Work is Opportunity
By Rep. Dusty Johnson
August 12, 2021
Like many South Dakotans, I grew up in a working-class family where the value of hard work was instilled in me at a young age. The ability to earn an income and support your family is one of the greatest opportunities America has to offer.
The COVID-19 pandemic hindered this opportunity as businesses and schools closed across the country and many families found themselves hard-pressed financially.
The federal government took unprecedented steps to ensure that those who were most affected by the pandemic could receive assistance. Bipartisan supported programs like the Paycheck Protection Program were temporarily enacted to keep employees on payroll and help those most in need.
Now, in the midst of reopening our nation’s economy, many of the temporary changes are still in place a year and a half later and hindering our recovery efforts.
The following policies are keeping people from returning to work:
- Work requirements to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits remain repealed.
- The additional $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits continues in 25 states.
- The automatically reenrolled advanced payments on the expanded Child Tax Credit have started, laying the foundation for universal basic income, a long-sought goal of socialism supporters.
There is simply no incentive to work when social safety net programs make it more lucrative to stay at home. This is evident in the fact that the labor participation rate remains near peak-pandemic levels.
However, there was good news this month. After half of the nation’s Republican governors ended the extra federal unemployment benefit, the July jobs report did show a lower unemployment rate than past months.
According to a study by the Foundation for Government Accountability, unemployment claims have declined by 30% in states like South Dakota where additional unemployment benefits have ended. Meanwhile, in states that have kept federal unemployment benefits, new unemployment claims continue to rise. The data doesn’t lie – taking away the incentive curbs unemployment and gets people back to work. That’s why I’ll continue to push my Get Americans Back to Work plan which would end the additional federal supplemental unemployment payment across the board.
The American dream is built on the notion that anyone can succeed if they work hard. Work should not be viewed as a punishment, but rather a way forward.
Work yields opportunity, work enriches communities, and work leads to a more prosperous nation.
Our government should encourage work, rather than disincentivize it.