POLITICS
09/19/2014 11:51 am ET

John Boehner Is Done Being Nice About The Unemployed

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner's Thursday lament that unemployed people think they can "just sit around" instead of working shows how much the political conversation about the economy has changed.

All year long, Democrats have bashed the Ohio Republican for his callous indifference to the plight of the long-term unemployed, who Democrats have insisted aren't lazy.

And in dozens of interviews with HuffPost, unemployed people themselves have said they resent any implication they're not trying to find jobs.

"The job market here is fierce, and when politicians refer to us as lazy and not willing to work, it's just like a slap in the face," Lisa Millard, an unemployed Las Vegas casino worker, told HuffPost in July.

But in his many public statements refusing to allow a House vote reauthorizing long-term unemployment insurance, Boehner always avoided saying anything about unemployed people. Instead, he criticized the legislation itself for a variety of reasons: It didn't create jobs. It would be difficult to implement. Go bug Obama about it.

During a Thursday event to promote his own jobs plan, however, Boehner let his hair down by lamenting "this idea that has been born, maybe out of the economy over the last couple years, that you know, I really don't have to work. I don't really want to do this. I think I'd rather just sit around. This is a very sick idea for our country."

A spokesman for Boehner told Reuters the speaker wasn't trying to call the unemployed lazy, despite the clear implication. His change in tone probably is owed to two things: First, Democrats are no longer pushing for more unemployment benefits, and secondly, the unemployment rate has fallen steadily to 6.1 percent. Politically, it's safer than it's been in years to dis the jobless.

HuffPost

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