You might be interested in Kathryn A. Edwards’s analysis at RAND of the $600 weekly unemployment benefit increment:
In the CARES Act, Congress increased unemployment insurance benefits by $600 a week through the end of July. As those extra benefits approach expiration, lawmakers—and many Americans—are at odds about what should happen next.
Tens of millions of Americans are still without work. No one wants to push the unemployed out into the street (literally or proverbially), but some workers are getting bigger unemployment checks than they ever did paychecks. This appears to be a sticking point as Congress has returned from its recess to debate another pandemic relief bill.
Can’t unemployment benefits simply be capped, say at 85 percent of a given worker’s typical wage? That is, can’t the federal government do a replacement-rate top-up, rather than a flat-dollar top-up?
Yes, it’s possible—but not practical or politically palatable.
Her emphasis is on the fixed nature of the increment but it should be obvious that there are problems with the increment itself. The battle right now is apparently between Democrats who, apparently, want to continue the increment indefinitely and Republicans who want to reduce it to $200. How they arrived at that figure is unclear to me but it’s little more sustainable than $600.
The notion that maintaining 15% or 20% of the people on an indefinite basis (if they’re not pledging not to renew the increment, their intent is to continue it on an indefinite basis) simply by extending ourselves credit without consequences is a form of perpetual motion. Disagreeing with it is not cruel. It is simply pointing out the obvious.
A lot of the appropriation is being saved. Trying to inflate it away is cruel, too, and worse yet it’s punishing the prudent.