We're in a recession with four or five job seekers to every open job, according to the latest stats -- so it's not news that the government is sending more in unemployment benefits to those out of work than it did a few years ago. Today, the Senate is expected to vote on those benefits, after the demise yesterday of a filibuster by some who said the country could not afford the bill's benefits (although many of those senators do want to reinstate the Bush tax cuts, which were originally designed to sunset precisely because they are fiscally unsustainable).
With so many Americans hunting for work and being pushed towards the economic edge, the biggest question is the moral cost of not extending those benefits.
But it's also important to understand the economic cost of those benefits -- and that cost is much lower than you might think, because those benefits stimulate the economy. According to a report out this week about increased unemployment spending in the first part of this year (compared to 2007):