July 19th, 2010
11:01 AM ET
13 years ago

Obama rips GOP for blocking jobless benefits extension


 President Obama spoke in the Rose Garden on Monday alongside three unemployed American workers. (PHOTO CREDIT: Emily Schultze/CNN)

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama tore into congressional Republicans on Monday for blocking an extension of unemployment benefits, arguing that a "partisan minority" had allowed short-term political calculations to trump genuine economic need.

The Senate is set to consider a bill Tuesday that would extend the deadline to file for unemployment benefits through the end of November. The bill would cost $33 billion in additional deficit spending, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Watch: President Obama urges Senate to act on jobs

Senate GOP leaders have blocked a vote several times, highlighting deficit concerns by arguing that any benefits extension should be offset by spending cuts. Democrats are counting on the seating Tuesday of the replacement for Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia to break the logjam.

The Republicans are guided by a "misguided notion" that a new relief bill would discourage people from looking for work, the president said at the White House. "That attitude reflects a lack of faith in the American people," he said. The unemployed "aren't looking for a handout. They desperately want to work."

Republicans should stop holding people "hostage to Washington politics," Obama declared. "There are times when you put elections aside. This is one of those times."

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, immediately fired back, releasing a statement slamming Obama for fiscal irresponsibility.

"The president knows that Republicans support extending unemployment insurance, and doing it in a fiscally responsible way by cutting spending elsewhere in the $3 trillion federal budget. At a time of record debt and deficits made worse by Washington Democrats' massive spending spree, that's the right thing to do and the right way to do it. The American people are asking 'where are the jobs?' and President Obama continues to offer only disingenuous attacks, not answers."

More than a million Americans are estimated to have exhausted the unemployment benefits lifeline since the deadline expired in June.

The U.S. unemployment rate stood at 9.5 percent as of June. The jobless rate has averaged 9.7 percent over the first half of the year, and many economists expect it to remain elevated into 2011.

Seventy-eight percent of Americans still believe the U.S. economy is in a recession, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released last month. Forty-one percent believe Republicans are more responsible for the nation's current economic problems, while 28 percent blame the Democrats. Twenty-six percent blame both political parties.

- CNN's Aaron Smith and Dan Lothian contributed to this report

Filed under: John Boehner • President Obama • unemployment
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Get A Grip

    I wish Obama was collecting unemployment benefits. We sure would be a lot better off.

    July 19, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  2. Still not paid to blog

    What is going to happen to the unemployed who no longer receive benefits? How are they going to live? Will they turn to crime to survive? While I agree fiscal responsibility to important to our economy we need to help our fellow citizens get through this crisis. Those on the right have no problem redistributing the country's wealth to the richest 5% through tax cuts. How about showing a little compassion to those who need it the most? Only $.80 is returned to the economy from one dollar in tax cuts, while the entire dollar is returned to the economy when the money comes from unemployment benefits. We are only as strong as our weakest citizens.

    July 19, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  3. sammieb51

    This rebellion over adding $30B to the deficit to keep the common folks alive and sheltered is coming from the same crew who wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent adding $2.3 TRILLION to the same deficit overnight. Does this make sense to you? Bush created 3,000,000 (3 million) jobs from 2001 to 2008 and cut taxes to the top .02% who are supposed to create jobs with all their extra money (!!) – Clinton raised taxes and created 22,000,000 (22 million) jobs from 1992-2000. Now wasn't Bush sitting over the same BOOM years Clinton was? What was the difference aside from 19,000,000 jobs NOT created?

    July 19, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  4. Debbie

    You may end up bring down the unemployment rate if we extend this and we just can not have that! We need you to fail, can't you get it! It doesn't matter if other people fall with you.

    July 19, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  5. Four and The Door

    Since when is it the Federal Government's responsibility to help people "make ends meet" through 2 years of unemployment benefits? That's welfare, not unemployment. The lower level of qualification requirements for unemployment make it a completely different type of program.

    Put people back to work. Dump this lousy bill.

    July 19, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  6. carmikal

    Repubs are really hurting people with this 1. I almost think that they are doing it in the hopes that the under informed will blame all of this on Obama. If if it wasn't for Obama's work so far with extending unemployment benefits, things would be 10 times worse.

    July 19, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  7. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    The question remains is how is the inept, corrupt, union toady president going to pay for it? Perhaps it he would levy a national tax on marijuana to pay for it, the cost burden of his socialist programs would fall more heavily on his dope smoking, non working, taxpaying fans then they would on the rest of us. I got my 401K statements over the weekend and am a victim of the mismanged Obamanomics. I actually accept personal repsonsibility for my life, can think for myself (don't need the SEIU or its wholly owned subsidiaries, the DNC, AARP and ACORN to tell me how to think) and have saved rather than spent on drugs that make me ineligible for a job, unlike Obozo supporters.

    July 19, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  8. Orlando Patriot

    Taking money from working businesses and individuals and giving to non-working individuals is not an economic stimulus and actually drags the economy down. Now I am all for helping those in short-term need but at some point that must stop. When to stop is the argument. 6 months? 9 months? 1 year? 18 months? 2 years? At some point it MUST stop and MUST stop NOW!! You have had almost TWO YEARS to make any necessary adjustments to find a skill that is needed in the market.

    It is time for this president to realize that the only way out of a recession is to get the economy going again and create an atmosphere where BUSINESSES find it beneficial to hire and expand. This president has done EVERYTHING possible to hinder economic growth and it shows not only in the unemployment rate and consumer confidence but EVERY economic indicator. You want to be mad that you can't find a job? Look at our incompetent president.........

