Back in July, when he was in the midst of a fierce primary battle with Sen. Lisa Murkowkski (R-AK), tea party candidate Joe Miller railed against the concept of unemployment benefits. “The unemployment compensation benefits have gotten — first of all, it’s not constitutionally authorized,” he said. After he secured the nomination, Miller continued with this theme, falsely suggesting that Medicare and Social Security are both unconstitutional as well.
When journalists pressed Miller to expound on his Medicare and Social Security statements, the Tea Party favorite seemed reluctant to go into detail. Now, it seems that Miller is backtracking from his position on unemployment benefits as well. Yesterday on CNN, when host John King noted his previous claim, Miller danced around the question but ultimately said it’s extending the benefits that is the problem, not the benefits themselves:
KING: Now you have said you believe extending unemployment benefits and federal unemployment benefits are unconstitutional.
MILLER: Let me tell you why. The Democratic Party and even the votes that many of which Murkowski voted in support of the Democratic Party is not the answer to putting people back to work. And as long as the federal government stays on the back of the American worker by too much regulation, by creating an anti-competitive atmosphere, by taxation, we absolutely are going to maintain the unemployment benefits so that workers can continue to be where they need to be but long term there has to be a transition there, too. … Why we’re talking about expanding unemployment compensation for a much longer period than what had been done in the past?
Miller also hinted that his position was shifting on unemployment benefits during an interview with Fox News’s Chris Wallace this weekend. When Wallace asked repeatedly (without an answer) how he would help the nation’s poor if he believes unemployment is unconstitutional, Miller said, “We have an extension of unemployment benefits several weeks ago, which is beyond what we had in the past in this country,” adding, “What we have in this country is an entitlement mentality.”