Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 20, 2010

REPUBLICANS JUST DON'T LIKE THE UNEMPLOYED, CONT'D.... Just yesterday, President Obama spoke on the importance of unemployment benefits, and the misguided Republican argument that jobless Americans choose to stay that way -- on purpose -- because they're receiving benefits.

"That attitude I think reflects a lack of faith in the American people, because the Americans I hear from in letters and meet in town hall meetings ... they're not looking for a handout," Obama said. "They desperately want to work. Just right now they can't find a job. These are honest, decent, hardworking folks who've fallen on hard times through no fault of their own, and who have nowhere else to turn except unemployment benefits and who need emergency relief to help them weather this economic storm."

But Republicans keep making the argument anyway. Sharron Angle, the extremist Senate candidate in Nevada, has already pushed this line, calling the unemployed "spoiled." Greg Sargent reports this afternoon on two more GOP Senate candidates making the same case. Here's Ron Johnson, the right-wing Republican taking on Russ Feingold in Wisconsin...

"When you continue to extend unemployment benefits, people really don't have the incentive to go take other jobs. They'll just wait the system out until their benefits run out, then they'll go out and take, probably not as high paying jobs as they'd like to take, but that's really how you have to get back to work."

...and here's Sen. Richard Burr (R), seeking a second term in North Carolina:

"The wrong thing to do is to automatically today extend unemployment for 12 months. I think that's a discouragement to individuals that are out there to actually go out and go through the interviews."

It's not just Senate candidates -- a couple of weeks ago, Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett (R), the frontrunner in this year's gubernatorial race, argued that jobless Americans choose not to work. "The jobs are there," Corbett said in a state facing unemployment levels at a 26-year high. "But if we keep extending unemployment, people are just going to sit there."

Look, if Republicans want to make the case that the deficit is more important than the plight of the unemployed, fine. It's a debate they'll lose, but at least it's something to talk about.

But this notion, pushed by Republicans for months, that jobless aid creates a disincentive for people to work, is misguided.

Yes, I can appreciate the fact that an unemployed worker who's exhausted his/her benefits will be more desperate to take any job than an unemployed worker who's still receiving public aid. But this dynamic matters a whole lot more when there are plenty of job opportunities for those who want them. That's just not the current reality -- we're in the midst of an employment crisis, and there are five applicants for every job opening.

For leading GOP officials and candidates to keep arguing that joblessness is something people choose shows a striking detachment from the lives of real people.

I don't know what the unemployed did to offend the Republican Party this much, but I can only hope the GOP gets over it.

Steve Benen 2:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (43)

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Comments

Too bad they're not lobbyists.

Posted by: Sad on July 20, 2010 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe some SMART GUY should point out to these assholes that unemployment maxes out around $1200 a month (last time I checked). Hardly enough to pay bills and survive if you've got a family. Sure, lots of minimum-wage jobs pay the same, but it's not like anyone's LIVING on that kind of money.

Posted by: Smart Guy on July 20, 2010 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Time for volunteers to start registering voters in as close a vicinity to unemployment office as allowable.

Posted by: Kathryn on July 20, 2010 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "I don't know what the unemployed did to offend the Republican Party this much ..."

Once they were no longer needed by the corporate oligarchy, the unemployed were supposed to die, and decrease the surplus population. Their failure to do so is quite annoying.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 20, 2010 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Once they were no longer needed by the corporate oligarchy, the unemployed were supposed to die, and decrease the surplus population. Their failure to do so is quite annoying."

I'm sure Goldman Sachs feels the same way...

Posted by: Summer Time on July 20, 2010 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

OK, I know they think they're going to get a big win in November.
And, they've already alienated black voters for decades, now Hispanic ones.
But why are they basically peeing on about 10-20% of the population? If you're out of work and you're going to vote for a Republican, you're even more foolish and stupid than most 'values' voters. Are there that many ignorant un-selfaware people out there? Maybe so. Or, do they think the unemplyed are all minorities?
Still, I don't get it.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on July 20, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Quote: 'I don't know what the unemployed did to offend the Republican Party this much, but I can only hope the GOP gets over it.'

