Contrary to the Republican mantra, however, the unemployed are not lazy. They are unemployed. Unemployment benefits give the unemployed the resources they need to stay afloat while they look for a job in a very tough economy, and every dollar in unemployment benefits adds $1.60 to the economy. This is even more effective than the payroll tax cut, because of the same principle – that people who really have nothing spend the money they get in unemployment benefits. That spending creates economic activity – businesses get to stay open, new employees can be hired (or the old ones kept) and it keeps the bottom from falling out of the economy.
Throughout his trip, the President proposed a series of common sense steps Congress can take immediately upon their return to Washington that will start rebuilding our economy. These include:
Extend the payroll tax cut so that middle class families have more money in their paychecks next year. If you've got more money in your paycheck, you're more likely to spend it, and that means businesses of all sizes will have more customers. They'll be in a better position to hire.
Extend unemployment benefits so that millions of workers who are still pounding the pavement looking for jobs can support their families.
Pass a bipartisan road construction bill. There are over a million construction workers out of work after the housing boom went bust, just as a lot of America needs rebuilding. We can put these workers back to work by rebuilding our roads and bridges and railways.
Pass the patent reform bill to help our innovators and entrepreneurs get their job creating ideas to market faster.
Pass the trade agreements that will help businesses sell more American-made goods and services to Asia and South America, supporting tens of thousands of jobs here at home.
Put our bright, talented and skilled veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to work. The President has proposed several initiatives to make sure our veterans are able to navigate this difficult labor market and succeed in the civilian workforce, including the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credits, and his challenge to the private sector to train or hire 100,000 unemployed veterans.Until Republicans became the opposed-to-everything-simply-because-Obama-supports-it party, infrastructure investment used to be a nonpartisan issue. Sen. Kerry has already introduced an infrastructure bank bill along with Texas Republican Sen. Hutchinson and Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner. Yet Republicans are holding it up.