Obama Says Republicans Holding Unemployment Extension ‘Hostage’
In his weekly radio address, given on Saturday morning, President Obama accused congressional Republicans of holding the federal extension of unemployment benefits “hostage.”
On Friday, we learned that after 22 straight months of job loss, our economy has now created jobs in the private sector for 6 months in a row. That’s a positive sign. But the truth is, the recession from which we’re emerging has left us in a hole that’s about 8 million jobs deep. And as I’ve said from the day I took office, it’s going to take months, even years, to dig our way out — and it’s going to require an all-hands-on-deck effort.In the short term, we’re fighting to speed up this recovery and keep the economy growing by all means possible. That means extending unemployment insurance for workers who lost their jobs. That means getting small businesses the loans they need to keep their doors open and hire new workers. And that means sending relief to states so they don’t have to lay off thousands of teachers and firefighters and police officers.
Still, at a time when millions of Americans feel a deep sense of urgency in their own lives, Republican leaders in Washington just don’t get it. While a majority of Senators support taking these steps to help the American people, some are playing the same old Washington games and using their power to hold this relief hostage — a move that only ends up holding back our recovery. It doesn’t make sense.
The unemployment extension should pass as soon as Monday, when senators return from the July 4 recess and Sen. Robert Byrd’s (D-W.Va.) replacement is in place on the Hill. Additional aid for small businesses looks likely to pass as well. But aid for states, to save the jobs of teachers and police officers? That looks like a much more difficult challenge, given congressional Republicans’ reticence to increase the deficit.