Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has bought into the Republican fable that extended unemployment benefits are to blame for the difficulty that businesses reopening as the pandemic recedes are facing in hiring employees at salaries that could barely be considered living wages.
As one of the GOP’s most cooperative Senators for his multiple corporate donors, Graham has shown his loyalty to those who fill his campaign coffers by even demonstrating his willingness to throw his own family under the bus to eliminate extended benefits for those whose working lives have been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a Senate hearing today, Graham cited the reluctance of his own relatives to get back to work in an exchange with the Biden administration’s acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, Shalanda Young, while urging the repeal of the federal enhanced unemployment benefits that have helped prevent economic disaster for many American citizens during the pandemic.
“There’s a lot of jobs out there that are unfilled and will never be filled until you change the benefit structure. Does that logic make sense to you, given where we’re at in our economy?” Senator Graham asked Young.
“I understand the logic, but I’ve also not met Americans who would prefer not to work,” the acting OMB Director replied.
“I got a lot of people in my family that ain’t working because they’re getting—I’ll show you some of my family,” Graham shot back. “Bottom line is I think there are people out there, they’re not bad people, but they’re not going to work for $15 an hour and make $23 unemployed,” he continued. That doesn’t make you a bad person. If you’re working for $15 an hour, that makes you almost a chump.”
Graham seems to forget that both the federal and South Carolina minimum wage are currently set at $7.25 per hour, only less than half of the salary figure he cites and which even still is not a true living wage in many areas of the country, given high housing costs and other factors.
Moreover, many economists believe that lingering health concerns and a lack of childcare options are at least as significant a factor in preventing people from being willing to reenter the workforce as women in particular face obstacles to returning to work.
Graham’s comments were not received well on social media, with many people attacking the South Carolina Senator for his willingness to undermine his own family to try to score political points.
And they love the people that do that to them
— Myself mostly (@BigBryC) June 8, 2021
None that he would acknowledge knowing.
— Me (@DeverTx) June 8, 2021
I’m surprised he has a family
— bryan murphy (@squirrelhaze) June 8, 2021
If you employees would rather risk employment being available down the road or you can’t match 35-40k, you’re a shit employer.
— Ummmmmm-wtf (@UmmmmmmW) June 8, 2021
Of course, the biggest issue not addressed by the comments above is the fact that were it not for the Trump administration’s failure to take federal measures to stop the spread of COVID, the expanded unemployment benefits may never have been necessary to begin with.
Perhaps if Senator Graham hadn’t spent so much time defending Donald Trump’s incompetent policies he wouldn’t have to slander his relatives publicly.
Original reporting by Eric W. Dolan at RawStory.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.