John Oliver makes the case that unemployment insurance is basically one of the best policies this country has ever enacted. It makes sense—not only does it help the unemployed, but it directly benefits the economy in a way that tax cuts rarely do. When people without a job get that unemployment check, they spend it on the necessities that keep them alive, and don’t just hoard it. And yet there’s been a concerted attack on unemployment benefits pretty much as long as they’ve existed, and that has increasingly gained force as the decades have rolled by. Guess which party is the main one behind that?
In the latest episode of Last Week Tonight, Oliver looks at unemployment insurance, which has been absolutely vital to millions of Americans during the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, the discourse around unemployment reflects so much else about our politics and culture, breaking down along the same old fault lines of race, class, sex, etc. It’s another dispiriting segment from Oliver, but also another hilarious one, and at least preserving and strengthening unemployment benefits doesn’t seem as hopeless a battle as some of the other topics Oliver focuses on.
Check it out below, and find the whole episode on HBO Max or HBO.