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The War on Workers


Mike Konczal usefully summarizes Gordon Lafer’s new report on the Tea Party’s class warfare. Although the media and most blogs have focused on Tea Party legislators’ work to undermine voting rights and reproductive rights, typically their work undermining employee rights has gone underreported. An excerpt:

Crucially, as Lafer emphasizes, this isn’t about what we colloquially refer to as “conservative values.” Rather than rolling back the state, tea party Republicans are calling for extensive observation and disciplining of unemployed people.

Tennessee conservatives and business interests, for instance, are pushing “the Unemployment Insurance Accountability Act of 2012 [which] would add scenarios that disqualify a worker from receiving unemployment in the first place [and] call for audits of 1,000 claimants weekly.” So much for smaller government and more privacy.

And for all the conservative talk about making programs as local as possible, what is often referred to as “subsidiarity” or “devolution,” that principle is ignored when it comes to repealing labor protections. Many conservative states have pushed laws designed to override localities that seek to create or increase their minimum wages, prevailing wages, living wages or mandatory sick days. Given that many states have big cities where more extensive labor protections exist, this matters for many people.

Effectively, the purpose of the Republican war on workers is to recreate the Gilded Age, a project going quite smoothly for the plutocrats, even if they are having trouble controlling the electoral implications of the angry people they’ve unleashed.

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  • DrDick

    If you actually look at their agenda, any pretense that the Tea Party is “populist” in any sense vanishes like a fetid mist.

  • Because unemployed people never use their unemployment benefits to purchase things from the businesses that are pushing to cut unemployment benefits. You know, just like we need to cut food stamps because those people never contribute to the economy.

    The TEAOP – Scraping the bottom of the barrel and sawing away at the tree branch.

  • carolannie1949

    A propos:
    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/11/03/207318/food-stamps-trimmed-for-47-million.html (SNAP is used extensively by poor workers)

    More of that when you look around. Beat all the “weak” to their knees, and then wonder what happened when the downtrodden rebel.

  • And anytime the rubes look like they might be starting to catch on:
    Look, thar’s another slutty skank that wants an abortion!
    That gay guy has eyes on your kids!!
    Them blacks, ‘n browns, ‘n furriners, is comin’ to YOUR neck of the woods fer YOUR jobs!!!
    And that Kenyan SocialiFasciCommieMusliHeathen Usurper is trying to bring in his Islamofascist Sharia Law – and, and, and, SHARIA EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE!!!

    Stupid is, as stupid does – and what stupid does, is vote for more stupid.

  • Derelict

    A friend of my father is a Tea Party “member.” He truly believes that all public employees are nothing by gold-bricking deadbeats who don’t deserve anything more than minimum wage (if that). He will happily tell about how he thinks government employees should be denied pension benefits because they need to learn how to save for retirement. Public-employee unions should be outlawed, too. And on and on.

    This guy is a retired firefighter from New Jersey, living off his pension, Medicare, and Social Security. He sees no problem with HIS benefits.

  • Bruce Vail


    You and Konczai need to diversify your sources of reading. This has been extensively covered.

  • J R in WV

    “Keep the government hands off my Medicare, pension, social security, etc, etc!!”

    It really is stupid beyond any responding to it. Down is up, white is black, and Republicans will save the country.

  • Guest

    “Effectively, the purpose of the Republican war on workers is to recreate the Gilded Age”

    Sort of. Closer tracking of those receiving unemployment benefits strikes me as exactly the sort of thing that the embittered, lower-middle class grass roots of the tea party would like. Technically, the idea may have come from an ALEC summit, or it may have come from a rant at a town hall, or somewhere in between. Nevertheless, this is exactly the type of policy that excites the tea party masses in a way that the capitalists can never fully experience. The sort of people who work at some crappy job, or run some crappy small business, for stagnant compensation, stress and arthritis. These people see the unemployed as just a little too happy to be taking what they perceive as a government-funded vacation.

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