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Sharron Angle: We should cut unemployment benefits to encourage jobless to go back to work

Senate candidate Sharron Angle's positions on unemployment have attracted a fair amount of attention lately. She's taken heat for appearing to suggest that citizens are being "spoiled" by jobless benefits, and has also attracted criticsm for suggesting that job creation is not in a U.S. Senator's job description.

Last night, Angle sat for a grueling interview with Nevada journalist Jon Ralston, and in a key moment, she clarified her position: She said we should cut unemployment benefits to encourage those who lost their jobs to reenter the labor force at a lower level than they left it.

The key moment came after Ralston pressed Angle to clarify her earlier remarks about unemployment benefits spoiling Americans. Angle claimed she'd been misrepresented, and suggested that the problem is that unemployment benefits are so high that they discourage people from going out and finding lower lower level jobs:

What has happened is the system of entitlement has caused us to have a spoilage with our ability to go out and get a job...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 now.

We're making them make a choice between unemploment benefits and going back to work and working up through the ranks of that job and actually building up a good wage again...

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 go to work.

An incredulous Ralston asked: "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?"

Angle confirmed that this is precisely her position: "There are jobs that do exist. That's what we're saying, is that there are jobs. That those jobs are entry level jobs..."

Angle allowed that the salaries of those entry level jobs don't amount to a living wage. And she suggested that government should then come back in and "start to supplement" those salaries.

The key moment comes at around 1:30 into this video.

Here's the thing about this. The common Dem caricature of Republicans is that they are for cutting or eliminating unemployment benefits because they're heartless bastards. But here, Angle is offering this as a genuine policy prescription -- one she plainly believes would be an effective solution to the problem of unemployment amid the current crisis.

By Greg Sargent  |  June 30, 2010; 10:48 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Republicans  
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Next: How long can White House keep Boehner's "ant" crack alive?


I've been on unemployment before.

I was looking for, and applying to, jobs like crazy the whole time. It was a very difficult time, very stressful. And I was very happy to have temporary financial support.

Her position -- that we shouldn't help people when they are down and out -- as an INCENTIVE to goading them to "try harder" (?) is breathtaking and astounding.

She has obviously never been in this position before or doesn't know anyone who has (or doesn't CARE!), so I don't think she can legitimately claim to be a candidate "for the people" in a way that she attempts. Quite the OPPOSITE of that, in fact.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 30, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

The Crazy Angle

When Sharron, I am A Christian, and a Scientologist, Angle; gets her "back to work" plan up and running; all businesses should lay off all of their workers, and hire new ones at low entry level wages. Then The Crazy Angle will have The Government step in and subsidize every worker's income.

Who said The Crazy Angle was against Big Government?!!!!

Posted by: Liam-still | June 30, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

[Ralston] asked her whether she supported a proposal in the Senate to provide billions of dollars in incentives for small businesses to hire people. He did not mention any information about who was pushing the bill. Angle responded: "Well I think that's where the incentive should go, is to small businesses, yes. Because we know they are the engine that drives the job force."

"We have made history tonight," Ralston declared. "Because Sharron Angle just expressed support for a Harry Reid bill. How can I top that?"

Gotta love it when reporters are smarter (and better informed) than their subjects.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 30, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone in their right mind really believe that unemployment benefits are so luxurious that they prevent people from looking for jobs?

Posted by: twcunningham | June 30, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

In a system that is designed to keep wages low, keeping jobs competitive by ensuring at least 4% of workers unemployed at any given time, unemployment benefits are the only humane way of keeping the unemployed from falling though the cracks. If a worker is unemployed for a year, or, God forbid, a year and a half, it is our OBLIGATION to know they are able to feed their children.

Posted by: Maezeppa | June 30, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Angle needs to do more than preach an ideology.

The maximum unemployment benefit in Nevada is $362 a week, pretax. That comes out to $18,824 a year - assuming you can get benefits for a full year.

