TODAY'S QUESTION: Should Missouri's long-term unemployed lose benefits?

Friday, March 18, 2011 | 1:21 p.m. CDT

The Missouri Senate didn't sign an extension to a bill Thursday that benefits the unemployed. State Sen. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis County, led a filibuster to block the continuation of benefits this month for those unemployed for 79 weeks.

Missouri started the extended benefits program two years ago. It uses federal funds to help unemployed Missourians for up to 99 weeks. Had the extension passed and continued to send benefits, the state would have spent $106 million from April through January.

The state Department of Labor estimates 6,500 unemployed workers neared the 79-week cutoff earlier this month out of the 11,700 receiving extended benefits. According to a spokesman for Lembke, the senator sees the federal funds as "opium ... other people's money. He wants to send back the opium that the federal government sends to the states." The funding does not affect state budget.

The bill to approve the extension starting next month passed through the House of Representatives earlier this session, 123-14.

Should Missouri's long-term unemployed lose benefits?

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dan elliott March 18, 2011 | 5:23 p.m.

no impact to state budget, take the money for your citizens, not taking it means i am paying for 49 other states but not my neighbor -- yes, the federal govt has gone crazy and yes the benefits need to stop, but that is at the federal level...the state needs to disburse what the federal government offers

(Report Comment)
Per Bylund March 18, 2011 | 6:36 p.m.

In a non-regulated economy there is only voluntary/chosen unemployment, whereas in the heavily regulated present market people can be left without means to support themselves or their families. The problem is created by our politicians and we should demand that they solve it: by stepping back. Subsidizing unemployment (which is what you are doing when using taxpayers' money to give unemployed "benefits") is clearly the wrong way to go.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 18, 2011 | 10:01 p.m.

It's fascinating that in an economy where we have the degree of unemployment we do there are occupations with shortages of qualified personnel.

One way some shortages are "papered over" is to legally employ qualified aliens. Recently some authority was quoted as saying (possibly in jest) that all international students attending our universities and receiving degrees in mathematics, physics, chemistry and engineering should have a green card pre-stapled to their degree, and fast-tracking for U. S. citizenship.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 18, 2011 | 10:35 p.m.

Dan E.- You have, seemingly, been sucked in with the rest. I have lost count of the liberals in our government, who have professed, they are "against all this spending,but if the money is there, I owe it to my constituents to go after it." This reasoning is what allows the spenders to retain their position in our gov't, and the ability to SPEND.

We have a second chance to stop this monetary insanity. Let Sen. Lembke help stop it.

(Report Comment)
Angela Becker March 18, 2011 | 11:42 p.m.

Just stop the Unemployment already! It's been long enough. This madness has to come to a stop. Being dependent on Unemployment ranks up there with a dependency on Welfare. Enough already! VOTE YES, NO EXTENSIONS = LOSE BENEFITS! It's time!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 19, 2011 | 6:52 a.m.

Are we going to attack the disease itself or argue about how we should treat its symptoms? Some level of unemployment will always be with us and with all other so-called "first world" countries, due to continually changing economic trends*, but we need to start advising the next generations of Americans to gravitate to those jobs which will be available. I work with guidance counselors, and even they say we (parents, counselors) do a poor job of counseling middle school and high school students about viable careers.

There is no such thing as full employment: during the height of World War II in this country, when some adults were working two jobs and even high school students were permitted to take factory jobs during the summer, the unemployment level was NOT 0.0! Some adults are either physically, mentally or temperamentally unsuited to hold jobs or have substance abuse problems. Those folks do not constitute a large percentage of the potential work force and their problems should be addressed as separate issues.

Am I in favor or temporary unemployment payments? Yes. Is that how to address the root causes of unemployment? Hell no!

*- There's ample evidence that the rate of change is accelerating, but there's also evidence that certain occupations are far more able to withstand those changes than others.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 19, 2011 | 12:26 p.m.

Ellis - I, for one would rather attack the disease of unemployment.

My understanding has been that an unemployment rate of 5% and below is Considered "full" employment. (large majority of those wanting a job, have one.)

You may be referring to technology development, but aren't your "continually changing economic trends", more aptly referred to as recessions? Haven't nearly all of these recessions (at least in the last sixty years) been caused by Federal Reserve or Federal Gov't.? A book, Temple of the Gods, professes this to be the case.

Better counseling will help determine which ones of us will be unemployed. Far more important would be to change those in government that long for and purposefully create the "continually changing economic trends" so that they may be able to "stimulate" the economy by spreading tax payer money into job training programs, targeted tax cuts for those that vote the correct way. High speed rail, new bridge to Canada, are a couple of examples in use today.

Tell me I'm off base. I'll listen.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 19, 2011 | 1:54 p.m.

@ Frank:

I'm not going to tell you you're off base. I come from an era where it was an article of faith that there's more than one way to skin a cat (apologies to PETA).

Today it seems there is only ONE way to skin cats (federal government), and it isn't working very well. I suspect we can agree on that.

(Report Comment)
Lisa Johnson March 19, 2011 | 3:22 p.m.

If a deal was struck to extend benefits to states with high unemployment such as MO. in exchange for the tax extensions to the wealthy, that should be honored. What a slap in the face to Missourians. I guess what Lembke is saying is I am not going to let Missourians get the money to prove my point, but I am more than happy to let other states get it so their consitituents who are entitled to 99 weeks get it. Since when do we legislate only to prove personal points. Senator Lembke is a crackpot and I can't believe his highly unionized constituency in south county is going to like this.

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Kathy Snowberry March 20, 2011 | 5:50 a.m.

I much prefer that my tax $$$ go to support the unemployed than have it crapped-away on 2 - now possibly 3 - wars. Or have Dunder Blunted continue spending millions of taxpayer $$$ a year on soy bean research. Before MO turns down that Fed money for unemployment it better get off it collective deadbutt and address the loss of decent jobs in this state. With roughly 45000 jobs lost a month, every month, in this state how do you expect us to recover?

(Report Comment)
Kathy Snowberry March 20, 2011 | 7:49 a.m.

MO is taking $860M in federal aid just to balance its 2011 budget. That's $860M the Fed does not have, will need to borrow, and will need to be paid back by future taxpayers (our children). Is Lembke only targeting the unemployed or is he also filibustering the use of Fed $ to cover healthcare services, basic education and - of course - the never ending FARM SUBSIDIES. Maybe farmers are just lazy. They've been on the Fed and taxpayer teats since the early 40's. You who want to end unemployment benefits get out your check book and start paying all of MO budget shortages.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 20, 2011 | 12:27 p.m.

K Snowberry -"I much prefer that my tax $$$ go to support the unemployed than have it crapped-away on 2 - now possibly 3 - wars." Another tireless,useless, liberal, rant against a military action not started by a Democrat.

Dunder blunted, Roy Blunt? In acting to reduce spending to 2008 levels he calls for ALL Ag Dept. spending to be reviewed.

Is it just the 860M$ that will be borrowed, that bugs you and not the 5.2T$ borrowed in 4 years after Nancy Pelosi took charge of the House?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 20, 2011 | 1:38 p.m.

Frank, and wasn't George the Younger President for two of those Pelosi years? What was wrong with his veto pen?

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 20, 2011 | 2:51 p.m.

John S. - It seems Nancy couldn't get her act together until BO got there in 2009. Her big spenders while W still there contained Iraq war funds which R's had fought to get included. He should have vetoed the 150B$ "stimulus", in hind sight.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 20, 2011 | 9:27 p.m.

Yeah, and Medicare Part D and the Iraq Excursion and on and on. Dubya was no conservative.

(Report Comment)

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