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Monday, October 24, 2016

Republicans’ opposition to social safety net programs is unpopular with average Americans — and they know it. But, every so often, GOP politicians just can’t keep their views about cutting unemployment benefits or gutting government programs that combat inequality to themselves.

From perceived moderates to the most radical right-wingers, it’s an issue that unites conservatives of every stripe.

Mitt Romney, for example, famously paid the price for his “47 percent” comments in the 2012 presidential election. Just last month, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) pushed the idea that extending unemployment benefits would hurt the unemployed and damage the economy. Paul too received intense criticism for his straightforward approach to tackling entitlement spending.

The latest example came on Tuesday, when House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) said that extending unemployment benefits would be “immoral.”

Sessions argued that an extension of unemployment benefits is an assault on the free market. “I believe it is immoral for this country to have as a policy extending long-term unemployment [benefits] to people rather than us working on creation of jobs,” Sessions said. “A job is the most important attribute, I believe, in a free enterprise system.”

So where does this position leave Sessions on the political spectrum?

He’s in good company in the GOP: A recent CBS poll shows that a significant majority of Republicans — 57 percent — believe that unemployment benefits make people less motivated to seek jobs. For Tea Party Republicans, this majority increases to a staggering 67 percent.

Sessions’ position finds him in direct conflict with a majority of registered voters, however. A recent Quinnipiac survey shows that 58 percent support extending benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Furthermore, the entire notion that social safety net programs encourage the unemployed to not seek work puts Sessions and other Republicans at odds with reality. A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco shows that unemployment benefits do not discourage people from taking jobs. On the contrary, the programs are, overall,  beneficial to the economy. “It did not reduce the job finding rate,” Henry Farber, co-author of the study, told the Huffington Post in May.

Farber further explained that unemployment benefits stimulate the economy: “These are people who spend the money you give them.”

But although the Republican position on the social safety net is unpopular with voters and void of any serious economic support, it still rears its ugly head every so often. And Republican lawmakers aren’t afraid to act on their rhetoric. On Thursday, a bill that would extend benefits for the long-term unemployed once again failed to gain enough Republican support to move forward through the Senate.

Even if the legislation somehow did pass the Senate, as congressmen like Pete Sessions have made it clear, it would face insurmountable obstacles in the House of Representatives.

It’s no surprise: for Republicans, it’s an issue of morality, not politics.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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  • Sand_Cat

    What on earth would the GOP know about morality, other than how to twist, corrupt, and exploit it?

    • Allan Richardson

      They have bragged, not confessed, about cheating on elections over and over. The latest brag is that they have become scam artists with fake copies of Democratic candidate web sites that take donations and funnel them to the RNCC. And yes, the BRAGGED about it as if it were a GOOD thing. And their talking points are lies, supported by lying statistics and false statements of history.

  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    He is like the guy who says “If there are no jobs in their area, they should move to where the jobs are.” So, I guess that means everyone who cannot find work should uproot their families from whatever stable environment they are in, load everyone on a Greyhound Bus and move someplace where they may or may not find a job that they are trained for.
    Does that mean they should move to China, Taiwan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand or anyplace else that American corporations have relocated the jobs to?

    • Dominick Vila

      They may be hiring in Bangladesh…

      • Sand_Cat

        Before long, you’ll have to supply your own chain to attach you to your workstation and the locks on the doors and windows of the factory in Bangladesh. Must make the GOP and our “job creators” sick with envy.

    • ProudACLU

      not at all – they want US wages to fall to the levels of the oversea’s companies so we can be “competitive” in the global economy.

    • dpaano

      Discus…..but how are they to do that without any money? By taking away their unemployment money, they can’t afford to uproot their families to go elsewhere to find a job. It often means that the breadwinner has to physically leave his family behind and go to another state to get a job to support them. What does this do to family values, which the Republicans allegedly say they believe in? Amazing logic….or lack thereof!

      • Allan Richardson

        That was how so many families came to be abandoned in the 1930s during the Great Depression. Working men having to hop trains and become hobos to move from job to job. No wonder the shanty towns the hobos built were called Hoovertowns or Hoovervilles!

    • Jimmy Agler

      Let’s not overlook the weakest part of the “so move to where the jobs are argument”. That is, how in the world is someone who is in financial trouble supposed to PAY the costs of moving? Write your local GOP headquarters and tell them you would like to move to ______ in order to improve your financial outlook. In order to do that you need the funds to cover moving,a new place to live and expenses like food and utilities until the paychecks start coming in. See how much they spot you.

    • Mark Forsyth

      Of course.If people don’t have jobs,they don’t want them in the country anyway.

  • disqus_fsqeoY3FsG

    What is immoral Sessions is you and your fellow GOP leaders using God to further your own political ambitions and that of your party.

  • Dominick Vila

    Unfortunately, these members of the Immoral Minority are likely to be re-elected by a majority of idiots.

    • Sand_Cat

      Do I detect a hint of growing frustration?

    • Mark Forsyth

      Lets hope instead that we will outnumber them at the polls

  • johninPCFL

    How is it that the pushback on these idiots doesn’t center on the fact that to draw unemployment compensation you have to be ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR WORK? That to draw unemployment compensation, your previous employer PAID INTO A FUND to cover this cost?

