Sen. Johanns Defends GOP's Assault On The Unemployed

July 27, 2010 2:53 pm ET — Alan Pyke

Mike Johanns (R-NE)

In a blog post yesterday, Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) argued that the "Unemployment Extension Should Have Been Paid For." Sen. Johanns works hard to defend the GOP, but in order to believe his excuses you'd have to ignore the past six months of Republican talking points, filibusters and anonymous holds.

"I don't know a single Senator in Washington who didn't want to see these benefits extended," Johanns claims. But he must know the Republican Whip, Sen. Jon Kyl (AZ) who said in March that extending benefits would offer "a disincentive" to look for work "because people are being paid even though they're not working."

And he probably knows Judd Gregg, the senior Senator from New Hampshire who told CNBC in May that Congress should cut off benefits immediately because they encourage the jobless "to stay on unemployment."

He's most likely familiar with Senate hopeful Sharron Angle who said last month that unemployment benefits spoil out-of-work Americans, and should therefore be cut off.

The core of Johanns' objections — that our debt is unsustainable, and that Republicans merely wanted to pay for the extension — has been rejected by economic analysts and editorial boards around the country.

Meanwhile, the sympathetic face Johanns tries to present is undermined by these common Republican attacks on the unemployed for being lazy. The best example of this recently came not from the Senate, but the House; Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) actually said that one week's unemployment check ($300 or so on average) would cause the recipient to spend an additional four to five months on the dole. Watch:

If Johanns wants America to take his compassion at face value, he's going to need some new colleagues.