The supposed “new normal” is a permanently less dynamic economy. In that context, extended benefits are just adding months before people have to accept the disappointing, lower-paying jobs that eventually await them anyway. Nobody wants it to be that way — it just is.
Unemployment insurance is a good thing. If your employer wasn’t required by law to pay for it, you’d consider buying it yourself. Jobs disappear even in the best of economic times, and it can take months to find a new one that’s a good fit. Unemployment offers a modest short-term income stream while you look.
Unemployment isn’t “welfare.” First, it’s only available to those who have paid in. Second, it isn’t meant as part of our safety net for those who cannot support themselves at all — which will still be there for those who need it when benefits end.