Obama to blast GOP on unemployment benefits

President Obama will take to the White House Rose Garden on Monday morning to excoriate Republicans for blocking unemployment insurance, a White House official said.

With financial reform passed and soon to be signed, Obama is pivoting immediately to passing another agenda item on the Democrats' wish-list for the remainder of the summer work session.

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The official said the president will have "strong words" for GOP senators who have blocked the extension three times in the last few weeks, and he will criticize Republicans for simultaneously calling for extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

"He will point out that they are calling for hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while telling working families that we can’t afford to help them when they need it most," the official said.

Obama and the Democratic leadership agreed last week to pursue a three-bill strategy for the short time left in the summer work session. Winning an extension of unemployment insurance is the second part of that strategy after the Senate passed financial regulatory reform last week.

Obama is set to sign the financial reform bill into law on Wednesday.

The official said Sunday that "the president will tell the stories of Americans in need of the extension and he will have strong words for Republicans who have previously supported unemployment extension under Republican presidents but refuse to offer relief to middle-class families today."

Republicans have blocked the benefits while criticizing Obama and Democrats for declaring the unemployment benefits emergency funding and not offsetting the spending with cuts.

But Obama and Democrats are working to portray Republicans as beholden to the wealthy and indifferent to the victims of the global financial collapse of 2008.

Passing financial reform, unemployment insurance and a small-business tax credit represents Democrats' three-pronged strategy to pass doable legislation as the midterm campaigns intensify. They hope the approach will put Democrats on the side of working people unhappy with how the majority party has handled the economy.

Early Monday morning, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) office sharply criticized Obama's public-relations effort.

"Democrats have refused over and over again to extend additional unemployment insurance in a way that won't add to an already unsustainable national debt," said McConnell spokesman Don Stewart. "Everyone agrees on extending the additional unemployment insurance, but the Democrat way is to insist we add it to the national debt at the same time. Remember, this is the same crowd that said if we just borrowed a trillion dollars for the stimulus bill, the unemployment rate would be 7.5 percent by now."