Jack Kingston and The Welfare

Having discussed the Romney-Ryan campaign’s 2012 “Obama’s gutting welfare reform” ad a good bit lately, I should mention that the idea that welfare bums are loafing around when there are plenty of fine jobs available has hardly gone away since then. Here’s a new ad from Georgia Republican Senate candidate Jack Kingston:

The ad appears to assume that the work requirements for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program don’t exist any more. It also suggests, of course, that a major reason for high levels of unemployment (it’s currently at 7.0% in Georgia, above the national rate) is that a significant number of people are deliberately choosing a “hand-out,” ignoring all those “help wanted” signs the ad features. I don’t know of any serious economists anywhere on the political spectrum who actually believe that proposition. They may think food stamp benefits are too high or are being abused, but not that they provide some sort of comfortable hammock preferable to wages and EITC eligibility.

More broadly, Kingston is weaving a narrative that unites him (you know, the guy who drove that battered station wagon around coastal Georgia to build a business many years ago, not the powerful appropriator able to raise millions from lobbyists to pay for his saturation ad campaign) and Republican primary voters as virtuous workers angry at those people, often just referred to as The Welfare.

Anyone who believes there is no racial subtext to this ad has either never been to Georgia or is loafing around a crack pipe.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.