President Obama had some harsh words today for the Republicans who keep blocking unemployment benefits in the Senate, calling them “a partisan minority” that “didn’t have any problem spending hundreds of billion of dollars for tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans,” but is now blocking relief for the middle class.
Speaking in the Rose Garden, Obama first pointed out that Republicans voted to extend the benefits under George W. Bush: “For a long time there’s been a tradition under both Democrat and Republicans presidents to offer relief to the unemployed.”
But now, he said, these benefits “are in jeopardy,” and “after years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit,” the same people who “didn’t have any problem spending hundreds of billion of dollars for tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are now saying we shouldn’t offer relief to middle class Americans.”
Obama continued that “over the past few weeks, a majority of senators have tried not once, not twice, but three times to extend emergency relief on a temporary basis,” but that “each time a partisan minority in the Senate has used parliamentary maneuvers to block a vote denying millions of people who are out of work much needed relief.”
He added that these senators are “advancing a misguided notion that somehow emergency relief discourages people from looking for a job.”
“That attitude I think reflects a lack of faith in the American people,” Obama said. “They’re not looking for a handout.”
“It’s time to do what’s right,” he said. “Not for the next election, but for the middle class.”