It's obvious, if you grant these benefits, some of them will go to 'those people', the ones not like us real Amurricans.

Posted by: BillFromPA on July 20, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

"The wrong thing to do is to automatically today extend unemployment for 12 months. I think that's a discouragement to individuals that are out there to actually go out and go through the interviews."

They should also tell this idiot that people who receive unemployment compensation--at least any that I've ever known--have to prove that they are applying for jobs every week in order to receive the checks. If the state can prove that the recipients are not applying for jobs, the money is cut off.

Posted by: cr on July 20, 2010 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know what the unemployed did to offend the Republican Party this much, but I can only hope the GOP gets over it.

I don’t.

I just hope the Dems are getting this stuff on video, and they’re smart enough to use it in October.

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 20, 2010 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

He who does not work shall not eat.

Posted by: Vlad on July 20, 2010 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

"They should also tell this idiot that people who receive unemployment compensation--at least any that I've ever known--have to prove that they are applying for jobs every week in order to receive the checks. If the state can prove that the recipients are not applying for jobs, the money is cut off."

Unfortunately, attempts by Democrats to pass a law to end this have been total failures.

Posted by: Porridge on July 20, 2010 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

"I just hope the Dems are getting this stuff on video, and they’re smart enough to use it in October."

Good luck. Look how quickly Ms. Sherrod got thrown under the bus...

Posted by: Express on July 20, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

With the help of mainstream media, virtually all owned by global corporations that see these assets as being more valuable as propaganda centers than the old advertising supported content, THE MESSAGE THAT REPUGS HAVE FOR EVERYONE BUT THE TOP 1% IS "CATAPULTED" LOUD AND CLEAR

Posted by: lauraP on July 20, 2010 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

The WSJ editorial page this morning presents data that unemployment benefits tend to delay employment recovery. I am not inclined to believe the WSJ, so what are the actual data on this?

Posted by: jb on July 20, 2010 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

The republicans were never and will never be friends of the working class (whether employed or not). They have historically tried to hide that contempt but since the inmates have taken over the asylum, the hatred oozes out like shit from a leaky toilet. Their belief is that working for a living is for suckers and coloreds.

Posted by: tsquared on July 20, 2010 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

It's time for the voters to make certain that as many Republicans as possible become unemployed after the next election.

Let's see if they show up for their own jobless benefits in the waiting time between when they lose elections and when the lobbies snap them up.

Yours crankily,
The New York Crank

Posted by: The New York Crank on July 20, 2010 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

It's time for the voters to make certain that as many Republicans as possible become unemployed after the next election.

Let's see if they show up for their own jobless benefits in the waiting time between when they lose elections and when the lobbies snap them up.

Yours crankily,
The New York Crank

Posted by: The New York Crank on July 20, 2010 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know what the unemployed did to offend the Republican Party this much, but I can only hope the GOP gets over it.

Don't hold your breath.

Here's the basic equation:

Unemployed = lazy 'n' shif'less = probably black.

Therefore,

Unemployment benefits = my-hard-earned-money going to probably-black people.

I kinda don't think the Republicans are gonna get over that one for a while.

Posted by: bleh on July 20, 2010 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

With the help of mainstream media, virtually all owned by global corporations that see these assets as being more valuable as propaganda centers than the old advertising supported content, THE MESSAGE THAT REPUGS HAVE FOR EVERYONE BUT THE TOP 1% IS "CATAPULTED" LOUD AND CLEAR

True. But I am relieved that the Obama administration has been working to put a stop to this!

Posted by: Vlad on July 20, 2010 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Don't hold your breath.

Here's the basic equation:

Unemployed = lazy 'n' shif'less = probably black.

Therefore,

Unemployment benefits = my-hard-earned-money going to probably-black people.

