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It continues to astound me that the gentle members of Congress have no sense of urgency about the millions of people whose lives are hanging by a thread right now. None whatsoever. And of course, the Republicans will block any attempt to help them because, well, that's what they do.
I actually feel sorry for those politicians. Imagine being the kind of person whose accomplishments are all about blocking other people's solutions to actual problems - in other words, choosing the dark path of destruction every time. What empty souls they must be:
WASHINGTON -- President Obama took a question on the campaign trail Monday from a little boy who asked if his father, an unemployed construction worker, would find a job before his unemployment insurance runs out.
The president responded that he hoped the boy's father would find work, but that if he doesn't, he hoped the unemployment benefits would still be there.
"Now, we tried to extend unemployment insurance beyond normal right after the recession hit," Obama said. "We were able to extend it again in 2010. It's been harder now to get Congress to extend it further."
"And so we'll continue to negotiate with Congress to make sure that unemployment is there," the president added. "But the most important thing I want to do is make sure your dad can get a job."
Two million people will be cut off from benefits when federal unemployment insurance expires the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, according to the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group based in New York. But Congress is not ready to worry about it. The Huffington Post asked lawmakers on Tuesday if preserving unemployment insurance in 2013 is on their radar.
"No, it's not," Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of Senate committee that oversees unemployment insurance, said as he boarded a Senate elevator. "Not yet."
No, because none of the banking lobbyists have asked for it, Max thought to himself!
"I have not heard any discussion about what we can do there," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who has made a lot of noise lately about safety net programs like food stamps and Social Security Disability Insurance. "I have not given thought to what precisely we ought to do, whether it's phasing down or what. The fundamental thing is we need to create more jobs … and everybody has got to be out hustling to find work. There’s just no other way to make America productive."
Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, you can kiss my ass. "Hustling to find work?" You are truly an affront to human decency, and to the men and women struggling to survive. Better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove it.
But in Congress, unemployment insurance is overshadowed by other financial matters, including the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts, the end of a 2 percentage point reduction in the Social Security payroll tax, and scheduled cuts to defense spending that Republicans are desperate to avoid. Lawmakers call it the "fiscal cliff."
"It's unfortunate," said NELP senior staff attorney George Wentworth. "You're talking about 2 to 3 million Americans for whom losing unemployment insurance is their fiscal cliff."
Three million Americans losing their sole source of income? Nah, no economic effects there!