As we commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech today, it’s worth a glance at a very different man of the same last name whose primary service to his country is his proud willingness to express the conservative id on topics where others are oblique or even silent. Yes, it’s U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who explained America’s real bedrock economic problem to an appreciative audience in South Carolina earlier this week, per this report from Kaitlyn Schallhorn of the “young conservative” website Red Alert Politics:
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is making no excuses for unemployed Americans, urging them to get off their butts and start working, and criticizing the unemployed for failing to contribute to the standard of living.
Speaking to a group of conservatives in Charleston, S.C., on Monday evening, the Iowa Congressman said that it wasn’t the economy that was sluggish, but the 100 million non-working Americans giving up jobs to “unskilled” illegal immigrants….
“We borrow money from China to pay people not to work and we say we’re going to grow our GDP because we have sympathy for people that are in this country illegally,” he said.
King equated America to a family, comparing the amount of non-working Americans to children refusing to do their chores.
“Now what kind of a family — if you had six kids and a third of those kids would say ‘I’m not doing the chores, Mom,’” King said. “…pretty soon those kids would be on the ‘you get to eat after you do the work.’”
There you have it. America has no jobs problem or wage problem. The unemployment and underemployment rates have nothing to do with growth levels, globalization, the housing crisis, the financial collapse, the Great Recession, the skills gaps, or any of that liberal bushwa–or even supply-side issues conservative economists usually talk about like capital being “sidelined” by taxes and regulations or “uncertainty.” No, it’s just lazy people who refuse to work.
Now you can say King is a wingnut outlier and refuse to take him seriously. But he’s really not saying anything that Paul Ryan, the vice presidential nominee of the Republican Party just last year, isn’t saying more elegantly when he talks about the “dependency trap” being the main obstacle to upward mobility, or what Republicans generally mean when they call decimation of the social safety net an “economic plan.” And there is a certain mulish consistency in King’s rap, since he follows the conservative habit of offering exactly the same formula of shrinking government as a cure-all regardless of the condition of the economy.
It’s far past time to stop treating utterances like King’s in South Carolina as some sort of “gaffe” and accept that’s what the man and many, many like him actually think.