Apparently the Republicans are rallying behind the argument that Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty failed, so it’s time to give them a turn at running the government.
WASHINGTON — Senator Marco Rubio says the American dream has become “unattainable.” Senator Mike Lee says reforming government benefits programs should be the country’s “first priority.” And Representative Paul D. Ryan says the government safety net has “failed miserably.”
Fifty years after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty, the message from Republicans in Congress is that the government has foundered in its efforts to address the problem.
“While we have programs in place that help deal with the pain of poverty, they don’t deal with the structural problems,” Mr. Rubio of Florida said in an interview.
And who caused those “structural problems,” toots? Answer me that! Whose economic/governing philosophy has dominated Washington and federal policy since, oh, about 1980 or so (and arguably earlier)?
Mindful of polls that show many Americans see them as detached from or indifferent to the hardships faced by the people most affected by the recession and slow recovery, Republicans have begun to speak publicly on the issue of poverty and to propose their own, more market-based solutions.
In other words, the same crap that got us into this mess.
But at the same time that the party is shifting its focus to poverty, many Republicans are pushing for deep cuts to food assistance programs and unemployment insurance, while 11 million Americans are jobless and poverty rates remain elevated in the wake of the recession.
One way to reduce poverty is to starve the impoverished, I give you that. It worked pretty well in Ireland awhile back.
But you know the Republican establishment is nervous when they bring in the empathy coaches.
House Republican leaders sent a memo this week to the entire GOP conference with talking points designed to help rank-and-file Republicans show compassion for the unemployed and explain the Republican position on unemployment benefits. In the memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post, House Republicans are urged to be empathetic toward the unemployed and understand how unemployment is a “personal crisis” for individuals and families. The memo also asks Republicans to reiterate that the House will give “proper consideration” to an extension of long-term insurance as long as Democrats are willing to support spending or regulatory reforms.
Hey, GOP: If you need empathy coaching, you are probably innately assholes. http://t.co/lDabzyHG0P
— The Rude Pundit (@rudepundit) January 8, 2014
Last year they tried to empathy coach Republican politicians about women, and I can’t see that it helped. But why are they so worried now? Joan Walsh writes,
Maybe because of polls like the one just completed by Hart Research (on behalf of the National Employment Law Project). Surveying likely 2014 midterm voters the pollsters found they overwhelmingly supported extended benefits 55 to 34 percent. Significantly, key Republican groups like seniors and white non-college educated voters were among the most supportive; white women, a swing group that leaned to the GOP in 2012, support maintaining the benefits 53-33 percent.
And by some non-coincidence, many Washington politicians who are most adamantly against extending benefits are from states with the highest number of jobless constituents. Funny how that works, huh?
Unfortunately for them, Paul Ryan spilled the beans last month when he declared he wanted to end jobless benefits so that people would be compelled to go out and find a job. But the average American is at least a few shades brighter than Ryan — hell, there could be varieties of dieffenbachia that are brighter than Ryan — and understand that it’s a bit tricky to go out and get a job when there are no bleeping jobs to get.