Obama to Republican Senators: Stop Playing Politics ‘On the Backs of the Unemployed’
July 17, 2010
(ChattahBox)—President Obama finally took aim at heartless Senate Republicans filibustering the extension of unemployment benefits to jobless Americans. During his Saturday address to the nation, Obama chastised Republicans for suddenly developing deficit religion “on the backs of the unemployed” after years of running up record deficits, by awarding tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. Will Obama’s message reach the masses outside the beltway whom are blaming the senate as a whole for their troubles? The Republicans are banking on the fact that it won’t. And the GOP will slide into the midterm elections benefiting from an angry and suffering electorate, without consequences for their obstructionism and disdain for the unemployed.
Besides the extension of unemployment benefits, the Democratic jobs bill provides tax cuts and hiring incentives for small businesses. And the GOP is also blocking these measures.
“Consider what that obstruction means for our small businesses – the growth engines that create two of every three new jobs in this country. A lot of small businesses still have trouble getting the loans and capital they need to keep their doors open and hire new workers. So we proposed steps to get them that help: Eliminating capital gains taxes on investments. Establishing a fund for small lenders to help small businesses. Enhancing successful SBA programs that help them access the capital they need.”
“Think about what these stalling tactics mean for the millions of Americans who’ve lost their jobs since the recession began. Over the past several weeks, more than two million of them have seen their unemployment insurance expire. For many, it was the only way to make ends meet while searching for work – the only way to cover rent, utilities, even food.”
“Three times, the Senate has tried to temporarily extend that emergency assistance. And three times, a minority of Senators – basically the same crowd who said “no” to small businesses – said “no” to folks looking for work, and blocked a straight up-or-down vote.”
“Some Republican leaders actually treat this unemployment insurance as if it’s a form of welfare. They say it discourages folks from looking for work. Well, I’ve met a lot of folks looking for work these past few years, and I can tell you, I haven’t met any Americans who would rather have an unemployment check than a meaningful job that lets you provide for your family. And we all have friends, neighbors, or family members who already knows how hard it is to land a job when five workers are competing for every opening.”
“And never in the history of our nation, during times of severe recession and high unemployment, has congress denied an extension of unemployment support. But senate republicans have suddenly developed concern for the deficit, but only when it comes to the poor.”
As the GOP filibusters a jobs bill, they are pushing to retain Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy, which will further add to the deficit, but that’s OK:
“Now in the past, Presidents and Congresses of both parties have treated unemployment insurance for what it is – an emergency expenditure. That’s because an economic disaster can devastate families and communities just as surely as a flood or tornado. ”
“Suddenly, Republican leaders want to change that. They say we shouldn’t provide unemployment insurance because it costs money. So after years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit, including a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, they’ve finally decided to make their stand on the backs of the unemployed. They’ve got no problem spending money on tax breaks for folks at the top who don’t need them and didn’t even ask for them; but they object to helping folks laid off in this recession who really do need help. And every day this goes on, another 50,000 Americans lose that badly needed lifeline.”
Obama reminds Republicans that unemployment benefits actually stimulate the economy and bring down the deficit:
“The fact is, most economists agree that extending unemployment insurance is one of the single most cost-effective ways to help jumpstart the economy. It puts money into the pockets of folks who not only need it most, but who also are most likely to spend it quickly. That boosts local economies. And that means jobs.”
The President ended his message by condemning senate Republicans for their partisanship, at a time of suffering and great need in our country:
“Because when storms strike Main Street, we don’t play politics with emergency aid. We don’t desert our fellow Americans when they fall on hard times. We come together. We do what we can to help. We rebuild stronger, and we move forward. That’s what we’re doing today. And I’m absolutely convinced that’s how we’re going to come through this storm to better days ahead.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) plans to bring the jobs bill to the senate for another vote on Tuesday. If the Republicans block the measure for a fourth time, it’s high time Sen. Reid brought out the cots to force the Republicans to remain in the chamber if they intend to filibuster aid for the unemployed.
President Obama’s entire address can be found here.