I'm still glad President Obama spoke out and did so forcefully. Perhaps even more important was that the President finally called the Republicans out on their rank hypocrisy.
The reason this has been held up, according to Congressman John Boehner, not because Republicans oppose extending unemployment, but rather because the measure wasn't paid for and would add to the deficit. Funny, Republicans are all for extending the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy, which will add $685 billion to the deficit, but are against spending $33 billion to help middle and working class Americans who can't find jobs. If you take away the Bush tax cuts and the cost of the two wars President Bush got us into we'd have still been running a surplus until 2008. We would have had seven more years with no deficits at all.
Oh, and while the Republicans have been playing politics with people's rent and mortgage payments and other essentials over 2.5 million people have lost their unemployment benefits. Nearly one third of American families now include someone who is unemployed, and a frighteningly large number have been unemployed for a long time.
Let's also be very clear about something: most people who are unemployed long term right now really do want to work. In most cases it's through no fault of their own. Here are three articles which explain why:
- 80% of those unemployed last summer were still unemployed this spring according to a Rutgers University study. The situation is worse for workers over 50, where only 12% have been able to find new jobs.
- CNN reports that many companies will not hire unemployed workers and will only consider those presently working.
- The longer people are out of work, the harder it is to land a new job according to a June 16 report in the (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer.
I hope people are taking note of which party is looking out for working people who have been hit hard by the recession and which is looking out for the wealthy and will vote accordingly in November.