As Republicans and Democrats argue about whether they should extend unemployment insurance to the long termed unemployed, Paul Krugman writes that the Republican argument is part of a war on the poor:
Right now Republicans are doing all they can to hurt the poor, and they would have inflicted vast additional harm if they had won the 2012 election. Moreover, G.O.P. harshness toward the less fortunate isn’t just a matter of spite (although that’s part of it); it’s deeply rooted in the party’s ideology, which is why recent speeches by leading Republicans declaring that they do too care about the poor have been almost completely devoid of policy specifics.
Republicans view unemployment as a moral failure, not an economic failure. In fact, they firmly believe that poverty is the result of moral turpitude. Consider what is happening in Republican states:
The most important current policy development in America is the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, a k a Obamacare. Most Republican-controlled states are, however, refusing to implement a key part of the act, the expansion of Medicaid, thereby denying health coverage to almost five million low-income Americans. And the amazing thing is that they’re going to great lengths to block aid to the poor even though letting the aid through would cost almost nothing; nearly all the costs of Medicaid expansion would be paid by Washington.
Meanwhile, those Republican-controlled states are slashing unemployment benefits, education financing and more. As I said, it’s not much of an exaggeration to say that the G.O.P. is hurting the poor as much as it can.
The truth is that, for Republicans, economics is essentially a matter of Old Testament morality. The poor are sinners in the hands of an angry God. The fact that the supply of jobs is woefully inadequate to the demand is simply irrelevant information. They believe they must save the poor from themselves.
And, in pursuit of that objective, they have put an end to the War on Poverty and declared a War on the Poor.