Dispassionate Conservatism On the Move


So.  That sneaky Democrat-led Senate has forced the House to go on defense and produce a new installment in its efforts to put on a happy face and win some elections, dammit! 

House Republican leadership issued a new talking points memo, this week, in its series The Rebranding: How To Be.  Close on the heels of their “How To Handle a Woman” memo, this latest one is directed at helping members to sound compassionate about the plight of the unemployed while denying a long-term unemployment benefit extension.  Maybe the GOP will merge the two to create a separate memo for dealing with the “female unemployed”?

The hope is that a demonstration of caring will persuade the long-term unemployed to get out of their “safety net hammock” and get a job.  Once that occurs, the newly employed person’s self-esteem will skyrocket and, in a show of gratitude, s/he will vote Republican.

The Washington Post, bless their hearts, obtained a copy of the actual memo which is every bit as odious as you might expect. 

Read it and weep:


Admittedly mining this piece of crap silliness for absurdity is like shooting proverbial fish in a proverbial barrel but lets do it anyway . . . starting with the most obvious and proceeding through the subtler nits and gnats . . .

It’s pretty telling when the leadership of a political conference have to school their members on acting human and compassionate.  It’s especially hard, I guess, when one knows that sounding empathetic is not going to be followed up by any sort of action to cure the situation.

In their defense, it must be pretty hard for people who work 97 days a year for a full-time salary and great benefits to identify with people who are deciding which bills to pay, how to put food on the table or how many times Johnny’s college fund can be tapped before he’s matriculating at Hamburger University.

Color me old-school but it shouldn’t really be necessary to school normal human beings in compassion and empathy.  Should it . . . ?

Then there’s this notion that the unemployed should just be patient and sit tight even if their benefits end:

” . . . House Republicans remain focused on creating jobs and growing the economy.”

Give.Me.A.Break!  I could have sworn that the GOP’s focus was firmly riveted on repealing Obamacare.  If there’s so much focus on creating jobs and growing the economy then that should be reflected in this year’s legislative record.  Right?

But this excerpt is my personal favorite:

Charge: “The unemployment rate (7.3% in October) is currently higher than it was at the expiration of any previous extended UI benefits program.” (New Report: The Economic Benefits of Extending Unemployment Insurance, White House Economic Report, 12/5/13)

Response:  The unemployment rate is lower today than it was when “emergency” benefits were allowed to expire following the recession of the early 1980s.  With our unemployment rate at 7% and dropping, it would be within the historic norm to allow the “emergency” benefits to expire.

Bette’s Counterpoint [since we’re talking “historic norms”] from the New York Times, 12/15/2002:

The unemployment rate last month stood at 6 percent, equaling its highest rate since mid-1994.

Unemployed workers ‘‘need our assistance in these difficult times, and we cannot let them down,’’ Mr. Bush said in his weekly radio address.

President Bush called on Congress today to act immediately when it convenes next month to reinstate unemployment benefits for 750,000 people whose assistance will run out three days after Christmas. Mr. Bush noted that the House and the Senate had passed differing versions of legislation that would have extended the benefits again, but had not agreed on a compromise before adjourning last month. 

Mr. Bush said the benefits should be paid retroactively to Dec. 28 once they are restored.

Another interesting feature of the memo is a little GOP love for the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office for reporting something Republicans like, i.e., ” . . . extending the program will lead to some workers reducing the intensity of their job search and staying unemployed longer.”

Yes.  That’s the same non-partisan CBO that Republicans completely discredited when it projected that Obamacare will reduce the deficit by billions over its first 10 years.

And, of course no GOP talking points memo on budget would be complete without invoking the “Boehner Rule”:

If Democrats can produce a plan that is fiscally responsible as well as does something to actually create jobs, the House will give it proper consideration.  Until then, our focus will remain where it belongs, on creating jobs and putting America back to work.

Which is to say, of course, that any Republican “give” to spend on an extension must be offset by equal spending cuts agreeable to Republicans.

That, of course, would exclude cutting boondoggles like the Abrams tank factory in Lima, OH—Speaker Boehner’s backyard—that keeps pumping out tanks that the military doesn’t need/want and that the Defense Department would dearly love to shut down to save money.  Or maybe the $400 billion to be spent on F-35 fighter jets could be reallocated.  [Then we could all go on unemployment?]

After the Senate voted to proceed on a long-term unemployment benefit extension, DNC Deputy Press Secretary Rebecca Chalif put the situation well [she is a press secretary, after all]:

Republican leaders can offer advice on how to sound empathetic when discussing unemployment but that won’t change the fact that today we saw the majority of Republicans in the Senate vote against extending vital unemployment insurance benefits.

No amount of message guidance is going to change the reality that their policies are bad for the unemployed, they are bad for the middle class, and they are out of touch with the vast majority of Americans.

Amen, y’all.

Posted by Bette Noir on 01/08/14 at 10:50 AM • Permalink

Categories: PoliticsBqhatevwrBushCoNuttersTeabaggery

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The Washington Post, bless their hearts, obtained a copy of the actual memo which is every bit as odious as you might expect.

And they still push this “both sides do it” meme…

a little GOP love for the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office for reporting something Republicans like

And guess what? It occurred to me to ask what the CBO said, and a little googling showed that “some” isn’t exactly what the Republicans suggest it is:

some unemployed workers who would be eligible for those benefits would reduce the intensity of their job search and remain unemployed longer—which would tend to decrease output and employment. CBO estimates that those negative effects would be modest, though, in 2014 because most of the jobs that would not be taken by some of the people receiving the additional benefits would instead be taken by some of the many people searching for work who would not be eligible for those benefits.

@Yastreblyansky very nice catch!  Thank you.

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