Huffpost Politics

Missouri State Lawmaker: Unemployed Should 'Get Off Their Backsides,' Get Jobs

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JIM LEMBKE UNEMPLOYED

Missouri state Senator Jim Lembke, a Republican who recently made headlines for taking issue with red light cameras, railed against unemployment benefits earlier this week during a debate about whether the state should accept additional federal funds in to extend the program.

"Ninety-nine weeks is too long," Lembke said, referring to the 99-week window during which the unemployed can receive jobless benefits. "People need to get off their backsides and get a job. Maybe they'll have to get two jobs or three jobs to make ends meet, but they need to quit stealing from their neighbors."

Lembke's comments appear to be part of a larger trend that has taken place across the country during heated debate about providing additional aid to the unemployed.

Many legislators who have opposed the extension or reauthorization of benefits over the past months have expressed their belief that unemployment insurance either discourages recipients from seeking jobs, or simply rewards the "lazy."

HuffPost's Arthur Delaney reported last year in the heat of the congressional standoff over unemployment benefits:

Beneath the deficit concerns, however, there's something else: the suspicion that the long-term unemployed are a bunch of lazy drug addicts.

It's not an opinion openly shared by most members of Congress, but a handful of senators and representatives from both parties have said this year that they suspect extended unemployment benefits actually discourage people from looking for work.

While the one-year extension of funds for unemployment benefits ended up being a large selling point for President Obama's tax cuts compromise in December, the House GOP recently blocked a proposal to include additional benefits to the long-term unemployed in legislation that would have funded the government through September.

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