Is there one person in this country who believes Republicans give a damn about extending unemployment insurance for the long-term unemployed? Please raise your hand so I can disabuse you of that delusion.
I bring you today's episode of Enabling GOP Lies, brought to you by David Gregory and NBC News. Yes, he let Rob Portman "explain" his vote against unemployment extenders by letting him babble on about "reforming" the unemployment insurance system and "pay-fors," which are only an excuse when Republicans don't want something done.
This week's Senate effort to extend those benefits was once again filibustered by the minority Senate majority, but this vote had a poison pill attached to it in the form of an amendment. Funny how David Gregory missed that whole amendment thing.
Senator Tom Coburn was able to add an amendment denying UI benefits to millionaires. Sounds great, right? No. What that amendment would have done would be to delay extensions to tens of thousands of people while they submitted their documentation that they were NOT millionaires and said documentation was verified. It was a horrible, awful provision and Democrats never should have allowed it to be added to the bill.
Even with that repulsive language included, Coburn voted against extensions anyway, as did 40 other Republicans who spew a lot of BS about how they give a damn while not giving a damn.
All right, let's try to stick to this issue and to the question at hand. You brought up the American worker, Senator Portman. But you voted this week against extending unemployment benefits for those who were out of work. And it's strikes me, I wonder what you say to those, as has been reported in your own state, more than 50,000 Ohio residents who had unemployment benefits end in December. Those folks who were really hurting. Why did you vote against that?
SENATOR ROB PORTMAN:
Well, David, first of all, as you know, I'm one of six Republicans who voted to allow this debate to go forward, I think we should. Unfortunately, Democrats did not work with us, wouldn't negotiate with us on how to pay for it. But again, let's get back to the problem at hand. I said we've got a 35-year low in terms of the number of people working, the labor-participation rate.
We also have record numbers of people long-term unemployed. And the Democratic answer to that is, "Let's add more to the 26 weeks of unemployment insurance to emergency benefits, and let's do nothing to reform the program. Let's do nothing to give people the skills they need to access the jobs that are out there."
Again, record numbers of people, long-term unemployed, and all the Republicans were saying, including me, was, "Look, yes, let's extend unemployment insurance, I'm okay with that. One, let's pay for it. Last thing we want to do is add to the debt and deficit and make the economy even worse. But second, let's reform this program." And as Senator Schumer knows, I have a specific proposal to do that, as do a group of Republicans, enough to get it across the floor. We need to work with the Democrats--
The term "reform" is code for "kill it, bury it, and leave it in an unmarked grave."