OR-5: Scott Bruun: Are there no prisons? Are there no work houses?

Carla Axtman

OR-5: Scott Bruun: Are there no prisons? Are there no work houses?

Rep. Scott Bruun (R-West Linn)

Up until today, Scott Bruun was just another Oregon GOP legislator sporting an odd Prince Charming handsome quality that seemed ripe for a Simpson's parody (this is really all I knew about Bruun..I haven't looked at his policy positions yet).

But no more.

Bruun is now out of the closet as a full-throated devotee of the "Let's Get Back To The Values of Ebeneezer Scrooge" contingent.

Greg Sargent, The Plum Line, Washington Post:

GOPer Scott Bruun, a state representative in Oregon who's running to unseat Dem Rep. Kurt Schrader, told a local radio program that extending unemployment benefits beyond two years is "European," adding that an extension would bring "shame on our government" for "encouraging" joblessness.

Asked by KPAM radio host Victoria Taft whether he would have supported extending benefits, Bruun responded that he wouldn't have:

"When we're talking up over close to two years and longer with jobless benefits, I think we really start talking about a European style system and all the problems that that sort of system brings if you try to bring that sort of system to the United States."

A bit later, Bruun said that we have to adopt a new approach to those who have been receiving benefits for a long time:

"We need sort of a new game plan going forward, a new accountability. Shame on our government, if you will, if the government is in a position where we're encouraging people to stay out of the workplace longer."

First of all, you've got to hand it to Victoria Taft--to get her guest torqued up enough that he feels the need to pander to her particular brand of crazy to the detriment of his own campaign is a stellar feat. Thanks, Vic.

But watching Bruun step into the baseless meme that somehow everybody on unemployment is a fat, lazy slob who simply doesn't want to work is rather entertaining and honestly, quite a campaign message--especially given how many likely Oregon voters have used unemployment in the last two years.

And then the cherry-on-top crack about Europe. So not only are we supposed to look down on our fellow Oregonians who have used or are using unemployment insurance--there's a murky idea that somehow they're also cowards whose ass we had to save during World War II and oh by the way...SOCIALISTS!!

Nobody stirs the boogeyman like a GOP candidate stumping from a rightwing radio studio. (Spooky music)..."beware the socialist unemployment check....it will turn us into the MarxistsFascistsHitlerFrenchies! "

Seriously Victoria, the Schrader campaign owes you one.

  • (Show?)

    Well, his one and only campaign commercial during the primary was about as uninspired and unimaginative as he seems to be. "Had enough of Nancy Pelosi?"

    My son-in-law said it best: "He wants to be the next guy you've had enough of".

    Prince Charming handsome quality? Okay, this is just one woman's opinion but, EW.

    • (Show?)

      LOL Sonya..sorry..but he reminds me of those Disney-drawn Prince Charmings in Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

      I do think your son-in-law nails it, tho.

    • (Show?)

      I guess the news the pollsters haven't broken is that there are plenty of people fed up with Nancy Pelosi that would never consider their candidate in a 1,000,000 years!

  • (Show?)

    This whole concept is so bizarre. Republicans seem to believe that everyone is motivated exclusively by money -- and will take enormous actions for relatively tiny financial gains. (Like abandon all motivation to build a business because marginal rates go up 1%.)

    But then, they believe that a person won't be motivated to seek gainful employment because of the pittance in unemployment benefits. As if someone wouldn't take a decent salary because they're getting a few crumbs in UI.

    Are people motivated by small amounts of money? Or not?

    The logical twists these guys get themselves into are just hilarious.

  • (Show?)

    I have been less than happy with Schrader but he voted against the war appropriations the other day. I was overjoyed. Ending these wars and turning our attention to taking care of our own poor and middle class people will do more to get people back to work than anything any of these guys can pull out of their old Fred Meyer's paper sack. What? More tax cuts for the rich will produce jobs for those who REALLY want to work and in the meantime, there are lawns to mow, and bottles to pick up...... Please spare me the moralizing, Mr. Bruum, in your little warm ups running around a suburban track.

  • (Show?)

    I know several people unemployed for 18+ months that would gladly take any job that paid as little as their UI does just so that could feel good about themselves by working again.

    Bruun's statement here ends any chance of getting my vote.

  • (Show?)

    For the record, I support the extension of unemployment benefits until such time as there is enough job growth in the economy to significantly reduce overeall unemployment (historically, 7% is the usual trigger).

    However, Scott's position on this is neither hard-hearted or irrational and I hear more and more people expressing it.

