Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 17, 2010

THEY DON'T LIKE WHAT THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND.... I'd have far more respect for Republican opposition to unemployment benefits if Republicans demonstrated a better understanding of the policy itself.

I don't just mean confusion over the economic benefits, either. The evidence is overwhelming that jobless aid is very stimulative, a notion many on the right simply choose to ignore.

But that's more a reflection of Republican confusion about economics. The real problem is with their failure to understand basic elements of the policy itself. Here was Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) last night on Fox News, complaining about the provisions of the tax deal that extended unemployment insurance benefits.

"I would prefer the insurance to be paid for, naturally. They weren't going to pay for it. Let's be honest about it -- the Democrats have always won on unemployment insurance. It is well over 100 weeks now. There is no question people are suffering. I don't want them to suffer.

"On the other hand, we also know there are people who could be working who won't work because they've got unemployment insurance and they keep -- don't go out and start looking, especially jobs that might not be as good as what they had before. So these are all things that had to be worked out."

This from the guy who wants to impose drug tests on those who've lost their jobs.

Note that Hatch believes unemployment aid is now "well over 100 weeks." That's patently false, and suggests Hatch went on national television to rail against a policy -- one that's been debated for months -- without an understanding of the basics.

But what's frustrating is how routine these errors are. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) recently blasted an extension, saying the benefits are intended to help those "who have been collecting unemployment benefits for 99 weeks." But that's not even close to being true. Similarly, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said an extension would add 13 weeks to a 99-week limit, which isn't the policy at all. Huffington reported recently that other Republicans have struggled with the difference between extending benefits and reauthorizing benefits.

It's one thing to have a debate with someone on the right, and run into ideological differences. But one can't even get to the debate if one side struggles to understand the introductory details of the subject at hand.

Is it too much to ask that Republican lawmakers, responsible for helping shape federal policy, do a little homework?

Steve Benen 12:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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Homework is something people do to get smarter.


Posted by: slappy magoo on December 17, 2010 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

We don't need no book learnin'.

Posted by: Holmes on December 17, 2010 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Is it too much to ask that Republican lawmakers, responsible for helping shape federal policy, do a little homework?


Posted by: foosion on December 17, 2010 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Is it too much to ask that Republican lawmakers, responsible for helping shape federal policy, do a little homework?

Republicans aren't responsible for shaping federal policy. Their wealthy supporters want them to muck things up and make things worse off for anyone who's not rich or sucking up to the rich.

Perhaps you could try and understand that?

Can you please get a clue? and when you do, please tell the other Village Dems?

Reading this blog sometimes makes me think of old English gentry sitting about debating while drinking tea and eating crumpets.

Posted by: Observer on December 17, 2010 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

And Republicans understand nothing, so they hate everything. They are so pathetic.

Maybe this "they learn nothing and they forget nothing" attitude explains why the center of the front page of the WSJ was devoted to a Bourbon restoration [the French identified Henrie IV head and buried it with his body]. Republicans obviously identify with Bourbons.

Posted by: OKDem on December 17, 2010 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

They know. They know it will help. That's why they are against it.

Can you name one thing the Republicans have done for the good of this country in 15 years.

I can't.

Posted by: shark on December 17, 2010 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Is it too much to ask that Republican lawmakers, responsible for helping shape federal policy, do a little homework?

It wouldn't be, if their ignorance was real and not feigned.

What's happening is the Goopers know their principled ideological position (those out of work deserve their predicament, due to laziness or overly high expectations for wages and/or working conditions, so fuck 'em) is unpalatable to most of the electorate, so to make said position appear to be about something else they have to stick to their obfuscatory talking points. Hence the feigned ignorance.

Posted by: Chet on December 17, 2010 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to know exactly WHY an unemployed person shouldn't have to take a drug test to qualify for it.

Posted by: JEA on December 17, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Wait just a minute, here. Don't make this partisan when they're all that dumb.

Before UI benefits ran out in March for the 99ers, I called about a dozen Dems' Congressional offices to ask what they were doing to extend benefits.

Every single one responded, "We just did that."

No, I explained, all that did was fund the benefits already in place. There were no additional benefits added. They told me I "must be wrong." Then they told me there was "no political will" for adding new benefits because they hadn't been hit with calls and letters about it.

I said, "If YOU were under the impression this vote extended new benefits, and your office was voting on it, did it occur to you that the ordinary voters were also under the same impression? That they didn't call or write because they thought it was already approved?

"And just as an aside, since when did Democrats have to be forced to take care of the unemployed in a major recession, anyway?"

Posted by: Susie Madrak on December 17, 2010 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

By propogating a meme, the intent is to confuse the populace into turning against a program that helps their fellow man.

They know exactly what they're saying. It's SOP for the republicans.

Posted by: jhill on December 17, 2010 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "Is it too much to ask that Republican lawmakers, responsible for helping shape federal policy, do a little homework?"


Only a couple of hours ago, Steve Benen posted an article in which he forthrightly and unambiguously denounced the Republicans for "repeating the same lie over and over again, practically in unison".

And now here he is, back with his tired and tiresome lament that the Republicans just "don't understand the policy" and "haven't done their homework".

