On Extending Unemployment Benefits

Unanswered questions...

Millions of people became involuntarily unemployed in 2007-2008, early in the economic crisis, and have long ago exhausted unemployment benefits and any extension they may have received at that time. They have dropped off the unemployment rolls and are no longer statistically counted as unemployed. Additionally many people have never qualified for unemployment benefits due to the professions they were in, for example real estate agents and mortgage brokers, also hard hit by unemployment.

An extension of people currently on benefits seems to beg the questions...what about those that have already dropped off? Also, since we now know unemployment is a long term, vexing problem, do we continue to extend indefinitely those on unemployment now and leave those already dropped off the rolls in the lurch? When do we cut off benefits? What about the massive federal deficit? Do we really want to create a permanent special underclass of people on unemployment, which in turn becomes basically welfare? These are hard questions that must be asked.

Video is from MSNBC's Hardball:

Jeffrey A. Miron is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Economics at Harvard University.

Christian Weller is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a Public Policy professor at the University of Massachusetts.