Julie Su, AB-5 Supporter and Inexperienced Nominee, Faces Criticism for Handling of California’s Unemployment Program

In a weak economy, with inflation rising, few American workers had time to watch Biden labor secretary nominee Julie Su field questions from the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee last week. Fortunately, Katy Grimes of the California Globe provides a detailed report.

On February 28, when Biden nominated Su, California owed $18,868,506,716.36 to the federal government for unemployment benefits during the pandemic. By the time of Su’s hearing last week, the figure was $19,258,996,070.59, an increase of $390 million.

Julie Su oversaw the unemployment program but blamed the Trump administration for the $40 billion loss. Su did not correct false claims that California had one of the lowest fraud rates under her leadership. 

Su also claimed that 95 percent of the fraud was related to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). As Grimes notes, California spent about $25 billion in PUA and lost about $40 billion overall, a fraud rate of almost 160 percent. So Su’s claim was false. 

All funds flowed through California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) system, which Julie Su oversaw as secretary of California’s labor and workforce development agency. The Biden nominee claimed, “I shut the door on fraud,” but according to California’s state auditor, EDD did not bolster its fraud detection efforts “despite repeated warnings.”

As Katy Grimes explains, Republicans failed to note that California, with 12 percent of the nation’s population, had nearly 22 percent of the nation’s unemployment claims. If California had not been such an easy target for fraud, “the population and number of claims made should have been about the same.” 

On Su’s watch, EDD sent out $140 million to at least 20,000 convicts, convicted murderers among them, and fraudsters across the country had a field day. Rapper Nuke Bizzle even posted a video bragging about “my swagger for EDD” and “swiping 10K a day.” 

Su blamed the federal government for not providing proper “guidelines,” but Sen. Mitt Romney recalled that Su “chose to waive” the basic security guidelines. “You realize what $31 billion would have meant for the people in Ukraine had we been able to double our military support there,” Romney told the nominee. The Utah Republican had evidently forgotten about American workers and taxpayers, who happen to be the same people. 

Julie Su admitted that she had never run a business, balanced a budget, or employed individuals. The Biden nominee is a big supporter of California’s Assembly Bill 5, an attack on independent and freelance workers. Senators reminded Su of her statement that those kinds of jobs are “not the economy we want in California.” 

By “we,” Julie Su means the bureaucrats and politicians of California’s ruling class, not the workers harmed by AB-5. If workers across the nation thought Julie Su is a poor choice for labor secretary, it would be hard to blame them. 

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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