Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 19, 2010

GETTING A LITTLE FIRED UP OVER UNEMPLOYMENT AID.... If all goes according to plan, the Senate will try, for a fourth time, in recent months, to extend unemployment benefits. With the Senate Democratic caucus growing to 59 members tomorrow afternoon, the prospects are relatively strong that it'll pass.

But President Obama nevertheless used his bully pulpit this morning, not only urging senators to do the right thing, but also taking some not-so-veiled shots at those who've been fighting so hard against jobless aid. He stood alongside three Americans who've been struggling and need those benefits.

"For a long time, there's been a tradition -- under both Democratic and Republican Presidents -- to offer relief to the unemployed," he said. "That was certainly the case under my predecessor, when Republican senators voted several times to extend emergency unemployment benefits. But right now, these benefits -- benefits that are often a person's sole source of income while they're looking for work -- are in jeopardy."

With the volume of his voice clearly rising, Obama went on to say, "And I have to say, 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 billions of dollars on tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are now saying we shouldn't offer relief to middle-class Americans like Jim or Leslie or Denise, who really need help."

"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. 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."

Responding to one of the GOP talking points, the president went on to say, "These leaders in the Senate who are advancing a misguided notion that emergency relief somehow discourages people from looking for a job should talk to these folks. That attitude I think reflects a lack of faith in the American people, because the Americans I hear from in letters and meet in town hall meetings -- Americans like Leslie and Jim and Denise -- they're not looking for a handout. They desperately want to work. Just right now they can't find a job. These are honest, decent, hardworking folks who've fallen on hard times through no fault of their own, and who have nowhere else to turn except unemployment benefits and who need emergency relief to help them weather this economic storm."

There are multiple reasons for remarks like these. Obviously, the White House hopes to generate some support in advance of tomorrow's vote. But as the presidential remarks helped underscore, the administration also hopes to make abundantly clear which party stands for more aid, and which is inclined to leave struggling families on their own.

Indeed, though Obama seemed reluctant to use the word "Republican," he left no doubt how frustrating it is to see the GOP approve extended aid through deficit financing before, just like Republicans cut taxes and boosted spending through deficit financing, only to see them take a stand now on the backs of the unemployed.

It's a message we're likely to hear again throughout the campaign season.

Steve Benen 12:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (24)

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Comments

Excellent. More, please.

Posted by: Rochester on July 19, 2010 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

If anyone associated with the Democrats in Washington, or with the Obama administration in particular, reads this blog, they'd better likewise crank up the volume! I'm sick of Washington Democrats basically throwing opportunity after opportunity away, always 2 beats behind conservative propaganda and framing. When conservatives and Republicans said they wanted Obama to fail, Washington Democrats and the WH may as well have asked, "OK, how can we help you?" It's time to put those dreamy, idealistic notions aside for the time being and PLAY HARDBALL!

Posted by: Varecia on July 19, 2010 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

A word about the notion that some Americans on unemployment don't want to work or don't want to work certain jobs. While I'm sure some people are disheartened by the notion that they may have to take a job that requires a different skill set then they're used to - whether it's the desk jockey that now has to do manual labor, or the construction worker who is now working customer service because no one may be building in his area - what's truly emotionally crippling is the notion that these people are now working jobs that still won't make a dent in their monthly expenses. Their take home pay may not even cover their mortgage, let alone food and utilities and so on. Sure, they may have to move, either to a place where the jobs exist or to a more-affordable area. Of course, since many families are two-income families, the other person in that team may have to give up his or her job in order to make that move. Bottom line is, the scumbags in the Republican party who love to pay lip service about family values are doing their best to tear families apart by shrinking the economy, trying to deny them affordable insurance, making it nearly-impossible for many people to make a living wage - not a luxurious wage, but a wage where they can do the roof-over-their-heads-and-food-on-the-table-and-the-power-on thing - and punishing those who fail.

Posted by: slappy magoo on July 19, 2010 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

>>But President Obama nevertheless used his bully pulpit this morning, not only urging senators to do the right thing, but also taking some not-so-veiled shots at those who've been fighting so hard against jobless aid>>

Nice of him to urge now that it seems it will actually pass. It would have been better if he'd pushed much harder much earlier, on this, on stimulus, etc.

Economic conditions have a huge effect on elections and we ain't got much to show. Voters don't notice Repub obstruction, they notice no jobs.

Posted by: foosion on July 19, 2010 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

More of this, please. Clear thru November.

And [strike]if[/strike] when Republicans and their enablers like Broder whine about how partisan and uncivilhis rhetoric is hurting them.

