1.7 million out of work Americans can thank Republican Senators for depriving them of a much need extension to jobless benefits. Today, GOP Senators blocked a three month extension on benefits for the long term unemployed. The measure failed to break a filibuster and restore funding for the long term unemployed as they battle to make ends meet in the midst of the continuing economic crisis.
Democrats were united in support of restoring unemployment benefits, but only one Republican, Dean Heller of Nevada voted to extend the benefits. Every other Republican Senator said no to providing an extension to assist unemployed Americans still seeking work. The measure failed on a 55-43 vote on straight party lines except for Nevada’s Senate delegation (Heller voted yes and Harry Reid who is supportive of unemployment benefits extension, ended up casting a no vote for procedural reasons so that the measure can be brought up for a vote again in the future).
A solid majority of Americans say that extending unemployment benefits is the right thing to do, but Republican politicians apparently could not care less. With the exception of Dean Heller, who represents recession-battered Nevada, GOP Senators do not seem to care whether their constituents are suffering or not. They have embraced an ideology that punishes the poor and struggling citizens of this nation, while bankers and CEOs enrich themselves. Jobless benefits, like food stamps and other anti-poverty programs, are placed on the chopping block, because middle and working class Americans simply are not suffering enough in their eyes.
The Republican Party has once again demonstrated their contempt for America’s jobless as they try to re-enter the work force. Voters need to take note and make sure that politicians who callously cast aside America’s jobless, are voted out of office this November. Nothing voters do can teach some of these Senators what empathy is, but perhaps delivering a stinging electoral defeat can at least familiarize them with the pain of having to look for another job. That pain is very real for many Americans, and it is time that some of the elected officials who are so indifferent to their suffering feel a little pain themselves. Then maybe, just maybe, they will begin to understand.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.