    • Dominick Vila

      As I am sure you already know, most of the positions taken by the GOP have a lot more to do with pleasing their constituents and scoring political points, than reality. Sadly, they often succeed as a result of a large segment of our electorate not being familiar with issues such as this, and they always manage to get away with their Uncle Sugar claims. A complicit media does the rest…

  • latebloomingrandma

    If Republicans really believe in the free enterprise system, they would not grant subsidies to big industries and extremely profitable corporations. They should be on their own for profits and losses and investments..

    • dpaano

      Grandma….that would be TOO logical!!!

  • dpaano

    It’s truly sad that Republicans don’t understand that people that are unemployed need money to purchase gas to get to interviews, money to have resumes printed, money to buy clothes for interviews, money to pay for the internet so they can research open positions, etc. It’s TOTALLY ILLOGICAL for them to think that taking away unemployment insurance will help a person be more aggressive in finding a job!!! It just plain doesn’t make sense, but then again, when has a Republican EVER made sense! I don’t think they have a logical brain cell in their heads!! If they EVER did, it dropped to below the belt!

    • Bill

      What the GOP wants is a population willing to work at any job for any wages so their rich supporters can become richer, what they don’t understand is that once the 99% no longer have anything the rich will no longer be able to steal from them.

  • tobyspeeks

    Unemployment benefits do not hinder job searching. The lack of jobs due to Republicans and teabaggers still trying to keep Obama a one term president is what hinders job searches.

  • bstockinger

    I wasn’t aware that providing unemployment benefits to someone was immoral. As I understand it, helping someone out when they are in trouble is moral not immoral.
    I get very tired of politicians using morality to justify their actions. Most don’t seem to have much of a moral compass.

    • Independent1

      You got it!! Actually, Jesus said that if you know someone is in need and you have the wherewithall too help them and choose not too – doing nothing is an outright SIN!! But then again, when you’re a member of the Devil’s party, which commits one sin after another day in and day out, what’s adding one more sin to the list – you’re already heading in the wrong direction.

    • paganheart

      “As I understand it, helping someone out when they are in trouble is moral not immoral.” Correct. The problem with the GOP, and the Tea Party in particular, is that they think that telling unemployed people “Get off your lazy a$$ and go get a job you worthless bum!!!” is helpful.

  • Mark Forsyth

    So why have they waited so damn long to force their corporate fatcat supporters to create the jobs they are now claiming are so damn important?
    Answer: Because they are assholes.Perhaps we all should block their ability to continue living.

  • 4sanity4all

    The reason that the majority of voters are in favor of extending unemployment benefits is because they, or someone close to them, is collecting them, while looking for a good job. And the voters know that good jobs are not out there. I know so many college educated people who are now working from one to four jobs, frantically trying to earn enough to pay their bills. They keep applying for “good” jobs, but good jobs are elusive, and people working multiple low pay temporary jobs will probably not even qualify for unemployment compensation. Everyone who is presently in Congress now is wealthy; the number of millionaires among them is unprecedented. With money comes connections. I am certain that if any of their family members are seeking a job, they make a phone call, and a good job magically appears. And they smugly attribute that luck to being smarter, and working harder. I am so fed up with the people who make our laws being so absolutely out of touch with the reality that is our daily lives. And when they make their stupid comments about lazy people, they are insufferable. I am tempted to send a box of crowbars to the House of Representatives, so that certain Republicans can use them to extract their heads from their nether regions.

    • Independent1

      What you are pointing out is just one more example of a party (the GOP) that knows absolutely nothing about how to run a government. They don’t even understand the principle of a government stimulus spurring the economy, such that by having the government spend money to fix our country’s infrastructure, and repair many of its schools, and do a lot of other things that are in the American Jobs Act that Obama submitted about 3 years ago; which would not only create the jobs needed to repair so much of America’s eroding infrastructure and many other things; it would also get Americans into spending more money which would rev up the economy and give entrepreneurs the incentive to create more companies with better higher paying jobs. They don’t even have the insight to understand that it takes an active economy to encourage the private sector to invest and create new jobs.

      A stimulus such as that which would be created by the American Jobs Act, would lift all boats and create increased prosperity for everyone – including the 1 and 2 percenters. But their so blinded by their misguided efforts to do everything they can to steal from the American taxpayers in any ellicit way they can find, that they can’t see that they’re really working to cut their own throats by depriving the masses of the money they they’re hoping to keep on stealing.

  • wesley rasmussen

    OK. I am an independent, who, based on the last 2 presidential elections, votes admittedly heavily towards Democrat. In 2008, I lost my job as a merchant mariner ( Captain ) due to injuries received in a car accident ( kid ran a stop sign in front of me ).

    I did not recover within the time frame of short term disability, so I went to long term. After 2 years on that, I was forced into SSI. My income didn’t change; it just split between the insurance and SSI. It also qualified me for Medicare.

    My desire to go back to work was much stronger than my desire to retire early. I never completed signing up for Medicare, and got off of disability. That makes me an example of people who get on a pay system, but dono’t want to stay, and find their way off. What do the Tea Partiers have to say about that?

  • dana becker

    Let’s put them in the unemployment line so they can witness unemployment first hand.

    • Allan Richardson

      The will never get to the unemployment office. Lobbyists will be lining up at their election victory parties just in case they lose, to give them cushy lobbying jobs.