While extension of unemployment benefits languishes in the Senate, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing yesterday to address long-term unemployment. During the hearing, Committee member Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) dismissed policy solutions for a more galling approach:
Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) didn’t have much patience for the egghead economists and their proposals for additional weeks of unemployment benefits, job-sharing or workforce retraining. ‘What would help me a lot is if you all came to Vegas and drank and gambled like crazy,’ she said.
Berkley’s dismissive remark is in stark contrast with the dire situation facing the 1.2 million unemployed Americans in need of extended benefits and the nearly 7 million workers who have been unemployed for more than 6 months. While previously viewing unemployment aid as “critical” for families “to put food on the table,” Berkley’s dismissal of the unemployed now seems more in line with her Republican counterparts. At the same hearing, Rep. John Linder (R-GA) suggested that unemployment benefits are merely “an allure” that “keep people from looking for work.” Her fellow Nevada Rep. Dean Heller (R) weighed in earlier this year, deeming unemployment extension as a policy that creates “hobos.” In a similarly misguided approach to the economy, Berkley joined republicans last year to champion tax cuts for the wealthy.