Steve, the Republicans have studiously done their "homework" -- which was simply to memorize the deliberate lies that they are to repeat over and over again, in unison.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 17, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

JEA, I would also like to see people prove they can read and write before they are allowed to vote. Don't you agree.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 17, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

At this late date we're still pretending that these are mistakes, not lies?

Posted by: The Fool on December 17, 2010 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

This utter ignorance, whether feigned or for real, provides an opening for a principled and intelligent Democrat with the spine / heart / guts to apply it:

Stupid, heartless Publican (apologies for the repetitive redundancy): This massive, unpaid-for giveaway [waves sheaf of papers before teevee cameras] will keep giving taxpayer-funded financial support to certain people's decisions to remain non-working for more than 99 weeks!

Intelligent Dem w/ spine: So if we don't pay people for being out of work for over 99 weeks, you have no problem?

ShP(dimly suspicious, but uncertain as to what to be suspicious of): Um, er...

IDw/s: Your problem, as I understand it, is you don't wish to support the laziness and irresponsibility of people leeching off their more productive neighbors for more than 99 weeks. Is that correct?

ShP (unable to resist spirit of Ayn Rand): Damn skippy!

IDw/s: Done and done! [takes sheaf of papers of different color w/same plan, proffers them to Publican pinhead] Here is a whole new plan that will now meet with your approval. Not only does this plan not pay for one single unemployed person to receive any more than 99 weeks of unearned taxpayer support, it cuts them off well short of same. The most that this particular bill will provide is 73 weeks -- and even that happens in only some states!

ShP: Well all right then!

Course, the only problem is finding any intelligent Democrats w/ the requisite spine / heart / guts.
I seem to recall we used to know of some, but to be perfectly honest I haven't seen any signs of them in a while. I know that Mr Wellstone and Mr Kennedy (may they rest in peace) are no longer with us, and that Mr Grayson lost his re-election bid (though he is still in office now, yes?). But I thought we had more than just those few? (Perhaps they've gone south for the winter?)
Anyone out there know of any?

Posted by: smartalek on December 17, 2010 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

900 billion stacked onto the deficit is not "stimulative" in the long term, regardless of whose flag you're flying.

All of my hopes are on the Senator from New Mexico now. This current state of stupidity is torturing my fragile little mind!

Posted by: Trollop on December 17, 2010 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

This is what drives me the furthest up the wall about our current crop of politicians and pundits: the fact that I have a better understanding of the issues they're paid to wrestle with, even though I have a completely different day job, and this IS their day job.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on December 17, 2010 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Agressively. Willful. Feined. Ignorance.

Those holding the strings are never confused. If their puppets are, well, that works for them.

Posted by: Letitia on December 17, 2010 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

On the contrary, they understand perfectly the benefits of unemployment insurance. They are opposed on moral grounds to any program that offers a shred of benefit to ordinary Americans. They are opposed on moral grounds to any expression of the idea that ordinary Americans are entitled to consideration of any kind from the aristocracy - and let's face it, we do have an aristocracy in all but name.

They speak of government programs as failures, but make no mistake: They have targeted these programs not because they think they have failed, but because they know that they have worked.

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on December 17, 2010 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

"This from the guy who wants to impose drug tests on those who've lost their jobs"
I'll go for that if they administer a mental competency test for all Senators and Representatives. If you pass that , you get an 8th grade civics test. Should dwindle the ranks pretty quick.

Posted by: John R on December 17, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe it's time Hatch and his cohorts start looking for a real job doing honest work!

Oh, dang, they have no marketable skills in a highly stagnant employment market. They'd probably end up for 99 months on unemployment.

Not so lucky for them, if they dared to get the real job doing honest work, their former employer probably wouldn't qualify them for benefits since it refused to pay into the system while they were employed making all the decisions!

Oh, the irony! What Fucktards! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on December 17, 2010 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

They all appear to be graduates of the Emily Litella school of debate.

Posted by: thebewilderness on December 17, 2010 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'm as conservative as they come. If Ayn Rand and Ted Nugent had a kid, I would kick that kids butt,....at conservatism.

When I was on UI about 15 years ago, it was nearly my regular pay! I did look at it as a vacation. I got it for the full 26 weeks allowed and only really started looking for a job when it was about to run out. But, there were jobs around back then. Does that make me a hippocrite? or a human being?

Posted by: fred on December 17, 2010 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

No, it makes you an idiot. UI is at best 60% of weekly earnings. And the average benefit is less than that.

Posted by: jeri on December 17, 2010 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

It's simple really. If Republicans WERE to do their homework and really understand how these law operate, then they'd have no recourse but to deliberately lie.
By maintaining their complete ignorance they are able to soothe their consciences, if any, by saying that they just didn't know. But God knows.
And I'm taking names...

Posted by: Doug on December 17, 2010 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

Susie Medrak is correct: Many people are confused about what exactly "unemployment extension" means, period.

Unfortunately that phrase has been used interchangeably when providing additional funding to enable people to obtain the maximum available weeks currently available, and for adding additional weeks to the maximum available.

This is a terrible communications problem with devastating consequences to the unemployed.

It's nothing to laugh at.

Posted by: jerseycityjoan on December 18, 2010 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK



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