Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), whose state has the second-highest unemployment rate in the country, just held a conference call with reporters, in which she expressed her belief that Republicans have cynically joined together to stop the jobs bill, also known as the tax extenders package or H.R. 4213, to keep the unemployment situation bad, or possibly make it worse, for their own electoral gains in the fall.
[Congress1] Here is a flash transcript of some of her remarks:
*On Republican obstruction: *
It’s an extremely maddening and concerning time right now, and frankly we need your help. We’re in a situation where, after spending at least eight weeks on the floor trying to pass this jobs bill, which focuses on creating jobs as well as helping people … not one Republican is willing to help us stop this Republican filibuster.
We’ve spent a tremendous amount of time and discussions to get just one person to join us. And we don’t have that. So, we will be voting again today to stop the filibuster and we have every anticipation that we won’t have the votes.
It is very clear that the Republicans in the Senate want this economy to fail. They see that things are beginning to turn around. You know the numbers. When this president took office, we were losing 750,000 jobs a month. … Now we are gaining jobs. … Unfortunately, and cynically [on their part], in cynical political terms, it doesn’t serve them in terms of their elections if things are beginning to turn around.
I believe when you look at this bill, which is all paid for — we raised revenues to pay for it — the one piece that is technically not paid for [is the federal unemployment benefit extensions and] that is done in a way that we have always done it, … [those are] always categorized as an emergency. And, frankly, if 15 million people without jobs is not an emergency, I don’t know what is.
*On who Republicans are helping: *
When you look as well underneath they are protecting wealthy investors, corporations sending jobs overseas and big oil companies — because we have included provisions to close tax loopholes in each of those areas.
Republicans are standing with them at a time when we desperately need to keep this economic recovery going and we desperately need to help people who are hurt. In Michigan, it’s estimated that by the end of this month we’re going to have 87,400 who are going to lose help, temporary help, in their unemployment benefits, by the end of this month. That’s literally the difference between somebody keeping a roof over their head, food on the table and a little gas in the car to go look for work.
I’m frankly outraged about what has been happening.
*On what will happen if the bill fails: *
We will put this temporarily aside. We have no choice. We met every single objection, we’ve negotiated — we’ve tried to meet what we’re viewed as concerns on the other side. Every time we tried to do that they changed the concerns. We can come back to it in a moment’s notice. … [But] we will temporarily put it aside. We’re going to move on to another jobs bill, focused on small businesses.
*On the impact of Republican intransigence: *
They’re willing to take down the people of this country with them. Republicans are out of work too. There are Republicans’ and Democrats’ businesses that need the access to capital and [other provisions] in this bill.
*On the White House’s involvement in pressing Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Scott Brown (Mass.), viewed as the most likely Republicans to switch: *
They’re very strongly pushing to get this passed. The negotiations have been primarily been with senators at this point. But the president and the White House are on the phone multiple times a day with the [majority] leader Sen. [Max] Baucus (D-Mont.).
On what this augurs for future jobs bills:
This is an extremely bad sign, because, based on the inability to get at least one Republican — in the past, we’ve had the ability to work, certainly, with members of the Republican caucus and get people of good will, willing to negotiate. The fact that’s not happening now and everything seems to be turned over to [Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)], it appears that everybody in the Republican caucus has gone purely into election mode [before] the fall.
If they can stop the recovery from occurring, if they can create as much pain as possible, people will be angry and will not vote at all or will vote against those in the majority. This is a very cynical political strategy and I sure hope it doesn’t work.
*On continuing to fight: *
My hair is even redder than ever. This is about real people. This is not some political, cynical game here.