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Cutting unemployment insurance to just a few weeks

by Eric Ferguson on June 30, 2013 · 0 comments

Want another example of the bullets we dodged in Minnesota by getting Mark Dayton into the governor’s office by that barely-enough margin? North Carolina is making drastic cuts in unemployment insurance. The Republicans who control both governor and legislature are not only cutting off federal benefit extensions, which they’re doing by cutting the benefits too low to qualify, but they’re cutting the maximum weeks from 26 weeks to 20, and as few as 12 weeks when unemployment drops further.


Sound familiar? Didn’t that come up in the Minnesota legislature when the Republicans were in majority? Yes, it did. A bill cutting it to as few as four weeks was proposed by the current chair of the MNGOP, Keith Downey:


(c) The maximum amount of unemployment benefits available on any benefit account is the lower of:

(1) 33-1/3 percent of the applicant’s total wage credits; or

(2) 26 [The strike through is in the bill. That’s the current 26 weeks being replaced.] (i) four times the applicant’s weekly unemployment benefit amount if the

statewide unemployment rate is at least three percent;

(ii) ten times the applicant’s weekly unemployment benefit amount if the statewide unemployment rate is at least four percent;

(iii) 18 times the applicant’s weekly unemployment benefit amount if the statewide

unemployment rate is at least five percent; or

(iv) 26 times the applicant’s weekly unemployment benefit amount if the statewide

unemployment rate is at least six percent.


His former district wisely rejected such cruelty by the comfortable, but apparently our GOP is just as OK with it as their counterparts in North Carolina. Unfortunately, thanks to the disaster of 2010, North Carolina is so gerrymandered that Democrats won’t be able to block anything until they somehow win governor.



How are Republicans doing at that outreach thing?

by Eric Ferguson on April 7, 2013 · 0 comments

elephantTo answer the question of the title, it’s hard to know what’s going on that we don’t see, but what we do see is, um, well, let’s say there are reasons some people think the Republican definition of “outreach” must be uniquely theirs.


For example, in what I assume must have been an audition for the new reality show, “State Legislators are the Craziest People!”, state legislators in North Carolina decided to try a new direction in tentherism by establishing a state religion. Feeling reached-out to, non-Christians? No, they didn’t specify Christianity as the state religion explicitly, but they’re trying to preempt a lawsuit by the ACLU against a county whose board begins public meetings with Christian prayers. I mention that just in case anyone mistakenly thought these Republican legislators meant to institute Zoroastrianism. They’re working under the tenther theory that the 10th Amendment gives states the sovereignty to ignore the rest of the Bill of Rights, especially the establishment clause (“Congress will make no law respecting the establishment of religion…). How can they take away the right to sue? The right to petition for the redress of grievances is in the First Amendment right next to … oh yeah.




Sure, that headline is an overgeneralization. I’m sure new state chair Keith Downey cares about finding a way back into politics or he wouldn’t have run for chair. I mean he doesn’t care about the effects of the policies he wants to put in place. That’s how you can recognize an ideologue: they care that their policies are ideologically correct, and the actual effects are irrelevant.


I dug up the post I wrote about Downey last September, to see if there was any material in there still relevant. Obviously his bills died and he’s not in the legislature to propose them anymore, but in terms of how the new chair thinks, pretty much the whole post still applies.


State Rep. Keith Downey, the GOP Senate candidate in district 49, is probably best known for his 15×15 plan, mandating a 15% reduction in the state’s payroll by 2015. What’s so magical about 15%? It’s the same as the last two digits in 2015. 15 … and 15. See? Isn’t that clever? All the same thought that went into Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” plan, which I believe was borrowed directly from a pizza pricing campaign. I’m not sure if Downey got his plan from a pizza sale, or a price war among sandwich shops.