Having won the right to take control of one body of Congress, conservative Republicans are in full “what the American people voted for” mode — in which a politician presumes the “American people” believe whatever crazy thing rattles around in his or her mind.
Funny then, that after agreeing to a compromise whick President Barack Obama regarding taxes and jobless benefits, all the components with the President championed are popular, and all the planks that Republicans insisted upon are not.
* A two-year extension of tax cuts for families who make less than 250 thousand dollars a year: 89%
* An extension of unemployment benefits for workers who lose their jobs: 76%
* A one-year reduction in the Social Security tax that workers pay: 61%
* A two-year extension of tax cuts for families who make more than 250 thousand dollars a year: 37%
* A reduction in the tax paid by the heirs of some wealthy Americans when they die: 39%
Interestingly, Republicans aren’t trying very hard to claim the popular provisions as their own, which may be why 55% of voters say President Obama policies move us in the “right direction,” and only 44% say the same about the policies of Republican leaders.
Case in point: here’s what top conservatives had to say about extending benefits to the long-term unemployed.
* Mitt Romney: “The indisputable [sic] fact is that unemployment benefits, despite a web of regulations, actually serve to discourage some individuals from taking jobs.”
* Sen. Orrin Hatch: “…we also know there are people who could be working who won’t work because they’ve got unemployment insurance and they keep — don’t go out and start looking.”
* Christine O’Donnell: “Tragedy comes in threes. Pearl Harbor, Elizabeth Edwards’s passing and Barack Obama’s announcement of extending the tax cuts, which is good, but also extending the unemployment benefits.”
* Sen. Jim DeMint: “We can’t just keep paying people to stay at home.”
* Rep. John Shadegg: “The truth is the unemployed will spend as little of that money as they possibly can.”
Time and time again, conservatives have proven they do not care about deficits. And as you can see above, it’s bunk when congressional Republicans claim to oppose jobless benefits simply because Democrats do not want to offset their cost with anti-stimulative spending cuts. Conservatives just have an ideological opposition to jobless benefits.
But to 76% of Americans, when our economy still has only one job opening for every 4.4 job seekers, it’s crazy to blame extended jobless benefits for making the jobless too lazy to seek work.
Yet conservatives keep doing it. Despite the facts. Despite the polls. Call it crazy. I do.