Robert Costa, formerly of National Review, now with the Washington Post, reports that "House Republican leaders sent a memo this week to the entire GOP conference with talking points designed to help rank-and-file Republicans show compassion for the unemployed and explain the Republican position on unemployment benefits why they're nonetheless screwing the hell out of them."
Well, that's the plainer-English version of Costa's report, the latter of which evidently caught WaPo editors napping.
Costa reprints the memo, and like all GOP leadership missives, it's an Orwellian pleasure to read. This talking-points portion, in which House leaders cram their guiding hands up the inarticulate throats of the party's rank-and-file Mortimer Snerds, is particularly enjoyable:
Charge: "The unemployment rate ... is currently higher than it was at the expiration of any previously extended UI benefits program." [WH Economic Report, Dec. 2013]
Response: The unemployment rate is lower today than it was when "emergency" benefits were allowed to expire following the recession of the early 1980s. With our unemployment rate at seven percent and dropping, it would be within the historic norm to allow the "emergency" benefits to expire.
In its typical selectivity, the leadership's first line of "response" is typically distorted: the last Republican president signed an extended benefits bill when the unemployment rate was only 5.6 percent. Plus, as a San Jose Mercury News editorial pointed out late last month, "In each of the past three recessions, Congress didn't cut off extended aid until the long-term unemployment rate dropped to 1.3 percent." It's twice that now.
But the dependent clause of the response's second line is even better.
As Republican pols everywhere preen morbidly and elaborately about President Obama's singular responsibility for the nation's horrendous unemployment problem, Republican leaders are encouraging the same pols to simultaneously accentuate that the unemployment rate is now only seven percent--and it's dropping.
Jesus. No wonder Frank Luntz is depressed.