GOP Sen. Sasse Proposing Back-to-Work ‘Signing Bonus’

GOP Sen. Sasse Proposing Back-to-Work 'Signing Bonus' ben sasse stands at a podium Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., speaks during a legislative summit sponsored by the Omaha and Lincoln Chambers of Commerce in 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

By Eric Mack | Sunday, 09 May 2021 12:19 PM

Republicans have long rebuked the COVID-19 stimulus incentivizing Americans to stay out of work by paying them more to remain unemployed than they would get working.

Now, the GOP answer to unwind that is a signing bonus to get them to go back to work sooner than later.

"The emergency UI (Unemployment Insurance) program is now penalizing people for going back to work," Sasse emailed in a statement Saturday, Business Insider reported. "Now, as millions of Americans are vaccinated each day, we’ve got crummy job numbers. We've got to get America and Americans up and running."

Amid a $300-per-week federal unemployment benefit that runs through Labor Day, passed in President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, Sasse is proposing legislation that would provide a 2-month signing bonus "equal to 101% of their current unemployment payment," his statement added.

“We should be clear about the policy failure at work here: There are 7,400,000 jobs open in the US – but fewer than 300,000 people found new work last month," Sasse wrote in a Friday statement, lamenting Friday's jobs report. "Why? This tragedy is what happens when Washington know-it-alls decide to pretend they're generous by paying more for unemployment than for work.

"This obviously hurts our economy, but more precisely this hurts people on every Main Street in the nation."

The $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit, gives out-of-work Americans an extra $1,200 per month, which Republicans argue gives millions of Americans more money not to work right now.

Last year, Sen. Sasse introduced pro-worker, pro-recovery legislation that would have fixed the coronavirus emergency relief law's perverse incentive to increase unemployment by capping unemployment benefits at full pay.

A pair of GOP governors in Montana (Gov. Greg Gianforte) and South Carolina (Gov. Henry McMaster) have announced their states will opt out of the federal $300 weekly bonus at the end of June.

"I hear from too many employers throughout our state who can't find workers," Gianforte said last week. "Nearly every sector in our economy faces a labor shortage.

"We need to incentivize Montanans to re-enter the workforce," he added.

Gov. McMaster echoed that.

"What was intended to be a short-term financial assistance for the vulnerable and displaced during the height of the pandemic has turned into a dangerous federal entitlement, incentivizing and paying workers to stay at home rather than encouraging them to return to the workplace," he said.

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