Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 29, 2010

THE 'LET THEM EAT WANT ADS' CAUCUS.... Some GOP officials continue to push the line that both parties support expanded unemployment benefits; they just differ on how (and whether) to pay for them. As the argument goes, Dems see jobless aid as an emergency, while Republicans didn't want the costs added to the deficit. But don't worry -- everyone just loves to look out for the unemployed.

This really is nonsense. Greg Sargent has labeled the conservative Republicans with ideological opposition to jobless aid as the "Let Them Eat Want Ads" Caucus, and it's a contingent that keeps growing.

Here's Oregon congressional candidate Scott Bruun (R), explaining why he would have voted against the extension:

"When we're talking up over close to two years and longer with jobless benefits, I think we really start talking about a European style system and all the problems that that sort of system brings if you try to bring that sort of system to the United States."

I don't know what that means, exactly, but Brunn went on to say unemployment benefits may be "encouraging people to stay out of the workplace longer."

This comes the same day as Delaware congressional candidate Michele Rollins (R) insisting that helping struggling families get by after a job loss encourages the unemployed to "do nothing for a very long time."

I'm probably missing some, but it seems like the "Let Them Eat Want Ads" Caucus is getting to be pretty big. Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) dismissed jobless aid as money that offers "a disincentive" to getting a job, a sentiment endorsed by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and Sen. Richard Burr (R).

Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) compared the unemployed to "hobos"; Nevada's Sharron Angle blasted the unemployed as "spoiled"; Wisconsin's Ron Johnson said those without jobs won't look until their benefits run out; Pennsylvania's Tom Corbett said the unemployed choose not to work because of the benefits; and Kentucky's Rand Paul thinks it's time to cut off aid, whether it's paid for or not, because, "In Europe, they give about a year of unemployment. We're up to two years now in America."

GOP media personality Ben Stein went so far as to characterize those out of work as having "poor work habits and poor personalities."

The moral of the story seems to be that conservative Republicans just don't seem to like the unemployed. If every American who's had to rely on jobless benefits since the start of the recession was poised to vote in November, the GOP would be in a bit of panic right now.

Steve Benen 3:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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... which is why Doocy is saying that those who do not pay taxes should not be allowed to vote. Wouldn't that be convenient, if only those who weren't affected by the economic downturn got to choose the members of the US government!

Posted by: freeproton on July 29, 2010 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Every day, the Rs clearly show their hatred for everyone not rich and white.

Can the Ds play this game, or will they keep flailing?

Posted by: yet on July 29, 2010 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

It's pretty obvious that none of these idiots have ever been on unemployment. At best, with maximum benefits, you'd be getting less that one-third (1/3) of your average monthly salary. In most cases, that's not even enough to pay or mortgage/rent, let alone groceries, transportation to/from job interviews (if you're lucky enough to get one, that is), utilities, etc. Frankly, unless you have a nest egg to help you through the tough times, if you wind up on unemployment you're only a couple of checks away from being out on the streets.

Posted by: Michael W on July 29, 2010 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Things are getting ugly. We have people floating the idea of only letting people who pay taxes vote. We have Lindsey Graham's constitutional amendment denying citizenship to children of immigents born in the US. Finally, we have a growing number of Republicans blaming American workers because their jobs have gone away and aren't coming back. What's next, are we going to turn into India with some sort of cast system? Are we going to deny high school educations to the children of the poor ala Mexico?

This splitting American against American shit has to end. We are all in this together. This unAmerican effort to divide Americans madness will lead to violence. I don't give a flying fudge what some Australian tells his Fox News flunikes to say.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 29, 2010 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Sing it, Michael W. There is nothing about UC that makes it better than working. The benefits themselves are not enough and then you have no health care. It's not some sort of lazy nirvana.

Posted by: Personal Failure on July 29, 2010 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

The end game is to shame or disenfranchise the unemployed to find jobs in much lower paying positions than those they lost. It is true that at the beginning of unemployment, one hopes to find a comparable job to the one lost and the tendency is to wait for the just right job.

It is also why the R's are forcing the illegal workers out of the country, to make room for US workers to hit those low-paying, high risk, no benefit jobs. They are pitting the unemployed against the poor. The long-term unemployed are shoving the poor, the uneducated and the young out of the workforce entirely. The longer the young stay out of the middle class, the harder it is to make up those lost career/wage building years. This makes for a great short-term and long-term strategy to break the American workforce. It is war on the middle class.

The whole comparison to Europe is bogus. They just want to wave the red flag of socialism in front of the low information voters' faces in order to distract them from what is really going on. Shout European socialism, illegal aliens, whites are disadvantaged because of "quotas" etc. That baits people into voting against their own economic interests.

Posted by: Always Hopeful on July 29, 2010 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Heh, don't get me started, Personal Failure. I was unemployed for almost a year, my unemployment covered my COBRA coverage and not much else. If it hadn't been for our little nest egg and hubby's income, we'd've been up shit creek without a paddle.

