Senate Democrats plan to try again Tuesday to break a GOP filibuster of a jobs-and-tax bill that also would extend unemployment benefits for millions of jobless Americans.
Meanwhile, a senior Democrat struck back at a conservative Washington think tank analyst who prefers that out-of-work Americans receive no unemployment benefits at all in order to be forced to face “the full consequences of being unemployed.”
Senate leadership has scheduled a new cloture vote to advance the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act to a vote. The legislation, which would close corporate tax loopholes and provide job-creation incentives as well extend supplemental income for unemployed Americans, has been the subject of Republican obstruction for weeks. Democrats have repeatedly tried to bring this bill, and modified versions of it, to a vote — only to be blocked by the Senate GOP.
In his weekly White House address, President Obama personally urged Republicans to allow a vote on an extension of unemployment benefits.
“Republican leadership in the United States Senate chooses to filibuster our recovery and obstruct our progress. And that has very real consequences,” the president says.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says that Republicans are pursuing such relentless obstruction simply as a political ploy to benefit them in the November elections.
“America can’t afford this level of cynical political maneuvering. We need to work together to create jobs, but Democrats have run into nothing but a solid wall of Republican opposition at every turn, even for common-sense measures like providing a safety net for Americans while they look for work, cutting taxes for small businesses and closing loopholes for CEOs that ship jobs overseas,” Jim Manley says. “I can only hope Republicans will stop protecting special interests, stop pushing their cynical, job-killing agenda and start working with Democrats on what is best for the American people.”
The need to extend unemployment benefits has become critical for millions of jobless Americans who have begun losing their supplemental income because Congress has not yet approved an extension of such benefits.
Many out-of-work Americans depend on their unemployment benefits because the nation’s unemployment rate continues to hang so close to double-digits. There are often five unemployed Americans waiting in line for any one available job opening, and job openings have actually declined, according to government data.
The level of long-term unemployment, those Americans who have been jobless for six months or longer, is higher than at any point since World War II.
‘Less Motivated’ To Find New Work?
But Michael Tanner, an analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute was quoted this week as saying, “Workers are less likely to look for work, or accept less-than-ideal jobs, as long as they are protected from the full consequences of being unemployed. That is not to say that anyone is getting rich off unemployment, or that unemployed people are lazy. But it is simple human nature that people are a little less motivated as long as a check is coming in.”
Those remarks angered Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who this week took to the Senate floor to refute Tanner’s remarks.
“What does he mean?” Harkin asks, referring to Tanner’s quote. “You’ve got to starve? You’ve got to go out onto the street corner here, hat in hand? Give up their homes, put the furniture out on the street, send their kids to the orphanage? Is that what Mr. Tanner means [by], ‘the full consequences of being unemployed’?”
“… You wonder where people like this come from. Where did they ever go to school, what did they ever learn in their lifetime?” Harkin adds. “Or are they just so, so uncaring about their fellow human beings that they just say,’Let it happen. Whatever happens, let it happen, and the government can’t do anything to help,’?”
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.