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January 08, 2014 9:07 AM Show Some Empathy For Those Bums!

By Ed Kilgore

Clearly, some Republican message-meisters are cringing at the impression some of their folks have left that they think the beneficiaries of extended unemployment insurance are freeloaders who ought to get up off their butts and get a job (you know, the jobs that are falling off trees like overripe fruit). And so, per WaPo’s Robert Costa, House GOPers have taken action to instruct the troops:

House Republican leaders sent a memo this week to the entire GOP conference with talking points designed to help rank-and-file Republicans show compassion for the unemployed and explain the Republican position on unemployment benefits. In the memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post, House Republicans are urged to be empathetic toward the unemployed and understand how unemployment is a “personal crisis” for individuals and families. The memo also asks Republicans to reiterate that the House will give “proper consideration” to an extension of long-term insurance as long as Democrats are willing to support spending or regulatory reforms.

The talking points dance around the blaming and shaming of the unemployed for their own plight, but does allow as how extended benefits “will lead to some workers reducing the intensity of their job search.” By the same logic, if the unemployed were denied food and water, it would increase the intensity of their job search, at least until they grew too weak to pound the pavements or fall on their knees before job-creators, from whom all blessing flow. But in any event, by the time listeners think through that logic, GOPers will already be talking about Obamacare as a job-killer. But to be sure, it’s not helpful when politicians let the mask slip and show their contempt for fellow-citizens as dispensable.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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