In his press conference announcing his "compromise" with Republicans, President Obama tried to put down Democrat anger by making a snarky comment about how "cutting" taxes for the wealthy was the "holy grail" for Republicans. Leaving aside the idiocy of such a remark, it might be more useful to address what he got in the deal: call it Obama's "holy grail:" extending taxpayer funded pay and benefits for those not working.
For the most part, the Republicans have only resisted this idea from the stand point of making sure we only spend that money if we take it from some place else. In other words, their resistance has been about budgeting, not about principle.
That's a shame. Not just for the taxpayer, but also for those receiving the unemployment benefits. As Thomas Sowell writes,
With unemployment compensation, however, you are in fact giving someone something. "Extending unemployment benefits" always sounds good politically ? especially if you do not ask the basic question: "For how long should they be extended?" A year? Two years? No limit?
Studies have shown what common sense should have told us without studies: The longer the unemployment benefits are available, the longer people stay unemployed.
If I were fired tomorrow, should I be able to live off the government until I find another job that is exactly the same, making the same or higher pay? What if I am offered another job that uses some of the same skills but doesn't pay quite as much? Should I be allowed to keep on living off the government?
With the government making it more expensive for employers to hire workers, and at the same time subsidizing unemployed workers longer and longer, we will have as much unemployment as we are willing to pay for, for as long as we are willing to pay for it.
The extenuation of unemployment benefits also raises another danger. It keeps the outrage off our political leaders for the failed policies they support that lead to the destruction of jobs. By sending people checks, the masses who should be revolting against job-destroying legislation are pacified, and the job-destroying legislation continues to mount.
This isn't calling anyone lazy. It's acknowledging human nature. But imagine a leading political figure being so bold as to point those things out and stick by them. They wouldn't survive the public political flogging. And that is the greatest danger to our survival as a free republic.