Maddow Highlights The Republicans' Disdain For The Unemployed

Rachel Maddow does an excellent job laying out just how badly Republicans hate the unemployed and she summed it up pretty nicely at the end of the seg
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Rachel Maddow does an excellent job laying out just how badly Republicans hate the unemployed and she summed it up pretty nicely at the end of the segment.

MADDOW: We've got the worst long-term unemployment since the Great Depression. This is going to have repercussions in our country and in our culture for generations. The political leadership we’re seeing on the right in response to that called the unemployed animals, drug test them, call them bums, say they're only out of jobs because they're lazy and want to be. Insult, insult, insult. To add real injury to all of that insult today every Republican in the Senate plus our friend Ben Nelson, blocked a vote on a bill to provide badly needed help to the long-term unemployed in this country.

And as a result, starting tomorrow, more than a million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits. This might sound like something you've heard before. This is the sort of thing that's been knocking around in and out of the headlines for months now. And it's true. It’s because Republicans have blocked extensions of unemployment benefits before. It’s kind of been a Republican hobbyhorse lately.

But in the past, the measure has always been saved at the last minute. That didn't happen this time. Senate Republicans and Ben Nelson really are cutting off the benefits for 1.2 million unemployed people and probably tossing at least some of them out on the street. And as an added bonus, they're giving up the opportunity to stimulate the economy in the most efficient way we know how. Ta da.

We'll see how they behave once they start hearing from their constituents now that the Republicans have actually followed through and stopped the benefits. I'm sure they're counting on as Debbie Stabenow noted voters blaming the party in power for their economic woes and hoping they benefit politically from this, which is truly disgusting. I hope they're wrong because although voters don't always pay a lot of attention to politics, they do tend to pay attention when something directly affects them, and this is going to affect a whole lot of people, both directly and indirectly. All of those people's friends and families are going to feel the brunt of this decision as well. Time will tell if this costs them at the voting booth. This is class warfare and the have-nots are losing it, badly.

Full transcript below the fold.

MADDOW: In 1935, President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law, which among other things created the bones of unemployment insurance for us as a nation. The idea was you pay into it while you're employed so if you lose your job, there will be money available to help you out. It’s not a coincidence that unemployment insurance was created in 1935. The people who created it and folded it into the Social Security Act and got it passed and signed into law, they knew a thing or two about unemployment.

The backdrop for the creation of unemployment insurance was the Great Depression. unemployment insurance was created not just because the people waiting in the soup lines at the time thought it would be awesome to have some walking-around money. It was created because it was sound economic policy. Obviously having a system of unemployment insurance is in the best interest of anyone who might ever for any reason lose their job. It’s also in the best interest of the country, of our entire economy. For one thing it’s better for everyone if we don't have people who lose their jobs immediately falling off a financial cliff, ending up on the street after their last paycheck. That’s just not good for society, even if you're not personally the person who's on the street.

But unemployment insurance is also a way to stimulate the economy. In the kind of economic situation that we have been in since the deep recession that started in George W. Bush's second term, in which there isn't enough demand in the economy in which there aren't enough people buying things, the government is looking for ways to stimulate economy, to stimulate demand, for ways to get more money into the economy to keep businesses open, to sustain and create jobs, to generate growth. And one of the most efficient, most effective ways to do that talking in economic terms, regardless of your politics, one of the most effective ways to do that, to stimulate the economy, is to put money in the hands of people who need money really badly and who will therefore spend it right away, which is what unemployment benefits do.

Because of the crisis that was caused by the financial collapse, we have the highest rate of unemployment in this country since when we first got unemployment insurance, since the Great Depression, since the '30s. There are nearly six job seekers for every available job in America right now.

One of the most surprising things about politics since the crash happened and since unemployment spiked is how many politicians apparently hate people for being unemployed, hate the unemployed; hate the unemployed, or at least they’re willing to voice that for political reasons. After you pay for unemployment insurance when you have a job, a bunch of politicians apparently think that you are a leech and a bad person for taking those benefits when you need them.

ANGLE: That's what's happened to us, is that we have put in so much entitlement into our government that we really have spoiled our citizenry and said you don't want the jobs that are available.

MADDOW: That's Sharron Angle, the republican running to place Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada. She thinks people on unemployment, as you just heard, are spoiled.

KYL: And that it doesn't create new jobs, in fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work.

MADDOW: That's Republican Senator John Kyl of Arizona, who thinks people are unemployed because of unemployment insurance. Same reason I burn down my own house regularly, ever since I got the fire insurance.

Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa has a similar take about being jobless. He offered up this warning about unemployment benefits in February. “We shouldn't turn the safety net into a hammock. It should actually be a safety net.”

Republican Congressman Dean Heller of Nevada had a take on unemployment benefits that’s twice as derogatory and 17 times as bizarre as that. Here’s how a local newspaper reported on Dean Heller’s position.

Heller said the current economic downturn in policies may bring back the hobos of the Great Depression, people who wandered the country taking on odd jobs… “I believe there should be a federal safety net,” Heller said but he questioned the wisdom of extending unemployment benefits yet again to a total of 24 months, which Congress is doing. “Is the government now creating hobos?” he asked.

If you're out of a job Congressman Heller thinks you may be a hobo.

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah thinks you're even worse than that.

HATCH: You know, we should be giving people cash who… who basically are just going to blow it on drugs.

MADDOW: Senator Hatch actually proposed an amendment to the jobs bill earlier this month, to force anyone getting unemployment benefits to submit to a drug test, because, you know, land of the free and all that. Now pee in this cup.

Andre Bauer the Republican Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina, compared people on assistance famously earlier this year to stray animals.

BAUER: My grandmother was not a highly educated woman but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too of further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better.

MADDOW: We've got the worst long-term unemployment since the Great Depression. This is going to have repercussions in our country and in our culture for generations. The political leadership we’re seeing on the right in response to that called the unemployed animals, drug test them, call them bums, say they're only out of jobs because they're lazy and want to be. Insult, insult, insult. To add real injury to all of that insult today every Republican in the Senate plus our friend Ben Nelson, blocked a vote on a bill to provide badly needed help to the long-term unemployed in this country.

And as a result, starting tomorrow, more than a million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits. This might sound like something you've heard before. This is the sort of thing that's been knocking around in and out of the headlines for months now. And it's true. It’s because Republicans have blocked extensions of unemployment benefits before. It’s kind of been a Republican hobbyhorse lately.

But in the past, the measure has always been saved at the last minute. That didn't happen this time. Senate Republicans and Ben Nelson really are cutting off the benefits for 1.2 million unemployed people and probably tossing at least some of them out on the street. And as an added bonus, they're giving up the opportunity to stimulate the economy in the most efficient way we know how. Ta da.

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