Tea party favorite Sharron Angle, the Nevada GOP’s candidate for Senate, is arguing that the government should cut unemployment benefits to get the jobless back to work. Angle, whose outsider conservative candidacy has been compared to Weld County D.A. Ken Buck’s in Colorado, has a reputation for taking this hard line. In the past she has said the unemployed are “spoiled” by jobless benefits — which come from a federal insurance system, not a federal welfare program.
Speaking with local journalist Jon Ralston, Angle said:
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 unemployment 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.
As any unemployed person will tell you, jobless benefits generally aren’t enough to live on — the average unemployment check is just $293 a week. Unemployed persons often cut back drastically, drawing down savings, selling their car or home and tapping into retirement accounts. The underlying issue here is that there aren’t enough jobs for people who need them: There are 15 million unemployed persons in the United States, around five for each available position. Given those metrics, cutting benefits would just take away subsistence-level funds from the already financially stressed.
Angle’s opponent, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), is today pushing for an extension of federal unemployment insurance benefits. More than 1.2 million Americans have lost jobless benefits since the end of May as Congress has failed to re-up the extension.