Is life too easy for the unemployed? You may not think so, and I certainly don’t think so. But that, remarkably, is what many and perhaps most Republicans believe. And they’re acting on that belief: there’s a nationwide movement under way to punish the unemployed, based on the proposition that we can cure unemployment by making the jobless even more miserable.
Consider, for example, the case of North Carolina. The state was hit hard by the Great Recession, and its unemployment rate, at 8.8 percent, is among the highest in the nation, higher than in long-suffering California or Michigan. As is the case everywhere, many of the jobless have been out of work for six months or more, thanks to a national environment in which there are three times as many people seeking work as there are job openings.
Nonetheless, the state’s government has just sharply cut aid to the unemployed. In fact, the Republicans controlling that government were so eager to cut off aid that they didn’t just reduce the duration of benefits; they also reduced the average weekly benefit, making the state ineligible for about $700 million in federal aid to the long-term unemployed.
It’s quite a spectacle, but North Carolina isn’t alone: a number of other states have cut unemployment benefits, although none at the price of losing federal aid. And at the national level, Congress has been allowing extended benefits introduced during the economic crisis to expire, even though long-term unemployment remains at historic highs.
So what’s going on here? Is it just cruelty? Well, the G.O.P., which believes that 47 percent of Americans are “takers” mooching off the job creators, which in many states is denying health care to the poor simply to spite President Obama, isn’t exactly overflowing with compassion. But the war on the unemployed isn’t motivated solely by cruelty; rather, it’s a case of meanspiritedness converging with bad economic analysis…
Oh, and let’s not forget that cutting benefits to the unemployed, many of whom are living hand-to-mouth, will lead to lower overall spending — again, worsening the economic situation, and destroying more jobs.
The move to slash unemployment benefits, then, is counterproductive as well as cruel; it will swell the ranks of the unemployed even as it makes their lives ever more miserable.
We get to witness what passes for forward-thinking in the Republican Party. Just in case they run out of women to hate and fear – they now find it necessary to hate and fear all the folks who have lost their jobs courtesy of incompetents who can’t run a modern economy.
You know, that checks and balances stuff, oversight of criminal behavior.