Ralph Reed: Christian compassion is for losers

Compassionate Conservatism

by digby

You all recall that Ralph Reed was the head of the Christian Coalition for many years and is still considered a leader of the Christian Right, fully forgiven for all his sins.

And you'll also recall that Elliot Spitzer is an immoral libertine who had to be run out of politics for sleeping with a prostitute.

Here's how the Christian leader and the immoral libertine came down on the issue of unemployment:

SPITZER: ... The pay freeze is a very small bore issue in the grand context of both the economy and the deficit. And I think that is why -- when he's willing to say, folks, who are earning above $1 million or some threshold, have to pay a bit more, so we can pay for unemployment insurance for people who desperately want to work but who can't get a job in this economy.

That is both fair. It is good for the economy.

Would you support that sort of trade? Do you support even extending unemployment benefits to people who are desperately looking for jobs and can't get them?

REED: I think we're reaching a point of diminishing marginal returns on that where the evidence is the more we extend unemployment benefits beyond what used to be 26 weeks, it then turned into 52 weeks, we're now past 96 weeks.

What we're doing is we're basically subsidizing unemployment at a certain point and not encouraging people to reenter the private sector. So I'm not philosophically oppose to extending unemployment benefits, but where do you draw the line? Is it going to be at 250 weeks?

I think at some point we've got to be about creating jobs and the eye ought to be on that.

SPITZER: Ralph --

REED: Not on how long you can pay people to be without work.

SPITZER: Nobody disagrees that the primary focus has go to be job creation. On the other hand, as a simple matter of compassion, humanitarian values, when about half of those who are unemployed, have been unemployed for over six months because there simply are no jobs.

REED: Right.

SPITZER: It's impossible to get a job out there. You cannot say to those folks -- we should not as a society say, we won't give you enough money to put food on the table for your kids. And the threshold that you're talking about, everybody agrees there should be a threshold. And you know what? We can set it when unemployment gets below 7 percent, 6 percent, 5 percent -- pick a number that we can agree upon that makes sense but not when it's 9.6 percent, or realistically, 16, 17, 18 percent.

This is simply not humane to say to people we won't give you food -- money for food and yet we're giving a tax break to millionaires. That's not the society I believe the United States represents.

REED: Well, that's the problem with making fiscal policy based on the misplaced compassion that doesn't work. The empirical evidence, Eliot, is very clear, which is that people are more likely to reenter the workforce and find a real job that carries with it dignity, self support and no longer being dependent upon the government when those unemployment benefits run out.

That's the empirical evidence.

The empirical evidence that there are no jobs is simply not relevant to Reed, who evidently truly believes that the long term unemployed are all malingering cheats who need to be "motivated" and that government has no business being compassionate. It's a perfect example of the moral depravity and selfishness of the Christian Right. Meanwhile, it's the horrible (Jewish) commie libertine who's arguing for compassion for his fellow Americans --- as Jesus would surely do.

Can we see what's wrong with this picture?

Update: I just watched a discussion between Chris Matthews, Mark McKinnon and Howard Fineman in which they all scratched their heads wondering why in the world the Republicans want to pass tax cuts for the rich when their own voters aren't rich and why they refuse to help the unemployed when "everybody" knows how cruel it is and that it simply must be done.

None of them were willing to even entertain the idea that these right wing zealots simply don't care about unemployed people because in the great scheme of things there aren't enough of them to matter and that they find it more profitable to pit their haters against them by characterizing them as as lazy parasites. And the idea that they wouldn't fight to extend the tax cuts no matter what is simply laughable. It's their raison d'ĂȘtre. It was baked into the Bush tax cut cake that they would renew them --- the only thing stopping it from happening automatically is the fact that they've also fetishized deficits to the point where even the weak Democrats should be able to make a argument for letting them expire. (Not to mention the fact that these same assholes say we can't afford to to pay unemployment insurance with 10% official unemployment in the land.)