Jobless Benefits Battle Holds Millions of Americans Hostage

In this July 2, 2010 photo, Mischelle Mitchell looks online for job listings at the at the Oakland Career Center in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

A group of mostly Republican lawmakers in the nation’s capital refuses to pass a bill that would reauthorize an extension of $33 billion in unemployment benefits. And in blocking the legislation during desperate times, they are holding 2.5 million Americans hostage, all for a political stunt. Those 2.5 million people are the chronically unemployed whose benefit checks ran out in May, and they’re hurting. And so are their families. Either these politicians in Congress do not understand the depths of people’s pain, or they simply don’t care.

As they seem to willfully ignore the plight of the unemployed, conservative Republicans would have us believe they are opposed to the extension of benefits because it will only add to the deficit and the national debt. Meanwhile, they have convinced themselves that the $1.6 trillion in tax cuts enacted under President Bush will magically pay for themselves. In the end, they would rather extend these tax cuts–which provide absolutely no help to the economy– rather than provide assistance to the unemployed, a measure which has been proven to stimulate economic growth.

david loveTo his credit, President Obama called them out for their filibustering. “A majority of Senators have tried not once, not twice, but three times to extend emergency relief on a temporary basis,” said Obama, surrounded by representatives from the ranks of the unemployed at the Rose Garden. “Each time a partisan minority in the Senate has used parliamentary maneuvers to block a vote denying millions of people who are out of work much needed relief. These leaders in the Senate who are advancing a misguided notion that emergency relief somehow discourages people from finding a job should talk to these folks. That attitude, I think, reflects a lack of faith in the American people.”

David A. Love

This article first appeared The Grio and is republished with permission.

Published by the LA Progressive on July 21, 2010
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About David A. Love Executive Editor, David A. Love, JD, is a lawyer and journalist based in Philadelphia, and a contributor to the Progressive Media Project, McClatchy-Tribune News Service, In These Times and Philadelphia Independent Media Center. He contributed to the book, States of Confinement: Policing, Detention, and Prisons (St. Martin's Press, 2000). Love is a former Amnesty International UK spokesperson, organized the first national police brutality conference as a staff member with the Center for Constitutional Rights, and served as a law clerk to two Black federal judges. His blog is