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You Can't Have it Both Ways

02 November 2012
Right leaning constituents who don't believe in the social safety net but who rely on unemployment benefits are now complaining that they may not see an extension of benefits after December 2012. How does that square with their politics?

Social safety net or no social safety net?

OK - please help me understand this.

  1. Tea-party leaning Republicans claim that providing Federal benefits to constituents is a form of social safety net (they call it socialism, which is a strong indication that they have never actually studied the concept) and must be avoided at all costs to reduce the Federal deficit. OK, that's their opinion and they are entitled to it (though they should spruce up a bit on their social organization theory).
  2. The Republican-dominated Congress - highly influenced by this very vocal Tea Party constituency - does not have extension of Federal Unemployment Insurance on the docket. Federal extensions will expire at the end of December.
  3. I have now heard not one, not two, but several Tea-Party leaning, high-deficit concerned acquaintances actually complain that the Federal Unemployment Insurance extensions are about to run out, and from where will they get their unemployment support??? Really? Now they want a social safety net?
  4. No matter what happens with these folks, Obama seems to lose. Why? Well, if he pushes for an extension of benefits, they get to scream that he is making the deficit worse through social programs. If he does not push for an extension of benefits, they get to scream that he denied them their livelihood.

It seems to me that you either believe that the Federal government should not provide benefits to people and that the states should cover all or most of it, or you believe the Federal government has a role in the social safety net. But you don't get to believe that the social safety net should exist when you need it, but not when it's just others who do.

And no matter what you believe, everyone needs to remember that beliefs are not facts. Facts - like dates when the deficit grew to such massive proportions (think two unfunded wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - all George W), economy crashed (summer of 2007), dates when unemployment shot through the roof (summer of 2007 - January 2008), comparisons of European austerity results to American stimulation results (they are in a nightmare of recession, we are recovering, albeit slowly) - facts are things that can be checked and validated. So just because you want to be upset with Obama doesn't mean it's rational.

Either these people who now are complaining about their unemployment benefits have had an epiphany that the social safety net has value in our civilization, or . . . what? Can they really be so obtuse as to believe that their desire for unemployment benefits is not at odds with their deficit and socialism rhetoric? Maybe they can, but I don't see how.

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