Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 2, 2010

GOP JUST DOESN'T LIKE THE UNEMPLOYED.... Last week, Rep. Dean Heller (R) of Nevada expressed concern that the government is "creating hobos" by extending unemployment benefits. Around the same time, 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."

And yesterday, we heard similar rhetoric from the Senate's #2 Republican.

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Republican whip, argued that unemployment benefits dissuade people from job-hunting "because people are being paid even though they're not working."

Unemployment insurance "doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work," Kyl said during debate over whether unemployment insurance and other benefits that expired amid GOP objections Sunday should be extended.

Now, Kyl's never been the sharpest crayon in the box, and his passive indifference to those suffering the effects of a brutal recession is consistent with his character. But as Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), not exactly a bold liberal, reminded his far-right colleague, unemployment benefits are actually a very effective stimulus: "He cited a Congressional Budget Office analysis that said the Gross Domestic Product grew $1.90 for every dollar the federal government paid out."

Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research added, "It puts money into people's pockets and they spend almost all of it. That creates jobs."

But economics aside, this is nevertheless an illustrative moment, which voters should pay attention to. The Republican brand of "populism" is as callous as it is confused.

Steve Benen 9:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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Republicans only represent the business class, period.

Posted by: Paul on March 2, 2010 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

Real Kyl: Unemployment insurance "doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation [is a disincentive for them to seek new work] just keeps them alive"

Posted by: Goldilocks on March 2, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

Tax breaks for rich businessmen don't create new economic activity. In fact, if anything, continuing to give rich businessmen tax breaks is a disincentive for them to seek new business.

Posted by: Randy on March 2, 2010 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

"that voters should pay attention to"! unfortunately voters not paying attention is THE number 1 problem for US democracy. I know we love to complain about the MSM but information is out there if voters want to get it, but they don't, because they don't really care

Posted by: homerhk on March 2, 2010 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Most of these guys have never held a "real" job in their entire lives, they just live off the government gravy train.

I've never known ANYONE who didn't hustle their asses off looking for work while on unemployment. It's a stupid and insulting myth, typical of self-satisfied wingers who've never had to negotiate the real world.

Expect them to refine this argument in racist terms when more blue and white-collar white people are laid off.

Posted by: Gummo on March 2, 2010 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

To the right wingers who complain about people receiving income when they don't work, I have one answer:

Paris Hilton

Posted by: Eeyore on March 2, 2010 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

We need a new Dickens, only using a camera and the web and real names.

The GOP has turned into a parody of every movie villain that you really hate, because the script and direction makes you. You know, the irredeemably evil ones who eventually die or get captured without ever showing any remorse or belief that they did anything wrong.

Of course, because we're nice progressives, we don't hang this bullbleep in front of the public all day, every day, in every way.

I never understood where it says that liberals/progressives can't point to the bad guys and point out how evil and rotten and self-centered they are! Do we think for a moment the GOP wouldn't?

ABC did a piece on the bleephole Bunning last nite, but of course they pulled their punches.

Posted by: efgoldman on March 2, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Kyle is an arse. These people have craters where there should be a heart, cesspools where there should be a brain and an additional anus where there once was a mouth. Pretty much sums up the GOP as human-like as they'll ever be. Nauseating people these GOP'ers. Nauseating...

Posted by: stevio on March 2, 2010 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

It appears that Monty Python is running the United States Senate.

Senator Bunning: I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

Senator Durbin: Is there someone else up there we can talk to?

-Maybe it’s time for Harry Reid to use the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. . .

Posted by: DAY on March 2, 2010 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

I think it was Chris Hays on Countdown last night who pointed out that Repub's message to the unemployed boils down to "Get off your fat asses and get to work!" I believe that the message should really be to their corporate overlords: "Get off your fat asses and create some jobs!"

Posted by: Michigoose on March 2, 2010 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

"Creating hobos".

That is the funniest fucking thing I've heard all week! These guys need to be rendered jobless/homeless, be given a napsack on a stick, a newspapaer and a dime each for their insane zealotry. Republicans will be elected though thanks to the (sn)news being so good at "reporting" things like this...

Posted by: Trollop on March 2, 2010 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Unemployment insurance "doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work,"-Kyl

FUCKING BULLSHIT! Unemployment compensation doesn't come with health insurance or 401ks, and it doesn't come with dignity. Granted, Cobra benefits were also extended but that is ridiculously expensive. (Thank-you GOP for fucking up healthcare reform as well). People on unemployment are desperately trying to find work to right their lives again.

Posted by: oh my on March 2, 2010 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans to Kyl: You idiot! Don't you realize you are jeopardizing thousands of Republican rackets that depend on these unemployed folks feeding those unemployment benefits into our coffers! Jeebus Kyl, we need these rich to poor to rich funds circulating!

Posted by: lou on March 2, 2010 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

i've been on unemployment a couple times in my career. my younger son, who works in costruction, just got layed off yesterday.
i'd like to see kyl (or any of these other idiots who want to role back the new deal safety nets) survive a week on unemployment while a) looking for another job, b)dealing with a mortgage, and c) raising kids w/o health insurance.
something tells me they wouldn't be able to do it!

