Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Party of "Say What?"

Apparently, the GOP has morphed from the party of "no" into the party of "say what?" Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky is staging a one-man show to hold up unemployment and healthcare benefits and several roads projects that provide jobs for needy workers. Now, Senator John Kyl of Arizona has stated that unemployment benefits provide incentives for people not to find a job. What a crock, Kyl.

First of all, people are usually eligible for unemployment insurance only if they are laid off -- not simply because they do not have a job. With unemployment hovering around 10% and Republicans complaining daily that nothing is getting done about it, Kyl's analysis is especially disturbing. The unemployment rate is dangerously high, but apparently, we can explain it away because people are not trying to fill the abundance of jobs that are screaming for warm bodies. Instead, these silly laid-off workers would rather live off of the pittance called unemployment insurance. Give all of us a break, Senator Kyl.


Matt P. said...

The Blog of "write what?" Although I know it makes a good vehicle to take a shot at a Republican...your strawman is inaccurate. It is amazingly truncated and has no nuance as they say. Perhaps we should go to the original source rather than the Huffington Post.

Mr. BAUCUS. Mr. President, the Senator from Arizona argues that unemployment insurance is a disincentive to jobs. Nothing could be further from the truth. I don't think anybody who is out of work and receiving unemployment insurance believes that payment is sufficient not to find a job. The payments are so much lower than a salary or wage would be, it is ridiculous. There are five unemployed Americans today for every job opening in the economy--five unemployed Americans who are looking for work but cannot find it. That is the case and has been the case for a long time. People are looking for work. They are not unemployed because they have a choice. It is because of the recession that struck and the economy. It is not because people don't want to work.

An additional point. Many of us asked the CBO to rank what measures would be most effective in helping the economy. The one they came up with was unemployment benefits because unemployment benefits generate about $1.90 in GDP growth for every $1 we paid out in terms of unemployment benefits.

I wished to make the point--and I don't know if the Senator meant this, but he strongly implied it, and I took him to mean that unemployment insurance is a disincentive for people to look for work. I don't think it is because the benefits are so low and so many are looking for work--it is the economy or recession that cost us jobs.

Mr. KYL. If my colleague will yield, I said it is not a job creator. If anything, it could be argued it is a disincentive for work because people are being paid even though they are not working. I certainly did not say, and would never imply, that the reason people don't have jobs is because they are not looking for them. It is true that a lot of Americans have gotten so tired of looking for jobs or believe they are not going to find them that they have stopped looking and, as a result, the unemployment numbers are probably higher than the roughly 10 percent that is quoted now. Some people believe it could be as much as 17 percent. This is why I have supported every extension of unemployment benefits. I have voted for them. As my colleague says, there are five people looking for every job that exists. If they cannot get the jobs, they needed support.

But what I said is true, and if my colleague can find a source that says it is not true, show me. But providing unemployment benefits doesn't create jobs. The bill we have before us is denominated around here as a jobs bill. That is the biggest single expenditure in the bill, and it doesn't create jobs.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Kyl's extended quote, which I alredy read, does not help his case. First, his primary point (that unemployment benefits don't "create jobs") is problematic. If having money circulating in the economy helps to create jobs, then unemployment benefits could in fact lead to job creation.

Second, Kyl is obviously trying to back out of his politically damning "say what" commentary. Nevertheless, his words are clear. I particularly find it amusing that he said he didn't mean to "imply" that people were not looking for jobs due to unemployment benefits, but if the benefits provide a disincentive (if anything) to work, then this is exactly what he implied. His sloppy effort to clean up the comment does not work.

Matt P. said...

Darren I agree with the first paragraph above. However, my feeling is that very reasonable people can disagree on unemployment and its short and long term results. Kyl's thoughts seems no less extreme than say Bill Clinton's in the 90s.

More importantly, he has voted for every extension of the benefits. Perhaps, like our discussion on The Patriot Act...this should provide us some "insight" into his "thinking."
This was an argument over how the provision should be characterized more than anything else.

It seems we both support stimulus. What amazes me is how the Left has let this administration get a free ride on transferring CRAZY amounts of money to wealthy financial institutions and wealthy unions. This top down approach is ridiculous. A payroll tax holiday would have given money to the little guy and stimulated the economy immediately. Instead we get ineffectual corporate welfare, slow moving government projects, and slow working automatic stabilizers like unemployment and Cobra.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

I agree with most of what you said in your last post. Kyl's comments are inflammatory, given the stark unemployment data. Many people on the Left have criticized Obama on the banking issue. I would say that most of "us" had our doubts from the very beginning.

PS: I hope you read my "Hold Them Accountable" 2-part series!

Anonymous said...

What amazes me is how the Left has let this administration get a free ride on transferring CRAZY amounts of money to wealthy financial institutions and wealthy unions. This top down approach is ridiculous.

It is ridiculous, Matt, I agree -- and I'm on the Left. I'd like to point out that "the Left" did not give this administration a free ride -- and I speak for myself as well as other like-minded leftists. We are appalled by these decisions, but nobody asked us for an opinion. What's more, whenever critical voices from the Left arose, they were typically minimized and dismissed.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, if you voted for Obama, you were asked for your opinion to the extent that anyone who doesn't have a ton of money to give to politicians gets asked. You are right, though, that any voice of opposition from the left was shouted down and marginalized in 2008. Apparently the elected left was taking a lot of notes circa 2001-2008, not for documentation purposes, but for mimicking purposes.

Anonymous said...

George, the once-in-four-years voting event for one of two viable candidates who are first vetted by the mighty and powerful to make sure they represent their interests above all is somewhat of a charade, wouldn't you agree? Obama was not "my" candidate, yet I did vote for him simply because the alternative was likely worse.

The marginalization of the Left by the current administration and the "mainstream" progressives continues unabated, and will so for the foreseeable future. Unless we get really pissed off and start our own angry Tea Party movement. (But hey, even then the meme of Unamerican Socialists, OMG! Run! will continue to be used against us with predictable success. Why, if you can call Obama a socialist and get away with it...)

Anonymous said...

BTW, Darren, there is at least one liberal who defends Jim Bunning and in doing so makes a lot of sense.

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