    The argument is that there has been a fundamental shift in our economy and that people who are simply waiting for their old jobs to come back need to start making the adjustment. By not extending unemployment, those people who have had a long time to find work comparable to their former job have an incentive to get back into workforce at whatever job is available to help make that transition.

    Granted, this likely won't increase total employment. But it certainly encourages the long-term unemployed to get back in the active workforce by taking a job that otherwise would have been taken by a short-term unemployed or a person who is already employed (opening up another job for another short-term unemployed person).

    While unemployment numbers in the aggregate are declining slowly or remaining stagnant, millions of people are still being hired and fired every week. The question is when is the right time to give the long-term unemployed an extra push to get them back into a job, even if it is not the job they want or, ideally, deserve.

    My disagreement with Scott is over the timing of this; I don't accept your characterization of him (or many others that I've heard express the same view) as Ebenezer Scrooge.

    • (Show?)

      Scrooge fits!

      Your party's disdain for the Middle Class in this economy and for people who genuinely need help during a recession is disgusting. You can put a pretty bow on it, it still says the GOP is out of touch with the realities out there. Looking for comparable jobs? Finding any job right now is like hunting for unicorns, as one out-of-work person put it recently. Did you know that some recruiting companies are putting stipulations on openings that the "unemployed need not apply"?

      You and I might disagree on who or what caused this recession, but the fact remains that people are looking for work and the folks over 50 in particular are the last to get the available jobs and Republicans DON'T GET IT. And the ones that do "get it" and have such views as Scott Bruun are simply trying to score political points against the Democrats at the expense of the suffering. I have some choice terms for such people, but momma taught me to not swear. Much.

    • (Show?)

      Oh sure Jack, nothing hard-hearted about Scott Bruun wanting to cut of basic sustenance for millions of Americans during the worst recession since the great depression...nothing at all. And that goes for today’s GOP too. They’re just a bunch of wonderful people ready to go into debt to kill brown people in the Middle East, ready to fire teachers, firefighters, and cops to give billionaires tax cuts, but not one more g-damn dime to ordinary hard-working Americans to feed and clothe their children. As one right-winger recently proclaimed, they're spoiled. They need more incentive to take those jobs pumping gas or flippin burgers.

      I have to admit Jack. that you’re pretty good at defending the scumbaggery that is today’s GOP/Conservatives/Republicans.

      • (Show?)

        Also congratulated Bill Sizemore on his win yesterday in Marion County. It is one thing to be a Republican, but when you are two faced: act all moderate around Democrats but then do a high five with Sizemore, puuullleeeeeze.

        • (Show?)

          Theresa, are you sure you are a lawyer? There is nothing two-faced about opposing Sizemore when I think he is wrong (and I've probably been more outspoken about that than any Republican in Oregon)but congratulating him when I think he is right, as I believe he is in this lawsuit.

          The labor unions he is suing put out pamphlets and other campaign materials describing him as a convicted racketeer--which he is not. In politics, participants are given wide latitude in expressing their opinions, but falsely accusing someone of being a convicted criminal clearly falls outside those boundaries--even under Times v. Sullivan.

          • (Show?)

            Okay, Jack, I'm not a lawyer, but this is from the Oregon Supreme Court decision:

            To summarize, we conclude that plaintiffs were "injured by reason of" defendants' ORICO violations, ORS 166.725(7)(a), because plaintiffs alleged and proved that defendants intended to and did harm plaintiffs by actions that defendants took as part of a pattern of racketeering activity.

            And also:

            the complaint properly alleged that plaintiffs had been "injured by reason of" OTU-EF's racketeering activities, including filing false CT-12 forms; and the evidence supported the jury finding that plaintiffs had been "injured by reason of" OTU-EF's racketeering activities.

            Now, I understand this was a civil case, not a criminal case, and that's where Sizemore is claiming that he's not a "convicted" racketeer, but the fact is that the courts have found that he engaged in racketeering activity.

            Is that enough of a difference to be actionable? That I don't know. Is there case history where people who have lost lawsuits have been described as "convicted"?

            • (Show?)

              We'll see how this plays out, but "convicted" was a word that I studiously avoided. I'm very comfortable calling Sizemore an "initiative racketeer", as I have on many occasions, but "convicted" he ain't. Not yet, anyway.

            • (Show?)

              The problem, Michael, is both that this was not a criminal case, and hence no one was "convicted," and also that while his organizations were held to have been engaged in racketerring activity, Bill Sizemore personally was not. In fact, the plaintiff's attorney's at trial reminded the jury that Bill Sizemore personally was not on trial.

