5/21/2011 The Northwestern.com
If you happen to be one of the more than 10,000 Wisconsinites out-of-work for a year-and-a-half, State Rep. Robin Vos has a message for you: Stop being a sponge on society, get off your lazy duff and get a job. Now, Vos didn’t use those exact words, but his meaning is crystal clear in his opposition to extending unemployment benefits for another 13 weeks for the long-term unemployed.
The Rochester Republican and co-chairman of the Joint Finance Committee believes extending benefits from 73 to 86 weeks is a disincentive to people taking low-paying jobs.
“I believe there’s an indirect impact,” Vos told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “…People might not take a $12-an-hour job because they want one that makes $20.”
So the state has not acted on extending the benefits even though the federal government will pay the cost of the $89 million extension as part of the December renewal of jobless benefits by Congress. Wisconsin qualifies because unemployment remains stubbornly high, 7.3 percent in April when the state had the chance to approve the extension before the benefits ran out. Gov. Scott Walker’s recommendation to extend the aid and allow the jobless to collect retroactive benefits isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement.
“I am of the mind-set that a further extension of benefits won’t create a single job or encourage citizens to rejoin the workforce,” Walker wrote in a letter to the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council, reports the Journal Sentinel. The council, a group comprised of both business and labor representatives, is expected to discuss the issue Thursday.
Both comments tread on tired stereotypes. For starters, no one collecting unemployment is getting rich on the $363 a week benefit, equivalent to a $9-an-hour full time job. Moreover, it ignores the structural weakness in many industries that simply are not hiring. Worse yet, it paints a bleak picture of the job market and what positions are available that might make someone desperate for work think long and hard about taking. Nor is unemployment assistance a permanent benefit.
This recession has tossed thousands of dedicated hard working people out of their jobs through no fault of their own. They don’t need Rep. Voss or Gov. Walker passing judgment on their work ethic or scruples.