Unemployed workers at a Los Angeles-area employment center. AP Photo/Damian DovarganesA popular idea in President Obama's new jobs bill could represent a step toward fundamentally transforming the existing system of federal jobless benefits. Some critics say such a move is long overdue--but others worry that a major overhaul could threaten a program that since the Depression has been a core component of the social safety net.
Obama's jobs measure, sent to Congress Monday, contains a provision that would encourage states to replicate a voluntary Georgia program that allows jobless workers to continue collecting unemployment benefits while training with potential employers. (Last month, we looked at how effective the Georgia program has been.)
The initiative was one of the few from the president's plan that drew an enthusiastic response from Republicans. After Obama talked up the idea in his speech to Congress last week, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the number two Republican in the House, noted in response that it had originally come from the GOP, and called it "something that we should be able to get to work on right away."Read More »from Could Obama’s jobs bill help end jobless benefits as we know them?