I kinda don't think the Republicans are gonna get over that one for a while.
---

Sherrod is a perfect example...

Posted by: Hitten Runne on July 20, 2010 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

-here I go again: I've got a shiny, new quarter for any politician that actually KNOWS someone unemployed.

Posted by: DAY on July 20, 2010 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

This is just Phase 2 of conservatives' plan to punish 1) the irresponsible Americans who bought houses they couldn't afford, and 2) union workers who lost jobs because they just didn't work hard and long enough and give up enough frivolous benefits to hang on to them.

Posted by: Varecia on July 20, 2010 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

But Mitch just said, "everyone agrees" we should help the unemployed, the difference is that Repubs want to pay for it now instead of borrowing. Nevermind the losses from top level tax cuts ...

Posted by: Neil B. on July 20, 2010 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

I'm guessing Varecia is satire ... correct?

Because no one is really that stupid and still able to function ... are they?

Posted by: Mark D on July 20, 2010 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Now that Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) has consistently voted with Republicans to block consideration of an extension of UI benefits, and then voted against the bill itself, maybe you should change the title of these posts to "REPUBLICANS AND BEN NELSON JUST DON'T LIKE THE UNEMPLOYED, CONT'D...."

Posted by: Gary on July 20, 2010 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Only five applicants per job opening?

Posted by: Schtick on July 20, 2010 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

As with many republican policies I've been thinking it's not a bug, it's a feature. Remember back in the 90's when jobs were a buyer's market? Name your own price terrified the republicans. I think the point here is to maintain a downward pressure on wages. They want the unemployed to be desperate. As far as the republicans are concerned labor should be plentiful and cheap. It's good for business and therefore their base. Unfortunately not so good for the rest of us. After all how dare we hold out for a living wage. We should just take what we're offered. It's the arrogance of the "little people" that offends them so. We don't know our place. I don't see this ending well.

Posted by: lianne16 on July 20, 2010 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

"When you continue to extend unemployment benefits, people really don't have the incentive to go take other jobs.

Here, let me translate that for you...

"When you continue to extend unemployment benefits, people don't get desperate enough to work slave hours at slave wages, like we want them to."

See? It all becomes clear now...

Posted by: KarenJG on July 20, 2010 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

lianne16 beat me to it (or at least, types faster and didn't get a phone call in the middle of typing her post!), and said it better. Or at least, explained it more completely.

Posted by: KarenJG on July 20, 2010 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

I saw a posting using the U6 figures, the ones that include discouraged workers and those forced into part time work, that showed 19.5 people per job opening. The Dems should be using U6 in the campaigns.

Posted by: dalea on July 20, 2010 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK
After all how dare we hold out for a living wage.

Great post, and spot-on. There is a reason, after all, that the GOP decided to fight against organized labor instead of joining forces with it.

What's so ... typical of the GOP, however, is that they claim to love them some free market principles, yet they don't want that free market to apply to labor. They hate the thought of a true free market when it comes to wages -- one in which both sides negotiate from equal points of strength. Instead, they want to ensure that business has all the power, and all us little proles just take whatever is given to us with no complaint.

It's another example of stunning hypocrisy ... which, sadly, seems to be winning out nowadays.

**sigh**

I knew there was a reason I took a break from politics -- I get too pissed/depressed.

Posted by: Mark D on July 20, 2010 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

"The Dems should be using U6 in the campaigns."

Why would anyone in the WH want that brought up?

Posted by: Rahmmy on July 20, 2010 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Once they were no longer needed by the corporate oligarchy, the unemployed were supposed to die, and decrease the surplus population. Their failure to do so is quite annoying."

This also explains the Republican attitude toward disabled veterans, as well...they are no longer useful, so they become "surplus"...

- PonB

Posted by: PonB on July 20, 2010 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Please tell me that the offices of Sharron Angle, Ron Johnson, Richard Burr, and Tom Corbett have been FLOODED with resumes and job applications.

Posted by: josef on July 20, 2010 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

They are not going to get over it because it fits their political agenda, a failing economy.

