States that ended enhanced federal unemployment benefits early have so far seen about the same job growth as states that continued offering the pandemic-related extra aid. https://t.co/XXRJG0Su6C via @WSJ pic.twitter.com/FL2Zrcjkpk
— WSJ Graphics (@WSJGraphics) September 6, 2021
Another reminder, on top of others earlier, of the fallacy of Governor Hutchinson’s business lobby-inspired notion that starving the unemployed will send them back to work.
Yet he is proud — proud, I tell you — that he did everything possible to make people work during the pandemic. The tax money is pouring in, after all, for his next income tax cut for millionaires. We also rank 5th in COVID cases per capita and No. 2 in deaths, but you gotta break some eggs to make an omelet.
And speaking of meanness: Thanks to Tess Vrbin of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for a further explanation of the governor’s tone-deaf defense of the state’s failure to distribute $167 million in rent relief for struggling Arkansans.
The stater has sent a paltry $7 million to 3,000 households, while almost 11,000 are trapped in the bureaucratic maw of one of the governor’s new and improved streamlined state agencies. This one doesn’t happen to be one of bonus baby Mike Preston’s divisions, but it might as well be, given a DHS performance equal to the low standards of the unemployment benefits program Preston oversees.
The governor says he’s worried about fraud in the rental assistance program, the same excuse offered for calamitous unemployment benefit administration. Arkansas is already one of the chintziest states when it comes to jobless benefits and the governor cut off extra federal support 10 weeks early.
None of this is by accident. Republicans who grow fat at the government teat think the working poor either deserve their lot and should not get a government teat of their own to suck or else they are a bunch of cheats. Some projection is at work here, I think.
Neal Sealy, a grassroots organizer for Arkansas Renters United, had it right in Vrbin’s article:
Hutchinson’s “contempt for low-income people is shining through in those remarks” about potential fraud.
Jobless benefits, Medicaid, rental assistance, criminal justice reform, you name it. A pound of flesh is required. And when task forces are formed to address the ills of Arkansas, the seats are filled by billionaires and business lobbyists, not poor people or their advocates.
Welcome to Darkansas.