California Governor Gavin Newsom just got an ugly reminder of how impossible it is to make everyone happy in politics. Left-wing union activists and socialists are furious with the solidly liberal governor for a truly absurd reason.
Newsom just vetoed controversial legislation, SB 799, which would’ve extended unemployment benefits to striking workers. He cited the existing unemployment system’s looming insolvency as his rationale against expanding the benefits, which would speed up the program’s spiral into the red.
Newsom’s left-wing critics freaked out.
California Labor Federation leader Lorena Gonzalez blasted Newsom in a statement, saying his veto “punishes workers” and is “out-of-step with American values.” The socialist magazine Jacobin similarly slammed Newsom, labeling him “anti-worker” and accusing him of “selling out workers.”
These angry leftists seemed unaware or ideologically oblivious to the glaring fact that unemployment benefits are meant for… the unemployed. Striking workers are, by definition, employed. They have a job that is eager for them to return to work—and are simply unwilling to do so.
The unemployment system purposefully only includes those who are actively seeking work but cannot find it. The system is meant to help workers get by when work is unavailable, not cushion the pocketbooks of those actively refusing to do their jobs. So, the idea that they would get taxpayer-funded welfare benefits to picket is inherently absurd and anathema to the foundations of the unemployment insurance system.
It’s also objectively untenable on the policy merits, as Newsom points out in his statement. When you have a system that’s already heading toward insolvency later this year—which will endanger the availability of current benefit levels if not addressed—that’s the worst possible time to expand the benefits you’re giving out.
It’s not exactly surprising that socialists so fundamentally misunderstand these basic economic realities. What’s surprising is that no matter how many times they prove their policy ignorance, some people in the Golden State still take these people seriously.