Posted by: Gregory on July 19, 2010 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking as one of the long-time unemployed, I can tell you the pittance in unemployment is no substitution for my regular paycheck, which is normally 12 times more than that. I'm infuriated at the current impasse.

Posted by: Tommybones on July 19, 2010 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

We've seen this movie before, but apparently the GOP forgets after the credits roll:

Act I: The GOP fucks around on something important.
Act II: White House issues mild statement expressing a wish that they not fuck around.
Act III: GOP continues to fuck around, issues stupid and insulting talking points to justify its actions.
Act IV: PotUS issues the GOP a new asshole.
Act V: Bill the GOP has been blocking passes.

Posted by: The Answer WAS Orange on July 19, 2010 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, HTML tag fail. The second sentence should read:

And [strike]if[/strike] when Republicans and their enablers like Broder whine about how partisan and uncivil his rhetoric is, keep it up, because it mean it's hurting them.

Posted by: Gregory on July 19, 2010 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

I've been waiting for Obama to do this for weeks. It's about time.

And make sure you read the post by "The Answer WAS Orange" above: he just nails it.

Posted by: sjw on July 19, 2010 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Where's the Democratic jobs bill to reduce unemployment? All we hear from Obama is 'tax cuts for small businesses' when it's clear that without (massively) increased demand, tax cuts won't create anywhere near enough jobs. But with so many millions (and millions and millions) of people out of work, and those with jobs cutting spending, demand for goods and services is stagnant.

What happens when the unemployment extension likely to pass tomorrow runs out in a month or two? What happens in two or three months when there will still be 20-30 million without jobs or barely scraping by on whatever part-time work they can get?

The current recession/unemployment crisis is destroying the lives of millions of us, our friends, and family. Lucky Jim and Denise and Leslie up there with Obama today (and I'm sincerely happy for them, but they make it look like a small simple problem when it's anything but). I expect all three of them will be inundated with job offers by tomorrow. Neither their good fortune as props for the president today, nor extended unemployment benefits tomorrow, gets us one step closer to making any meaningful progress on joblessness.

Posted by: NealB on July 19, 2010 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Also2: Leslie, Jim & Denise should put rat traps on their kitchen counters. One of them is sure to catch Michelle Malkin when she snoops around up there and I'm sure someone would pay a few bucks to get her back.

Maybe.

Posted by: The Answer WAS Orange on July 19, 2010 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Obama should do more of this kind of talk. But let's not leave everything to Obama and congressional democrats. People who support their policies need to do something for November. Register voters, canvass etc. this fall. If we lose the house, there will be nothing but impeachment, subpoenas, and government shutdown. For sure, there will be no more unemployment benefit after the one that passes tomorrow.

We might still lose. But lets put up a hell of a fight. I registered 45 new voters this weekend (high school kids who just turned 18). I tell you it is better than yelling at tv or despairing after hearing another republican lies.

I hope Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi cancel August recess. Instead keep bringing various jobs bills to vote and make republicans vote no. Instead of angry town halls, make republicans vote no ahead of the fall campaign.

Posted by: Truthteller on July 19, 2010 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, Mr. Obama does not mention that the billions and billions of dollars voted by congress to extend "war benefits" is easily passed by both parties, even though these dollars clearly add to the deficit. We are still being denied the truth and the "majority party" cannot bring itself to make the point, again and again and again.
The question is: how does extending tax cuts to the wealthy, specifically, create a stimulus to the economy; and if the extension of unemployment benefits adds to the deficit, how does that differ from the extension of "war benefits" adding to the deficit?

Posted by: st john on July 19, 2010 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

What's this about this "we got a responsibility" to help others?

Fuck that.

You don't take from my pocket to build roads...
You don't take from my pocket to build schools...
And you especially don't take from my pocket to help feed another..

Fuck you fucking socialists...
And the new black panthers you rode in on.

TeabaggerTom@ShitdogAlaska.com
(Where's my state oil money disbursement check?)

Posted by: Teabagger Tommy on July 19, 2010 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Obama should have had large blow-ups of the Republican quotes calling Jim and Leslie and Denise “lazy” “hobos” next to them.

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 19, 2010 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Good talk, should have been a lot more pointed. Bi-partisanship is a myth, strangling Southern Republicans is ultimately more productive. Dr. Biobrain was right the other day, at least the President makes points of contact sparingly and does not join the background noise of the rest of the sleaze peddlers. The R word must resound across this recession, they created it with the Democrats help. The Democrats that supported the war act should be booted out on their asses and replaced. You don't start two wars and then cry about the defecit! Assholes!

