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. john

    Lets do something to create jobs instead of more handouts. I was on unemployment for almost 6 months and took a job I didnt want to make the money I need to support myself.

    July 19, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  2. dave

    Cut the darn thing off. I know of so many people receiving these benifits and when offered a job they ask to be paid off the books. So much fraud here. What incentive is it when a person is receiving unemployment benifits and also is working off the books. Funny, when I asked this person why dont you work on the books, That persons stated. I WILL LOSE MY UNEMPLOYEMENT BEN

    July 19, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  3. Gale

    I don't care what anyone says, you can get a job if you want to. It may not be the job you were trained for or the money you once received, but any work would help if your children are hungry.

    July 19, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  4. Libertarian in NY

    The GOP is correct for not extending the debt further. It is time to stop wasting money but this administatration just like the last one just prints money and spend, spend, spend. Priorities different the result the same. DEBT!! Draw the line, no benefits until money can be allocated from some scheduled expenditure. Too bad but this what has to happen. Hopefully enough people will get pissed off and every incumbant will be gone come December.

    July 19, 2010 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  5. W L Jones

    For those who never experience unemployment you never know the sickness one feel the thought one have on monday moring without having a job to go to. The fear of interview and others people coming in while you waiting to be call in. One never knows the important of a job untile he or she lose theirs!....

    July 19, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  6. Paul from Phoenix

    GOP is right on this one. We can't just keep creating money out of nowhere.

    McConnel proposed tapping unused funds from last year's Stimulus bill. That is a good idea. Use those funds. But that was not even allowed for a vote. GOP tried to work with dems, but dems said no.

    In this instance, dems were party of no.

    July 19, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  7. Ancient Texan

    I can't believe the gall of this "make believe" president. Making the statements blaming the minority party for the complete failure of his own radical misconceived policies to creat jobs. The stimulas was going to correct the entire problem, if we did it swiftly. Well? it got worse!. Now the Dems refuse to pay-go on this subject and they're ignoring their own rule. If they inject a way to pay for this entension, the Republicans will vote for it, Period. Quit lying mr president.

    July 19, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  8. AK

    Rip 'em a new one Mr. President...
    They (the GOP) deserve it!

    July 19, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  9. David in Houston

    John Boehner...the best congressman money can but.

    Have you no shame?

    July 19, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  10. Eric

    Hey look, Barry is "Speechifying" again...

    What's that? The economy is still in the tank? Barry's polling numbers are still in free-fall? Looks like America needs another "BarrySpeech."

    "Some will say... make no mistake... the last eight years... I will not rest... let me be clear... blame Bush..."

    One and done,
    four and the door.
    A single term,
    and nothing more.

    July 19, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain

    Republicans care only about the rich and are willing to do everything they can to destroy our country.

    They think that if things are bad enough, voters will abandon Democratic policies and vote to return to the tried-and-failed policies of the Republicans that got us into this mess in the first place.

    The Republicans really think we're a bunch of idiots.

    Let's prove them wrong – vote Democratic this November!

    GOP = Party Before Country

    July 19, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  12. Jimmy B.

    This president doesn't have a clue! We can't keep spending and giving hand outs. Unemployment payments can't go on forever. Many people are refusing to take available jobs because they pay less than the unemployment checks. More jobs aren't being created because Democrats are bad for businesses and only support the big unions.

    July 19, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  13. JohninNM

    This administration's fiscal irresponsibility has got to stop. We are burdening our children and their children with debt. Yeah, its tough to not get more unemploymnet benefits, but almost two years of coverage has got to be seen as more than reasonable. If we can't afford more, then no more. Period. No different than any household budget – don't spend more than you have! No more debt!

    Want to save our tax dollars? Arrest and deport all illegals. Arrest and fine those that hire illegals. Secure our borders. Cease wasteful and shortlived benefit stimulus spending. And abpove all, term limits for Congress!

    July 19, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  14. J Russ

    The Dems passed a bill with big fanfare stating that any new legislation will be 100% paid for – and they have not lived up to that pledge since. The Republicans are simply saying do as you say – keep you word.

    July 19, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  15. Debbie from Arizona

    I appreciate the President finally weighing in on this, but unfortunately I don't believe it will help. Republicans don't care one little bit for the everyday working folks of our country. They have proven this time and time again. They cry for the rich to keep getting their Bush tax cut, but no we can't extend unemployment that would make are deficit bigger. Give me a break.

    July 19, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  16. Stymie

    Use whats left from the stimulus budget to fund the unemployed. You don't need another bill.

    July 19, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  17. RJ-GA

    It is time for a wake up call to the middle class and Americans in general the republicans don't care about you, only big business and the very rich ! When the republicans speak about entitlement programs this is what they carefully avoid talking about, even Bush #1 told Reagan it was voodue economics !

    July 19, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  18. Steve -Illinois

    If it's so important, why not just pay for it? They jumped in front of the press when they passed "PAYGO" and now want everything to be declared "emergency" spending! Ya can't have it both ways!

    July 19, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  19. jules sand-perkins

    I don't blame either party for the recession.
    I blame socialistic thinking.
    Democrats prize that thinking more than Republicans do.

    July 19, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  20. Eric

    "Obama rips GOP for blocking jobless benefits extension"

    Alternate headline:
    Americans, GOP rip Obama for blocking jobs, prosperity, wealth creation."

    July 19, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  21. hypocricnnation

    It's Great That President Obama Tore Into The Republican Thugs In Washington. Congressman Boehner Is Nobody To Give Any Lectures On Fiscal Responsibility!

    July 19, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  22. Dano

    Isn't it funny how the GOP only seems to care about the deficit when they are OUT of power? I didn't hear any objections to starting 2 wars, adding a costly medicare prescription plan, and cutting taxes to the wealthy without spending cuts during the time they controlled the House, Senate, and the White House between 2000 – 2006.

    July 19, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  23. vdm

    I agree that most folks on unemployment benefits would prefer to have a job. However, we all know people who do not want to work and who will stay on unemployment benefits until the money runs out. If you have a government hand-out, there are always some that are going to take advantage of the system.

    More important, what is wrong with asking the Federal Government to find the money to fund this extension instead of adding to the deficit? The line has to be drawn at some point. I don't normally agree with most Republican politicians, but I think they got this one right.

    The cash cow has gone dry. We are going broke and we need to stop the deficit spending now!

    July 19, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  24. Kenny Redmon

    I cannot understand why the Republician party cannot vote to fix workers compensation and to extend it. These people did not ask to loose there job. Do we need we to remind Republicians or all politicians, that they didn't have a problem bailing out wall street. I will remember come November!

    July 19, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Thank you Mr. President. It appears that you are the ONLY one willing to take on the demonic lies told by the GObP ON SO MANY fronts.

    Their comment regarding the unemployed WANTING to remain unemployed in order to collect 1/3 – 1/2 of their regular paycheck I found personally offensive and ANOTHER outright GObP LIE! My husband of 27 years found himself unemployed courtesy of the Shrub's plummetting economy. It took him 5months of using our personal savings to put his dignity aside and sign up for unemployment.

    People who have worked hard all their lives DO NOT WANT hand-outs; whether they payed into the fund or not. The picture that the GobP wants to paint of those whose lives they ripped apart is not a pretty one. Shame on those so-called Americans that believe their lies. Shame on Americans who remain quiet and let their lies propagate and gain strength. And kudos to OUR President for having the integrity and intestinal fortitude to call them out!!!

    July 19, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
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