Tom Delay: People are unemployed because they want to be

POSTED: Monday, March 8, 2010 - 12:47pm
UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 9:53am

Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay called Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) "brave" on Sunday for launching a one-man filibuster of unemployment benefits, arguing that they dissuaded people from going out and finding work.

Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," the Texas Republican said that Bunning's fiscal responsibility was commendable, even if his shenanigans (refusing to allow unemployment benefits to be considered by unanimous consent) nearly brought the Senate to a halt.

"Nothing would have happened if the Democrats had just paid for [the benefits]," Delay said. "People would have gotten their unemployment compensation. I think Bunning was brave in standing up there and taking it on by himself."

Asked whether it was bad strategy to make a budget stand on a $10 billion extension of unemployment (as opposed to, say, the Bush's $720 billion prescription drug package), Delay insisted that if the PR had been done right, Bunning would have been applauded. Helping the unemployed with federal assistance, he said, was unsound policy.

"You know," Delay said, "there is an argument to be made that these extensions, the unemployment benefits keeps people from going and finding jobs. In fact there are some studies that have been done that show people stay on unemployment compensation and they don't look for a job until two or three weeks before they know the benefits are going to run out.

Host Candy Crowley: Congressman, that's a hard sell, isn't it?

Delay: it's the truth.

Crowley: People are unemployed because they want to be?

Delay: well, it is the truth. and people in the real world know it. And they have friends and they know it. Sure, we ought to be helping people that are unemployed find a job, but we also have budget considerations that are incredibly important, especially now that Obama is spending monies that we don't have.