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December 08, 2011 06:30 PM UTC

Those Classy Congressional Aides

  • by: Colorado Pols

A first-hand account from one Janalee Filer of Pueblo from the “sit-in” at congressional offices this week in Washington, DC (as reported by Allison Sherry of the Denver paper Tuesday), courtesy Crooks and Liars–were there any cameras on this exchange? As narrated, something of a Marie Antoinette moment in the hallway outside Rep. Scott Tipton’s offices:

I marched into Rep. Tipton’s office today and demanded a meeting. There is a crisis in Pueblo-and across the country-that requires leadership and commitment, and so far we have seen neither from our representative.

Rep. Tipton came and spoke with us for a few minutes in the lobby. When we asked him if he would vote to extend unemployment insurance, what I heard is that he is “pondering” it. I don’t understand how there is even a question about it!

One of his aides met with us in the lobby as well. When we asked him again about if Rep. Tipton would vote to extend the unemployment insurance, he told us he had to listen to both sides and then he told us a strange story. He heard about a disheveled guy going in for an interview and purposefully not getting hired just to get an unemployment check. [Pols emphasis] We all sat there for a minute in disbelief…

This visit actually opened my eyes to how Congress thinks-they live in a different reality. I didn’t expect to hear that they think of the unemployed as people just looking for a handout. It was shocking.

It’s funny, because this is the same meeting that Tipton’s spokesman Josh Green described to reporter Sherry as “pleasant,” making a big deal out of Tipton’s willingness to talk to them. After Green’s happy description of events and a call to the fascinatingly chic Compass Colorado for a little smack talk, Sherry apparently didn’t need to talk to the actual demonstrators–so she never heard the part about Tipton’s staffer insulting unemployed Americans everywhere.

Which is too bad, because that kind of seems like a story.


22 thoughts on “Those Classy Congressional Aides

  1. Therefore all unemployed people are parasites, undeserving of our compassion.

    Let’s say we accept that logic, for the sake of argument. Well, I heard about this guy who parked a truckload of explosives outside a government building in Oklahoma City. Destroyed the whole building and nearly everyone inside.

    Ergo, all right wing patriots are cowardly baby killers.

  2. What’s $17 billion amongst friends?

    A nationwide crackdown is coming for people fraudulently drawing unemployment payments — those who were never eligible and workers who keep getting checks after they return to work — a $17 billion benefits swindle last year alone, say federal officials.

    With the poor economy lingering and the jobless rate remaining high, Rhode Island and other states are stepping up efforts to stop the fraud and improper payments.

    As much as 30 percent of the wrong payments in 2010 went to people who had returned to the workforce but continued to claim benefits, according to Dale Ziegler, deputy administrator for the Office of Unemployment Insurance at the U.S. Department of Labor. Those payments came even after a 2009 executive order by President Obama seeking new policies to cut payment errors, waste, fraud and abuse.

    At the very least, it sure looks like Obama heard the same story. But blame Tipton! I say this about most of the Occupy agenda, but in this case it’s particularly helpful to dispassionately look at the facts. There is a large amount of waste and fraud in the unemployment compensation system, and we can’t just extend benefits into perpetuity.

    1. I assume you as well as Tipton’s staff have never been on unemployment. I have been on it twice and I can assure you that nearly all of those receiving benefits would never be able to simply live off their unemployment checks. I believe you get around 60% of your income up to a certain maximum. When you’re living check-to-check and you suddenly have your income cut nearly in half you aren’t exactly in a position to just sit back and not look for a job.

      “We don’t think this is mostly about fraud-we think it’s a lack of clarity of understanding what eligibility is,” said Jane Oates Assistant Secretary for the Employment and Training Administration at the Department of Labor-the agency charged with providing states administrative funding for unemployment insurance. “Many people feel that they’re allowed to collect unemployment benefits until they get their first paycheck of a new job, when the correct definition is you are no longer eligible to collect the first day you start working.”

      Funny how FoxNews doesn’t mention this caveat from the Department of Labor. They, instead, focus on a few cases of real fraud and imply everyone who’s on unemployment is a criminal. Most jobs make you wait at least 3 weeks until you get your first paycheck. A simple fix of allowing recipients to collect up until their first paycheck would solve a lot of this so-called “fraud”.  

      1. You mean they’re not all criminals? This is America. If you don’t have a job, it’s your own fault, and it’s probably because of drugs or felonies or ACORN.

        People without jobs should quit complaining and go to jail where they can get 10 cent an hour working a call center or doing laundry. Problem solved, greedy libs.

  3. Tipton may have phrased his argument inelegantly (to say the least), but there is a school of thought that extended unemployment benefits may be a disincentive to vigorous job search (this was discussed in the Becker-Posner blog a while back and those guys have the intellectual chops that Tipton may not).  Indeed, are we de facto making unemployment compensation a permanent benefit and should it be?  How low does the unemployment rate have to be before we limit the time a person can receive unemployment?  I’m pretty sure that even before the recession people who were trying their best to find work lost their benefits.  Have we decided that that’s not right?  Are we not permitted to even debate or discuss the costs and benefits associated with such a policy change?

