As the Greeley Tribune’s Cuyler Meade reports–voting against every coronavirus relief bill, sometimes almost alone, slamming stay-at-home orders to slow the pandemic while deaths from COVID-19 skyrocketed in his home Weld County, mocking basic best practices like wearing masks and avoiding mass gatherings, and plenty more examples of outrageous irresponsibility we didn’t even bother to list here during the ongoing emergency wasn’t enough for Rep. Ken Buck, Congressman and embattled chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.
Now Rep. Buck wants you to know that the unprecedented millions of Americans who lost lost their jobs in the last two months, and forced through no fault of their own to seek unemployment compensation, are a bunch of freeloaders! Especially the really poor ones:
Touting a bill he and North Carolina Republican Ted Budd introduced in Congress on Tuesday, Windsor-based Republican congressman Ken Buck continued his consistent criticism of the CARES Act, saying it incentivized unemployment through benefits that are too high for those who are out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [Pols emphasis]
The Getting Americans Back to Work Act, Buck said, caps the amount an individual can receive from unemployment insurance at 100% of their previous wages, fixing, a release said, “glaring errors in the CARES Act” that provide too much money to people who have lost their jobs and are relying on unemployment insurance.
“America’s Grand Reopening starts by getting people back to work. We need to fix the glaring flaws in the CARES Act that have incentivized many Americans to remain out of work by providing more income through unemployment benefits than they would have received from their employer,” Buck said in the statement released by his office. “A record number of Americans have lost their jobs because of this nationwide shutdown and we need to do everything we can to encourage people to safely return to their places of work. Our strong, vibrant workforce is the backbone of our nation and is the key to a full recovery.”
It’s true that the additional unemployment relief authorized in the original CARES Act on top of states’ existing unemployment benefits has created a situation where some low-wage workers are receiving more in relief funds than they made on the job. For the purpose of keeping people home and safe during the ongoing pandemic, there’s nothing wrong with making sure the most vulnerable workers in the economy are not driven to unhealthy choices out of economic necessity. As anybody who has ever tried to live off the wages earned by workers who fall into this category of getting a bigger relief check than they got in paychecks before the pandemic, workers making such low wages are not “ripping off” anyone. They are themselves being exploited. Taxpayers are already paying to supplement the low wages of workers in America who earn so little they are forced onto public assistance to make ends meet.
But above all, for Ken Buck to make clamping down on the lowest-paid workers who are guilty only of receiving a benefit that exposes much greater systemic inequality his top priority, instead of policing big corporations who vacuumed up “small business” Paycheck Protection Program funds before real small businesses could even call their bank to apply or countless other more useful and (key point here) less heartless targets of oversight, says everything you need to know about Buck’s own principles.
At this point, we think Buck intentionally chooses his ugly grandstands. The uglier the better, and the negative reaction he gets is perversely gratifying to him. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle of cynicism and misanthropy that has its embittered audience, but contributes nothing useful to the debate over any issue beyond helping define the limits of common decency. And it will continue until Buck leaves office or the voters of beet-red CD-4 decide they’ve had enough.
Until then, Chairman Buck soldiers on as the greatest brand ambassador since Jared the Subway Guy.