Congressman Likens the Unemployed to “Lazy Kids” Who Should “Step Up”

Written by Alan Pyke

The trick to fixing the toughest job market since the Great Depression is to send jobless Americans to bed without supper, according to Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

Speaking in Charleston, South Carolina, on Monday, after arguing that there are over 100 million Americans not even trying to find work, King said, “If you had six kids and a third of your kids would say, ‘I’m not doing the chores, mom… If any of them say I refuse, I’m not gonna participate, I’m not gonna contribute to the American GDP, pretty soon those kids would be on the ‘you get to eat after you do the work,’ not just in hopes that you might one day do the work.” After a brief diversion into immigration reform, King added, “I wanna see more Americans step up.”

Watch King’s comments, beginning at the 4:00 mark of this video:

But the unemployed, unlike the shiftless children King imagines them to be, seek jobs against huge obstacles. There are currently three job seekers for every job opening in the country — and that is the lowest that ratio has been in years. The severity of the Great Recession has made long-term unemployment far more common than in previous economic downturns, and being unemployed for nine months has the same impact on your odds of getting hired as losing four full years of experience from a résumé. The longer a person’s jobless stint, the worse her odds of ending it become. Millions of the people King disparaged as lazy brats on Monday night have gone back to school in hopes of bettering their job prospects, have retired early after failing to find work or been looking for jobs for three years without success.

If the analogy is new, the core belief is not. King famously said in 2011 that America has become “a nation of slackers” due to social safety net programs. That view is broadly shared within the conservative media and conservative political movement. Earlier this summer, other congressional Republicans justified their support for food stamp cuts through an erroneous citation of the Bible which they claimed instructs the faithful not to feed anyone who doesn’t work. Last year, presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a private gathering of supporters that half the country is so dependent on government, “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons


Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

John H.
John H.5 years ago

Steven B. wrote: “John H/Alan H Are you two one and the same or just kissin cousins???”
Before I take issue with your posting I want to ascertain which of the John H’s you’re addressing, there are at least two. I reacted like an ass one time on the site when it was a case of mistaken identity. I can’t imagine anything I have written which might garner such criticism. If I am the writer I would ask you to reference what it is I wrote. I can assure you to the best of my knowledge I have no Kissin’ Cousin named Alan H; but there is a great deal of the ‘70s about which I have no recall.

Steven R.
Steve Rose5 years ago

A few years back Steve King paraded himself around with Chris Simcox, the founder of the former Minuteman Civil Defense Corp. from Arizona, a nativist, neo-Nazi militia group.

King supported Simcox in his failed primary election to attempt to unseat John McCain in 2010. Chris Simcox is currently in jail for sexually molestation of three girls aged 8-10 including his own daughter. Other former leaders and high associates of Mr. Simcox included J.T. Ready, who murdered 5 including 2 children before killing himself in May 2012; and Shawna Forde, who murdered a 9 year old girl and her father in a home invasion robbery in May 2009. She was convicted of two counts of first degree murder in 2011 is currently on death row in Arizona.

These are the people Mr. King supports, courts and is friends with - convicted murderers and sexual predators.

What I can't understand is why anyone is still surprised by what comes out of Mr. King's mouth and why Iowans would continue to vote this guy back into office. I suppose he's proof you can't fix stupid in Iowa.

Amy Liebetreu
Amy L5 years ago

Another thing people - research on your own how many days of vacation our illustrious Congress has given themselves in comparison to the 12 whole days Americans are allowed. If you take heart medication - make sure you've got it handy.

Amy Liebetreu
Amy L5 years ago

King is absolutely out of touch with the common American. The number one recipients of welfare are Corporate America and the Military Industrial Complex. Not only that but age discrimination in this country is running rampant. Older folks who get laid off from their jobs have an extremely difficult time finding full time employment every again. There are good hard working people who have been looking for full time decent paying jobs for years. At any rate - jobs are hard to come by for everyone and if you have one - you're lucky. If your one of the lucky one's and your job pays decently, pays your bills - your blessed. Working class Americans are not slackers. In fact we take less time off from work for vacation, maternity leave, sick days, holiday and time with family. The most they are guilty of is electing insensitive, out of touch, rich ass kissers to office. I guarantee you Mr. King would love nothing more than to get rid of the middle class - his venomous war of words on the middle class, working class and poor make it quite apparent. Maybe he needs to see what it is to be without of a job, healthcare (which I believe politicians get top notch while millions of Americans go without any kind of health care) no money to pay his bills or to buy food. Maybe its time the American working class wages its on war on the rich like King and his out of touch ass hole buddies. We would see this kind of rhetoric end.

Audrey B.
Audrey B5 years ago

Time for teens & college students to start working at least part time, take the responsibility early, it is the way of life. Its a teaching tool, and the pocket money won't hurt. To many lazy teens and 20 somethings.

Restore the responsibility in the young, I remember I got my working papers at 14, I could not wait to work, buy my own car, pay my car insurance & gas, if I didn't have it the car did not move.

Bring back the policy we have on immigration, it worked back when, no free rides for anyone. Our Country had more control on immigration, now it is out of hand. These are our kids jobs.

john hall
john hall5 years ago

Steven B. Again you don't bother me with your name calling and insults i've done the same with other people . If i'm big enough to throw them out i'd better be big enough to take it . You have always attacked me and other's so guess what your going get it back . The day you decide to stop will be the day i will to.

Kanako Ishiyama
Kanako I5 years ago

Only those who are economically stable or rich can say that.... just want an excuse not to face it.

Nikolas Karman
Nikolas K5 years ago

The problem in world is the military /industrial alliance whereby the military protect the international corporations who do not pay any tax as their headquarters are in tax havens and they have bought of politicians since the war to ensure countries they operate in do not try to tax them one such legislation is the double taxation Act of 1953 in Australia where The prime Minister earns himself a knight hood by the Queen for passing such an Act of legislation that by the 70's Australia had no major corporation that was not foreign owned as the Australian businesses could not compete and had to sell out to the multi nationals who also used the unions to destroy viable businesses as well. The multi nationals had the advantage because they paid no tax and Australian business was heavily taxed. this same scenario is global in different costumes but the same game.

Angelus Silesius
Johann Scheffler5 years ago

This congressman is totally out of touch. The american job market has sucked since 1 to 2 years after Nafta was passed and all parties are responsible for the destruction of job opportunities for americans