For all that Republicans tout the values of hard work, one of their most cherished beliefs is that the lives of working people should be as miserable as possible. The latest data point? Almost two dozen Republican governors have en masse decided to take thousands of dollars out of the pockets of their unemployed residents, by ending their participation in the federal government’s expanded unemployment assistance program months before the program is slated to end in September.
And on Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott joined this crew of cruel assholes, announcing that as of June 26 the state will cut off unemployed Texans from the expanded federal unemployment aid, including several hundred thousand gig workers, freelancers, and self-employed workers who are receiving unemployment benefits now through the federal program but wouldn’t receive benefits through the state’s unemployment system.
More via the Texas Tribune, emphasis my own:
Following pressure from business groups, Abbott is withdrawing from the program that allowed Texans to receive a weekly unemployment supplement from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. Abbott also cut off another lifeline called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which extended jobless aid to gig workers, self-employed people and others who aren’t traditionally covered by unemployment insurance, the Texas Workforce Commission said.
Approximately 344,000 Texans were receiving assistance through the PUA program as of April 30, according to data compiled by economist Julia Coronado, economics professor at the University of Texas at Austin. That number is down from the approximately 563,000 Texans receiving aid through the PUA program to start the year, a sign that Texans have steadily exited the program and returned to work even with the program still in place, Coronado said.
Abbott’s reasoning, along with that of his fellow Republican assholes, boils down to their ugly disdain for working people, many of whom are still navigating the challenges of childcare and other family responsibilities in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, don’t want a shit job with few benefits where they will likely have to deal with unvaccinated jerks, or maybe just want to take a well-deserved break from their previous shit jobs! As the state put it in a press release announcing Abbott’s decision, “paying unemployment benefits” allows people “to remain off the employment rolls,” which is a sanitized way of saying, y’all are lazy fuckers.
Other governors have made similar arguments. Via CBS News, emphasis my own:
The governors of Utah, South Dakota and Wyoming announced last Wednesday their states would end increased benefits. The governor of Wyoming in a statement said incentivizing people not to work is “just plain un-American.” The governors of Idaho, Iowa, Missouri and Tennessee last Tuesday joined the governors of Alabama, Mississippi, and North Dakota one week ago with similar announcements.
Officials in Montana, South Carolina and Arkansas announced during the first week of May those states will exit the federal program by the end of June. Montana Governor Greg Gianforte said the “vast expansion of federal unemployment benefits is now doing more harm than good.”
It’s the same, tired argument that government assistance ultimately hurts people, an argument that was laughable when it was applied to welfare and is even more laughable now in the midst of a pandemic that has made brutally obvious how little people like Abbott and his Republican cohort care about the needs of working people.