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Trumbull writes: "The Republican Party's top leader in Congress is catching flak for a comment that appears to call the jobless lazy - a comment that has rekindled an old challenge for the party: appearing insensitive or uncaring toward Americans who are poor or in financial difficulty."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, shown giving a speech about resetting America's economic foundation last Thursday, is catching flak for a remark he made afterward that accuses unemployed Americans of being lazy. (photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, shown giving a speech about resetting America's economic foundation last Thursday, is catching flak for a remark he made afterward that accuses unemployed Americans of being lazy. (photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)


ALSO SEE: GOP's Jobs Bill Won't Create
Many Jobs, But Plenty of Debt

Boehner Says Unemployed "Don't Really Want" Jobs

By Mark Trumbull, The Christian Science Monitor

23 September 14

 

fter giving a speech about his plan to revive the economy Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner said the unemployed would rather 'sit around' – reviving the image of Republicans as a party of the rich.

The Republican Party’s top leader in Congress is catching flak for a comment that appears to call the jobless lazy – a comment that has rekindled an old challenge for the party: appearing insensitive or uncaring toward Americans who are poor or in financial difficulty.

House Speaker John Boehner was asked after a speech last week to comment on a plan for addressing poverty – promoted by a Republican colleague, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Speaker Boehner gave a response that was favorable toward Representative Ryan's plan, but not so favorable about Americans’ work ethic. He said in part: “I think this idea that’s been born over last ... couple of years that, ‘You know, I really don’t have to work, I don’t really want to do this, I think I’d just rather sit around,’ – this is a very sick idea for our country.”

This doesn’t sound like a Republican Party that has learned how to shake its image of being oriented toward the rich.

Fair or not, that image keeps reviving. Back in 2012 the issue flared up, for example, when video footage emerged of presidential candidate Mitt Romney saying 47 percent of Americans are “dependent upon government” and won’t “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

In the same way that some Republicans have been trying to help their party connect more broadly with women and racial or ethnic minorities, Ryan has been trying to flip the party’s image as callous toward the poor.

Last month, in a Wall Street Journal commentary, Ryan overtly sought to distance himself from the phrase “takers” (as opposed to working, tax-paying “makers”), when referring to people who get government assistance.

Boehner and Ryan appear to agree that the answer to America’s economic problems lies largely in promoting faster job creation and providing pairing government assistance more closely with incentives to work.

In fact, Boehner’s full answer included some words fully sympathetic to the plight that many Americans face. “It’s our obligation to help provide the tools for them to use to help bring them into the mainstream” of the economy, he said.

He also lamented that “we’ve got a record number of Americans not working,” and said Ryan “is doing some very good work” in thinking about ways to lift more Americans out of poverty.

Responding to two points of the Ryan plan mentioned specifically by a questioner, Boehner said the idea of an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit has “a lot of merit” and that prison sentencing trends suggest that it’s time for “honest conversation.”

Where Boehner diverged in his message was on Americans’ motives and work ethic. Where Ryan had talked about people “trying to make something of themselves,” Boehner opined about a rising number who would “rather sit around.”

Maybe the US has some of those. The phrase “couch potato” caught on here in America, after all. But many economists say the fundamental challenge remains how to generate stronger growth in jobs and wages (the issue Boehner had focused on in his prepared remarks), not a declining willingness among Americans to work.

The US currently has some 9.6 million people officially unemployed and seeking jobs. Nearly 3 million of those have been out of work for at least half a year.

Boehner’s remark, on its face, doesn’t seem as politically damaging as Romney’s. Romney was a presidential candidate and his gaffe stirred controversy partly because it was captured on videotape from a fundraising luncheon.

But where Ryan took a step forward for Republican optics with working-class voters, Boehner may have taken a step back.

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+22 # tswhiskers 2014-09-23 08:53
Boehner, like his fellow Reps. is an idiot. He has never looked for a job in his life! He certainly hasn't checked out the job market recently. I'm on Soc. Sec. and till a few weeks ago was trying to live on approx. $900. a mo. I'm single and sans mortgage or car payment. But let anyone try to live on that and pay utilities, insurance (incl. supplemental medical), phone, satellite, prescriptions and eat too; and suddenly the supposedly lazy know they DESPERATELY need at least a part time job. Boehner et al are FULL OF IT! Thank goodness I now have a part time temp job. Since I'm handicapped to boot, I got VERY LUCKY! Anyone making less than $50,000 who votes Rep. should have his head examined.
 
 
-23 # Roland 2014-09-23 10:12
tswiskers - He has never looked for a job in his life?

He earned his B.A. in business administration from Xavier University in 1977, becoming the first person in his family to attend college, taking seven years as he held several jobs to pay for his education. Shortly after his graduation in 1977, Boehner accepted a position with Nucite Sales, a small sales business in the packaging and plastics industry. He was steadily promoted and eventually became president of the firm, resigning in 1990 when he was elected to Congress.

Maybe, he knows a little more about job creation than Obama.
 
 
+21 # WestWinds 2014-09-23 10:41
Quoting Roland:
tswiskers - He has never looked for a job in his life?

He earned his B.A. in business administration from Xavier University in 1977, becoming the first person in his family to attend college, taking seven years as he held several jobs to pay for his education. Shortly after his graduation in 1977, Boehner accepted a position with Nucite Sales, a small sales business in the packaging and plastics industry. He was steadily promoted and eventually became president of the firm, resigning in 1990 when he was elected to Congress.