Posted by: Trollop on July 19, 2010 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Bravo, Mr. President. Now that you have located the bully pulpit, let's hear some more bullying, please.

Of course, the only true legacy of his morning speech will be the furious rightblogger oppo-research on "Leslie, Jim, and Denise." Pretty soon I expect to know that Leslie's father delivered newspapers to Bill Ayers, that Jim put money into the curiously red colored pot in front of the curiously red dressed Santa Claus out in front of Macy's last year, and that Denise not only voted for Al Franken, but did so while on parole for a triple-homicide in which she shot two evangelicals and the elderly real American they were helping cross the street.

Posted by: Perspecticus on July 19, 2010 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

If the Republicans in Congress are concerned with the deficit, Nancy Pelosi should magnanimously offer to axe some huge government program in a red district -- close a military base, suspend farm subsidies, end a corporate tax loophole -- so that we don't add to the deficit. They shouldn't mind. After all, government spending has no impact on jobs or anything, right?

Posted by: jonas on July 19, 2010 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

i never write on posts , i dont really care to tell my situation but i wanted to add this people talk about many things that bother me, first let me say this , if a person isnt going through something theirselve they dont feel a urgency to do any thing about it. i see what this has done to alot of people i know many have exhausted their benefits, but there is no talk about that , some women have went to prostituting and other means to help out , putting up with abusive men because of this , more then half the people i know are unemployed or work less then 30 hours a week and never have anything. it makes me sick. people are stressed out and feeling froggie , how far can you bend a stick before it cracks, i wonder. i feel so sad for these people i am unable to complain , i did use this time and got a side business which isnt a huge gain but more then many got , sometimes i feel guilty having things when many do not, then think of the kids , no one talks about them , or the system having to help more with the single mothers, or the child support issues with the fathers who simply just cant pay. i have a friend she just graduated college , she was long term unemployed and she cant get a job , she finally find one if you wish to call it that at big boys , she has two kids and makes 7.50 for 25 hours a week so after taxes about 140 a week , then she has to pay for gas to get there , so she makes about 400 a month , its a shame, sometimes i wish i could do something unchristian like make some people open up their closed eyes. its pitiful this system .... i just hate not being able to do something, she smiles at me but i know she is crying inside. a lot of these people were very independant , i mean how else did they qualify for this if they werent, i cant even think i am pissed off for you

Posted by: why on July 19, 2010 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

@jonas: Sort of what I had in mind. Just the waste by the Pentagon would pay for unemployment,healthcare and education. Unfortunately, the recipients of this money are not likely Republican voters, so they do not matter.

What may, at some time, be explored is the relationship between the expenditure of money by people receiving unemployment benefits and the expansion of industries that provide the "consumer goods" purchased with these dollars. In our present culture, we are consumers and our economy is based on consumption. The new reality is that this is changing. Many of the "lost jobs" will never be found. They were obsolete and based on false needs. So, the challenge of our leadership and we consumers is to begin the radical process of reinventing how we live and value our lives. The signs of a changing world are everywhere; we must start to recognize them and get out of denial.

I am committed to Oneness through Justice and Transformation
peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on July 19, 2010 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Indeed, though Obama seemed reluctant to use the word "Republican"

He does use the word twice, when talking about Bush and his Republican Senate.

So yes, true, he doesn't use the word to describe the current crop of sad sacks.

Maybe he does that for a reason - I'm looking at you, Ben Nelson, member of the "partisan minority". You may be a Dem, but you are still a hypocritical partisan, supporting Mitch McConnell all the way, AND you are still in the minority.

Posted by: Ohioan on July 19, 2010 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Steve, I don't think the audience will wonder who he's talking about? he's a Democrat, when he comes out against anyone I think people will know its a republican. ;)

Posted by: Alli on July 19, 2010 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

"The current recession/unemployment crisis is destroying the lives of millions of us, our friends, and family. Lucky Jim and Denise and Leslie up there with Obama today (and I'm sincerely happy for them, but they make it look like a small simple problem when it's anything but). I expect all three of them will be inundated with job offers by tomorrow. Neither their good fortune as props for the president today, nor extended unemployment benefits tomorrow, gets us one step closer to making any meaningful progress on joblessness."

Lucky like Arlen Specter or all them lobbyists!

Posted by: Over 8 on July 19, 2010 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans block unemployment benefits in 2010 = republicans shutdown the gubmint in 1995? Discuss.

Make hay, Dems, make hay!

Posted by: Dr. Stuart on July 19, 2010 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK
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