Republicans and a few conservative Democrats in the U.S. Senate have blocked an extension of benefits for the approximately 5 million Americans who are collecting unemployment insurance.
Rand Paul, the Bowling Green ophthalmologist who wants to become a member of the Senate Republican caucus, agrees with the filibuster in Washington and has a word of advice for the unemployed:
Get a job, any job, even one that pays less than you were accustomed to receiving before the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression kicked you out in the street.
Well, those weren't his exact words on Sue Wylie's WVLK-AM radio show Friday. But they capture the general drift of his comments.
"Nobody likes that," Paul said, "but it may be one of the tough love things that has to happen."
Paul's proposed solution to this unemployment crisis is another example of just how far out of touch with the real world he and those stonewalling senators are. But when you spend all of your time cuddling up to Wall Street (and kissing up to poor, beleaguered BP), it's understandable that you have no understanding of real life on Main Street.
Out there in that real world, the 5 million collecting unemployment insurance are just one-third of the nation's unemployed citizens.
With so many people out of work, Paul's proposed answer to the unemployment crisis won't work for one very simple reason: The jobs, even those lower-paying jobs Paul says the unemployed should accept, just aren't there.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, non-farm payroll enrollment rose by 431,000 in May.
But there's a kicker. About 411,000 of that total were temporary jobs with the Census Bureau — those folks who are now catching hell from anti-government types while going door-to-door to count the people who, for whatever reason, didn't respond during the mail portion of the national head count.
Do the math, and your bottom line tells you the private non-farm sector of the economy added just 20,000 new jobs in May.
Of course, May could have been a slow month for the recovery. But multiply May's rate by as much as five, and Paul's "get a job" solution still doesn't offer much hope that the vast majority of those 15 million will find work anytime soon.
Americans now are hurting in ways they haven't hurt for more than 70 years. But Paul and the members of the Washington club he wants to join seem oblivious to their pain.
In Paul's case, that is a particularly hypocritical stance to take. Federal tax dollars, in the form of Medicare and Medicaid payments account for 55 percent of his business income.
He's fine with feeding at the federal trough himself. He just doesn't want others, whether they be unemployed or the farmers whose subsidies he wants to end, feeding by his side.