Shame on them, again.

Shame on them, again.

- in Fitzsimon File

It seems fitting that House leaders unveiled their latest slap in the face of up to 46,000 unemployed workers the same day that the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a budget that will force another 20,000 workers off the job.

House Speaker Thom Tillis promised that this session would be about jobs after all. Now we know what he meant, not creating jobs but forcing thousands of more people to look for one while we ignore 45,000 more who can’t find work and are losing their cars and their homes because Tillis and his pals would rather try to score political points than help them.

The only thing more outrageous is the pathetic defense offered by Tillis and his lieutenants as to why they insist on tying the extension of the unemployment benefits for the workers to a budget resolution that would force Governor Perdue to accept a plan that would lay off thousands of more people.

Tillis said that Perdue has “failed in a leading a compromise scenario,” whatever that means. House Rules Chair Tim Moore said they “had to avoid games being played,” and apparently said it with a straight face while he was playing the cruelest political game of the year, holding families hostage for political gain.

Here is a fact that Tillis and Moore and the rest of the Republican leaders simply cannot deny. They are only willing to help 45,000 unemployed workers if Governor Perdue makes a political deal. That makes their position not only untenable but bordering on the immoral.

It is an open acknowledgement that they are using people’s lives as a negotiating tool. They only care about workers if they can get something out of it, either the upper hand in budget negotiations with Perdue or the headlines that say she has vetoed legislation that would extend the benefits.

But they are likely to get neither. Perdue is not going to agree to the terms of this blackmail and most media outlets have realized Republicans are more interested in scoring political and public relations points than helping the workers and their families.

One side wants to help the workers. The other side only wants to help them if they can get something in return. Wade your way through all the spin and hypocrisy and that is what it comes down to. This is quite a job session indeed.

Maybe Tillis and Moore can explain their position to Danielle Gordon in Wilmington, who supported Republicans in last November’s election. Gordon has been looking for work fulltime since she was laid off from her human resources position in 2009. She wasn’t worried at first when her benefits ran out April 16th.

She had a little savings left and was sure lawmakers would extend her benefits soon since it wouldn’t cost the state a dime. Now her savings is gone, she can’t pay her rent and her car is scheduled to be repossessed next week.

Maybe Tillis and Moore can explain to Gordon why they just can’t pass a bill to help her, to give her the benefits the federal government has paid for.

Maybe they can explain to her and the other 46,000 workers why they would rather exploit their suffering than stop it.

Shame on Tillis. Shame on Moore. Shame on all of them.


About the author

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina.