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posted: 1/14/2014 5:00 AM

GOP has it right on jobless benefits

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As so often happens in politics, the Democrats' characterization of the need for the 12th federal extension of unemployment benefits since the recession's onset in 2008 as an "emergency" does violence to the plain meaning of the word. Webster's headline definition of the word is "an unexpected and usually dangerous situation that calls for immediate action."

Clearly, such a situation existed in the recession's aftermath when the economy contracted, the housing market collapsed, credit disappeared, unemployment shot to 10 percent and higher in some states, and the Dow Jones industrial average fell from above 14,000 to the 6,000 range. That's no longer the case.

The recession ended in June 2009. The economy is currently growing at around its historical norm. Housing has made a steady comeback. Credit is available to qualified borrowers. The Dow is comfortably over 16,000. National unemployment stands at 7 percent, its lowest point in five years, though still above its historical norm.

The Democrats need to call the relief of the 1.3 million long-term unemployed an "emergency" only because such a labeling allows for its cost to escape from the legal requirement that it be offset by cuts elsewhere. The Republicans seem perfectly willing to pass a nonemergency extension if it is paid for. At this point, however, Democrats are unwilling to cut anything from anywhere and are using a distorted concept of "emergency" to kill the extension. They hope, of course, to blame its death on the Republicans.

Bob Foys


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