs in American history. However, due to America’s failed approach to trade, we have been unable to hire in this country and get people back to work.
“Free” trade agreements such as NAFTA and the WTO have not addressed modern barriers to trade that are allowing America’s foreign rivals to rob us blind. Issues such as labor and environmental regulations, the value-added tax, currency manipulation and other government policies designed to discourage imports have all gone unaddressed while the U.S. trade deficit has ballooned during the past 30 years.
To get people back to work and off unemployment, the federal government must ardently work to end outsourcing and make it profitable to produce and hire in America again. This isn’t done by joining the race to the bottom, as many politicians essentially advocate by weakening union rights, but by properly punishing nations that wish to cheat in international trade. The U.S. is currently the world’s largest consumer market, and by giving it back to domestic companies, instead of relying on imports, we could provide the jobs to get the economy back on track.