Rep. Chaka Fattah’s assertion on Al Sharpton’s MSNBC show last night has received plenty of derision. Instapundit calls it “banking on the moocher vote,” and Twitter pundit Keder derisively notes, “Democrats would rather give you freebie ‘benefits’ then do anything useful that might actually help you find a job. I know this may be hard for @TheDemocrats to understand, but the unemployed don’t want ‘benefits.’ They want jobs.” Unfortunately, that may all be true, but that doesn’t make Fattah wrong, either:
“We’re headed in the right direction. Unemployment continues to drop and those people who are unemployed, they’re not going to be voting for the party who wants to cut their benefits, cut access to food stamps, cut job training,” Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) said on MSNBC’s Al Sharpton program.
“The idea that Republicans are trying to help those who are unemployed is nonsense and I think that on this election day, those who have a job can credit the administration for stabilizing our economy and those who don’t know that this administration is trying to put them to work,” he said.
Hmmm … somehow, I think that “right direction” argument got just a wee bit weaker this morning.
The problem is that there probably will be a “moocher vote,” and not just in unemployment benefits. Rather than call it a “moocher vote,” a better and more accurate term would be the “entitlement vote.” We’re heading toward a fiscal crisis on entitlement spending that makes the 2008 bubble crisis look like the House check-writing embarrassment. It could destroy our currency and leave us destitute, far worse than the Great Depression that spawned the entitlement spree in the first place. And yet Americans who say they want cuts in government spending that would barely dent the juggernaut blanch at the specific cuts that reduce their own take from the entitlement systems, even when those cuts come in the future rather than now. The entitlement vote is real, and it’s going to benefit Democrats in exactly the manner Fattah warns here.
However, that’s only the bad news. The good news is that the entitlement vote has always been limited, and the crisis in 2008 probably made it significantly stronger than what it is now. Those legions of people on unemployment benefits have already run past the 99-week limit, and now they want jobs, not handouts. Republicans need to point to the generational lows in workforce participation rates and the millions of jobs lost that haven’t come back, thanks to the economic and regulatory policies of this administration. The entitlement vote does not have to be decisive in 2012, and almost certainly won’t be.