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The "Let Them Eat Want Ads" Caucus

Let's call it the "Let Them Eat Want Ads" Caucus -- those candidates and public officials who argue that unemployment benefits are problematic because they discourage people from seeking jobs.

And let's add another Republican to that caucus: Candidate Michele Rollins, who's running for Mike Castle's open House seat in Delaware.

Rollins, who's running in a contested race against green technology exec John Carney, was asked by a constituent if she would have voted to extend unemployment benefits. She suggested she wouldn't, claiming that "for someone who hasn't worked in two years" it's "pretty hard to get energized to go back and look for a job."

She added:

"I know this is a bad market and a very bad time. But you just cannot keep paying people, cannot keep taxing us to pay people to do nothing, because they will continue to do nothing for a very long time."

The exchange was captured on audio recorded by a tracker for the DCCC.

In an interview with me, Rollins clarified that she was not by any means suggesting the unemployed were "lazy."

"I didn't mean that unemployment benefits discourage people from working," Rollins said. She added that she does support "continuation" of benefits, though she said it was also crucial to "find the money" to pay for it. She claimed that all she meant to say was that "jobs aren't out there."

But Rollins did tell her constituent that giving people benefits risks ensuring that people "will continue to do nothing." And she's only the latest to make this claim. Sharron Angle suggested that the unemployed were getting "spoiled" by benefits, though she later backtracked. Senators Richard Burr and GOP Senate candidate Ron Johnson, who's challenging Russ Feingold, have also argued that unemployment benefits discourage job-seeking. If I've missed others, let me know.

To be clear, this is not the official position of the GOP leadership, which says it favors extending unemployment benefits if the cost of them is offset elsewhere and doesn't add to the deficit.

And that's why we need a special caucus for those who do see benefits as problematic: The "Let Them Eat Want Ads" Caucus. Any takers?

By Greg Sargent  |  July 29, 2010; 10:53 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , House Dems , House GOPers , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans , economy  
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Next: Dems pour cold water on GOP request for new Black Panther hearings


"Do Jobless Benefits Discourage People From Finding Jobs?"


Posted by: sbj3 | July 29, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

More wisdom from the journolist.....

Does anybody else find the folks that make up journolist are just a tad bit priggish?

Posted by: TECWRITE | July 29, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I can do that too.

"Is Barack Obama really the love child of Malcolm X?"


Posted by: mikefromArlington | July 29, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

As someone who relied on unemployment benefits for over a year, I agree it could be reformed in some way, maybe by frontloading the benefits and having them tail off toward the end

Posted by: SDJeff | July 29, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

@sbj3: No jobs is what keeps people from finding jobs.

If you have ever tried living on UI, you would know that it is not a way to live high off the hog on the govt dime. People are often going into debt WITH UI, just covering rent and food.

Posted by: srw3 | July 29, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Problem: Republican economic policies lead to massive unemployment.

Solution: Blame the unemployed and call them lazy.

Don't you see? The GOP are the victims in all this (they always are). It isn't the Republicans fault that all these people are too lazy to go get jobs! Heck, most of these Republican Congress Critters have yachts that need buffing, why don't these worthless unemployed people grab a rag and head to the marina? Oh, we'll need to get rid of the minumum wage because Rep. Silverspoon doesn't want to pay more than 30 cents an hour.

If these layabout unemployed peons weren't so lazy they would jump at the chance to earn 30 cents an hour!

Posted by: nisleib | July 29, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Ethan from the last thread: "But HEMP prohibition is just lunacy."

Hemp prohibition came about in order to protect the burgeoning nylon and chemical industries.

"In the United States, the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act, Pub. 238, 75th Congress, 50 Stat. 551 (Aug. 2, 1937), was a significant bill on the path[1] that led to the criminalization of cannabis. The act was penned by Harry Anslinger and introduced by Rep. Robert L. Doughton of North Carolina, on April 14, 1937. The Act is now commonly referred to using the modern spelling as the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act.

The bill was passed in order to destroy the hemp industry[2][3], largely as an effort of businessmen Andrew Mellon, William Randolph Hearst, and the Du Pont family.[2][3]


Posted by: suekzoo1 | July 29, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse


"To be clear, this is not the official position of the GOP leadership, which says it favors extending unemployment benefits if the cost of them is offset elsewhere and doesn't add to the deficit."

How many times did Republicans vote for unpaid unemployement extentions in the past without paying for them?

Better yet, how many bills (or wars) did the Republican party pass between 2000-2006 that caused massive deficits?

When dealing with a massive hypocrite, it's best to simply note the complete lack of credibility they have, dismiss them, and move on. Thus is what the press should be doing to GOP "ideas", which are nothing but political slogans parading as policy.


Here, I'll update your comment for you:

"Do Jobless Benefits Discourage People From Finding Jobs?"