    I find “confrontations” like the one described by Ms. Filer to border on the petty and childish.  Rep. Tipton is a staunch conservative and she is shocked (SHOCKED!) to find out that he MAY be againt extending unemployment benefits.  This isn’t news and this isn’t effective advocacy, especially when Ms. Filer “doesn’t understand why there is even a question about it!”  Guess what, Ms. Filer, this is a policy question and if you want to make your point, make a cogent policy argument.  Otherwise, have your tantrum elsewhere.

      1. so, yes, the burden on her is a bit higher.  Stated another way, I’m pretty sure she’ll get nowhere spouting stupidity in response to stupidity.  But, she may stand a chance responding intelligently to what she perceives is a stupid argument.

        1. Constituents that are desperate to get the ear of their elected official are rarely as articulate as a paid lobbyist.  The little old lady or man who needs his social security check, the poor family that haven’t received their food stamps for some reason and the hard working people who are now unemployed have burden enough and you think the bar should be higher for them than their elected congressman?

          I don’t think so.  These people more often than not see their congressman or senator as their only hope.  

          1. of seeing your representative if you’re not going to make some sort of convincing argument that will perhaps change that person’s mind (especially when you know from the outset that they disagree with you)?  If you’re just going there to confirm your suspicion that they don’t get it so that you can express your outrage to media outlets, you certainly have a First Amendment right to do so.  However, it’s not going to change anything.  If you want to change a person’s mind, you actually have to think and present a compelling case.  Without that, “your only hope” will be no hope at all.  Sorry, but that’s reality.  

            I have been up close and personal to some conservative politicians.  Outrage does not affect their views.  Human suffering does not affect their views.  In fact, I’m pretty sure there is a faction of conservatives who assume anyone receiving any type of social benefit is on the take or somehow morally corrupt.  The only thing that matters to them is how much it costs.  The argument is that it is cheaper to do X than to do Y.  If you don’t make that argument, you are wasting your breath.

            Now I am as pissed off as anyone about the way in which some of these legislators approach the issues, but at this point all anyone can do is make the argument that might actually resonate with that person and/or hope that person is defeated in the next election.  

            1. This is where I disagree with your analysis.

              For all its warts, the “Occupy” movement has garnered a lot of media attention and changed the conversation. While it may not change Tipton’s mind, that raw populism resonates with a lot of people in a way that “job creators” doesn’t. And regardless of whether he’s being pushed or pulled, it seems to have helped Obama develop a little spine.

    1. and is readjusted often based on the state’s unemployment rate.  There is no unemployment into perpetuity and never has been.  When there are many millions unemployed and only about 100,000 net jobs created every month, people fall off the rolls.  The homeless rate goes up and the number of people receiving food stamps go up.  The greatest numbers of unemployed are the young and those over 50, especially those over 55 and 60.  The Bureau of Labor

      Statistics provides statistics every month.

      1. And, of course, I get that unemployment does not last forever.  However, if I was a conservative legislator faced with a stubbornly high unemployment rate, these continual extensions may make me think there is de facto permanent unemployment benefits for some.  Again, maybe that should be the way it is and perhaps it’s cheaper than the inevitable costs of an increasing homeless population, but the point is certainly worthy of debate.

    2. There is still a 99-week cutoff from the Federal government (max – some states make this shorter).

      So if after almost two years you’re still unemployed, you don’t get any more unemployment benefits as subsidized by the Federal government.  This is part of the reason why the official unemployment rate is dropping so quickly now – people have outlasted their benefits and are dropping off of the unemployment rolls.

      Unfortunately with this recession, there are a LOT of people who fall into this long-term unemployment trap.  And after that length of time, some industries consider your former skills to be atrophied or obsolete, too…

      1. They especially won’t hire anyone who has been out of work for more than three or six months.  Many of these people are in a seriously screwed situation, especially the older ones.  One U.S. Senator has talked about unemployed over 55 who may never work again.  This is an extremely serious situation that needs attention.  I’m all for some type of program to get these people back in the workforce.

    3. Is that some people will unquestionably take advantage of any system. While others are trying the best they know under even the most generous system. So we have to design a system that tries to strike a good balance.

      If you’re going to end a system that has a single person take advantage of it, then no system will pas that test. If you’re going to create a system that provides well for anyone who is trying, then you’ll have a lot taking advantage of it.

      I think the present system provides a decent balance (and I pay into the fund as a business owner). Where I think we fall down big time is we don’t help people who’s skills are no longer needed. Most people out of work who spent decades in construction or manufacturing – those jobs are gone forever and they need to be helped to learn a new career.

  4. That “disheveled guy” reminds me of the recent college grad who took on some student loan burden to get a degree and be faced with no better job prospect than their loser brother who stayed at home and works 30hrs a week retail.

    Good one.

    It also reminds me of the guy who quit his federal gig with soid pension, made a fortune lobbying for Fannie/Freddie and now claims to want to be President.  Hahahaha  That’s awesome.

  5. by staff for Udall, Bennet, K Salazar, Lamborn (better than by lamebrain hisself). But, I was never there on a protest but to present local and personal views on legislation. And, I was already known to those staffers and office holders  

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