Unemployment is based on what your last income was so most people don't get the full $362 a week.

The Federal Government's official poverty level for a family of 3 is $18,310.

And Angle thinks that people stay at the poverty level so they can live it up?

And how do you work you go from being something like a bank manager work their up way up from the position of greeter at a Walmart?

Posted by: ga10s | June 30, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

The Crazy Angle

Boy: all those Gulf Coast people are so lucky, that the BP oil spill catastrophe has has allowed them to land on Easy Street, with all those wonderful unemployment compensation benefits.

I bet all those still having to stay on their jobs, around the rest of the nation, wishes that BP had found a way to destroy their jobs, so they too could live in the lap of unemployment compensation luxury.

Larry King will soon have it made.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 30, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Until people start seeing through the "being on unemployment is a luxury" meme, we are exactly where we were when Reagan got away with "welfare queens driving Cadillacs."

I'm ready for some good old, bottom-up class warfare.

The gates out front of those communities look pretty flimsy.

Posted by: BGinCHI | June 30, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Good God it's Sarah Palin's sister? Will be interesting to see if she can get elected being as unintelligent as she is?

Of course I'm unemployed, life time taxpayer, great citizen to what was once a great country.

For those of you who prefer bailing out everyone around the world, banking, insurance, auto and God only knows what other industry and then leave me here to rot you can kiss my white ass.

It's my nightly prayer that the dollar completely crashes and we are all brought back to a balanced playing field. You know barter for food and other necessities. Then the tough will survive. You Ms Angle won't find a soul to help your sorry ass....

Posted by: hoosierdonk | June 30, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"Angle is offering this as a genuine policy prescription" ???

Really Greg ? I would like to have what you're smoking right now.

Posted by: amkeew | June 30, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

After watching the entire Ralston/Angle interview, I was amazed at how poorly Ms. Angle did, how defensive she seemed and how unprepared she was, for what are predictable questions. She stayed away from the press for weeks, and THEN comes out for the Ralston interview. This interview wasn't quite as bad as the Sarah Palin "what do you read" interview, but it is nearly as damaging.

I don't know who is advising her, but they better get their candidate up to speed and fast. Or Ms. Angle should fire them and get someone new. This interview didn't do her campaign any good, that's for sure.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | June 30, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Brutal: Obama himself will unload on Boehner's "ant" crack in a speech later today:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | June 30, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

And does Ms. Angle also want to cut farm welfare and end generations of farmers on the dole?

Posted by: Garak | June 30, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Greg, it's a "policy prescription" from a "heartless bastard" who is also a "complete nutbag."

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | June 30, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

The portion of this argument that deals with people refusing "entry-level" work fails to recognize that many people are refused these positions on the basis that they are overqualified. I have several friends and acquaintances who have had this very experience.

For many experienced professionals, the only answer to this problem is to take a position in unskilled labor or the service industry. Does Angle really think that it will benefit the nation to experience the major brain drain that would occur if these people go to work in fast food?

When the economy bounces back, we'll need experienced people to fill professional positions. With contemporary HR techniques, no one listing Wendy's as their most recent employer has a shot in hell of getting an interview.

Posted by: jamois | June 30, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

A month or so ago the Atlantic had an article on the devastating effects of long-term unemployment. And they (and the article in the current issue on women taking over) discuss the debilitating long-term effects on young people who come of age in a period of high unemployment such as we are now experiencing.

The GOP position on the character-building qualities of unemployment and poverty is more than just heartless and ignorant; it is more generational warfare.

Posted by: Mimikatz | June 30, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

It looks like Palin and Bachmann have serious competition for the Crazy Loon of the Right crown.

Posted by: Rokker | June 30, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I was struck by the footage (within the interview) that showed Ms. Angle inside her well appointed house talking about cutting unemployment benefits for people, some of whom are living in their cars. I wondered what she would be saying if she lived in her car and some politician lived in her house.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | June 30, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse


"The common Dem caricature of Republicans is that they are for cutting or eliminating unemployment benefits because they're heartless bastards. But here, Angle is offering this as a genuine policy prescription -- one she plainly believes would be an effective solution to the problem of unemployment amid the current crisis."

