House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp has pitched the “JOBS” Act as an effort to strengthen unemployment insurance by giving states leeway to make necessary changes. As he explained this morning, “[T]hese reforms strengthen that core purpose. We also allow States more flexibility to test innovative strategies to help the unemployed return to work, including through wage subsidies and other innovative approaches that have received bipartisan support.”
In reality, the Camp proposal would allow states to bypass their current obligation to spend remaining federal unemployment insurance funds on the uninsured. Instead, state governments could use their share of the $31 billion payment to pay off loans, or make a deposit to thier unemployment insurance trust funds. Regardless of the path they take, states would be removing money from the economy. And the strong multiplier effect of unemployment insurance on the economy, this would damage future job growth. As the Economic Policy Institute points out:
“Putting cash in the hands of unemployed workers generates more economic activity than any other option: it results in more consumption of goods and services produced by private-sector businesses, generating more economic activity by their suppliers and contractors.”
At best, according to EPI, the Camp proposal would create 257,000 jobs, “a loss of about 65,000 jobs compared to current law.” Indeed, as EPI notes, each alternative enabled by the Camp proposal results in fewer jobs for the unemployed.
Between this, John Boehner’s demands for $2 trillion in spending cuts, and Paul Ryan’s plan to destroy Medicaid and Medicare, the GOP is working hard to both slow the recovery and gut the social safety net. That this remains unnoticed by mainstream voices is more than a little amazing.