Posted by: mellowjohn on March 2, 2010 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

And if Obama tried to create something like the alphabet soup of work programs that FDR enacted during the GD, the Goopers would be equally as vocal and disingenuous.

It's all about the rich. But these asshats should remember that slaves need food, too.

These are embarrassing times. America was once a caring, compassionate, smart and innovative country. Now, we're full of entitlements for the ultra rich and there's no cake to be had for the unwashed masses.

Coffee Party, anyone?

I want my country back!

Posted by: MsJoanne on March 2, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Rep. Heller:

For there to be hobos, we would need working railroads.

If you want that argument to stick, please allocate a small portion of the budget to making Amtrak competitive with the rail system of, say, Sierra Leone.

Posted by: Matt on March 2, 2010 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

I know a fellow who got a two weeks notice of layoff. He called an employment agency and got an interview an new job offer the next day. Then he found he could get close to two years vacation on unemployment compensation, so naturally cancelled his job offer. LOL. Not everybody uses unemployment comp as vacation of course, only people with savings or a working spouse

If he rejected a valid job offer, he was not eligible for unemployment. If he lied in order to continue his benefits, he committed fraud--from which we can conclude that he is probably a Republican. Assuming, of course, that he is not a figment of your imagination.

I just called my senator, the ineffable Scott Brown. Actually got his office on record as regarding what Bunning is doing as "stunt" and inconsistent with Bunning's previous vote against PAYGO. Also specifically rejected Kyl's statement.

It's not much, and we'll see where it goes, but folks, if you have a Republican senator or representative, do remember to let them know you have a problem with this irresponsible, hateful nonsense.

Posted by: Lis on March 2, 2010 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

"...they spend almost all of it."

Almost? Jesus, when I was on unemployment I had to spend all of it, plus my savings, to keep my head above water. It came up to less than 50% of my take-home previously, my wife is physically disabled (yeah, go ahead and try getting insurance with that), I have two tween kids, and a mortgage. Only the car is fully paid-for. I scrambled every week looking for work, did a few part-time gigs and contracts, before landing someplace that is itself desperately trying to get its head above water.

I'm one of the best damn developer-generalists in the business, and I had trouble finding work in one of the geekiest cities in the US. The recession is hard, and the Republicans aren't helping.

Posted by: Elf M. Sternberg on March 2, 2010 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

When I was laid off a few years ago and received unemployment benefits, I was required to show evidence I was looking for work. So, even with a Master's, I applied for every job opening I could find. I gave up my apartment and lived in the finished basement of a kind friend. I went from $45,000 a year to about less than $25,000, and that was for only 26 weeks. After four months, I went back to school and worked full-time in a third shift job at a photocopy center. At age 37. I was single and able to make those changes. Don't know what I would have done with a family to support, or if I had been 57.

Senator Kyl doesn't know what he is talking about. I'm finding that's true for lots of our elected officials on both sides of the aisle.

Posted by: jpeckjr on March 2, 2010 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

ARGHHHGHGH. Do any of these mofo's even know that unemployment compensation provides 60% of previous earnings (with a cap if you make over a certain amount) and that generally being on unemployment is a financial hardship for the vast majority of people? It would be interesting to see someone figure out how much a congresscritter like Kyl (or Bunning!) would get if he lost his job and got unemployment benefits-- I bet the amount would wake them up a little.

I really hope the GOP starts referring to everyone on long-term unemployement benefits as "welfare queens," at least that way they'll let us know how they really feel, that the unemployed are just lazy bastards and the rich people at the top who got us into this mess are just regular American heroes who don't deserve any punishment whatsoever for breaking the economy. But the workers? Fuck them. The GOP hates the poor but try to demonize the dems for hating the rich who screw over the poor. And they have the nerve to think of themselves as we-love-Jesus-more-than-you-do party.

C'mon dems, you got to start using this stuff against them-- play offense for once. This is some pretty low-hanging fruit, it's practically on the ground.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on March 2, 2010 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Tax breaks for rich businessmen don't create new economic activity. In fact, if anything, continuing to give rich businessmen tax breaks is a disincentive for them to seek new business.

Now that is an argument I'd LOVE to see get a lot more traction and be represented somewhere, by anyone, in the MSM. However, it's another place the dems have given up on pushing back-- big tax cuts for coroporations DO NOT CREATE JOBS, it just creates bigger profit margins for corporations.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on March 2, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

The slip of these neo-feudalists is showing.

It's amazing that with Democrats in control of the House, the Senate, and the White House, there isn't a concerted, organized messaging machine with which to fight Republicans and their lies and obfuscations.

Instead, this rarest of rare opportunities will go down the drain, with future laments about what we should have done when we had such control. But we now know who is really in control, with votes and voting mere window dressing covering the power of the oligarchs.

Posted by: terraformer on March 2, 2010 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

God, you people are freakin' DENSE. This is a long-term strategy by Republicans to make all entitlement programs look like handouts. Make people on the federal dole look like bums. And who wants to pay bums? Their long term goal is obviously to kill as many of these as they can once they get back in power.

