Obama slams GOP for stalling jobless benefits

President Obama slammed Senate Republicans Saturday for blocking the extension of unemployment benefits.

In his weekly radio address, Obama said keeping those benefits in place would put money in people’s pockets, leading to more consumer spending that could boost local economies. Instead, the president said the minority party is stopping that from happening by filibustering the legislation.


“Too often, the Republican leadership in the United States Senate chooses to filibuster our recovery and obstruct our progress. And that has very real consequences,” Obama said. “Over the past several weeks, more than two million of them have seen their unemployment insurance expire.  For many, it was the only way to make ends meet while searching for work — the only way to cover rent, utilities, even food.”

The president said in his address that the Senate has failed three times to extend unemployment benefits with Republicans blocking an up-or-down vote on the bill. Obama said the extension of unemployment benefits should be not controversial and has been treated as a necessary emergency expenditure during economic crises by lawmakers in both parties in the past.

“Suddenly, Republican leaders want to change that. They say we shouldn’t provide unemployment insurance because it costs money,” Obama said. “So after years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit, including a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, they’ve finally decided to make their stand on the backs of the unemployed.”

Obama’s harsh criticism of the GOP is the latest round in an escalating war of words between him and Republican leaders.

As the mid-term elections have drawn closer, the president has been more willing to call out Republicans, especially House Minority Leader John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFeehery: The next Republican wave is coming Rift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power MORE (R-Ohio), for their votes against his legislative agenda. Republicans have responded in kind with Boehner and others saying the White House would add too much to the national deficit with their proposed spending plans.

The political attacks are playing out against the backdrop of Democrats expecting heavy election losses in November, possibly enough so to lose the House to the GOP.

In his address, Obama said Congress needs ignore the politics of the day though. He called upon them to increase loans to small businesses and renew jobless benefits.
“We don’t desert our fellow Americans when they fall on hard times. We come together,” Obama said. “That’s what we’re doing today. And I’m absolutely convinced that’s how we’re going to come through this storm to better days ahead.”