    July 19, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  9. JT in NC

    You go, President Obama! You fight for the people, which is exactly why we elected you. There are a lot of naysayers out there and many who personally want you to fail. But also know there are still millions of us who believe in what you're trying to accomplish. Keep it up!

    July 19, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    We need to screw off Pakistan and giving away free money to all those people in the middle east and take care of our own .

    July 19, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  11. Joe Riccardi

    It is absolutely ridiculous that opponents (REPUBLICANS) never cared about the impact on the deficit, or borrowing from China, when it came to voting themselves multi-million $ salaries including benefits + expenses + unlimited staff + 1st class health care benefits + the best retirement benefits on this planet. I have voted with the Republicans my entire life but I am totally embarrassed by what they have done to this country for the past 10+ years. And we can blame the Republicans for helping the Democrats gain control of all 3 branches of the government. Look at the clowns they gave us as choices to vote for; Bush I, Bush II, and McCain (Bush III), etc. I still do not support the Democratic liberal objectives but I will never vote Republican again.

    Joe Riccardi

    July 19, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  12. ART

    I bet if it was to fund an unnecessary war the Repukes would jump on board

    July 19, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  13. thor

    It is this president's own mishandling of the economy that has kept people needlessly drawing unemployment.Unemployment compensation was never intended to be used in a matter that Obama wants it to be used. He's actually making it a replcement for a working job .How shameful is that?He was elected to fix the economy not spend his days blaming other people for what a mess he inherited !!! He told us when the stimulus bill was passed that unemployment wouldn't get above 8% if we did that.Well guess what unemployment has been between9.5 and 10% since he took office.18 months in office and i don't see the change!!!

    July 19, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  14. karin

    The proud Party of NO, as McConnell states, doesn't care about the American people as long as their paychecks keep coming in.

    July 19, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  15. gt

    there needs to be test to see who really needs it and the ones who are in for a free lunch....

    July 19, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  16. Muffet

    Is it just me? I think it is quite obvious the GOP and a few demented democrats loss their minds and are hell bent on distroying any chances of an economic recovery at any and all costs for political gains.What is apalling is the media is not calling them on it. Where the hell was the concern regarding the insane amounts of money the GOP robbed us tax payors of to fund insane amounts of tax breaks to those who did not need or ask for it! Where was the concern when BILLIONS were spent per minute on Iraq when there was no justification??? The repub idiots may argue...'that was yesterday...let it go." Well we are in this mess because of actions and decisions from the past admin. Do they really think the majority of Americans are stupid? I mean..are they actually thinking they can blind us with their hate, greed and arrogance? And to say that the unemployed are LAZY?? The whole congress and their business buddies are receiving government subsidies...we the tax payors are paying THEIR salaries and paying for big business tax breaks, I say vote every single arrogant, clueless congressman and senator OUT! Let them collect UNEMPLOYMENT.

    July 19, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  17. Dave

    This isn't welfare. You and I (and our employers) pay unemployment taxes for this very reason. What did our state and federal governments do with the money? What did the senators and congressmen and women who are voting against this extension of benefits do with this money? There should be plenty of unemployment taxes available to pay for this. Oh wait, I forgot. We had eight years of wasting taxpayers dollars on various silly causes that had nothing to do with our prosperity and didn't increase our security one damn bit.

    Americans paid into this program. This program is already fully funded. Has been for years.

    July 19, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  18. all the news that's fit to omit

    Hey Sotero, how about pushing the Brown bill that would pay for the benefits, Summer jobs programs and Medicaid/Medicare funding , BUT using NOT SPENT but allocated stimulus funds?

    My bad, you just want to spend, spend more, have concerts, spend, vacation, spend, golf, spend, campaign, spend, have Broadway come to he WH TONIGHT for a show ($$$$), spend, lie about abortion in the HC bill, spend, lie about taxes in the HC bill if you don't buy insurance, spend, lie about ALL of us keeping our coverage and spend, spend, spend.

    WE are on to you Barry.

    July 19, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  19. GI Joe

    We have the power of term limits already - they're called elections.

    It's just that corporate money lets some of them buy votes and keeps them in office.

    Don't fall for their BS - double check how they vote on issues - AND CHECK WHO FUNDS THEIR CAMPAIGNS.

    July 19, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  20. Big George in Big D

    Well, why doesn't Nobama just RIP some money out of his own pocket to pay for it? The debt has got to quit rising!! People need to change professions or do anything to get to work rather than sit around with hands out. This country is going to hell in a handbasket because of the free spending liberal ideas of this current administration!

    July 19, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  21. A True Centrist

    President Obama,
    Enough playing politics!! People who pay attention know what this is, and it's your way of deflecting YOUR administration's failure to create jobs. You've spent trillions on job creation, stressed the summer of recovery and you know what we have seen...the same FAILURE we saw from the previous administration!!

    Wake up and develop a plan to stimulate (yes, I said stimulate...not smother) this job market with real jobs, not temporary government jobs which create 0 growth!

    July 19, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  22. norma

    Let the Bush tax cuts to the rich expire and give unemployment benefits for those struggling and we'll actually reduce the deficit.

    July 19, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  23. annie s

    Thank you Mr. President for actually caring about the lives of American citizens. It's beyond me that anyone would want to return these self serving callous Republican to power.

    July 19, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  24. David

    What Obama doesn't say is that the Republicans have responsibly advocated that the the cost of the extension be funded by the TARP money which is still lying around as opposed to increasing the deficit.

    July 19, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  25. The Real Me

    Just keep blaming others!

    July 19, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
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