Missouri Legislator Attacks Jobless Workers; Says Getting Unemployment Benefits Is “Stealing”

Sen. Jim LembkeMissouri State Senator Jim Lembke (R-1) has attacked jobless workers who receive unemployment insurance, and equated their getting those benefits with "stealing from their neighbors."

Sen. Lembke made the remark during debate this week in the Missouri State Senate on a bill providing a needed technical fix to allow the state to continue paying already-authorized federal Extended Benefits to long-term unemployed workers.  Lembke has blocked the bill from coming to a vote, despite its having bipartisan support, causing the state to miss a deadline to renew the Extended Benefits program.

As quoted in the Kansas City Star, Lembke attacked both the extended benefits program and jobless workers, saying:

“Ninety-nine weeks is too long,” Lembke argued. “People need to get off their backsides and get a job. Maybe they’ll have to get two jobs or three jobs to make ends meet, but they need to quit stealing from their neighbors.”

Missouri is one of 36 states that have been able to provide up to 13 to 20 weeks of Extended Benefits to eligible long-term unemployed workers under federal provisions, and the state is one of 24 that has provided up to 99 weeks of total benefits eligibility to unemployed job-seekers.  In December 2010, the state's unemployment rate stood at 9.2%, making it eligible for all available federal benefit extensions.  Without the Extended Benefits fix -- which has already passed the Missouri House and is fully funded by the federal government -- Missouri's jobless workers would lose 20 weeks of benefit eligibility.

Senator Lembke represents Missouri's 1st Senate District, which includes portions of St. Louis City and St. Louis County, where the unemployment rates are 11.6% and 8.9% respectively.

Attacking unemployed workers who are the victims of the economic recession, and equating their receiving unemployment insurance with "stealing from their neighbors" is outrageous.

Perhaps Senator Lembke would like to hear our readers' thoughts on his comments?

Senator Jim Lembke:

Capitol Office phone:  (573) 751-2315

District Office phone:  (314) 849-0089


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