Posted by: Michael W on July 29, 2010 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Also, I'm extemely over-qualified for my current job, and making less than half of what I normally make in my chosen profession.

Posted by: Michael W on July 29, 2010 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

I'm all in favor of paying unemployment benefits without adding to the deficit. And with a defense budget that approximates the rest of the developed world combined, that shouldn't be a problem.

Posted by: beep52 on July 29, 2010 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

i'm with beep52 on that one. next time the repugnicans whine about paying for the next jobs bill or whatever, simply say, "fine, let's take it out of defense"........end of problem.

oh. right.

Posted by: just bill on July 29, 2010 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

1/3 as much??? Please. IF you live in a reasonable state you get $2000 a month for top earners and out of that you have to pay $1000 for COBRA benefits. So what I'm left with is 1/10th my 'regular' salary. Yeah I wanna sit around on the government dole for two years while my skills erode and I lose my house and retirement. These people do not use the brains God gave them. At best they are just stupid; at worse they don't care who they destroy to stay (or get in) the country club we call Congress.

Posted by: SYSPROG on July 29, 2010 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Just to play devils advocate, why do we have any time limit on unemployment benefits ever? Isn't it because there is in fact a disincentive to getting back to work entailed in getting unemployment benefits? And because it costs a lot?

I recognize that the economic circumstances we are in are dire and that there aren't jobs available meaning that extending benefits makes sense. But as a general matter I don't think the right's position on this is really all that absurd. indeed, if you don't think unemployment benefits are a disincentive to working, then why don't we always make them available forever? after all we seem to be saying that the cost is "worth it" because unemployment is such a damaging and horrible experience.

Posted by: Liberal Chris on July 29, 2010 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Here you go Liberal Chris:

Unemployment insurance is a federal-state program jointly financed through federal and state employer payroll taxes (federal and state UI taxes).[18] Generally, employers must pay both state and federal unemployment taxes if:

(1) they pay wages to employees totaling $1,500 or more in any quarter of a calendar year; or,[18]
(2) they had at least one employee during any day of a week during 20 weeks in a calendar year, regardless of whether the weeks were consecutive. However, some state laws differ from the federal law.[18]
To facilitate this program, the U.S. Congress passed the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), which authorizes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to collect an annual federal employer tax used to fund state workforce agencies. FUTA covers the costs of administering the Unemployment Insurance and Job Service programs in all states. In addition, FUTA pays one-half of the cost of extended unemployment benefits (during periods of high unemployment) and provides for a fund from which states may borrow, if necessary, to pay benefits.

Posted by: sysprog on July 29, 2010 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Let me just say...I'm ALL IN FAVOR of a "European-style system."

It'd make life a whole lot better for ALL of us.

If there were a Hell, the entire professional membership of the GOP would be going there..down in one of the lower circles, reserved for thieves and murderers and traitors..

Unemployment kills, without a doubt. And this country of ours, right now, where employers are working their employees to exhaustion most days, just because they can, is increasingly a place no sane human would want to live.

Posted by: LL on July 29, 2010 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised the Republicans haven't tried to privatise unemployment insurance and get the health insurance industry to manage it. No one would get benefits.

Posted by: Dale on July 29, 2010 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you, commenters. This is the only place I've seen that mentions insurance. I was beginning to think the unemployment issue lived in an alternate universe, where UIB is just UB. We hear about unemployment and benefits, but UIB stands for Unemployment INSURANCE Benefit. We all pay into the pool through payroll taxes while we are working, so UIB is not welfare, it's insurance.

Is there an enzyme lacking in the Republican brain that sees poverty only through a shiftless-druggie-dependence lens? And why don't Democratic politicians and commentators hold the Repugs to account for conflating unemployment and welfare?

Jeez, I may not live long enough to see liberal leaders stand up to conservative memes and set our own agenda in our own terms. We don't live forever. Get cracking!

Posted by: Brownell on July 29, 2010 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

In a sane world, we would be concerned that our highly trained and productive work force is shedding decent jobs at an enormous rate. But, no, we have the Republicans philosophy that our economy would recover if only more people would work at McDonald's. There actually was someone from Harvard on Talk of the Nation recently (tenured, no doubt) spouting that garbage. There's a lot of talk about losing blood and treasure in our useless wars; how about the loss of human capital as corporations cut their work forces and production and increase their profits? Michael Lind has it right: the middle class has become irrelevant to the corporate titans and bankers of the world.