Yes...says an economist who still believes that Wall Street bankers should be allowed to do whatever they want, since they will magically regulate themselves.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | July 29, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

"you just cannot keep paying people, cannot keep taxing us to pay people to do nothing, because they will continue to do nothing for a very long time."


Totally detached from today's reality.

Totally detached.

Where do they get this endless supply of clueless people?

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 29, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

@srw: "No jobs is what keeps people from finding jobs."

I'm merely arguing a fundamental rule of economics regarding incentives. Are you arguing that "the laws of economics are suspended as long as [this] recession continues?"

Posted by: sbj3 | July 29, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

OT - But a quick note re letting the Bush Tax cuts. (This is a repost)

They say letting the Bush tax cuts expire will hurt employment, but I'm not so sure. If we increase taxes on those making more than $250,000 (that is profit) we may actually encourage some companies to hire MORE people.

Why? Because that $250,000 is profit, not revenue. If your goal is to pay as little tax as possible then you do that by lowering your taxable income. All business owners like to keep revenue as high as possible, but we also love to time our deductions for maximum benefit. For example asset purchases are often timed with an eye toward tax reduction. If I expect to have a stellar year next year I may try to push as many expenses as possible from this year to next year.

If I know that my top tax rate is going from 35 to 39 percent next year, I may hold off on hiring that new employee I need so desperately until next year because the reduction in taxes I'll receive (due to lowering my taxable income by hiring another employee) next year will be higher than it would be this year.

Look at what happened when Clinton raised taxes to the level that they will revert to when the tax cuts sunset. Then compare it to what happened when Bush put the tax cuts into place. And for a laugh review the language Bush and co used to sell us on these tax cuts.

Posted by: nisleib | July 29, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

sbj, when we are at or near full employment, i.e. the unemployment rate is around 4% to 5%, then UI benefits can have a negative effect in compelling people to find work quickly. That is also why there are NO EXTENSIONS granted.

We are nowhere near that today. The UI rate is 9.5% and the under-eployment rate is higher still. What maybe 15% or so? It is lunacy to think that people are sitting back living the high life on UI benefits in today's environment. If that is what you are arguing, you are just DISHONEST.

Go read some of the letters written by the long-term unemployed.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | July 29, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse


Industrial Hemp has the potential of becoming a creating an agricultural revolution in this country. It's uses and benifits are incredible - it even helps replenish the land it's grown on, making it ideal for crop rotation.

Several states have actually legalized the growth of industrial hemp (which can't be smoked to get high) in farms...but the DEA still has to clear it on a national level before farmers in those states can grow it safely. The DEA, rather than saying yes or no, has simply been sitting on the applications.

That's the question I wish would get asked of Obama in one of those online townhalls. Instead of asking about legalizing pot, ask him if he would direct the DEA to approve a few farms' applications - as a test study - to grow industrial hemp as a commercial crop, in accordance with existing state laws.

All we need is for a few farmers to do it. They'll get great crops, make good money, help local economies, and prove that industrial hemp is as harmless as growing corn or cotton.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | July 29, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

@sue: "It is lunacy to think that people are sitting back living the high life on UI benefits in today's environment. If that is what you are arguing, you are just DISHONEST."

That is not what I am arguing. I'm merely arguing a fundamental rule of economics regarding incentives. Are you arguing that "the laws of economics are suspended as long as [this] recession continues?" Where is your evidence that incentives have no influence during a recession?

Posted by: sbj3 | July 29, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Yes Sue, I forgot about DuPont.Tobacco had a hand too, if I'm not mistaken.

@nisleib: "And for a laugh review the language Bush and co used to sell us on these tax cuts."

Yeah, shorter: "Prosperity in America has been fun, but the rich want their money back, so tough."

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 29, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

The Republicans would turn us into a third world country run by a wealthy oligarchy, with teeming crowds of unemployed begging on the streets and dying in the gutters. Judging by the number of dittohead brainwashed right-wingers commenting on the WaPo forums, they may just suceed.

Posted by: Chagasman | July 29, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Ethan2010 - As a technical matter that isn't any shorter, but it gets to the heart of the matter with speed and clarity. Kudos!

Posted by: nisleib | July 29, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

BBQ, I've been an advocate of legalizing hemp production for many many years. ;o)

If it was good enough for George Washington, it's good enough for me. LOL

Posted by: suekzoo1 | July 29, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

"prove that industrial hemp is as harmless as growing corn or cotton."

Yes. Cotton is one of the worst crops for the environment. It is a huge consumer of water (one of, if not THE, biggest consumers of water in agriculture) and it is totally reliant on huge amounts of pesticide.

Cotton and Water:

Cotton and Pesticides:

As for corn, we pay billions to farmers to grow exclusively corn that is converted to high fructose corn syrup and used in every fake "food" item known to mankind (in wealthy develop countries, particularly here).