Maybe, he knows a little more about job creation than Obama.


--- He didn't create the jobs or the schools he attended. All of those perks were provided for him by Democratic and Liberal environment of the times. He just took advantage of them. The only thing he knows is the inside of a bottle and how to shaft what used to be the greatest country in the world.
 
 
-15 # Roland 2014-09-23 11:35
Can't we assume, that as president of the company, that he might have had a say, in what jobs existed there?

And, can't we also believe, that this would give him insight into the best way to create jobs in the economy?

Or is it just politically expedient to make outrageous accusations?
 
 
+13 # Texas Aggie 2014-09-23 11:43
No, we can't believe that this would give him insight into the best way to create jobs because he has shown that he doesn't know. The facts of the matter are that he didn't learn his lesson or he would be doing the things that would spur job creation. Either that, or he really isn't interested in creating jobs. Since creating jobs would make Obama look good, there is strong evidence to suggest that Boehner is dragging his heels on job creation on purpose.
 
 
-14 # Roland 2014-09-23 13:00
Spoken like someone who ignores all the regulations Obama and the democrats have passed since 2009.
 
 
+1 # bckrd1 2014-09-24 19:25
"...who ignores all the regulations Obama and the democrats have passed since 2009."


Please enumerate.
 
 
+3 # bckrd1 2014-09-24 19:24
Then please tell how many jobs the 2010 JOBS, JOBS, JOBS midterms created? How many bills did he pass that created any jobs for real human beings?
 
 
+17 # WestWinds 2014-09-23 10:38
LOL!!! No matter what, orange spray on tan or just plain under the influence, you can always rely on Boehner to be crazy!

Yes, leave it to John. The very notions that the People don't want jobs, or that the rich aren't really rich is rich in itself.

I am "retired" (forced retirement since there are no liveable wages to be had.) I get $479.00, a month from Social Security sans mortgage or car payment and what you say about needing and wanting a job is true.

Sadly, I moved into the Deep South for my "golden years" and I have found nothing but MASSIVE abuse for anyone who isn't a registered rabid Republican; makes me believe they keep data bases on people so they know whom to attack. Life really isn't worth the living under corporate Right-wing rule; they can't control themselves and have no idea what "fair play" means.
 
 
+16 # politicfix 2014-09-23 10:01
Go back under your irrelevant rock boner. By the very fact that he's spewing such outrageous rhetoric says that he speaks, not for himself, but for the financiers who bought and paid for him to be their front man. The financiers used to conceal the truth, now they're so powerful that they no longer care what the people think or know.
 
 
+12 # Carol R 2014-09-23 10:57
The Republican rehash of "lazy, greedy poor' gets tiring.

How about attacking the greedy wealthy who work to destroy people's lives while filling their never full pockets?
 
 
+9 # politicfix 2014-09-23 14:10
It's ironic how Boehner cries whenever he thinks of his menial background and the advantages he had to get him where he is yet he detests anyone else who needs a leg up. Apparently, he's the only one who deserved help, and he's still taking payola from the touts who pay him to spew this garbage. He also credits his mother for getting him where he is, yet he a huge proponent of the war on women. I'd say that's the definition of a parasite. A vial week that absorbs everything and produces nothing. He's in the right party. Thus the reason he and his party have not managed to pass anything other than their own agenda, and will block everything proposed on the other side, or by the President, while also refusing to negotiate. He's not credible and doesn't deserve respect for being selfish and greedy.
 
 
-15 # Roland 2014-09-23 11:09
As the article notes, this wasn’t what his speech was about. He added this statement, about the work ethic of some people and he didn’t say that this is the main problem. We all know that there are some who are lazy. And, we know that there are disincentives built into the system to discourage some from working.
 
 
+5 # jsluka 2014-09-23 13:08
Who u callin' "we" white man? (LOL)
 
 
+11 # Texas Aggie 2014-09-23 11:45
It is fairly obvious that Boehner is just projecting. He's receiving a whopping truckload of money and benefits from the government for doing nothing, and he supposes that everyone else who gets money from the government is like him.
 
 
+3 # PeacefulGarden 2014-09-23 13:46
Did you ever look and listen to these guys, guys like Boehner, and just imagine them as children? And imagine what they were like? I know I keep harking this community about the childhood of our political insiders, but you really need to read between the lines of what Boehner is saying, and imagine what a 6 year old Boehner would be saying. After you think about it, his "big adult" words are still childish. His emotional response, his affect; is so darn 6 year old. It is freaky!

A 6 year old would arbitrarily blame problems on the problem. Get the point.

It is like he is a 6 year old in a fancy suit.
 
 
+3 # bckrd1 2014-09-24 19:34
The Republicans have acted childishly and very unprofessionall y from the very beginning and it continues today. Good point.
 
 
+4 # Billy Bob 2014-09-23 13:47
Republican Congressmen don't want to work, and don't really want their jobs.
 
 
+3 # phrixus 2014-09-23 18:35
Boehner hasn't done any constructive work in years. He's just a freeloading oxygen thief.
 
 
+4 # bckrd1 2014-09-24 19:30
Pretty ballsy comment from a person who "works" less than 8 days a month and when he does show up does nothing but come up with ways to make life harder for everyone not in his sphere.
 

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