              That's more than just a nicety. Accusing someone of committing a crime is libel per se; you don't even have to prove damages.

              Despite what is commonly believed, even in politics not everything goes. I don't know how this case will ultimately turn out, but as much as I have opposed Sizemore's measures over the years and his recent negative impact on Republican politics, I commend him for holding his opponents accountable when they cross the line. Frankly, it's about time someone did.

              • (Show?)

                Actually, Jack, it's absolutely wrong that "accusing someone of committing a crime is libel per se" -- otherwise every acquitted defendant would sue for libel (or slander, depending).

                I think it was sloppy to say that OTU was "convicted" of racketeering, and it was stupid to use that language. Whether or not it's actionable is a different question. I've asked what the case law is. Is there any?

                Jack, you also seem to be arguing that "the organization" engaged in behavior independent of the people in charge of it. That's ludicrous.

                Once again, the "party of personal responsibility" shows itself to be the party of no responsibility.

                • (Show?)

                  Michael, you ever notice how careful folks in the news media are to refer to criminal suspects as "alleged" criminals? That's because, even if someone is charged with a crime, it is actionable to refer to them as a criminal until they have been convicted.

                  And the campaign literature in question didn't refer to OTU, it stated as a fact that a bollot measure was being promoted by "convicted racketeer Bill Sizemore" which was false. In fact, he was never even charged with a crime.

                  I don't know how this litigation will turn out, but I think by pursuing it Bill Sizemore is trying to hold the folks who put out the false campaign material responsible for their actions, which from your last comment I assume you agree is admirable.

                  • (Show?)

                    Again, Jack, you fail to mention any case law.

                    I agree that the literature was sloppy. The question is whether it rises to the level of libel. Keep in mind, too, that the burden of proof likely is higher because Bill Sizemore is a public figure.

                    Are there other cases where someone who had lost a civil case was described as "convicted"? Were the able to successfully sue?

                    I don't know one way or the other, that's why I'm asking the question.

                    I've also heard people in the media refer to people who opposed the Iraq invasion as "terrorists." As far as I know, there have been no successful libel or slander suits as a result.

                  • (Show?)


                    I also noticed that Fox "News" and Lars Larson weren't careful at all in parroting the bogus accusations of a known liar, Andrew Breitbart.

                    From your comments, I presume that you'll be advocating for them to be included in the lawsuit that Shirley Sherrod is pursuing.

          • (Show?)

            Actually, Jack I am a practicing lawyer. The fact that Sizemore won an initial round of preliminary motions does not get one to a verdict and damages for slander.

            You did go on with your congratulations to lend support to his view that he had been actionably lied about. What is one to take from that? It's a reasonable deduction that you don't think the substance was true. How it will play out does not matter. You came in with Sizemore on the point that he had been lied about. Then to come to this site and try to sound like the soul of reason, well, my opinion, may not be true, but it is that you are trying to play all sides when you are right in there with Right.

            But it doesn't matter. After all, would you take his case when the measure of damages would be the loss to his reputation? Trust me, his reputation is one of who is intent on destroying government because he is living off some evangelical playlist of his own devising. But this is a political not a legal site.

            Finally, I don't think it gets you there without more, but I actually do put stock in who says what. If it someone who has proven himself or herself trustworthy says something, I give it weight. Encouraging Sizemore is your privilege, but it certainly makes your intentions and positions suspect to me.

            (As an aside, Carla, I was surprised at how attractive, gentle and lovely a person Schrader was in person. He drives me nuts sometimes, like over net neutrality, but even on looks alone :) as an older woman, I'd pick Schrader. Little blond boys don't pack it with the near SS set.)

            • (Show?)

              I just want to take this opportunity to intrude on this conversation about libel and slander and what is actionable and what might not be actionable to say that the criminals who kidnapped my four children 14 years ago included Kory and Chris Wright, Evelyn Taylor, David Holliday and several other Mormon officials, none of whom were related to my family or my ex-wife's family; to say that these (bad word here) kidnapped my children and I hope they sue me for saying this and posting it right here.

              I'm waiting for you (bad word here), me and Aaron's Law, waiting for you....

      • (Show?)

        Okay, just to keep things somewhat within the realm of reality, I started my piece by saying I think it is premature to cut-off anyone's unemployment insurance, in large part because of the numbers you mentioned.

        But even in describing the reasoning of those who do support it, there is nothing about "snobbery" or being an "elitist" in this argument.

