Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Robert Hurt Votes Against Jobs Bill; Also Opposes Mom, Apple Pie

In what can only be described as a thoroughly baffling move, Sen. Robert Hurt has voted against a bipartisan bill that would have extended unemployment benefits for laid-off workers. The bill, S.B. 239, was specifically directed at workers enrolled in retraining programs, and qualified those workers for up to 26 weeks of additional benefits. In today's vote, all 22 Senate Dems voted in favor of the bill, and yes, to their great credit, half the Senate GOP voted yes. It was actually introduced by Republican Sen. John Watkins of Midlothian. Special thanks to Martinsville's own Roscoe Reynolds, who was a co-sponsor.

Sen. Hurt, however, was one of nine Republicans in the State Senate to vote against the bill. More importantly, he was the only senator from the Southside to take that stand. For some reason, Hurt turned down a bill that should have been a political no-brainer. There are just some things you NEVER vote against under any circumstances, and unemployed workers certainly fall into that category. Moreover, the bill is funded by stimulus money, so Hurt can't even pull out the "we-don't-have-the-money" defense. I'd be very interested to see his statement when this inevitably becomes a media storm. For Robert Hurt to represent Southside and vote against helping unemployed workers is not just a terrible strategy, it's also woefully out of touch.

I'm not even angry about this. Just very, very puzzled. The only explanation I can think of is that Sen. Hurt is doing damage control with the Tea Party/extreme anti-spending wing of his party--maybe he thinks voting against anything connected to the stimulus will undo some of the damage he's taking for his vote on Mark Warner's budget. The problem? It won't work. He has just demolished his "sane moderate" image and, if this becomes a big story, he has alienated countless voters in what should be his strongest region. I wonder how much of this has to do with campaign consultant Chris LaCivita?

Now the bill will go to the House of Delegates. Will Morgan Griffith and his merry band reprise their notorious anti-stimulus/anti-middle class vote from last year? Only time will tell.


VaPatriot said...

With the state unemployment insurance fund very near being depleted, Hurt wisely voted against this bill since the NET result will be increased premiums to cover unemployment to EVERY small business in the state. They are the same people who employ (or refuse to employ because of government taxation) 75% of the state's workforce. This bill would have one NET result>>>> more unemployment in the state!

Max said...

Thanks for your comment.

The bill is paid for with federal stimulus money, so I'm not sure how this hurts state revenues or raises taxes in any way. The legislation is designed to help people stay afloat while they earn a new degree or learn a new skill. This is about strengthening our workforce by allowing laid-off workers to become more competitive.

As for companies refusing to hire because of taxation, I'm not sure if you're referring to the nation or the state, so I'll address both. I would point to Virginia's consistent rating over the last few years (under Govs. Warner and Kaine) as Best Managed State and Best State for Business.

And as for the nation, I would point out that the economy tanked at the end of eight years of deregulation and huge tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans--the same people who, under conservative ideology, should be creating the most jobs. We now have 10% unemployment nationally, and conservative trade policies have effectively destroyed the manufacturing sector.

By voting against this bill, Robert Hurt is now turning his back on the people who have suffered the most because of the economy.