Conservatives appear to have no empathy for the millions of Americans out of work.
Empathy has nothing to do with telling everyone how much “compassion” you have for unemployed Americans struggling to make ends meet. Or using the GOP’s training memo on how to talk to the unemployed.
Your heart going out to single mothers who can’t afford to put food on the table does exactly nothing to help them in that feat. And unemployment insurance, which people pay into in order to receive when they are out of work, is an essential lifeline that not only keeps American families above water, but also ensures they have money to spend in stores keeping the American economy above water as well.
This reality does not appear to match up with the faux reality invented by conservative media, that paints the unemployed as lazy moochers who don’t want to work and the fact that Republican endorsed policies were a major contributing factor in crashing the economy that lead to the loss of American jobs.
If you only consume conservative media, you might think unemployment benefits, are merely reparations for people undeserving of the help. This is a new development in this latest incarnation of the Republican party under President Obama, where any and every issue is debatable and wherever the president stands on an issue, the GOP is opposed.
The same goes for the debate over raising the federal minimum wage which hasn’t been increased in four years. In an appearance on Fox News Thursday, conservative commentator and former Reagan economic advisor called the minimum wage the “black teenage unemployment act.”
On Fox News Thursday Art Laffer said, “Yeah, well the minimum wage makes no sense whatsoever to me. I mean, honestly, it’s just the teenage — black teenage unemployment act and this is the very groups that we need to have jobs not be put out of work because of the minimum wage so I’m really very much in favor of at least for teenagers getting rid of the minimum wage so we can bring them back into the labor force, get them the skills they need to continue being productive members of our society for years and years. I mean, that’s the way I’d go on minimum wage.”
Laffer is considered the “father of trickle down economics” the big conservative lie that when the wealthy do well, assisted by decreased regulation and low taxes, that “trickles” success trickles down to the 99 percent. Not only is this not true, conservative policies since the Reagan era have consistently mirrored this philosophy despite a mountain of contradictory evidence.
Insensitivity towards the poor and working class is nothing new. Sequestration cuts mean that many Americans have no help to afford heat during this “polar vortex.” Republican allowed unemployment benefits for long term unemployed to expire right after Christmas and the recent drastic cuts to food stamps mean that many Americans can’t put food on the table or pay for the basic necessities. Compassionate conservatism was always a myth and that’s true more now than ever.
The zip code you are born in a huge predictor in terms of what’s possible. The majority of Americans who begin poor, will remain poor, and the Republican party’s open contempt for poor Americans, both in policy and in rhetoric, demonstrates that they are completely ill suited to help Americans who are struggling.
Follow Zerlina Maxwell on Twitter at @ZerlinaMaxwell.