The fight over extending unemployment benefits is a good one for Kay Hagan. While special interests groups are pounding her over Obamacare, she’s able to make the case that she’s the candidate who cares about Americans who still need help recovering from the Great Recession. And polling says she’s on the right side of the issue.
Republicans are taking the ideological approach, applying a broad stroke to all of the long term unemployed. They say that offering them benefits discourages them from looking for work. However, surveys show that there aren’t jobs to be had even if people wanted them.
In North Carolina, the issue is especially good for Hagan if her opponent turns out to be Thom Tillis. In a rare instance, Tillis and Hagan have votes on the same issue even though they serve in different levels of government. Last year, Tillis voted to end benefits to long-term unemployed in a vote in the legislature. Hagan, in contrast, will vote to extend them in a vote likely taken this week.
While Tillis is already on record, the rest of the GOP primary crowd is pandering to the right wing base and running scared of groups like Americans for Prosperity (prosperity for those who are already prosperous) and Heritage Action. Mark Harris, the fundamentalist preacher from Charlotte, quoted from the often overlooked Gospel of Antoinette, when he said we can’t afford to help poor people because our “credit card is already maxed out.” That’s the book where Jesus apologized to the money-lenders for turning over their tables and told people to pay their debts before they feed their families. I think it’s right after he said, “Let them eat cake.”
But again I digress. The issue furthers the narrative of a Republican Party that is uncaring. It’s that bigger picture that will hurt the GOP instead of the unemployment benefits by themselves. Democrats will likely be talking about income inequality, raising the minimum wage and helping improve the lives of working folks. Republicans will probably still be talking about Obamacare, bureaucratic incompetence and Big Government. It’s a clear contrast and should make for an interesting election.