MSNBC's Hayes: GOPers 'Screwing Over' People, View 'Poverty as Punishment'

On Thursday's All In show, MSNBC's Chris Hayes repeatedly used words like "screwing over" to describe Republican policies toward the poor, and claimed that Tea Partiers in Congress believe in "poverty as punishment" as he fretted over a delay in the extension of unemployment benefits and then hyped Georgia Republican Rep. Jack Kingston's suggestion that school children do chores in exchange for subsidized lunches.

After characterizing recent statements by congressional Republicans as being like immaturely declaring, "Yeah, and your mother," the MSNBC host a bit later whined:

So Republicans leave 2013 impotent and neutered. But even though their bullying and hectoring is mostly false, it doesn't mean they don't still have the power to kick people who are down. They can't make the White House do what they want it to do, but the one thing they can do, the one thing they are successful at doing, the thing that they deliver reliably is screwing over poor and working people.

After noting that some unemployment benefits will be cut off a few days after Christmas, he added:

This, this was the big concession Republicans got out of the Democrats on this round of budget negotiations. Democrats wanted to include the unemployment insurance extension, so the big thing Republicans won for the people they represent is screwing over 1.3 million unemployed people for no reason.

He then predicted that, during negotiations, "people will almost certainly be screwed over who get food stamps."

After complaining about Republicans blocking immigration reform, he further griped, "They really aren't even trying to push a positive agenda. What they can still do, what they do still have the power to do, what they do reliably is to stick it to people who are already getting screwed over."

The MSNBC host soon played the clip of Rep. Kingston:

But one of the things I've talked to the Secretary of Agriculture about, why don't you, you know, have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch.

Or maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria, and, yes, I understand that that would be an administrative problem, and I understand that it would probably lose you money, but think what we would gain as a society in getting people, getting the myth out of their head that there is such a thing as a free lunch.

Putting a negative spin on the Congressman's reasonable proposal, Hayes responded:

Poverty as punishment. This is what the policy agenda of the Tea Party Congress has reduced itself to.

After bringing aboard John Nichols from the liberal The Nation magazine, the MSNBC host continued his "screwing over" them as he began by posing:

John, there is this strange, weird equilibrium we've arrived at, in which Republicans are impotent to enact their agenda. They've gotten some of the austerity they wanted, the one thing that they have the power to do and they keep doing is basically screwing over constituencies that don't have a lot of political power.

Below is the relevant portion of the Thursday, December 19, All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC:

CHRIS HAYES: Good evening from New York. I'm Chris Hayes. Republicans close out their year on Capitol Hill, suddenly invested with a new sense of swagger and braggadocio. Everywhere you look, Republicans are threatening fights to come. The price Democrats will have to pay, for example, for a debt ceiling extension early next year.

[SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL] [REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI)]

HAYES: What all this braying amounts to is what an old basketball coach of mine used to call "down the block tough." You're familiar with the concept of "down the block tough," if not the phrase. "Down the block" tough is when you start jawing with someone or get in a little fisticuffs, and once it's all over and you've walked a block away from that person, you say, "Yeah, and your mother."

This is what the statements the Republican luminaries amount to because, keep in mind, what has happened in the last three months to them. They got their clock cleaned by the shutdown, saw their approval ratings tank, and had to capitulate fully and completely to the initial offer, having gained essentially nothing but a lot of bad feelings from the country.

And the disaster of that incident completely discredited the central tactic the GOP has been using since the big fight back in 2011, with the first Tea Party Congress, which was to use deadlines and manufactured crises as bargaining chips to extract ransoms from the President. Republicans tried it one too many times, it stopped working, and now that particular kind of leverage is gone. And if you want to see how much it's gone, look at the roll call vote that just happened on the budget deal.

So Republicans leave 2013 impotent and neutered. But even though their bullying and hectoring is mostly false, it doesn't mean they don't still have the power to kick people who are down. They can't make the White House do what they want it to do, but the one thing they can do, the one thing they are successful at doing, the thing that they deliver reliably is screwing over poor and working people.

Just ask the 1.3 million people on unemployment insurance, whose checks will run out three days after Christmas. This, this was the big concession Republicans got out of the Democrats on this round of budget negotiations. Democrats wanted to include the unemployment insurance extension, so the big thing Republicans won for the people they represent is screwing over 1.3 million unemployed people for no reason.

That's not all. House Republicans voted to cut food stamps by $40 billion, and in the Senate, Republicans have pushed through a proposed $4.5 billion in food stamp cuts, setting up a negotiation position in which, no matter what happens, people will almost certainly be screwed over who get food stamps.

And Republicans have managed to keep 12 million desperate people in legal limbo by failing to bring a comprehensive immigration reform bill to the floor in the House. They really aren't even trying to push a positive agenda. What they can still do, what they do still have the power to do, what they do reliably is to stick it to people who are already getting screwed over.

And the more Republicans talk about how they feel about working people, poor people, people in need, the more it seems like this is not an accident. This is actually the agenda. Just take a look at Congressman Jack Kingston, now running for Senate. Here's what he has to say.

REP. JACK KINGSTON (R-GA): But one of the things I've talked to the Secretary of Agriculture about, why don't you, you know, have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch.

Or maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria, and, yes, I understand that that would be an administrative problem, and I understand that it would probably lose you money, but think what we would gain as a society in getting people, getting the myth out of their head that there is such a thing as a free lunch.

HAYES: Poverty as punishment. This is what the policy agenda of the Tea Party Congress has reduced itself to.

Joining me now is John Nichols, my colleague at The Nation magazine, where he is Washington correspondent. John, there is this strange, weird equilibrium we've arrived at, in which Republicans are impotent to enact their agenda. They've gotten some of the austerity they wanted, the one thing that they have the power to do and they keep doing is basically screwing over constituencies that don't have a lot of political power.

--Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brad Wilmouth on Twitter.