LETTER: PPI calls on US lawmakers to pass legislation to help restart the American economy

Quality of Life
May 18, 2020

Palmetto Promise Institute signed onto a letter, joining 15 other organizations, calling on lawmakers to support the “Getting Americans Back to Work Act”, limiting federal unemployment benefits to the applicant’s last paycheck. This bill will help restart the American economy. 

May 18, 2020

United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative,

We, the undersigned 15 organizations representing millions of taxpayers across the United States, strongly urge you to support the “Getting Americans Back to Work Act.” Introduced by Rep. Ken Buck (R-Col.) and Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.), this bill is a commonsense proposal to protect taxpayers by limiting federal unemployment benefits to an applicant’s previous paycheck. Tethering unemployment insurance to lost wages will help restart the U.S. economy while preventing unintended uses of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act unemployment insurance dollars.

If enacted, this bill would cap the amount an individual can receive through temporary federal unemployment insurance to 100 percent of previous wages. In linking unemployment insurance payments to previous wages, the legislation would fix a significant flaw created by CARES Act. Under this current law, persons can receive more in unemployment insurance than they would earn were they working.

Signed into law by President Trump on March 27, the CARES Act stipulates that unemployed individuals can receive a $600 per week temporary federal benefit in addition to their state’s prescribed unemployment benefits. As the usual sole provider of unemployment insurance, states have long recognized that applicants will have little incentive to return to work if benefits exceed usual wages. Yet, in creating a temporary fixed federal unemployment benefit, Congress failed to heed these concerns and sent the wrong message to millions of Americans out of work.  Under the current system of combined federal and state unemployment benefits, even workers who previously earned more than $40,000 annually could stand to make $200 a week more by continuing to avoid the labor market. If unaddressed, this ill-advised policy will significantly slow the U.S.’s economic recovery and add to the already-ballooning federal debt. Maintaining the status-quo is also deeply unfair to the tens of millions of hardworking Americans who will return to work.

In bolstering unemployment insurance benefits, the CARES Act has effectively raised the minimum wage to $23 an hour. Businesses ordinarily paying workers less than this wage can no longer afford to retain workers who can now earn more off unemployment benefits. As a result, small businesses that cannot afford to outbid unemployment insurance will have to stall reopening, harming the American economy even further in the process.  Millions of families will continue to pay the price for this staggered return to normalcy.

Without question, welfare should not pay more than work. Once safe to do so, workers should be encouraged to return to work and take part in renewed prosperity. But this cannot happen under the failed status-quo of bloated unemployment benefits untethered to previous wages.

We strongly urge you to fix this broken system by supporting the Getting Americans Back to Work Act. Thank you for your consideration of this pressing issue.


Tim Andrews
Executive Director
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Robert Fellner
Vice President & Director of Policy
Nevada Policy Research Institute

Grover Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform

Ellen Weaver
President & CEO
Palmetto Promise Institute

Garrett Ballengee
Executive Director
Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy

Mike Stenhouse
Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity

Ryan Ellis
Center for a Free Economy

Steve Pociask
The American Consumer Institute

Andrew F. Quinlan
Center for Freedom and Prosperity

James Taylor
The Heartland Institute

Matthew Kandrach
Consumer Action for a Strong Economy

Andrew Langer
Institute for Liberty

Jason Pye
Vice-President for Legislative Affairs

Paul Gessing
Rio Grande Foundation

Seton Motley
Less Government