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Tilting at Windmills

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February 26, 2010

HOBOS AND HAMMOCKS.... One of the more frustrating political stories of the day is the effort of one far-right Republican senator to block extended unemployment benefits, which will expire on Sunday. It's a reminder, though, that some conservative lawmakers seem to have something against the unemployed.

Take Rep. Dean Heller (R) of Nevada, for example. (via Pat Garofalo)

Heller said the current economic downturn and policies may bring back the hobos of the Great Depression, people who wandered the country taking odd jobs. He said a study found that people who are out of work longer than two years have only a 50 percent chance of getting back into the workforce. "I believe there should be a federal safety net," Heller said, but he questioned the wisdom of extending unemployment benefits yet again to a total of 24 months, which Congress is doing.

"Is the government now creating hobos?" he asked.

This comes just a couple of weeks after Rep. Steve King, a right-wing Republican from Iowa, explained his opposition to extended unemployment benefits: "We shouldn't turn the 'safety net' into a hammock." (via reader B.D.)

Those of you who've lost your jobs and are struggling to find work in a weak economy? Some conservative Republican lawmakers seem to think you're lazy.

The Republican brand of "populism" sure is odd.

Steve Benen 1:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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Ah, but GOP populism is all a matter of context. The word 'populism' implied sticking up for ones' people. And, for the GOP, that means defending the right of the rich- and usually, the white and male as well- against the poor- and, usually, the non-white and female.

Hence, GOP Populism = socialism for the rich, capitalism for everyone else.


Posted by: Zorro on February 26, 2010 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter and more succinct version of the mentioned Republicans' persuasion: unemployed people are losers who should eat shit and die!

Until the Republican party can show me it and its members can give even one iota of care to Americans of all stripes, it and its members will never receive a vote from me!-Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 26, 2010 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

To Republicans, if you are having financial difficulties, it's your own damn fault, unless those difficulties can be traced to taxes, regulations, or lawsuits.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on February 26, 2010 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

The cries of quiet desparation ring through most communities in this country. It's okay with republicans to fight against the government if you're middle class, have an airplane, and don't want to pay your taxes. If you're unemployed and are looking for odd jobs to survive, you should be punished.

Posted by: appletree on February 26, 2010 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

No, those of us that aren't driving to Washington, D.C., to kick our legislators' asses are the lazy ones.

Posted by: Gaia on February 26, 2010 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

We, the people, are ONE Nation, under God.

Unless, of course, you live in the Grand Old Republic. . .

Posted by: DAY on February 26, 2010 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, the Republican employment policy is of a piece with their health care policy:

1. If you have a job, don't lose it.

2. If you do lose your job, starve quickly.

Posted by: Joey Maloney on February 26, 2010 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, here's a suggestion to all the unemployed people out there.

Why not run for office? Congress and Senate, for example.

I'm pretty sure that the deadlines and the state requirements for signatures for ballot inclusions have come and gone, but why not see about running a write-in campaign?

This isn't a bad idea, for these reasons:
1) The hours are good;
2) The pay and benefits are great;
3) There's really no base requirement for the jobs outside of residency (must live in the state) and age (25 minimum for Congress, 30 for Senate). There's no previous job experience needed: you can be a high school dropout and still run for office. You can have a background in window glazing, or limo driving, or office management, or diner chef, or anything, and still run for office.
4) If you win, it'll look great on your resume.
5) There's no way you can do a worse job than the ego-driven hicks already up there.

Let's do it, Unemployed Americans! Let's drive those incumbents out of work, see how THEY like it!

Shameless ad plug alert! "Wartenberg 2010 For Florida: I Need The Work!"

Posted by: PaulW on February 26, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Apologies. In previous post I should have written "ego-driven HACKS" not "hicks".

Unless they're from Texas. :P

Posted by: PaulW on February 26, 2010 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

if they want to go there, the hobos will all be living in Bushvilles. No question about it.

