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. veteran

    Quit playing politics here! It will be taken care of!

    July 19, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  2. Proud member of Global Zero

    What I would really like to see is, have every elected official only earn the median family income from their state. We could then vote them out and have them try to get a job. I have been laid off for 3 weeks now. I have sent out countless resumes. After not hearing ANYTHING, I had my resume evaluated for quality. After a huge adjustment (deleting 22 years of experience in my chosen profession), still nothing. Actually I had one response...it refered to my age. I am 51 years young and scared to death. There are jobs out there, you just don't hear back from anyone. I have applied in retail sales, customer service, and grocers. Those are not even my profession. I just started looking, god help those that have been without for over 6 months.

    July 19, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  3. Really

    Huh... The GOP can't block anything. They are not the majority. The dems have more than enough votes to push it through.

    July 19, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  4. felicia

    You tell them President Obama, the repigs done got on my last nerve.

    July 19, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  5. rob

    The President is lowering himself by playing politics with this issue just as he blames the Republicans of doing the same thing. The Republicans have it right:

    "The American people are asking 'where are the jobs?' and President Obama continues to offer only disingenuous attacks, not answers."

    The answer is get the economy growing and private sector jobs created, not GOV JOBS or BAILOUTS for UNIONS. Why is it that CNN's broadcast never have stories about out-of-work people telling their tales of woe untill Republicans threaten to stop extentions????? Are these people being used for political gains? Are their sad stories only a news when the Editors at CNN, the NYT or WaPo think they are or when it helps the Dems?????

    July 19, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  6. GL

    The American people are asking you Bonehead/ John Boehner 'where are the jobs?' and you and your party continues to offer only disingenuous attacks, not answers." and what to continue the Bush tax cuts with out it being off set or paid for. Hypocrites. Keep shjowing the American people your true love for the American people.

    July 19, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  7. Dean

    Obama you and your party have the majority in both houses. Why to you continue to use "Republicans Blocked" as your excuse?
    I don't want my grandchildren to pay for your unemployment benefits.
    Why don't you bring our jobs back from overseas and stop the outsourcing that still continues today if you want to fix our economy?????????

    July 19, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |

    I know that obama are keep wrong so he was keep too bad polls for his presdient
    He are not already his presdient
    That is true

    July 19, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  9. Emerson

    Senate GOP leaders: America is watching. It is abundantly clear that you have no intention of helping American working people. The people will remember in November.

    July 19, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  10. once upon a horse

    more people blame the Republicans and STILL blame the Bush administration for the economy YET they want to put the GOP back in power. I think these folks are aware that the economy is slowly doing better, the GOP is not helping it, but just refuse to give the Obama administration much credit for doing it. These same people are the fans of Palin, Beck, Limbaugh and all the other dooms day sayers so I guess in that case it does make sense.

    July 19, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  11. Get A Grip

    BUT BUT BUT......Mr. President with your stimulus you stuffed down our throats you promised jobs and unemployment wouldn't go over 8%. We shouldn't have to extend unemployment benefits because there should be plenty of jobs, right Mr. President?

    The bottom line is Oblammer blames everyone else but himself for his failures.

    July 19, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  12. Rickster

    President Pinnocio fails to mention that republicans want the unemployment benefits expense paid for by spending cuts. I realize that is a foreign concept to democrats but perhaps the government could cut funding to a program such as, oh, I don't know,....the mating habits of the Brazilian tsetse fly for awhile to pay for the unemployment benefits and not raise the national debt(as if that matters to democrats).

    July 19, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  13. cjr

    anyone who would support the tea party republicans is a racist – it is very apparent they have absolutely no interest in t he future of america. they have become anti american and shoul be voted out. anyone who supports the republican party is supporting racism.

    July 19, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  14. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    Republicans can't expect to get many votes from unemployed Republicans with this tactic.

    July 19, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  15. norma

    And the pro-life republicans say, "LET THEM STARVE". Yup, that's exactly what Jesus would have done.

    July 19, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
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