I'm curious. You're in the thick of things more than I am. Do you think that shifting the attack from the "heartless bastard" approach would be more or less effective politically than the "totally crazy policy" approach?

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | June 30, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

The Crazy Angle

is not that far out of touch with the establishment Republican Party Ideology.

Recall that their last Presidential nominee, John McCain, said that Americans workers would not be willing to harvest vegetable crops for $50.00 per hour.

Republican Cognitive Dissonance.

While they were claiming that $50.00 per hour harvesting jobs would go unfilled, because Americans would not do the work, the very same Republicans were claiming that raising the meager minimum wage level, would kill lots of jobs, that Americans were currently willing to take, for a starvation wage.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 30, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

"Angle allowed that the salaries of those entry level jobs don't amount to a living wage. And she suggested that government should then come back in and "start to supplement" those salaries."
Why do I believe that if asked if she supported higher minimum wage laws, she's say of course not. Except she just described exactly that.
oh look, she actually voted against raising the minimum wage.
Bill detail:
Vote roll call:

Posted by: rpixley220 | June 30, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Not only that, John Boehner would raise the retirement age to 70 to make people work at poverty-level jobs even longer before they could qualify for any sort of truncated benefit.

Republican solution to the unemployment crisis: work until you drop dead on the job. Nice.

Posted by: Ellid | June 30, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe she's saying that. She needs to experience what most of us had been through with unemployment. I was out of job for almost 2 years due to recession. The whole time I was getting my benefits, I was out there looking for a job. I'm glad for that and it helped me with bills and etc. I could have not survive without it. For her to even open her mouth without putting herself in someone else's shoes, does not deserve to be in any position that deals supposedly with "helping people."

Posted by: borongan07 | June 30, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

She hit a home run in this interview. People should watch the whole thing.

Posted by: Truthteller12 | June 30, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse


Why do you think people didn't watch the whole interview? I watched it all.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | June 30, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Sharon Angle should check out the beaches here in Hawaii that are full of tent villages. It is hard to get a job when you don't have a permanent address. If they don't extend benefits there will be more. I am all for getting people working again but many more businesses will go under if the republicans get there way and we will have to dig ourselves out of a bigger hole.

Posted by: justgeoff | June 30, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Now for some speculative mathematics. Nevada has a 15% unemployment rate. Angle tells those 15% unemployed that they shouldn't get benefits because it will encourage them to look for ANY job. Some of those unemployed are married. So perhaps 25% of Nevadans go into the voting booth, broke and VERY hungry.

Harry needs just a bit more than one vote in three from the rest of the state.

AND Angle still has four months to work her magic personalty on Hispanics, American Indians, Social Security Recipients, Veterans.

Is it possible to draw a negative number of votes in an election?

Posted by: ceflynline | June 30, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

1. If I take an entry-level job as Ms. Angle recommends, I default on my mortgage, which is bad for my banker.
2. I won't be buying another car for a long time, which is bad for my car dealer.
3. The entry-level job I take is one less opportunity for someone who is struggling to enter the workforce.
4. The hours I work at my entry-level job are hours that I am not spending looking for a job more suited to my skill level.
5. Ms. Angle needs to visit a few countries where most of the people work at menial jobs and struggle just to survive from day to day. Is that the future she wants for the USA?

Posted by: n_mcguire | July 1, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

It would be sooooo nice (just once) to see a news article that tells nothing but the truth without all the lies, enuendos and embellishments....... Don't think that is going to happen in my lifetime.

Posted by: Ellen18 | July 3, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

It would be sooooo nice (just once) to see a news article that tells nothing but the truth without all the lies, enuendos and embellishments....... Don't think that is going to happen in my lifetime.

Posted by: Ellen18 | July 3, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

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