Matt Weidinger notes that the federal unemployment benefit extension will end on Labor Day — and that, despite this termination representing a “benefits cliff” that is “almost six times “steeper” than the next-steepest such cliff in American history,” Democrats are oddly silent about it.
Weidinger attributes this silence to two things. First, that “the cliff was designed by Democrats” as a cynical ploy to “improve the odds that Congress will approve another extension.” Second, that “most red states” have opted out, and thereby caused a situation in which “over 80 percent of those receiving major federal benefits were in states led by a Democratic governor.” Because Democrats would prefer the public not to know any of this, Weidinger suggests, “it is Democrats who are nixing any chance of another extension.”
Weidinger is, of course, correct. But there is something else going on here, I suspect: Namely, that whatever they might say in public, Democrats know that the policy is a drag. President Biden has insisted for months that extending unemployment benefits was not preventing people from returning to work and was not contributing to the labor shortage. In May, Biden said that he didn’t “see much evidence” of a link between paying people to stay at home and people staying at home. In June, Biden told reporters that the problem of people staying at home was real, but that there was a conveniently simple solution. “I remember you were asking me,” he said. “‘Guess what? Employers can’t find workers’ I said, ‘Pay them more!'” Now, with only 39 percent of Americans approving of his “handling of the economy,” Biden has said he is fine with the cutoff, while his allies in the Senate are waxing lyrical about the “grit and ingenuity of the American people.”