Food Inc. is a must-watch if you haven't seen it already. True eye-opener.

Our industrial agriculture system and the corporate food industry are a total disaster.

Another highly recommended resource is Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto"

That book will blow you clean out of the water even if you're not so interested in food or the environment. It's an easy read too. Truly essential for a basic understanding of what we have done to food, and thus our health, in the modern age.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 29, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Reality Check; And For Cripes Sake Keep It Simple Democrats:

Repeat These Words: Over And Over, Until They Sink In, With The American People:

If The Bush/Cheney Eight Year Reign Of Terror, Had Not Destroyed Our Economy, And Created Not A Single Net Job, We Would Not Have To Now Be Paying Extended Unemployment Benefits.

Republicans put all those people out of work, and are now blaming the victims, for being out of work.

Posted by: Liam-still | July 29, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Republicans claim to want this dog-eat-dog society in which no one helps anyone else. But you never hear about them turning down unemployment, or social security, or Medicare. They'd better be careful, or they might get what they want.

Posted by: DaveHarris | July 29, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

sbj: "Where is your evidence that incentives have no influence during a recession?"

Jesus. There are on average, nation-wide, 5 applicants for every available job. Obviously, there aren't enough jobs to give to all who seek one.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | July 29, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I like the "Let Them Eat Cake" Caucus. We need to do more of this type of messaging.

I read elsewhere that the Dem strategery is going to be to try to tie the Republicans to the Tea Party. A worthy goal, of course, but why not make it simpler?

Why not talk about the Democrats' New Deal for average American working people from the last time of major economic discomfort, vs. the GOP's Raw Deal of today?

New Deal: social safety net for workers out of work through no fault of their own; a buffer from poverty in old age via Social Security; important regulatory safeguards against unacceptable levels of risk in financial markets. Top income tax rates of 63 - 79% on very high incomes.

Raw Deal: refusal to extend unemployment benefits - even blaming the unemployed for the lack of jobs; efforts to privatize or gut Social Security, or at least diminish it with the excuse of austerity to reduce the debt; refusal to impose regulatory safeguards against dangerous levels of risk in financial markets; top income tax rate of 35% on billionaires.

I mean, the thing can write itself. What the heck is wrong at the DNC and with pretty much the entire Democratic party establishment with its associated PR flacks that they can't see what's right in front of them?

Posted by: JennOfArk | July 29, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

"Let them eat cake" caucus better than "let them eat want ads" caucus? I can take it...

Posted by: Greg Sargent | July 29, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Raw Deal sounds about right, Jenn. One thing about income tax rates, I don't think ever going over 50% is a good idea. Not that I'm an economist, but I think people are less likely to push themselves if the government is seriously taking MOST of their wages.

I would put the top bracket back to 39%, then add two more, one for families making over $2M, for example, at 43%, and another for over $40M, at 48%.

Those are just examples, I don't know the exact numbers it should be, but that would raise serious cash for the treasury while having minimal impact on the vast majority of Americans. If anyone's gonna get screwed, it might as well be the fraction of Americans who can most afford it, instead of the vast majority of us who can't.

Posted by: SDJeff | July 29, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

'Wanna be' politician's like Rollins, Angle, Johnson and Burr need to be run out of town on a rail just for opening up their ignorant mouths.

If it were not for ignorant politicians like these millions or people would still be employed, and now they are trying to convince folks that they are too lazy to work.

Who are politician's like these truly representing, if all they know how to do is demonize their constituents.

Furthermore, we know the jobs are not there, but what are these morons doing to help bring jobs to their constituents who need work.


Posted by: lcarter0311 | July 29, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

The GOP are claiming both that the unemployed could find a job if we just stopped paying them and that Obama hasn't produced any jobs.
They can't have both together, either people just aren't taking jobs or there aren't jobs to take.

Posted by: rpixley220 | July 29, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Greg - my bad! That was a typo - what I was TRYING to say was that I liked YOUR construction - "Let Them Eat Want Ads."


Posted by: JennOfArk | July 29, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

sbj3: I'm merely arguing a fundamental rule of economics regarding incentives. Are you arguing that "the laws of economics are suspended as long as [this] recession continues?"

Well, the point is that unemployed people DON'T NEED MORE INCENTIVES TO FIND WORK, THEY NEED JOBS. Its the difference between searching for work while you and your family are living in a house or apt and trying to find work with your family living in your car (if you have one). Its a lot tougher to get hired if you are homeless, or your credit score is in the trash because your house was foreclosed. There is an upper bound on incentive's effectiveness and it has been reached. Putting additional pressure on people to find work by cutting off their ability to get food and rent is counterproductive, not incentivizing.

