Speaking on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) expressed concerns about voting for a continuation of extended unemployment benefits for 1.3 million unemployed. Calling an extension of long-term unemployment benefits a “disservice” to the unemployed, Paul insisted that the benefits hurt the unemployed by maintaining a government dependency, the same argument used by conservatives opposed to welfare. “Most of the people I meet who are on unemployment are people who have had jobs for 25 years, lost them, they’ve been knocking on the doors every week,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), rejecting Paul’s idea that the chronically unemployed are wards of the government. Schumer doesn’t accept Paul’s idea that the chronically unemployed expect the government to pony up or get painted as heartless and insensitive.
When extended unemployment benefits ran out on 1.3 million recipients Dec. 31, 2013, Democrats tried their utmost to get the GOP to sign onto another continuation. With the unemployed cut-off on Jan. 1, President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate have practically done back-flips to get the benefits reinstated. “I think it’s a little insulting, a bit insulting to American workers when Rand Paul says that unemployment insurance is a disservice,” said Schumer, implying that unemployed seek out government dependence rather than trying finding full-time jobs. Paul’s Tea Party thinking blames anyone who can’t provide for themselves, despite readily collecting Medicare and Social Security benefits. Paul equates unemployment benefits with welfare. As Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has pointed out, extended unemployment benefits help the economy.
Paul was a strong backer Oct. 1, 2013 of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) decision to shut down the government to de-fund Obamacare. Keeping government workers out of their jobs cost the federal treasury $24 billion in lost revenue. Paul and Cruz see any government entitlement as welfare. “They’re just hanging on with unemployment benefits, you cut them off, they may lose the house they paid for, take their kids out college. So I would hope he [Paul] would reconsider, past the three month extension,” said Schumer, finding Paul’s arguments untenable. Paul and his Tea Party friends would have you believe the government can’t afford to pay for extended unemployment benefits without busting the budget. Not once since Obama’s been in office has Paul acknowledged that the president’s economic policies have fueled Wall Street, added jobs or improved the nation’s GDP.
Extending unemployment benefits puts more cash into the consumer economy, adding jobs, reducing the unemployment rate and growing the country’s GDP. Paul supported the Jan. 1, 2013 government sequester or mandatory spending cuts that cast thousands of federal workers into unemployment. He backed the GOP’s Oct. 1 government shutdown to stop Obamacare that tossed 800,000 federal workers into unemployment costing the government about $24 billion. Paul’s objections to unemployment, Obamacare, Medicare, Social Security, federal aid to education or any other government entitlement stems from a deeply held belief that the Founding Fathers believed it was beyond the scope of government to provide entitlements, like health care and retirement benefits. Paul believes that only spending the national defense was mandated in the U.S. Constitution.
Paul’s opposition to extending unemployment benefits is the same as his opposition to all entitlement programs: It costs the government too much money to pay for welfare programs. “What I have always said is that it needs to be paid for, but we also need to do something for long-term unemployed people and that is we need to create something new that would create jobs,” said Paul, making no sense at all. Paul opposes federal or federally-funded jobs programs, backing Cruz’s Oct. 1 government shutdown to de-fund Obamacare, tossing 800,000 federal workers into unemployment. “So what I’d like to do when we get back is one, if we extent it we pay for it, but two, we add something to it that would create jobs,” Paul said. Paul’s real motive is to de-fund Obamacare to pay for long-term unemployment benefits, in addition to his plan to fire or retire untold numbers of federal workers.
Paul’s apparent insensitivity to extending unemployment benefits stems from his deeply held Tea Party beliefs that his purpose as an elected official is to shrink the size of the federal establishment. Despite the recent “bipartisan” budget signed into law Dec. 26, 2013 by Obama, Paul wants to pay for extended unemployment benefits by de-funding some other liberal programs. Paul talks of creating jobs but won’t acknowledge his Tea Party plan of massively reducing federal jobs under the theory that it will create more private sector employment. Paul and his Tea Party friends pretend that the economy’s in the same shape as it was when former President George W. Bush left office Jan. 20, 2009. After adding 7 million jobs since March 2010, cutting the federal budget deficit from $1.4 trillion to $600 billion, reducing unemployment from 10% to 7.2% and increasing GDP to 4%, Paul simply ignores the facts.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.