Ron DeSantis admits Florida’s unemployment system is full of ‘pointless roadblocks’ that make it intentionally hard to apply for benefits

Ron DeSantis admits Florida’s unemployment system is full of ‘pointless roadblocks’ that make it intentionally hard to apply for benefits
Governor Ron DeSantis Screengrab

Many liberal and progressive economists have pointed out that the United States does not have nearly as strong a social safety net as other major developed countries — and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a far-right Republican and major ally of President Donald Trump, has, in effect, admitted that they are right. During an interview with WFOR-TV, a.k.a. CBS4 (a CBS affiliate in Miami), DeSantis told anchor Jim DeFede that that Florida’s unemployment system is designed to frustrate those who are out of work and make it difficult for them to apply for benefits.


With the coronavirus pandemic having caused double-digit unemployment in the U.S. and sent the country into a recession, DeFede asked the Florida governor, “Do you believe that the system was, in part, put together the way it was to discourage people from being able to collect unemployment?” And DeSantis responded, “I think that was the animating philosophy. I mean, having studied how it was internally constructed, I think the goal was for whoever designed it was: let’s put as many kind of pointless roadblocks along the way so people just say, ‘Oh, the hell with it, I’m not going to do that.’”

DeFede pointed out that Florida’s current unemployment system was designed by Republican Rick Scott, who was Florida’s last governor and is now a U.S. senator. And DeSantis replied, “I’m not sure if it was his, but I think definitely in terms of how it was internally constructed, you know — it was definitely done in a way to lead to the least number of claims being paid out."

During the interview, DeSantis and DeFede also discussed everything from voting my mail to the need for a coronavirus vaccine.

The interview has sparked some discussion on a Reddit page, where some users expressed anti-Republican views. Reddit user BitterFuture commented, “That doesn't seem like a thing that a government that intends to serve its citizens would do. But look at me talking crazy; this is a government of Republicans!” And Reddit user IceCream20 remarked, “For the GOP, the cruelty is the point.”

Another Reddit user, JDSchu, noted, “This is not uncommon. Texas is the same. My wife's initial request for payment after getting approved for unemployment was denied 'because there are no issues on your account.'”

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