Grandstanding Gavin Newsom urges furloughed TSA workers to file for unemployment compensation, even though they will be paid eventually


The new governor of California looks to my eye to be encouraging mass unemployment benefits fraud.  Consider this report from the Los Angeles Times:

In a public display of defiance, Gov. Gavin Newsom encouraged Transportation Security Administration employees to apply for unemployment insurance through the state after the Trump administration warned California that the workers are ineligible for the benefits during the federal shutdown.

"The good news is, we're going to do it and shame on them," Newsom said to TSA workers gathered at a hastily planned event at Sacramento International Airport on Thursday.  "They are, in essence, threatening us for doing what we're doing." ...

Since 1954, federal workers have been able to apply for unemployment insurance benefits through the state if they become unemployed or their hours are reduced through no fault of their own, according to the California Employment Development Department.

Newsom first advised furloughed federal workers to apply to the program during a news conference last week to unveil his 2019-20 budget.

The problem is that TSA workers are not unemployed; they are being paid on a deferred basis.  If they were to file for and receive unemployment benefits, when they receive their deferred pay after the partial shutdown ends, they will be in receipt of pay plus unemployment benefits.  I don't know the ins and outs of California and federal unemployment law, but it certainly has the appearance of fraud to file for unemployment benefits when by law they will eventually be paid for their work.

Would they be forced to pay back their unemployment benefits?  If not, haven't they defrauded taxpayers?  Even if they did – no doubt after weepy media stories sympathetic to the difficulty of paying back the money they have already spent on necessities like food and insulin – unemployment insurance is not intended to be a loan when pay is delayed.  It is for the unemployed.  So the risk of fraud charges seems real to me.

Newsom has had his eye on eventually running for president for many years.  He is handsome in a pretty boy way, has wealthy backers, and comes from the most populous state.  He is also the sort of man who would have an affair with his campaign manager and best friend's wife.  Adultery is one thing, but betraying your close associate this way bespeaks a moral rot that is too fundamental to ignore.

But he is busy virtue-signaling to a national audience of progressives that he is the most effective foe of President Trump.

Newsom inherited a surplus from Jerry Brown, thanks to the nation's highest tax burden and inflated capital gains revenue, generated mostly by the top couple of percent of income taxpayers.  California charges ordinary income tax rates on capital gains, and those rates top off over 13%.  When the stock market turns way down, capital gains revenue will also plummet, and California could well face deficits and the need to cut back.

Photo credit: Cropped from official portrait.