Posted by: srw3 | July 29, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I am so glad to see so many comments that are in touch with the harsh reality of being out of work and unable to find work. My desire to make fun of the ditto heads says something bad about me. Those of us who come from families of substance cannot understand the needs of us who grew up on our own efforts. When there is no safety net, (no jobs, no trust funds, overstretched social programs) I fear we will revert to a Hobbesian world (nasty, brutish and short) If the wealthy of our society prefer to live as a "nobility," then we will face civil anarchy. The tenets of Social Darwinism (of which so many conservatives are fans) lead readily to violent conflict. Many of us will indeed rob, kill and oppress others in times of severe stress. So, here is a warning to all the blithely ignorant defenders of the wealthy. We approach war. Just as I read the countless plaints stating that the wealthy will refuse to invest if they aren't taxed less, I read in the faces of the street beggars and desperate families a willingness to harm the wealthy. Be smart, America. The solutions required of us will take decades of work and renunciation of selfish behaviors. We race towards the vanishing point, as China exerts its will to live as a "First World" consumer nation. So, those of us who have, prepare to share willingly, lest more unattractive methods of resource sharing come. For those of us who have not, educate yourselves. Last time I looked, libraries are still free. Read, think, lower your expectations and call BS where you see it. That applies to us all.


Posted by: moderateaintstupid | July 29, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

moderate, great comment.

You should stick around this site or comment more often! Speaking for myself, I'd enjoy reading more of your thoughts along these lines.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 29, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I second that Ethan!!!
I have been reading these boards for years and it is becomming painful to read the ignorance. Civil discourse is non existant as these boards have been taken over by lunitics. And no the leftwing extreme and rightwing extreme rants are not equivilent...

Posted by: wise_pharaoh | July 29, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the kind comments. The thoughtful are drowned out by voice of fear from both the haves and have-nots. It is distasteful and discouraging to face the very real probability that we live in an unsustainable system, we face the ultimate question of how then shall we live? I can only send out this call to all of us, "Come, let us reason together."

Posted by: moderateaintstupid | July 29, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the kind comments. I share your alarm at the deterioration of our civic discourse. The moderate are drowned out by the voices of fear from both the haves and have-nots. It is disturbing to face the potential reality that we are living in an unsustainable system and will descend into havoc. It is also alarming to me that the eventual outcome of the economic collapse of the 1930s led to world war. I hope that we can all respond positively to the old saying, "Come, let us reason together." In hope...

Posted by: moderateaintstupid | July 29, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

"I can do that too.

Is Barack Obama really the love child of Malcolm X?"


Posted by: mikefromArlington | July 29, 2010 11:13 AM


Well, what do you know. Obama really is an American citizen.

Posted by: turkerm | July 29, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Congrats to "moderateaintstupid" for saying in print what Dems want, but are afraid, to say: "If you don't give it to us willingly, we'll take it by force."

Literal mob rule, or mob rule through Dem confiscation/share the wealth policies, are the same. They just take different forms. As the welfare state runs out of money, the mob will take to the streets like in Greece.

I'd rather take my chances and go down fighting the mob now than bribe them for safety as "moderateaintstupid" demands.

"Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute."

It was an appropriate response to the Barbary Pirates two hundred years ago and its an appropriate response to Dems and their extortion minded voters now.

We refuse to pay for Peace in our time, because the mob's demands only grow over time. It never stops demanding. Progressive doesn't mean "progress". It means growing like a cancer. Like with cancer, the best remedy for "progressive" policies is to identify the disease and kill it early.

Posted by: jfv123 | July 29, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Izzo vs. Rollins (Delaware Primary Sep. 14, 2010)

Rose Izzo is a fiscal conservative running against Michele Rollins for Mike Castles old seat. Please visit:

Posted by: TeamIzzo | July 29, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

With combined unemployment (9.9%) and underemployment reaching over 20%, are the jobless workers who continue receiving taxpayer-funded unemployment checks simply slackers who are contributing to the problem?

Indeed 99 weeks of unemployment checks is costly to society, but forcing these people to look for jobs that are unavailable does not change the problem. There will remain six people looking for every job available, though different workers may be drawing the government checks.

And clearly the guy who sits out unemployment for 90 weeks and then starts looking for a job, is not the guy I want working for me. Yes, the money we pay him gets filtered back into the economy, but he — personally — remains a slouch and should do some soul-searching.

Cutting him off at 50 weeks will not help, though it may increase crime and require more cops. But mandating 20 hours of volunteer time per week would help tremendously. It’ll help pay back society while giving the individual even more experience to add to his or her resume. Volunteer at the diabetes center, clean city sidewalks, or whatever. But get off your butt and contribute.

And if you don’t like the term “mandating,” let’s pay him zero for sitting on his tail and $15 per hour (up to 20 hours/week) to work in the “volunteering” capacity and offer free re-education in a new industry.

Jack Lohman

Posted by: jelohman | July 30, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

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