Today’s Unemployment Insurance Provides a Cushion, Not a Safety Net

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In Heritage Work

Unemployment insurance was created to provide a safety net to aid Americans as they found their way back into the work force.

However, these benefits today provide not a net but a comfy cushion. They offer little incentive for the unemployed to re-enter the workforce.

As of January 2012, the average unemployed worker searched 40 weeks before finding a job — but thanks to federal policies, workers in many states can collect unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks, or nearly two years.

In a new analysis, The Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk argues the current unemployment benefits are excessive and a drain on the economy:

Extending unemployment insurance benefits has helped unemployed workers in a difficult economy. It has also increased unemployment and the deficit. Extending UI during a recession makes humanitarian sense, but two years of benefits was excessive when Congress passed it. A year-and-a-half of benefits in a recovering labor market is still excessive. A more appropriate level at this point in the ongoing slow recovery would be 60 weeks.

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The Real Way to Reduce Skyrocketing Tuition

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In Heritage Work

Education protesters

Photo: Flickr/Fibonacci Blue

President Obama addressed the issue of soaring costs of higher education last month in a speech at the University of Michigan that drew cheers from students in attendance. However, if the students had taken a moment to consider the implications of his proposals, they may have reacted very differently.

Under his plan, the federal government would aim to slow tuition growth by conditioning the amount of federal campus-based aid to colleges. He proposes giving $1 billion to states that curb education costs and expanding the Perkins loan program from $1 billion to $8 billion. He further suggests a “college scorecard” for every institution to compare them on metrics like tuition, graduation rate and earnings upon graduation.

This proposal falls short. For one thing, increased federal involvement would tend to exacerbate the problem, as Heritage Foundation scholar Stuart Butler explains: Continue Reading »

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