Rand Paul’s patronizing excuse for screwing the poor

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/12/10/rand_pauls_patronizing_excuse_for_screwing_the_poor/

Paul claims that public benefits are “encouraging unemployment.” An expert tells Salon why that’s insane

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013

With only days remaining for Congress to avert the year-end expiration of extended unemployment benefits, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., made news by telling Fox News Sunday that extending benefits would be “a disservice” to the more than a million Americans about to be cut off. The same morning, Paul’s colleague Dick Durbin, the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos his party so far wasn’t taking a “take it or leave it” approach to including unemployment extension in talks over a short-term budget deal. “I have to say, it sounds like the spirit of Nelson Mandela is taking hold,” Stephanopoulos concluded after asking Durbin and Senate Republican Rob Portman about those budget talks. “This is a very reasonable discussion this morning. Sounds like we’re going to reach a deal this week.”

For a different take on the impact and importance of unemployment benefits, Salon called up Rebecca Dixon, a policy analyst for the progressive National Employment Law Project. A condensed version of our conversation follows.

Rand Paul this weekend said he’s against further unemployment extension because it would be “a disservice to these workers,” in that “When you allow people to be on unemployment insurance for 99 weeks, you’re causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy.” What does your research suggest about that kind of claim?

Well, we do know that people have a harder time finding work the longer they’ve been unemployed, particularly when they’ve hit their six-month mark. Benefits aren’t 99 weeks anymore. But in this recession, when we had record job loss, and record long-term unemployment, and the numbers were up to six unemployed workers for every job opening … you’re not going to not look for work because you’re getting a check that averages $300 a week. I mean, nobody can really live on that, you know.

So these benefits are not super-generous. They’re not something that’s going to put a family on easy street. They’re really just sort of barely enough to cover basic needs. And you saw in our research brief what the average family spends; these don’t even come close to covering that.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/12/10/rand_pauls_patronizing_excuse_for_screwing_the_poor/

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