Obama Slams Republicans for Blocking Unemployment Benefits

During his town hall meeting in Racine, WI, President Barack Obama used the bully pulpit to bludgeon the Republican Senators in Congress who blocked an extension of benefits for jobless Americans, “So their prescription for every challenge is pretty much the same basically cut taxes for the wealthy, cut rules for corporations, and cut working folks loose to fend for themselves.”

Obama first described the basic legislation he wants passed, “And that’s why I’ve been fighting, in addition to everything we’ve done, for additional steps to speed up this recovery and keep the economy growing. We want an extension of unemployment benefits for workers who lost their job through no fault of their own. We want to help small business owners get the loans they need to keep their doors open and hire more workers. We want relief for struggling states so they don’t have to lay off thousands of teachers and firefighters and police officers.”

Later he described the political calculus behind the GOP’s obstruction, “Now, some of this is just politics. That’s the nature of Washington. Before I was even inaugurated, there were leaders on the other side of the aisle who got together and they made the calculation that if Obama fails, then we win. Right — that was the basic theory. They figured if we just keep on saying no to everything and nothing gets done, then somehow people will forget who got us into this mess in the first place and we’ll get more votes in November. And, you know, that will make people pretty cynical about politics.”

In a matter of fairness, he discussed the GOP’s ideological flaws, “Now, let’s be fair though. The other party’s opposition is also rooted in some sincere beliefs about how they think the economy works. They think that our economy will do better if we just let the banks or the oil companies or the insurance industry make their own rules. They still believe that, even after the Wall Street crash, even after the BP oil well blew, that we should just keep a hands-off attitude. They think we should keep doing what we did for most of the last decade leading up to the recession.”

Obama returned to a theme of 2008 nomination acceptance speech, ” So their prescription for every challenge is pretty much the same — and I don’t think I’m exaggerating here — basically cut taxes for the wealthy, cut rules for corporations, and cut working folks loose to fend for themselves. Basically their attitude is, you’re on your own.”

He concluded by reframing the discussion not as big government versus small government, but as responsible versus irresponsible government, “So I want everybody to understand, this debate that we’re having in Washington is not about big government or small government. It’s about responsible government. It’s about accountable government. It’s about whose side government is on. It should be on the side of the American people. A government that breaks down barriers to opportunity and prosperity. That’s the kind of government we need. That’s the kind of government I’m trying to give you.”

Obama’s remarks today demonstrated his growth as a president. The uncertain grasp of the bully pulpit that characterized many of his first year speeches has been replaced with the language of a man who knows the reach and impact of the words of a president. A president should shine the bright light of the presidency of the Senate Republicans who are callously hurting the unemployed in their quest for angry votes of support in November. Obama did what a good president does. He spoke for the American people.

The president masterfully reframed the discussion. He shifted the discussion out of the Republican arena of big versus small government towards asking a very simple question. Whose side are the Republicans on? When the Republicans do things like support BP after the oil spill in the Gulf by opposing a lifting of liability caps, they are making it clear whose interests they will represent if they are returned to power. When Republicans block extending unemployment benefits to the jobless, it makes it clear that they are not on the side of those Americans who are struggling.

The great hope of the GOP strategy for November is that voters are so angry that they forget about the incompetence and unaccountability of the Republican Party during their previous era of mismanagement. Their desire is not to provide solutions to America’s problems, but to return themselves to what they view as their rightful place atop the government. Their belief in a government by the special interests for the special interests is the reason why they are out of step with the American people on most issues, and it is the exact reason why their dreams of a congressional takeover are likely to turn to dust by November. Obama has shown his fellow Democrats the path, now they must follow it in elections all across the country this November.

A full transcript of Obama’s speech can be found here.

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33 Replies to “Obama Slams Republicans for Blocking Unemployment Benefits”

  1. Do the unemployed create jobs? Do the poor and poorly educated create jobs? Who does? How do those who create jobs pay their employees?

  2. Maybe (many) the unemployed are laid off because of the markets we are trying to reign in.

    There are a lot of people out of work that are (or rather were) neither poor or uneducated.

    More otherwise broke people with some cash (unemployment checks) means more money to go around your economy.

    You are obviously a business owner, and I can relate. But to blame the Government 100% for this financial mess is just ignorant of the few high-level facts we do know (ie. a nasty collusion of government “citizen entitlement” programs and corporate greed masked by simple (unchecked) accounting fraud combined to allow it to happen).

    What people don’t realize is that- this absolutely was preventable. Life wouldn’t have been as flashy for many who enjoyed the 10 year boom… but heck I would trade 30-40 years of modest prosperity over 5-10 years of boom followed by 5-10 years of bust in constant cycles.

  3. john you shouldn’t even open your mouth! the rich are the reason we are what we are in today! now lets give the rich even more power so we can really mess this country up! then we can really hit poverty. see how long the rich stay rich when you got 3 or 4 million poor people tearing down your door step better get a plain ticket and run while you can!!!

  4. this finacial mess was caused by most of the rich and the fat suits sitting in congress that are on the pay roll of the rich corporations.
    the goverment giving the unemployed workers money to help them out is geting pushed right back in to the economy. yet the bail outs that the rich are reciveing are mostly going to foregin countries and foregin jobs cause it is cheaper to buy from over there then it is to make the same product here made by americans and now if they are not buying over there they look for cheap foregin workers here to do the job! in the end the money that could be made by amercans are going to other countries economy!

