If you've been following the ongoing Senate campaign of Nevada hopeful Sharron Angle, you know that she's sick and tired of the long-term unemployed taking home all of those cushy unemployment benefits. Angle's angle is that these millions of Americans are just living large on the dole and need to have their unemployment benefits terminated so that they will be motivated to go out and get a job -- one of the millions of magical jobs that exist in Sharron Angle's mind!
Last night, Angle discussed this matter with Nevada political reporter and host par-excellence John Ralston, on his "Face To Face" show. There, Angle attempted to clarify her remarks. But she continued to hold that America is just brimming with jobs, for everyone.
RALSTON: How would you have voted on that bill to extend unemployment benefits?
ANGLE: I would have voted no, because the truth about it is that they keep extending these unemployment benefits to the point where people are afraid to go out and get a job because the job doesn't pay as much as the unemployment benefit does. And what we really need to do is put people back to work. So if you want to ease people back into work, what we need is an unemployment benefit that pays part. You know, you go to work, you have something of a safety net, in unemployment. But just to give them full unemployment benefits and then extend those for two years or more gets them not only out of the working class but it also depreciates their skills, so they're not actually able to go out and compete in that workforce, so what we really want, is we want something that stimulates a group of people to go back into what we know as that free market.
Ralston then played a clip of Angle, explaining her position thusly: "You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job but it doesn't pay as much. We've put in so much entitlement into our government that we really have spoiled our citizenry."
RALSTON: SO you're saying that these tens of thousands of Nevadans, they're sitting on their couches, they're all spoiled, they don't want to go out and get a job, and I'm going to cut off your benefits. That's your attitude.
ANGLE: No, now, come on, John.
RALSTON: Spoiled! You said they're spoiled.
ANGLE: Well, I said that it had spoiled our citizenry. That's a little different. They're not spoiled. What has happened is this system of entitlement has caused us to have a spoilage with our ability to go out and get a job.
Also spoiling our ability to go out and get a job? The epic, economic collapse in 2008. Aside from that, it's really hard to discern what Angle is talking about. Ralston re-interjected himself:
RALSTON: You think that a bunch of people are sitting out there saying, "You know what, this is great! I got my unemployment check coming in, I'm not going to go out and look for a job?"
ANGLE: No, they're not.
RALSTON: But that's what you're implying.
ANGLE: It's not what I'm implying. What I'm implying is that there are some jobs out there that are available. Because they have to enter at a lower grade and they cannot keep their unemployment they have to make a choice. We're making them make a choice between unemployment benefits and going back to work and working up through the ranks of that job and actually building up a good wage again and building up some seniority in that job. And what we need to do is make that unemployment benefit go down, not just completely remove the safety net from them while they go out and look for a job.
RALSTON: So you're saying if people lose their jobs through no fault of their own, as many have during this recession, Sharron Angle's solution is to cut their unemployment benefits so low so they're somehow gonna go out and find jobs that don't exist? How does that make any sense?
ANGLE: There are jobs that do exist. That's what we're saying, is that there are jobs. But those are entry-level jobs.
It would be one thing, of course, if the economy had, in fact, created all kinds of jobs -- even entry-level jobs. Then Angle's grand plan to increase the desperation of the long-term unemployed so that they go after the scraps with renewed vigor might be actionable. It might even be entertaining! We could pit the unemployed against each other in Thunderdomes, which sounds perfect for Nevada. But Angle's just astoundingly out of touch with what's going on in the world of unemployment. For some real talk, here's Pat Garofalo:
Angle's clarification doesn't make her position look any better, and her assertion that there a multitude of jobs available for the unemployed is simply rubbish. First, the average unemployment benefit is just $290 per week. There are nearly five workers actively searching for work for every job available, compared to 1.5 per job opening before the recession began. "That is incredibly unusual, so therefore it's premature to give up on those emergency benefits," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Economy.com.
Another thing that Angle might want to get hip to is this new trend in employment, where in order to get a new job, you have to have a job already. Of course, I say that as if Angle is at all interested in fostering employment. As she famously said, "As your US Senator, I'm not in the business of creating jobs."