Why are they not saying "we are extending benefits until we can get a jobs bill through that will create jobs for these unemployed workers"? Because they also will veto any jobs bill or any other legislation put forward by dems. They want dems to fail even at the expense of the nation. They personally are not suffering from this economy.

How about we lay off the senate until they get a jobs bill together. They are just lazy and aren't looking to put the nation back to work so why should we...their employers...pay them since they are not earning their keep. How dare they take vacations when the nation is in such peril.

WHO THE HELL DO THEY THINK THEY ARE? Just who do they think they work for? Obviously not the unemployed huh.

They need to get their priorities straight. We told them the economy first...then the deficit. But senate republicans demonstrate their complete ignorance on both.

The country they broke will not run right again until we eliminate them from our government. All they do is stand in the way of progress and protect the wealthy. No wonder we call them "publicons"...it's what the wealthy pay them to do...con the public...and turn them into Paliens.

Posted by: bjobotts on July 20, 2010 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

If there's a large number of unemployed people, then that's evidence that the free enterprise system doesn't work. Republicans can't stand that.

THAT's what the unemployed do to the Republicans -- prove their cherished theories don't work in practice.

Posted by: anniecat45 on July 20, 2010 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know what the unemployed did to offend the Republican Party this much

I do. They had jobs in the first place. People who do real work for a living are not to be trusted.

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on July 20, 2010 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

To most Americans, it isn't Republicans who blocked unemployment benefits, it is Congress. So Republicans realize that they can block unemployment benefits, claiming they just coddle the lazy, and Americans (who really are profoundly ignorant) will blame the Democrats.

I don't know why it works that way, but it does.

Posted by: PTate in MN on July 20, 2010 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

The point is that conservatives are hostile to the working class, and it's not just since the economic meltdown.

"I'm guessing Varecia is satire ... correct?

Because no one is really that stupid and still able to function ... are they?"
Posted by: Mark D

Posted by: Varecia on July 20, 2010 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

If there are so many jobs just looking for people to fill them, why don't those making those claims publish a list and actively recruit people to fill them? We are hearing that all these people receiving unemployment compensation are just sitting back waiting for their benefits to run out. In the meantime, there must be lots of companies that are short staffed and actively looking to fill those jobs/snark/. What I am hearing is that companies are short staffing to save money and maintain or increase their profits. Those who have jobs are working harder and longer, partly out of fear because there are so many available to work and for less.

Also, people on unemployment are more likely to curb their discretionary spending, thus reducing the need for more employees to produce goods and services. I've stated this theory many times, so you'll just have to use your imagination if you have not heard it before. It is real simple economics. Supply meets demand; when demand declines, the need for supply declines. Jobs are cut; people become unemployed. Unemployment benefits are cut; demand declines. Demand declines; unemployment increases. got it?

Posted by: st john on July 20, 2010 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

So unemployment...."is discouragement to individuals that are out there to actually go out and go throughthe interviews." Hah! An actual interview would be a luxury in this job market. As someone who has been unemployed since the end of 09 it used to be that someone would at least acknowledge that they received your resume. Today your resume seems to disappear into a black hole and your efforts are not even noted. Where are these jobs Republicans mention? Where are they interviewing?

Posted by: doyles on July 20, 2010 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Wasn't the "government handouts create disincentive to work" argument the same phony GOP argument trotted out to justify cutting welfare? If so, maybe it's long past time to publicly apologize to welfare recipients for swallowing the GOP philosophy of "too bad for you, you're on your own." Also, why hasn't somebody pointed out that it's long past time to cut off government handouts to big corporations, as they've proven a disincentive to invest in American workers?

Posted by: Peter on July 20, 2010 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

Well sure, there must be some generosity of benefits, at some fullness of employment, where some workers choose benefits over a job. But we are nowhere even remotely near that point today and to say otherwise is just plain stupid.

Posted by: FGS on July 21, 2010 at 3:43 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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