Biden Unemployment Bonus is Slowing Economic Recovery

May 11, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) spoke on the Senate floor to express her concerns with President Biden's additional unemployment benefits and the disappointing jobs report that was released last week.

To watch Senator Blackburn’s speech, click below or here.


You can read the transcript recorded in the Congressional Records below or click here.


MRS. BLACKBURN: Madam President, I hope that you had a marvelous

Mother's Day. I enjoyed so much being back in Tennessee, and over the

past week, I really had the pleasure of hearing from so many

Tennesseans who are just celebrating having reopened businesses and

music venues and public spaces in our communities.

  There was a lot of happiness across our State as I was there.

Everywhere you looked, you could see evidence that people are ready to

get back to work, and they want to get back to life as normal.

  There is also a lot of evidence that local businesses are ready to

get back to normal. You cannot walk 10 feet in Knoxville, TN, for

example, without running into a ``help wanted'' sign. Normally, this

would be an indicator of a successful economic comeback, but here is

the problem: Those signs just are not working, not for retail or

restaurants or even for the industrial sector with small business

manufacturing. Some businesses are getting so desperate for help that

they are offering signing bonuses worth hundreds of dollars to anyone

willing and able to come back to work.

  All year, we have used a particular catchphrase to encourage people

to get their vaccinations. We have said that if we could only get shots

in arms, then we could get back to normal. Well, as it turns out, that

was step 1. We are getting the shots in arms. People are getting

vaccinated. Now it is time for step 2, and that is getting people back

to work, getting them to fill these jobs.

  I have said time and again and I will say it again: The best economic

stimulus there is, the very best economic stimulus there is, is a job.

It is a job. This holds true not just for those pulling in a paycheck

but for the businesses that are hiring.

  My Democratic colleagues--many of them--disagree with me on this

point, but I firmly believe the best economic stimulus is a job. For

months, some have refused to discuss an end to the various emergency

relief programs we all agreed were necessary to help workers and

businesses survive the lockdowns. But they were never meant to be

permanent programs; they were there for a time of specific need.

  I think, if some of my colleagues took the time to speak to the

owners whose businesses are short on labor, they would hear the same

story over and over again. Their pool of potential employees was

drained dry, at least in part by the unemployment insurance plus-up

that we initiated last year. Because of the way that program was

designed and because my colleagues on the other side of the aisle

rejected our offers to amend it, potential employees are drawing in

more in unemployment than they would make at some jobs.

  Now, some of my colleagues across the aisle dispute the notion that

this imbalance has led to a labor shortage. They claim that if there

are people staying home and collecting unemployment rather than taking

their old job back, or maybe a new job, that those examples are

anecdotal. But to that point, I would ask: How many anecdotes does it

take to create a trend?

  In Tennessee, there are at least a quarter of a million jobs

available, but as of last week, we still have about 49,000 people

receiving the $300 plus-up. This means that there are five jobs--five--

five jobs available for every single one of those 49,000 people.

  I want to make it clear that these business owners have no reason to

lie about the trouble they are having finding help. Their survival

depends on their ability to hire a team of employees. They gain nothing

by poisoning the well with false accusations. Anyone who has ever run a

business knows that.

  They also know it is a difficult call for these potential employees

to make, even when signing bonuses and higher wages are on the table,

but therein lies the disconnect. While businesses are incentivized to

do all they can to attract workers, the Federal Government has

incentivized workers to hold out as long as they can before taking the

leap into a new job. It is not their fault, but it is the reality that

Congress created.

  What we are seeing now isn't economic stimulus. I would offer that it

is an economic stalemate. And if we don't break the ties that bind

recovery to the success or failure of a government program, we will

suffer long-term economic consequences.

  As I said, some of my Democratic colleagues fundamentally disagree

with that approach. They have made that disagreement clear to the tune

of $6 trillion worth of spending that would be like nothing else that

we have ever seen and making it a permanent part of our economic


  They gave us a COVID relief package that had almost nothing to do

with fighting the pandemic, an infrastructure proposal that dedicates

60 percent--60 percent of its total pricetag to job-killing proposals

like the Green New Deal fantasies and, most recently, a supposedly pro-

family proposal that, if implemented, will in fact replace the

stability of the nuclear family with a lifelong tether to the welfare


  Talk about never letting a crisis go to waste. This isn't compassion,

in my opinion, and it isn't recovery. This is a power grab. They took

the majority, put pen to paper, and produced a wish list. They have

wanted to check off items from that wish list since 2010. So their list

is long.

  This version of economic stimulus, which, in reality, is just a

destructive cycle of spending and dependency and taxation and

inflation, will require more than just a general buy-in from the

American people. They are going to have to persuade people to cede

authority, to cede authority over their lives, their families, their

businesses, their jobs, their employment--cede that authority to the

Federal Government.

  Now, if this isn't true, if this isn't their goal, let the Democrats

dispute it. Let them come to the table and listen to what these

business owners are telling us. Let them help figure out a way to offer

a light at the end of the tunnel to the unemployed and underemployed

instead of keeping them tangled in a safety net that was neither

designated nor intended to be permanent.

  We still have a long way to go before we can declare victory over the

COVID-19 pandemic. But what my colleagues on the other side of the

aisle refuse to acknowledge is that we will never make it across the

finish line if we don't allow the American people to hope for that victory. We need to allow them to hope that last month's  terrible jobs report was just an anomaly. I certainly hope it was.

  And most importantly, we need to allow them to remember that a little

over a year ago, we didn't have to rely on emergency supplements and

direct payments from the government to survive. We had the most robust

economy we had in decades and decades. Unemployment numbers were at

record lows. Wage gains were at record highs.

  So we have been there before. We can and we will recover. But

encouraging total reliance on the government is not going to be what

gets us there, especially when so many businesses in this country are

trying to hire workers, and workers are not taking the jobs.

  I yield floor.