Posted by: bongothebulldog on March 2, 2010 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

That's got to top the list right there! You apply for the job 400 other people have applied for, you're surviving on unemployment benefits that you've paid into since way back when, somebody else gets the job and then? Your Congressional Representative just called you a hobo! Oh yeah, that takes the fucking cake right there!

Posted by: Troll-op on March 2, 2010 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Unemployment insurance "doesn't create new jobs.

oh really! people having money to spend doesn't keep factories and other economic activity going? I must have been mistaken that people spending money is what makes an economy based on consumption go. I guess spending only stimulates economic activity when the rich spend money, not when the poor and unemployed spend money.

Posted by: gak on March 2, 2010 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

I expect to see more Republicans following Bunning's lead on this. Remember, if you're a Republican, no other Republican is EVER wrong about anything.

Conservatives have a rich history of demonizing the unemployed, whether it's a single mother with no access to childcare or a laid-off autoworker whining for money to keep the electricity on. Their assumption is that if you don't have a job it's because you don't want to work.

In the coming years, look for Republicans to invent a way to privatize unemployment benefits so that a single mother won't receive a government check. Instead, she'll go to an Unemployment Marketplace, built and run by Bechtel, where she'll have $100/week in "credit" which will get her $80 worth of goods. She will have promised to pay the government back at 21% interest once she is employed again. Meanwhile, the government will send Bechtel $300/week per person.

Mark. My. Words.

Posted by: chrenson on March 2, 2010 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

What is particularly infuriating about this nasty episode of Rethuglican reaction is how they can still lay claim to being populist. Those on unemployment benefits are the recently laid off, the people who had jobs, were working, and were supporting their families. Unemployment benefits don't go to those who have dropped out of the work force and are no longer looking for work. Moreover, the benefits barely keep people going. You can't live a middle-class lifestyle, mortgage, car payments, tuition, vacations, on unemployment. I don't see how the awful rhetoric on the right, attempting to convert those who have lost their jobs because of the criminals on greedy Wall Street into welfare queens, will have any resonance with the real victims of the economic meltdown.

On the other hand, many of these same victims have been voting against their own best economic interests now for many election cycles. I've never understood that, and I still don't.

Posted by: rRRk1 on March 2, 2010 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Based on Kyl's logic, how many available jobs are going unfilled because noone will take them?

Posted by: Eric Riback on March 2, 2010 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Kyl's arrogant attitude is exactly like the British attitude toward the Irish during the Potato Famine of 1845-49. Any relief of any kind would undermine the "Irish willingness to work." So they let the Irish starve, earning the British ruling class undying enmity of the Irish.

If you want to know where Kyl's -- and all "conservatives" -- arrogance comes from, read "The Great Hunger" by Cecil Woodham-Smith. Ah yes, our Republicans -- some of the finest 19th century minds practicing politics today.

Posted by: Russell Aboard M/V Sunshine on March 2, 2010 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans only represent the business class, period.
Posted by: Paul

perhaps, but then someone should tell them that unemployment benefits are good for business too. as noted in steve's post, people receiving unemployment spend their money; the economy would be in much worse shape without that boost.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on March 2, 2010 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Not to worry. Once the GOP are back in control, they'll pass more tax cuts, and that will help out the unemployed because they'll be able to keep more of their income.

Hmm. Something seems dreadfully wrong with that logic...

Posted by: josef on March 2, 2010 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

"someone should tell them that unemployment benefits are good for business too."
Posted by: mudwall jackson on March 2, 2010 at 3:47 PM

This is something that never fails to boggle the mind.
That middle- and working-class Americans can be made to vote against their own economic interest is unsurprising. The Publicans and their corporate masters own the media, and ensure a non-stop stream of lies upon which most voters base their decisions. And the Democrats have, for too long and in too many ways, abandoned these same voters, leaving them to the tender mercies of the marketplace (see: Clinton, Bill, & NAFTA; Nelson, Lincoln, Baucus, LIEberman, et al, & HCR; and Biden, Joe, & Bankruptcy "reform;" etcetc), and thus providing no rational voting alternative.
But one might expect the management class, at least, to recognize that they do better under Democratic economic policies than they do under Publicans. The only ones who make out are the ownership class, which account for well under 5% of the populace.
I don't know how much of this maladaptive behavior to attribute to shortsightedness; how much to the same tribal hatreds that motivate so many of the working- and middle-class voters (who seem happy to live lives of privation, as long as the people of color wind up even worse off); and how much to the foolish belief on the part of most of the managers that they will eventually become owners.
I suspect that much, if not most, if not all, of it can be at least partly explained by the famous survey in [I think it was] the late 90s [tho it might have been in 2000-01, during the arguments over the Bush tax cuts for the rich], in which 19% of Americans thought they were in the top 1% financially.
I wonder -- is the rest of the world subject to this same delusion, or is this a uniquely American malady?
There's a good doctoral dissertation waiting out there for someone...

Posted by: smartalek on March 3, 2010 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK
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