In an act of stunning irony and political gamesmanship, Alabama Governor Bob Riley says the state should reject federal economic stimulus funds for unemployment compensation.
Riley joins the governors of Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Georgia in questioning economic stimulus funds for unemployment compensation. Is anyone surprised that the governors of these Deep South states are concerned about funds that would assist low-income workers? Those governors are a real "Murderer's Row" of forward thinking, aren't they?
And what about irony? We've presented substantial evidence that indicates someone close to Riley helped engineer my unlawful termination at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). That little bit of trickery, in addition to almost certainly violating numerous federal laws, caused me to seek unemployment benefits for the first time in my life.
Do Riley or his supporters cause Alabamians to go on unemployment and then reject efforts by the federal government to assist those who are out of work? They are a swell bunch, aren't they?
Alabama's weekly maximum unemployment benefit is $255, which ranks 48th in the nation, ahead of only Mississippi and Arizona. Adjustments required by the stimulus law would add about 12,700 Alabamians to those who are eligible for unemployment. These would mostly be seasonal workers and workers just out of school who are new to the job market.
Bob Riley has overseen the worst Alabama economy since the Great Depression, driven largely by the boneheaded policies of his patron saint, former Republican President George W. Bush. But Riley would rather play ideological politics than help Alabamians who are struggling in an economic crisis caused by members of Riley's party.
I wonder how brave Riley and his fellow Southern governors really are. Wouldn't it be interesting to see Congress go back and add a provision that says states have to accept all or none of the stimulus funds? What would Goober Bob do then, other than soil himself?
Democrats in the Alabama Legislature indicate they plan to take steps to get the federal money anyway. But they will have to do it without the help of our Republican governor.