As lawmakers get ready to settle back into their seats on Capitol Hill after the Christmas recess, the battle over the extension of unemployment benefits is back on the table.
For months, in an effort to shift focus away from Obamacare, Democrats have argued that the economy is recovering and that jobs are being created.
But if this is the truth, then why is it necessary to continue the extension of unemployment benefits? Here's Harry Reid's push for an unemployment benefit extension on CBS Face the Nation Sunday.
Here's an inconvenient fact: 9.5 million people have left the work force since President Obama took office in 2009, meaning millions of people haven't seen their jobs come back and therefore, they've given up looking. In addition, the labor participation rate is at it's lowest since 1978.
And here's some more info from CNN about the jobs President Obama has taken credit for "creating" during the 2012 presidential campaign.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that a lot of jobs have been created under Obama's leadership -- 4.4 million by the bureau's latest count. What Obama did not say, however, was that the nation shed 4.3 million jobs during the early days of his term, and that the net gain since he took the oath of office in January 2009 is just 125,000 jobs.
Republicans aren't against unemployment insurance, but they are making a valid argument that the continued extension of these benefits actually does harm to the unemployed by keeping them out of the job search. CNBC backs up this assertion:
The second factor is the impact of extended unemployment rates on job search and participation rates. Between January 1960 and the onset of the Great Recession, the average duration of unemployment was 14 weeks. Since 2009, the average duration has been 34.5 weeks, reaching a peak of nearly 41 weeks in late 2011.
As long as people received benefits, they had to look for work. But they were then considered in the labor force and unemployed. Once benefits are terminated, the job-search decision becomes real and many people stop looking, i.e., stop participating in the labor market. That decision was delayed because of government policy.
So which one is it, Democrats? Is the economy really recovering through job growth? And if so, then why are unemployment benefits continually needing to be extended?
UPDATE: During the White House press briefing Monday, White House economic adviser Gene Sperling said the country has a "long term unemployment crisis" and admitted that people who stay out of the work force for long periods of time suffer economically and psychologically. He also referred to long term unemployment benefits as "emergency" benefits.