        The reason we have a limit on the time you can be on unemployment insurance when the economy is good isn't because we think the unemployed are "snobs" or "elitists" but because we think that after a reasonable period of time, if you can't find a job in your field or a comparable job to the one you lost--which is and should be everyone's first choice--you need to take whatever job is available and get on with your life.

        The question is when do you do that, and personally I think we need more job growth and lower unemployment before you do that. But it really is possible to disagree with someone's conclusion, as I do Scott's in this case, and still recognize that doesn't make that person bad, evil or heartless.

        Just as I can disagree with Schrader's vote against supporting Obama's funding of the war and not think he is unpatriotic, disloyal or un-American. I just happen to disagree with him on that issue.

        • (Show?)

          I think the advocating of essentially throwing people out on the street without a job or a way to obtain one that would actually provide a liveable wage is extremely heartless. And then to excuse it with some sort murky slam on making the US a "European" style nation crosses over to the ridiculous side.

          Bruun is attempting to perpetuate a notion that people are sitting around on their asses on unemployment--unwilling to work because they're sucking off the government teat. And Taft is more than willing to give him a mega microphone to say it. It's ugly and mean--and should be called on it.

          It's insulting to the many Oregonians who have been forced on unemployment because their job has gone away and they can't find another (despite working very hard to do so).

          • (Show?)

            Exactly. Somehow I don't think that Bruun would be so quick to make the same argument in a room full of unemployed Oregonians. There are a lot of good people out there who would vastly prefer to be working instead of collecting unemployment - but that's just not a possibility right now.

        • (Show?)

          But it really is possible to disagree with someone's conclusion, as I do Scott's in this case, and still recognize that doesn't make that person bad, evil or heartless.

          Listen - I don't recall saying anywhere that Scott Bruun doesn't love his children. I'm sure he's a perfectly decent guy to those who know him, and that kittens warm his heart as much as anybody else. There are plenty of issues that we could disagree on in a totally reasonable and amicable manner. Plus, we all know perfectly smart people who have done patently stupid things. People aren't one-dimensional.

          However, insinuating that the reason that the long-term unemployed in this country today don't have a job is because they're content to live off of unemployment for an extended period of time is totally out of touch with the reality of the economy today. Let alone that they're doing it in hopes of landing the perfect job. It's borderline farcical. It has nothing to do with people being unwilling to take available jobs in another field or for less money. There aren't available jobs. There are not enough open jobs to go to even half of the long-term unemployed in this country, let alone the people who have lost their jobs or entered the workforce more recently. I'm glad that you at least realize that. The fact that Scott Bruun either is completely out of touch with normal Americans or is happy to pander to the far-right members of his base at the cost of people who are suffering doesn't earn him a lot of respect in my book.

          I also think it's rather funny that you're complaining about people accusing Bruun of being "heartless" because they disagree with him... on a post discussing how Bruun accused people who disagree with him of being "European". If you haven't figured it out yet, he didn't mean it as a compliment, he meant "socialist" and "un-American".

    • (Show?)

      By not extending unemployment, those people who have had a long time to find work comparable to their former job have an incentive to get back into workforce at whatever job is available to help make that transition.

      Jack, I guess I can understand the theory behind the argument -- but I'm not sure that it makes sense in the depths of a recession as big as this one.

      Forget for a moment the "tough love" that's being applied here presumably to help the long-term unemployed -- let's just think of what's in the best interest of those of us still employed.

      Does it really make sense to cut off benefits for millions of Americans who don't have any job prospects in the depths of a recession. a) Unemployment benefits are very stimulative - every dollar gets spent on housing, food, utilities, etc. b) Unemployment benefits prevent crime. After all, when all hope is lost, people will do desperate things.

      In a booming economy, I'd say sure, keep unemployment benefits time-limited. But in a deep recession, extending them makes perfect sense.

      • (Show?)

        Kari, I don't disagree with you on the substance. I'd even go so far as to say I disagree with Republicans who said they favored extending unemployment but wanted it "paid for." But then, at the risk of straying off target, I disagree with the deficit hawks in both parties right now; I think we need more fiscal stimulus, which is why I would not only have supported the unemployment benefits but also extend ALL of the Bush tax cuts for at least a year or two.

        But that doesn't mean I think those who disagree with me on either issue are hard-hearted, mean-spirited or evil. I think we can discuss the merits of the relative positions, as I think your post does appropriately.

    • (Show?)

