- The Washington Times
Monday, August 3, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Democrats want the next round of coronavirus stimulus dollars to extend the $600 unemployment insurance enhancement for those who lost their jobs or who faced mandated furloughs because of economic shutdowns. Republicans say no. And that is the sticking point.

And stick we will stay. Democrats want that money to buy votes for their subpar candidate, Joe Biden, this fall.


It’s all politics. There’s little in the Democratic fight for $600 UI insurance that’s tied to genuine concern for the people. It’s about the lead-up to November, the race to the White House. The fact is, Democrats gain big by keeping Americans home from work — in essence, by paying Americans to stay home from work.

Why? The unemployment numbers remain high, effectively stripping President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign from running on a message of a chugging economy.

Second, the unemployed individuals who take the $600 check are oftentimes bringing home more than they would otherwise earn, on the job. And that builds brand loyalty for Biden. Why would these folk want the disruptor-in-chief to disrupt their feed wagon — particularly when it’s a feed wagon that comes absent any work demands at all?

Free money.

It’s the Democrats’ big election wedge.

Free money — for no work.

It’s the Democrats’ dream campaign.

“Unemployment is supposed to be wage replacement,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on “This Week” on ABC. “So it should be tied to some percentage of wages. … We want to fix the issue where in some cases people are overpaid, and we want to make sure there’s the right incentives [to get them back to work]. In certain cases, where we’re paying people more to stay home than t work, that’s created issues in the entire economy.”

Yes. It has. And honestly, Republicans have themselves to blame for these issues, as well.

Republicans, after all, were on board with the first stimulus bill’s $600 unemployment tack-on — money that was added to the unemployment dollars paid by states, to offset the COVID-19 economic disasters to families. They rushed to hand out the hand-outs, agreeing that the coronavirus had created a no-fault unemployment crater and money in the hands of the people was the speedy way to fill it. But it wasn’t hard to read those tea leaves. Pay people more money to stay home than they earn at work and, umm, they’re going to stay home as long as possible.

The dole-outs are unsustainable, though.

They’re also hindering businesses that can’t compete with the government payroll. Who are these businesses going to hire, or rehire?

Fox News reported Republicans wanted to provide the comparatively lower $200 unemployment benefit, and for only a short set period of time. But Democrats, facing a desperate run for the White House, with a candidate who can barely string together a coherent sentence, have everything to gain and nothing to lose by dragging out this unemployment benefit fight.

They will emerge the good guys fighting for the little guys. And that will give them a campaign wedge against Trump.

Republicans should’ve seen this coming. But now they’re on the defensive. And now they’re facing a tough sell. Free money almost always carries the vote.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.


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