WASHINGTON — The extra $600 in unemployment benefits has become a reason for people not to return to work, according to Congressman Tom Reed, who said some benefits must continue, but not at the expense of crippling small businesses.
Reed discussed the various aspects of the latest COVID-19 relief package during a conference call Tuesday.
“How I see it is, if you were in a home and you lost a job, obviously you were making a wage before you lost your home,” Reed said. “The $600 provided more money than you were making when you were working.”
Paying people more in unemployment than in wages hurts small businesses because people are reluctant to return to work when they can make more income staying home.
“It’s just become a real barrier to get people back to work and that hurts small businesses. It hurts everyone,” Reed said.
The latest package offers $200 in additional unemployment, which is a starting point for negotiations, Reed explained.
Reed said he remains confident a package agreement can be on President’s Trumps desk in the next seven to 10 days.
“They’re moving in a positive direction now in the Senate,” he said. “I’m still very confident that we’re going to get this taken care of.”
The three main tenants Reed wants to see are stable unemployment benefits based on a percentage of income, incentives for people to return to work, direct aid to local municipalities and child care funding, he said.
The problem, as Reed sees it, is the way bills are done now includes waiting to the last minute, “running up to the cliff” and then reaching an agreement.
“If I was in charge, running the trains, I wouldn’t run it this way. I’d have us all sit in a room and not leave until it’s done,” he said.
“The smaller local governments are the ones that are really the priority of this package,” he said.