Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made some wild, and unchallenged, assertions about extending unemployment benefits, minimum wage increases, the Tea Party and class warfare Sunday on CBS News' "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer.
While discussing the current push by the Obama Administration to extend unemployment benefits for three months, for example, Harry Reid said that "seventy-five percent of Americans" agree with extending unemployment benefits.
Even the left-wing advocacy site, ThinkProgress puts the percentage at fifty-five, citing a poll by yet another left wing group, the National Employment Law Project. The actual amount is likely way lower.
Schieffer said to Reid,
"Republicans are already saying, no way, unless you agree to somehow offset that with spending cuts, are you willing to negotiate on that...?"
Harry Reid responded as saying that that the request was "typical" for the the Tea Party Republicans in Congress and further claimed that the Gross Domestic Product would increase if unemployment benefits were extended.
"It’s so important to do this, the gross domestic project-- product would be increased to-- by twenty-three billion dollars."
Where did Reid find this outrageous figure?
It is as if he is making stuff up as he goes along.
Harry Reid also said that Republicans in Congress are "out of touch." He ranted,
"We cannot have a country that’s paralyzed because of a group of people, the group of people who are like Tea Party-driven Republicans in Congress, not Republicans. I'm not here to bad mouth the Republicans around the country. I get a lot of support from Republicans in Nevada, and always have had. But they are mainstream Republicans. They’re not driven by this craziness that we have in American today."
Reid also claimed that "comprehensive immigration reform" would help the economy, foreshadowing the upcoming push to legalize illegal immigrants, as reported at the Examiner.
If the Obama administration really believed that it would be beneficial for taxpayers to foot the bill for an extension of unemployment benefits, they would find comparable cuts to propose to the GOP. There is plenty of waste and redundancy in the federal government that can and should be reduced.
Instead, by acting as the "champion" of the unemployed and pushing the idea that the conservatives in Congress are obstructionists, they hope to win political points. One can be sure that after three months, the Democrats will again push for an unemployment extension.
Reid also made a remarkable and rambling speech about what "Republicans" want. He said,
"Republicans around America want us to do something to extend these benefits. Why? Because it's good for the economy, it’s good for the country. Every one of these people that's long-term unemployed they get one of these checks they spend the money, they don’t put it in the bank. It helps small business. That’s why small business favor this. The same reason they favor doing something about minimum wage. They know it’s good for the economy. And so Republicans in Congress have to get away from being Republicans in Congress. Background checks, ninety percent of the Americans want that. Republicans in Congress oppose it. Extending unemployment benefits, seventy-five percent of Americans want that done, Republicans in Congress oppose it."
It would be nice if Reid could source his statements. But he did not, and he was not challenged to do so.
As reported at the Examiner, a report from the Congressional Budget Office noted that the extension "would lead to greater federal debt."
"extending unemployment benefits could 'reduce the intensity' of the job search, resulting in those people staying unemployed for a longer period of time."
A Princeton academic study from 2008 found that for the unemployed receiving benefits,
"...job search increases sharply in the weeks prior to benefit exhaustion."
Despite the evidence to the contrary, a partisan report posted by the White House claims,
"There is broad agreement amongst economists that the extended unemployment benefits provided to families during times of high unemployment do not noticeably reduce incentives for workers to find jobs."
Even the progressive President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the hazards of long-term benefits, saying in part that "...continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fibre."
Reid, whose "career in public service has ended up being remarkably lucrative," as reported at the National Review, also used tired class warfare rhetoric.