“Psycho Talk” From Claire McCaskill?

I like Claire McCaskill.  I really do.

I mean, she’s no flaming lib, but for a senator from mixed-up Missouri, she does okay most of the time.  And she is an effective communicator most of the time, too. 

That’s why it was baffling to see her featured on Ed Schultz’s “Psycho Talk” last night for comments she made to St. Louis’ KMOV-TV regarding an extension of unemployment benefits:

I’m not for extending the unemployment benefits any further. The payroll tax cut, I’m always for tax cuts for working folks, because I think that helps our consuming economy.

Wow.  That would be psycho talk for a Democrat (Schultz called her comments “heartless”).  Except, McCaskill’s office issued a Claire-ification of that statement, which The Huffington Post reported this way:

McCaskill’s office says additional context omitted from KMOV’s report would show that she was responding to a question about giving the unemployed extra weeks of benefits. Her office said she supports preserving the existing extended benefits.

“Claire continues to fully support unemployment benefits for people who have lost their jobs by no fault of their own as a result of the struggling economy. This includes up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. Unfortunately, expanding benefits beyond 99 weeks — as some suggest — is unaffordable and unrealistic because of staunch opposition in the House.”

The dispute here is whether the question was “giving the unemployed extra weeks of benefits” or whether, as KMOV claims, she was asked a more general question:

…she was asked if she supported President Obama’s plan to extend unemployment benefits and payroll tax cuts….

KMOV’s website does have a link to the “raw video” of the interview which presumably would settle the “context” matter.  What question was McCaskill responding to? Was it a question about the extension beyond 99 weeks or just a question about extending unemployment benefits generally?

Beats me.  The so-called raw video doesn’t include the entire question for some inexplicable reason.  

But since the senator’s office disputes that the question was merely one of extending unemployment benefits and had to do with specifically extending them beyond 99 weeks, then it is incumbent upon the news organization to produce the footage that would back up its account.

I will take McCaskill—presumably she okayed her office’s Claire-ification—at her word until I see proof that she is being disingenuous about the context.  She doesn’t step into these kinds of communication messes very often, so she gets the benefit of the doubt.

Besides, look at what she said again:

The payroll tax cut, I’m always for tax cuts for working folks, because I think that helps our consuming economy.

Helps our consuming economy.”  Anyone who believes the Keynesian idea that tax cuts stimulate the consuming economy surely believes that unemployment benefits stimulate it much more, since nearly every penny of unemployment benefits get spent in the economy.

Until I’m proven wrong, my money is on Claire.

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1 Comment

  1. ansonburlingame

     /  August 11, 2011

    Duane and others to follow,

    I too like Claire some of the time. Actually all of the time when she votes as I read, rather clearly what she said above. I only criticize her when she toes the Democrat line in such matters as Obamacare and stimulus payments. I also understand that as a freshman Senator she must occassionally do as she has done in the past.

    Now you seem to be confused by the quotes above. I am not. Claire seems to be saying to me at least that extending future unemployment benefits beyond 99 weeks is a NO vote from her because we “cannot afford it”. Boy that sounds a lot like me today. I would “love” to keep paying for those folks but draw the line at affordability. That is exactly what she said as I read the above and thus would expect you to be all over her ass for saying such.

    Now payroll taxes, meaning I assume SS and Medicare deductions from wages. Am I correct on that point?

    Well what pray tell is the biggest drain from entitlements on our federal government and does more to keep the deficit high than any other individual programs for entitlements? To me the clear answer is SS and Medicare.

    Well my view is if we want to sustain those programs we better pay for them at whatever level of taxation is needed. We should NEVER “live” on unsustainable borrowed money, as a simple guide. If you want SS and Medicare to remain unchanged then pay for the damn programs. My solution in that regard is to eliminate the “cap” on SS payment for “income” at $102K as a first step. But I suspect HLG will not like that idea for the moment at least. Why I am not yet sure but guess it is because of his “income” level.

    So based on your quotes above which are not confusing at least to me, Clair got it half right.

    Anson

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