On Tuesday, after the Senate passed a bill to extend unemployment insurance to the long-term unemployed, and President Obama held a press conference requesting the GOP-led House to also pass it, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement:
WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement after the Senate vote on the extension of “emergency” unemployment insurance.
“Far too many Americans are still unemployed in President Obama’s economy. For each of them, it’s a personal crisis that we cannot overlook. Getting these people back on their feet starts with a strong safety net – six months of unemployment benefits – that we continue to have in this country. But the ultimate solution to joblessness is more jobs.
“That’s why the House has passed bill after bill that, taken together, would create a better environment for economic growth, investment, and new hiring in America. Dozens of bills are awaiting action in the Senate that would provide job skills training for the unemployed, ease job-destroying burdens on small businesses, promote innovation and education, create energy and infrastructure jobs, and get rid of the president’s health care law that is making it harder to hire workers in this country. To help Americans find new jobs, the president should call on the Senate to act on them.
“One month ago I personally told the White House that another extension of temporary emergency unemployment benefits should not only be paid for but include something to help put people back to work. To date, the president has offered no such plan. If he does, I’ll be happy to discuss it, but right now the House is going to remain focused on growing the economy and giving America’s unemployed the independence that only comes from finding a good job.”
NOTE: The recently-expired “Emergency Unemployment Compensation” program is put in place only in the worst economic conditions and is designed to be temporary. According to the House Ways and Means Committee, the recent program, which went into place as we entered a recession in 2008, was in place longer (66 months), was extended more times (12), aided more people (24 million), cost more ($265 billion), and added more to the debt ($210 billion) than any previous program. The expiration of this temporary program does not take away the vital safety net that provides all eligible unemployed workers 26 weeks of benefits. The unemployment rate is lower today than it was when emergency benefits were allowed to expire following the recession of the early 1980s.
First off, how about the brass cojones on Boehner to put the word emergency in quotes at the beginning of the press release. For quite a few Americans, this is an emergency. They have had their only source of income unceremoniously cutoff and Boehner and his staff feel that it is best to trivialize it. One can actually imagine Boehner doing air quotes while reading it.
However, what this statement really says is that Boehner is not going to bring this bill up for a vote. To cover himself, he points out that he wants to provide the promise of more jobs to those who are unemployed. Therefore, he wants any extension of UI benefits to be tied to GOP-led bills that are supposed to spur the economy and create jobs. Except, the reality is that the so-called House GOP jobs bill is anything but. It is just an effort to get regulations cut for businesses and tax cuts for the wealthy. In other words, pure and simple trickle-down economics.
Boehner knows that the President and Democrats won’t go for this, no matter how many times the Speaker calls it a ‘jobs’ bill. The other thing that Boehner may want to trade for is the Keystone XL pipeline, which Republicans have constantly touted as both a job creator and energy producer for the country. However, the fact is that the pipeline won’t create a real net benefit in American jobs and will do nothing for improving energy needs and independence for the country. However, what it will do is give the Koch Bros. a profit of $100 billion over time if it is approved.
With most of the country dealing with bitterly cold temperatures and heavy snow, it seems especially cruel to try to extort massive profits for the rich in order to allow the less fortunate to survive. Hopefully, the amount of negative reaction to the House GOP refusing to act on this will force Boehner to cave. But for now, it is apparent that the Republicans are going off of a strategy of being cruel to the poor, especially when you combine this inaction with the recent vote to cut SNAP benefits and GOP-led states refusing to expand Medicaid.