  5. What a great article. You had me cheering – Obama has finally embraced his power. He is fully capable of taking the Rethugs on.

    They should remember what happened to McCain but they won’t. They never learn.

  6. Tony says:
    “john you shouldn’t even open your mouth! ”

    Why, are you another intolerant leftwingnut who advocates and supports censorship?

  7. All democrats need to take on the terrible rethugs…..they need to keep their voice out there……the rethugs are disgusting

  8. Maybe Your Right, Maybe I’m Wrong says: “What people don’t realize is that- this absolutely was preventable.”

    So are unwanted pregnancies, but as long as people walk the earth it will continue to occur.

  9. “Obama Slams Republicans for Blocking Unemployment Benefits”

    Where are all the jobs you promised, Obama? Oil spill clean-up and census taking?

  10. It’s utterly sickening that the GOP is playing politics with the very lives of people by kicking them when they are already down. And apparently,they don’t care that there are Republicans among those they are screwing over.

  11. Great article,I think POTUS should call out those thugs every time! I wish he could or would just do some emergency executive orders for the unemployment and loans for small business. We gave all the banks $$ and they refuse to loan it out? Sanctions against them. Something.
    I am putting it out there in NOV VOTE THEM OUT EVERY-LAST TEABBAGING WORM!

  12. Tony says:

    “john you shouldn’t even open your mouth!”

    Why Tony, are you another intolerant leftwingnut who advocates and supports censorship?

  13. Palin shill has nerve to accuse others of supporting censorship? $ Payme refuses to even let the press record her speaking. She is afraid of press.

    Payme also forced Wasilly staff to never speak to reporters and called for “backlash” against bloggers.

    $ Payme is as unAmerican as it gets.

  14. Your are spamming now! Go back to Wasilla and STFU! You say the same thing over and over again, troll from wasilly

  15. Your are spamming now! Go back to Wasilla and STFU! You say the same thing over and over again, troll from wasilly Does sarah pay you well?
    To spam this blog?
    Won’t work Wasilla John!

  16. EnglishSaddle says: “Palin shill has nerve to accuse others of supporting censorship?

    Obamanazis practice and endorse censorship.

  17. Where are all the jobs you promised, Obama? Oil spill clean-up and census taking?
    Did you see the increase in jobless claims again this week? Where’s the leadership?

  18. Maybe Your Right, Maybe I’m Wrong says: “to blame the Government 100% for this financial mess”

    Who is blaming the government 100%? There is ample blame to go around, including the American consumer who wants high wages and low consumer prices.

  19. i dont support hidein any of the truth but from what you say is just plain old dumb thats why i say you shouldnt open your mouth! the americans dont need censorship at all they need the truth and truth be told the rich are not helping out at all. they are just making problems harder on this country. instead of making another million by buying and tradeing with foregin countries. maybe they should do something good and right with their money instead of worring about filling the gas tanks on their 40 foot yacht! if you think i expect the rich to just hand their money over to the poor no i do not!! i do belive in working for what you get! but, what do the rich executives do? they move their jobs out of this country to make a little more money and all they do is sit on there rich butts making choices that are tearing this country up and loseing american jobs that keep the middle class alive! all this is so they can have a bigger bank account and or a bigger boat, house, and ect.

  20. Where are all the jobs you promised, Obama? Oil spill clean-up and census taking?
    Your lack of leadership was not unexpected.

  21. Gosh, John, do you mean the jobs in the original stimulus package that your Savior Sarah and her merry band of lockstep lemming Republicans called “created jobs”?

    The jobs they made the Democrats take out of the bill?

    And what got us here in the first place, John?

    Let me guess- you’re going to blame Obama. And you wonder why no one takes Republicans seriously anymore.

  22. Where are all the jobs you promised, Obama? Oil spill clean-up and census taking?

    Obama has no leadership capabilities. He isn’t presidential material. Biden is even worse. One term for those two clowns.

  23. EnglishSaddle says: “And what got us here in the first place, John?”

    By all means, tell me. Then tell me how government is going to create jobs, employ people and who is going to pay.

    Obama made a very stupid promise. He’s a narcissist.

  24. Tony says: “all they do is sit on there rich butts making choices that are tearing this country up and loseing american jobs that keep the middle class alive! all this is so they can have a bigger bank account”

    Like liberal millionaires Barack Obama, Bill Gates, George Soros and Warren Buffett?

  25. crystalwolf aka caligrl says:

    “Your(SIC) are spamming now!”

    That’s all you have posted.

    “STFU!”

    Make me, callgirl! LOLAY!

  26. crystalwolf aka caligrl says:

    Your(sic) are spamming now! Go back to Wasilla and STFU!

    LOLAY! I don’t take orders from callgirls, especially ignorant ones.

  27. ok u ask where the hell the jobs are obama cant create any god damn jobs because the republicans alway no matter what turn the bill down they dont give a shit about anyone else but themselves i agree with tony all the way all there worried about is fillin there damn million dollar boat and there fancy ass cars and there billion dollar homes and they turn down unemployment benifits what the hell were tryin to fix the economy and the republicans say no basically fu screw the poor “fend for yourselfs” thats basically what there saying

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