Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, who is viewed as extremely vulnerable with regard to her bid for re-election in 2022, has challenged her party’s official messaging about enhanced federal unemployment benefits and their relation to the stagnant unemployment rate.
Democrats have of course taken a stance that paying people more money to sit at home than they would make while working is not substantively related to last month’s poor jobs report.
The April jobs report released this past week showed that only 266,000 jobs were created while the unemployment rate rose slightly to 6.1 percent. Some forecasters predicted upwards of one million jobs would have been created in April — meaning Democrats had a problem when the jobs report disappointed expectations.
President Joe Biden last week refused to acknowledge that the stagnant jobs report was related to the small fortune people are making off of unemployment.
But the abysmal jobs numbers were immediately and rightly connected to those enhanced unemployment benefits. The benefits are being doled out by the federal government at $300 per week, as was laid out in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, and there is no denying that they are an incentive for people to stay home.
While incumbent Democrats in deep-blue states might not be in any danger when they come up for their respective re-election races next year, Hassan is, according to every indication, vulnerable with regard to how the low job participation rate concerns the Granite State’s residents.
The former New Hampshire governor addressed those concerns last week when speaking at a business roundtable. According to The Washington Free Beacon, Hassan was feeling the heat and she went rogue. Hassan went as far as to undermine the White House’s official defense of continuing to pay people to not take jobs.
“I will tell you that in the Senate, we’re having this conversation about how do you tweak this just right,” Hassan said with regard to the currently large weekly unemployment checks. “And, if the economy is truly recovering and schools can truly reopen, should we be tweaking that right now.”
Hassan cited a lack of child care and a worry among workers about the pandemic as reasons why so many Americans are voluntarily sitting out of the workforce. But she did admit that those government checks are “making it easier for people to stay home.”
Hassan praised the American Rescue Plan when it was signed into law in March on her official website.
Among “highlights from the American Rescue Plan” touted by the Democrat, her website pointed out “expanded unemployment benefits through September 6, 2021.”
“The American Rescue Plan will help us get more vaccines in arms, get our children back in schools, put people back to work, and help families and small businesses pay their bills,” Hassan said in a statement. “I will work with the Biden administration to get this relief to the American people without delay.”
A lot can change in just two months. Faced with the prospect of losing her seat next fall, and seeing her party lose its razor-thin majority in the Senate, Hassan seemingly had no choice but to break with the Biden White House and admit that just maybe incentivizing people to “stay home and stay safe” is preventing an economic comeback.
Up against the wall, Hassan did what most Democratic senators haven’t had to do, which is to tell the truth about those expensive entitlements.
According to reporting last month from The Wall Street Journal, Hassan has every reason to sweat, as she might soon be facing off in an election against popular Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu.
“[Sununu] could be a formidable challenger: a February poll by the University of New Hampshire pegged his approval rating at 72%, 30 points higher than Hassan’s,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “Though Sununu had a statistically insignificant lead over Hassan in a hypothetical one-on-one matchup, he enjoyed a roughly 3-to-1 advantage among independent voters.”
The writing is apparently on the wall for Hassan. She can either abandon blind loyalty to her party and its radical and nonsensical approach to policy, or face the prospect of being replaced by someone who will.
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