The GOP’s well-hidden affection for the unemployed

THE GOP’S WELL-HIDDEN AFFECTION FOR THE UNEMPLOYED…. A mistaken impression quickly took hold recently during the debate over extended unemployment benefits, and much of the media bought it. The assumption became that everyone on both sides supported the extension, it was simply a debate over how. Dems saw the aid as an emergency, while Republicans didn’t want the costs added to the deficit.

In effect, the GOP argued, “We’re not callous; we love the unemployed. We’re anxious to extend benefits. We just want the kind of fiscally responsible approach we cared nothing about when we were in the majority.”

They’re still pushing this line, probably aware of voters’ support for the benefits.

In a blog post yesterday, Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) argued that the “Unemployment Extension Should Have Been Paid For.” Sen. Johanns works hard to defend the GOP, but in order to believe his excuses you’d have to ignore the past six months of Republican talking points, filibusters and anonymous holds.

“I don’t know a single Senator in Washington who didn’t want to see these benefits extended,” Johanns claims.

This is pretty silly. As Alan Pyke noted, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) dismissed jobless aid as money that offers “a disincentive” to getting a job, a sentiment endorsed by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and Sen. Richard Burr (R) . For that matter, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) suggested that if you don’t have a job, you might very well be a drug addict.

Johanns specifically referenced sitting senators, but if we expand the view a bit, we see even more Republican hostility towards the unemployed. One GOP congressman recently compared the jobless to “hobos.” Nevada’s Sharron Angle blasted the unemployed as “spoiled“; Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson said those without jobs won’t look until their benefits run out; Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett said the unemployed choose not to work because of the benefits; and Kentucky’s Rand Paul thinks the jobless should just quit their bellyaching and “get back to work.”

Johanns would have us believe that both parties were looking out for the unemployed, just in different ways. That’s nonsense.