Posted by: ceilidth on July 29, 2010 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

at this point, assuming we do not want people starving in the streets because of the Bush Recession, I would think even the Republicans might appreciate a little European Style government.

of that's right. republicans would rather starve than accept any government help for anything,

I assure you they would.


no government financing, loans, jobs, contracts, employment assistance ever

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on July 29, 2010 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Where are the Republicans with all the jobs to offer the slack-jawed, lazy unemployed? With their attitude, they probably don't consider anyone without a job as employable: see Ben Stein. You would think they would be conducting job fairs every day and demanding those receiving UIB to attend as a condition of receiving their benefits. Why has no one mentioned this fact: the people most against the extension of UIB seem to be the very ones who would be the employers. The industrialists, manufacturers, retailers who are the captains of industry and in the best position to reduce unemployment, yet they are the very ones laying off employees to save money and keep their profits high. At some point, lack of customers will lead to lack of revenue, and no amount of laying off will return these businesses to profitability. What happens when the stock becomes valueless because there just isn't any more profit to share?

It is the most basic economics and no one seems to get it.

Posted by: st john on July 29, 2010 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

That's the Republican position on every issue. Republicans used the same lame tactics with healthcare, immigration, energy, education, banking reform, and so on and so on. They offered no alternative plan (as promised), claimed the timing was wrong, the bill was too long to read, and it was not a key issue. Instead of focusing on the issue at hand, they told lies to conjure up fear, anger, and hate to demonize the administration and healthcare reform: Obamacare is un-American; it's socialized medicine, costs too much, rations care, cuts Medicare, pays for abortion, creates death panels and is unconstitutional; it's the illegals who are pushing up the costs of our healthcare, and besides, anyone who is critically ill can go to an emergency room and receive the best healthcare in the world! Now the long-term unemployed are "lazy," "disaffected" workers. Nonsense!

Posted by: Carol A on July 29, 2010 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans do know, don't they, that the unemployed still have the right to vote? And just might have a bit of free time on election day to exercise that right?
Between job interviews, of course...

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

Izzo vs. Rollins (Delaware Primary Sep. 14, 2010)

Rose Izzo is a fiscal conservative running against Rollins for Mike Castles old seat. Please visit: www.RoseIzzoForCongress.com

Posted by: Team Izzo on July 29, 2010 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

"It's pretty obvious that none of these idiots have ever been on unemployment. At best, with maximum benefits, you'd be getting less that one-third (1/3) of your average monthly salary. In most cases, that's not even enough to pay or mortgage/rent, let alone groceries, transportation to/from job interviews (if you're lucky enough to get one, that is), utilities, etc. Frankly, unless you have a nest egg to help you through the tough times, if you wind up on unemployment you're only a couple of checks away from being out on the streets." - Michael W.

Amen, Bro. And also to what Sysprog posted.

Ads need to aired that expose the priveliged lives of these republicans. I will bet that 99% of them were born to wealthy families, were sent to elite schools and could afford to have Daddy and Mommy bail them out whenever they fucked up.

Class Warfare? Damn right, because that's what we're in right now. As the saying goes, "I don't start fights, but I sure as hell will finish them."

These assholes want to call the unemployed lazy? Well, let's expose them as the elite, priveliged whiners they truly are.

Posted by: bdop4 on July 29, 2010 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

Finally, we have a growing number of Republicans blaming American workers because their jobs have gone away and aren't coming back. What's next, are we going to turn into India with some sort of cast system?

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 29, 2010 at 4:10 PM

You said it. Amazing how so many of these Republican sons of bitches conveniently forget that a huge majority of American worker's jobs went away as a direct result of their reckless, disastrous economic mismanagement and greed. And yes, they'd be perfectly happy with a caste system, with them at the top in luxury and the other 99% of Americans living like characters out of Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

Posted by: electrolite on July 29, 2010 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

Do not misunderstand what is going on here: Fear, uncertainty, resentment. The anti-unemployment insurance meme is an attempt to feed into resentment. It is not this specific issue that counts -- it is how it ties into the emotion.

Don't lose sight of the real objectives: raising the emotions of fear, uncertainty, and resentment. Resentment that the unemployed are living lazily off the taxpayer, that people who couldn't afford healthcare will now get some attention, or that unwed mothers voted for Obama in order to sponge off the system. Fear that we can't control government spending or that Social Security is "bankrupt." Uncertainty that the financial regulation bill or the healthcare bill has so many pages in it that you can't understand it, and it won't work.

It isn't enough to merely hit back on facts. Yes, the Democrats reduced long-term spending and Yes, you need a health insurance mandate so we ALL pay LESS for EVERYBODY. But these are only facts. They don't counteract emotions. You still have to connect them to the emotions.

Fear, uncertainty, resentment... As the Joker said, "It's all part of the plan!"

Posted by: Lee A. Arnold on July 30, 2010 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

Does anyone know how the Idaho state rep, who is a republican can get away with owing hudreds of thousands in income taxes, he decided to stop paying taxes in 1966, the ethics panel in that state says it's OK. He is in charge of taxes for the state.

Posted by: js on July 30, 2010 at 7:39 AM | PERMALINK



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