Earlier today, I participated in a reporters’ call with Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), regarding the collapse of the jobs bill, also known as the extenders package or H.R. 4213, yesterday. They lashed out at Republicans and made the case for the stimulative effect of unemployment insurance — also accusing Republicans of cynically starting to worry about deficits they caused in the midst of an unemployment crisis. Here is a flash transcript of some of the remarks:
*Stabenow on what the collapse of the bill means:
People who lost their job through no fault of their own [got] caught up in this economic crisis. We didn’t even get one Republican colleague to join us to stop the filibuster. What we saw instead was them standing with the oil companies and the corporations shipping jobs overseas and wealthy investors. [This was] very much like the fight on Wall Street reform, where we saw them standing with those who wanted to block any changes.
And, it’s very much what we’ve seen from them all the time in the Senate. We’re at 244 objections now, 244 efforts to block us from moving forward. It’s unheard of, absolutely unheard of. We’ve never seen the kind of obstruction that we see now.
People who lost their jobs are being caught up in this, and used as political pawns in a partisan battle about an election.
*Brown on who the collapse of the jobs bill has hurt:
These are people who, if they lose their insurance, if they don’t get unemployment insurance, they’re more likely to lose their health care. They’re more likely to lose their home … Most Senators voting against [the bill] do not personally know people who have lost their jobs, lost their health care, lost their homes … Some Senators think unemployment is welfare. It’s called unemployment insurance, not unemployment welfare. You pay in when you’re working, to help you when you are not.
*Brown on Republican hypocrisy:
[Republicans] voted for tax breaks [and] two wars without paying for them … now that it’s unemployment, now that it’s middle-class workers that need help with unemployment compensation or to keep their health insurance, then all of a sudden they’ve got budget religion, then everything is about cutting government spending.
*Brown on the impact of unemployment insurance:
We want to extend these benefits. And we want to extend them clearly because it is good economics … [Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) own] economic adviser argued that unemployment compensation has the best stimulative effect in terms of the multiplier effect.
We’re all concerned about the national debt. Sen. Stabenow and I have been concerned about it for a decade and a half. And that’s why, when [President Bush took office], we had left it with a budget surplus. When I hear Republicans talk about the budget deficit — after the war, tax cuts, Medicare, insurance company bailouts — they caused it. It appears a bit hypocritical. I’m interested in dealing with the deficit, but at this stage in the recovery, we can’t.
*Stabenow on the relationship between unemployment and the deficit:
We’re never going to get out of the deficit if 15 million people are out of a job.
*Stabenow on governors needing federal aid for states:
There is a group of governors coming in on Monday. It’s my hope that we’ll see the Republican governors talking with us stand up and join, so it’s a bipartisan effort [to push for funding for states]. We received a letter prior to the vote from 47 governors, Republican and Democrat, asking us to pass this critical state funding. What’s [going to be] most helpful to us is to have the Republican governors talking to their Republican colleagues.