This seems a no-brainer. This recession has been pretty hard on workers, leaving about 15 million out of work, and millions more working but facing pay cuts, furloughs or in part-time or temporary jobs.
Just as important is the number who are facing long-term unemployment.
Some 5 million people, about one-third of those on the unemployment list, have been without a job for six months or more, a record since data started being recorded in 1948, according to the research and advocacy group National Employment Law Project.
"It smashes any other figure we have ever seen. It is an unthinkable number," said Andrew Stettner, NELP's deputy director. He said there are currently about six jobless people for every job opening, so it's unlikely people are purposefully living off unemployment insurance while waiting for something better to come along.
Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said at the Finance Committee hearing that, according to Labor Department figures, 51 percent of unemployment insurance claimants exhausted their regular benefits in July, the highest rate ever.
"It is likely the exhaustion rate will continue to increase in coming months" as the unemployment rate continues to rise, he said.
The reality is that, without the extension, many workers likely would need to use other social services or go without. Putting money in their hands is good policy -- workers are going to spend what they receive -- and the right thing to do.