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