Posted by: JimBob on February 26, 2010 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

I have the great misfortune of living in Dean Heller’s district in Northern Nevada, where unemployment and forclosure rates are highest in the country and about to get much worse.

When the Special Legislative Session ends in a few days, we expect to have more teachers and State workers joining the ranks of unemployed. (Nevada already has the lowest number of state employees per capita in the nation and is among the lowest in education spending and High School graduation rates.)

Heller was Nevada’s Secretary of State for 11 years, and for the past few decades, his argument has been that our lowest-in-the-nation business tax strucure and absense of a state income tax will attract businesses to come to Nevada.

So, how’s that been working out?

Businesses that offer well paying jobs and require an educated workforce shun Nevada like the plague because 50% of our high school students don’t graduate.

Doctors, Nurses and Educators are fleeing our rural areas (most of the state) because we have no infrastructure, low pay and no incetives for them to stay,

They’re also fleeing the metropolitan areas because they’re all turning into ghettos.

The Governor is more interested in wetting his wick with another man’s wife and closing those evil bastions of liberalism and higher learning known as city colleges than trying to salvage our state.

You’re gonna love this video:

Posted by: Giant Kid on February 26, 2010 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

The Party of Evil strikes again.

Posted by: Northern Observer on February 26, 2010 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

perhaps these idiots might want to consider that people with unemployment checks spend the money they receive. there are about 250,000 people in florida getting unemployment. conservatively let's say the average benefit is $100 a week. that's $25 million a week pumped into our state's ailing economy; over a year, that's $1.3 billion. if you take away the humanitarian aspect of the safety net (the statewide jobless rate is nearing 12 percent; throw in discouraged workers and part-time workers who can't find full-time jobs and you get 20 percent of the workforce), the economics should convince you that this is money well spent.

and let's not forget that this is a republican recession in the first place.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on February 26, 2010 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the link. Unfortunately, Steve King gives this Iowa blogger plenty of material to work with.

Posted by: desmoinesdem on February 26, 2010 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Hobos? How quaint! If men start roaming this country because of worsening economic conditions it'll most likely be with all those guns they're so afraid of the government taking. And if they are riding the rails they will be doing the driving.

Posted by: Maddie on February 26, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

If people were paying attention, heads would roll, but hey, American Idol's on.

Posted by: doubtful on February 26, 2010 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Even shorter Republican version "I got mine - screw you"

Posted by: WBN on February 26, 2010 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

I think Rep. Heller has been reading too much John Hodgman. Hobos. Riiiight.

Posted by: biggerbox on February 26, 2010 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Rep. Heller probably thinks that a bunch more hobos would probably be a *good* thing. After all, they'll probably work cheap, which makes things even better for the rich- which are, again, the only group that the GOP seems to think matter.

Posted by: Zorro on February 26, 2010 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican brand of "populism" sure is odd.

The Republican brand of "Christianity" is even more perverse.

Posted by: josef on February 26, 2010 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

You needn't worry about armed hobos Maddie. I've been homelsss, and when that happens all your "rights" magically disappear.

Posted by: Hazy on February 26, 2010 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe they're just stumping for some FDR-style work programs then so they can work for their benefits?

I can't understand why else they'd suggest that having lots of penniless, homeless people around without jobs for extended periods would be helpful.

I can think of some drawbacks of that goal. Not all of them requiring compassion to think of.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on February 26, 2010 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican brand of "populism" sure is odd.

Actually, not unlike the historical Populism. Ignatius Donnelly's Preamble to the Omaha Platform of 1892 condemned "the two great classes--tramps and millionaires." Populists saw themselves as productive people aligned against parasites both above and below them in the socio-economic scale--not unlike people who see the unemployed and the professoriat alike as leeches sucking blood from those who actually do the work. Classic Populism wasn't the poor against the rich; it was the middle class against both ends. That's still so.

Posted by: David in Nashville on February 26, 2010 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK
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