Lawmaker who once depended on unemployment benefits leads charge to cut them for others

Rep. Jason Saine

GOP bill is premised on notion that unemployed North Carolinians don’t want to work

The capacity of North Carolina Republican legislative leaders for myopic, can’t-make-this-stuff-up cruelty continues to know no bounds. The latest truly outrageous example: a new plan to slash unemployment insurance benefits for North Carolina workers still struggling to find decent work.

As WRAL.com reported yesterday:

North Carolina House leaders are backing a bill to cut off the $300 federal jobless checks some believe are causing a labor shortage in North Carolina.

It’s not clear yet how many of the roughly 240,000 people on NC’s unemployment rolls would lose that support. At a hastily called meeting of the House Finance committee late Wednesday, bill sponsor Rep. Jason Saine couldn’t say.

The checks are currently scheduled to end September 6th, but this bill would cut them off early – 30 days after it becomes law.

…Saine, R-Lincoln, said the checks are contributing to a “harnessed economy” and a slower post-pandemic recovery. He said the bill is an attempt “to get us back to a somewhat normal economy, a normal way of doing business, a normal way of existing.”

Translation: “North Carolinians are mooching off these princely $300 checks and are too lazy to get back to work, so we’re gonna crack the whip and make them.”

It’s hard to wrap one’s harms around such callous contempt for one’s fellow humans.

But wait, Rep. Jason Saine…doesn’t that name sound familiar?

Oh, that’s right — Saine is the same individual who, himself, collected North Carolina unemployment insurance benefits during the Great Recession before finding work as a state legislator.

Click here to read former Policy Watch reporter Sarah Ovaska’s story from a time during which Saine was helping to lead another GOP charge to cut unemployment benefits.

What makes this all the more outrageous, of course, is that Saine knows — or at least knew in 2013 (perhaps he’s forgotten now that he’s spent a decade collecting public checks of another kind) — how tough it is to be unemployed.

This is from Ovaska’s 2013 report:

Saine said he lost his job in May of 2010, before he served with the N.C. General Assembly. He had been in sales with Helms Security, Inc., a small security and burglar company in Lincolnton that scaled back its operations when revenue dropped for the company as a result of the recession.

For the next approximately 15 months, he remained unemployed while looking for work. His weekly benefits were around $300 a week, and Saine said was looking for jobs every day in addition to the occasionally consulting job, but couldn’t find anyone to hire him. The job loss was emotional, he said, for someone like himself who took pride in working and wanted to work.

“I don’t think you truly know until you’ve been there,” Saine said. “I would go to interviews begging for work and get told I was overqualified.”

Amazingly, however, this experience isn’t stopping Saine from now helping to spearhead the new planned cuts.

In short, Saine’s contemptibly hypocritical actions are completely in sync with with the guiding ethic of the modern Trumpist GOP: “I’ve got mine — get your own, suckers.”

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