Published April 06, 2012
Pennsylvania philanthropist Gene Epstein has been called many things: Persistent car salesman, tenacious real estate investor -- and in superhero terms, crusading job creator.
He's best known for his Hire Just One program, a job creation project he came up with to get Americans back to work. Now, his new Hire Just One initiative has picked up the bipartisan support of two Pennsylvania members of Congress, Rep Jim Gerlach, a Republican, and Rep. Allyson Schwartzm, a Democrat.
If implemented, the plan would transfer a person's weekly unemployment compensation to a company that hires them, as a payroll subsidy for expanding its staff.
Epstein says his plan has many steps to ensure lasting employment. He outlined the plan to Fox News, saying employers can't fire anyone to take advantage of the deal, "There has to be a net gain of jobs. Also, a person has to be unemployed at least six months, and a company has to pay that person double what their unemployment is as a minimum."
Gerlach says Epstein's plan is being considered by the House Ways and Means Committee, and members are working to craft the idea into a bill to present to Congress.
"What stuck with me about Gene's proposal is that rather than us debating in Washington how many weeks somebody should have unemployment compensation benefits, and how do employers continue to fund unemployment compensation," Gerlach said, "why aren't we talking about better, easier ways to connect unemployed people with employers today and get them back to work?"
Gerlach wants to "get it moving through the legislative process by getting the support and attention of the committee chairman where the bill will be, as well as the leadership in the House and the Senate, and hopefully get it moving through the process as soon as possible."
Epstein says his original Hire Just One project, in which he donated $1,000 to charity if a company hired just one employee, has put over 100,000 people back to work. He believes this new phase could take at least three million people out of the unemployment line. Once they are employed, he hopes they will start spending, which will stimulate the economy further.
When asked why he continues to try so hard to get other people a paycheck, Epstein says with a smile, "I think without caring about other people and doing everything you can to help other people, you are a foolish person and there's no downside to doing good."