Biden's stay at home bonus

Watertown Daily Times Guest Opinion by Rep. Scott Fitzgerald (WI-05)

Things are on the upswing in America. States are ending their COVID-19-related mandates, the CDC has announced vaccinated individuals can return to their normal pre-pandemic life, and businesses are looking to open their doors and return to full operations. There is just one problem: President Biden is paying workers to stay home.

Many small businesses in southeastern Wisconsin have reached out to tell me that they’re hiring, but can’t find workers.

The primary hiring challenge echoed among these business owners is the $300-a-week “bonus,” as so many people are calling it, from the federal unemployment insurance program. These business owners believe this new federal unemployment bonus has incentivized people to stay home.

You don’t need to take their word for it though, just take a look at the most recent jobs report. It was abysmal. U.S. employers added only 266,000 jobs in April, falling short of the 1 million jobs economists had predicted.

With President Biden’s “stay at home” $300-a-week bonus, it is no wonder the latest report missed expectations.

In fact, the University of Chicago found in a study that 42% of people are making more on unemployment insurance than at prior jobs.

In Wisconsin, the increased federal payment offers the equivalent of $16.75 per hour to stay home and not be employed.

That’s why I joined my Republican colleagues in the Wisconsin delegation by sending a letter to Gov. Tony Evers, in which we urge him to do what 22 states have already elected to do: opt-out of the federal stay at home bonus.

Similarly, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce also wrote to Evers, encouraging him to end Wisconsin’s participation in the federal unemployment bonus. In the letter they state that the federal unemployment bonus “threatens the viability of thousands of businesses and the jobs they provide for workers.”

Many states have recognized the destructive impact the federal bonus is having on hiring, and it is time for Wisconsin to do the same. Not to mention, by definition, UI is an insurance program, not a benefit program as Democrats have tried to transform it into.

In light of many recent announcements from the CDC, it is overwhelmingly clear that for the vast majority of Americans, it is safe to return to work and get off of this unemployment insurance.

Heavy-handed policies from the government have already put business owners through the ringer during the pandemic. It is far past due to get this country up and running again and a critical step in that effort is to stop paying a $300 federal unemployment bonus for people to stay home.

In the absence of leadership at the executive level, businesses will continue to flounder.

It is my hope that Evers will do what President Biden did not do and get Wisconsinites back in the workforce.

Congressman Scott Fitzgerald was sworn in to the 117th Congress on Jan. 3, and represent Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.

Read Rep. Fitzgerald's op-ed online here.