At least one Tea Party Patriot is taking a break from attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act to address America’s unemployment problem. Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) has teamed up with Representative Tony Cardenas (D-CA) to introduce legislation that would assist in alleviating at least some of the unemployment issues.
While Mulvaney does not feel that it is a good idea to expand unemployment benefits, he does agree that an increase in worker mobility would assist at least those who are willing to move for work. If passed, the American Worker Mobility Act would create a new Department of Labor program that would assist workers who cannot find jobs near home in moving elsewhere. Workers would be given vouchers worth up to $10,000 if they move at least sixty miles away and their destination has an unemployment rate at least 2% lower than the area from which they are moving. “It’s time we start working together to address the unemployment crisis and this is one piece of the puzzle,” Mulvaney said. Cardenas says that the program will harness the diversity and size of our nation to put more Americans back on the job.” To qualify, the person taking advantage of this program would need to have a definite job offer in the area into which he or she is moving.
Congressional Budget Office director Doug Elmendorf says that while he has not analyzed a proposal like this before, it just might work. “Historically, part of what has helped to bring the labor market back to a better place, after previous downturns, has been the mobility of people,” Elmendorf said. “There’s evidence the mobility of Americans has actually declined over time, which may be an aggravating factor.”
However, Elmendorf added that this will not be a complete fix, no matter how successful the program may be. “Moving people to where there are more jobs can help,” he said. “But in any case, however effective it can be by itself, it won’t solve the whole problem, because right now there is less demand for goods and services than we have the ability to produce them and that weakens the demand for workers by businesses across the country.
At minimum, this is an interesting proposal. Since it is backed by the American Enterprise Institute, a traditionally pro-business right-wing think tank, we have our doubts about exactly who will benefit from this legislation, and how much. One thing is for certain–no program like this should come into existence at the expense of unemployment benefit extensions. We’ll be keeping our eyes on this one.