In the pantheon of deliberately petulant policies from red-state leaders eager to show the base how recklessly they will resist pandemic safety measures, one stands out: A handful of Republican-led states now offer unemployment benefits to workers who get fired for refusing to abide by their employers’ vaccine mandates. Other red states, including Missouri, may soon join them. It’s a pandering stunt that puts Republican politicians at odds not only with public health experts, but with the business community they supposedly revere.
As we wrote in early November, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s consideration of such a policy would effectively reward those who selfishly risk spreading the coronavirus to coworkers and customers, while sticking their employers with the bill. That’s because it’s the employers who pay into the unemployment pool that those workers would draw from.
Normally, only workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own qualify for unemployment. What Parson has pondered, and what at least five other states have done, according to a recent Washington Post roundup, is to change those rules so that workers fired for deliberately violating their employers’ workplace rules regarding vaccination can collect unemployment — which the employers ultimately pay for.
In case that scenario isn’t galling enough, consider the context: Most of these Republican states, including Missouri, earlier cut off enhanced unemployment benefits to workers who had been displaced by the pandemic, as a lever to force them to get back to work.
So a worker who is hesitant to return to the job for fear of being infected by a deadly virus is undeserving of unemployment benefits. But one who gets fired for refusing to take a simple, basic step to prevent transmission of that virus gets to start cashing checks. Welcome to the upside-down world of Republican politics today.
The sick irony doesn’t stop there. The GOP has long fancied itself the pro-business party, endlessly pontificating about the importance of letting private businesses run their own affairs, free from government-created costs. Yet the five red states that have done this so far — Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee — are effectively punishing private businesses for making the choice to impose responsible pandemic policies, by forcing them to pay unemployment to workers fired for violating those policies.
“We don’t want to see undue costs brought into play as a result of this,” Missouri Chamber of Commerce President Dan Mehan told the Post, explaining why his organization will be in the unusual position this year of doing battle with the state’s Republican leaders, should they attempt to join the list of states that reward pandemic recklessness on business’ dime.
Mehan added: “Usually, this threat is not coming from the Republican side.” But in today’s GOP, business autonomy, like public health, must be sacrificed for the political imperative of pandering to the base.
Get opinion pieces, letters and editorials sent directly to your inbox weekly!
Generals warn of growing political divisions in the military. Civilians are arming up. Democracy, a founding American pillar, is in danger.
Never before in America’s history had an existential threat to democracy come from its own head of state.
During 2021, the city of St. Louis saw positive signs of mature leadership. In St. Louis County, immature, personal squabbles ruled the day.
With Republican leaders like this, no wonder disgraced ex-Gov. Eric Greitens decided that Missouri’s GOP might be ready to take him back.
A damning court brief last week by the U.S. Justice Department calls Missouri’s law “a clear and substantial threat to public safety.” It is.
We provide an update on what happens in our daily Editorial Board meetings and the backgrounds of our members.
The reason toxic platforms like this exist is because there is a market for them.
The past quarter-century has seen an explosion of mind-blowing advances in human knowledge of deep space, largely on the shimmering back of th…
Fox News host Jesse Watters outlined for an audience how to ambush and kill Dr. Anthony Fauci. He deserves firing and a visit from the FBI.
Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.