      While that's great for the lucky ones in the right time frame, there real numbers of unemployed and underemployed are much greater. I'm not going to suggest cutting benefits, but shouldn't the fiscal stimulus be oriented more towards jobs as jobless relief than paying the bills for a few jobless?

      Michael has a good point. You can't just say "go out and get a job", but you can just give someone a job.

  • (Show?)

    Join the hard-hearted, Jack. In an economy with 10% unemployment there are no jobs. Period. And your party now wants to increase social security retirement to age 70. Good luck for people in their sixties trying to get work, much less the younger people. Jack, you defeat your own argument. If there is high structural unemployment there is even less reason to rule the unemployed expendable and kick them and their families to the streets.

    • (Show?)

      It's a despicable attempt to blame the victim. Like anyone would want to live on that given the choice.

    • (Show?)

      Not disagreeing, but the sad fact is that I know plenty of computer geeks accustomed to far more than 90K that would jump at a minimum wage job right now. It's sad. I know one gal in that position that took a job at a sandwhich shop,and they'll only give her 1/2 time to avoid benefits. She's now stuck with deciding whether to get another minimum wage job, because if she does, she'll have no time for interviews and job hunting.

  • (Show?)

    Nice catch Carla....

  • (Show?)


    I would be more comfortable with Scott's position if the alternative was some equivalent to the WPA jobs under Roosevelt, even if those jobs paid minimum wage. Then you could filter out those who just wanted to wait for the high paying jobs out from those who are willing to take any job.

    Could we condition continued unemployment after a year being willing to take any minimum wage job offered regardless of prior experience? Yes. But without real alternative sources of income the Scott Brun approach is both heartless and bad economics.

  • (Show?)

    Here's some major channeling of Ebenezer Scrooge, on the macro level:

    From the great Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians and Food & Water Watch, about what happened when Bolivia's ambassador at the UN had the temerity to introduce the resolution declaring potable water and sanitation to be irrevocable human rights:

    "And I have to tell you, listening to the statement from the U.S. yesterday at the United Nations, I wouldn't have thought there was any difference between George Bush and Barack Obama's administrations. It was haughty language. They scolded Bolivia. Bolivia came under a lot of heat, a lot of insults yesterday..."

    There you have it, Obama's admin. embarrasses us by publicly ridiculing the right to potable water and sanitation.

    "Hope and Change"

  • (Show?)

    It always amazes me how instead of intelligently debating an issue, people quickly turn to name-calling and divisive rhetoric. How sad.

    I would certainly give more credence to SOME of the responses to Jack's comments if they were at the very least respectful. But gone are the days when we can respectfully disagree, and stay on point, and debate the merits of an issue, without hurling insults.

    Just because you disagree with someone, doesn't automatically make your opinion right.

    • (Show?)

      We're supposed to intelligently debate the systematic tossing of people from unemployment insurance in an economy without nearly enough jobs....while at the same time being told we should be scared that we're moving toward being "European"?

      There's an intelligent debate there..?

  • (Show?)

    Tired of listening to people whine about not being successful? Then Scott Bruun!

  • (Show?)

    I'm really disappointed in these comments by Scott. He should be talking about job creation as the vehicle for reducing unemployment, not attacking American workers who have been hammered by the Great Recession.

    He is not just carrying the Republican banner anymore, and I would hope that going forward he will not cater to some of the worst instincts of the GOP.

  • (Show?)

    Has anyone in this comment stream actually looked for a job recently?

    Most of the openings are for people with specific medical skills or for truck drivers. They are very specific on the qualifications. Look for yourself through any newspaper's classifieds in the state. It's all the same, and its been that way for more than two years, since the Bush administration. Remember those geniuses?

    Many companies advertise a position which they know will be filled internally. They have employees who are working short hours or taking furlough days or who were laid off that they want to put back to full employment. They are going to get the job that's advertised.

    If you have a list of companies who do not fit this scenario, please post the information!

    Take a good look at what's happening in the real world before you post a lot of ideological nonsense.

  • (Show?)

    You're right Blog Lady, you do. Kurt Schrader would never be man enough to come on and answer any questions. I can see why the D's would want to further extend jobless benefits, seeing as how the so screwed up the economy and lost 8 million jobs. They actually have to PAY people to vote for them. Seriously, I owe you one, Carla!

  • (Show?)


    • (Show?)

      Wow those Democrats are doing a 'great' job of growing those unemployment numbers, aren't they? That graph at Slate looks like blood running across the United States. Don't look if you don't want to know the truth. Just. Don't. Look.

connect with blueoregon