President Obama Makes a Bold Challenge to Congress Over Unemployment

obama-unemploymentAnyone who’s paid attention to the news lately knows that extending unemployment benefits for millions of Americans has been a hot-button issue.

Of course the story is pretty common.  Democrats want to extend the benefits while most Republicans do not.  It’s basically what we’ve seen the last few years from both political parties — Democrats trying to help most Americans while Republicans play partisan politics to pander to their far-right conservative base.

Well, President Obama had some strong words for lawmakers during a press conference yesterday morning.

First, the president called unemployment benefits an “economic lifeline” for the millions of Americans desperately looking for work.  This is absolutely accurate.  While it’s true that there are some Americans out there who have chosen to abuse unemployment benefits instead of trying to get a job, they represent the vast minority.  For most Americans relying on unemployment benefits, they would love to find gainful employment and a job which can provide for themselves or their families.

But unfortunately, due to how severe the 2008/2009 economic collapse was, there are still millions of Americans that have struggled to find work — despite the fact that corporate profits are hitting record highs and stocks continually set records last year.  Cutting unemployment benefits doesn’t help people find work, it actually makes it harder.

That was something President Obama also touched on during his press conference:

“The truth of the matter is the financial crisis was so devastating that there is still a lot of people who are struggling.  If we don’t provide unemployment insurance, it makes it harder for them to find a job.”

President Obama then went on to lay down a simple challenge for the lawmakers who oppose extending unemployment benefits:

“I challenge any lawmaker to live without an income.”

Now I know critics will say, “But they have a job, people on unemployment do not — so the comparison is invalid.”  I guess technically that’s true.  But I think his point was to highlight the reality that millions of Americans are living without an income, and while it’s easy to judge them, it’s a reality many of us really can’t imagine.  It’s also something we shouldn’t judge unless we’re willing to put ourselves in their shoes.

Especially Republican members of Congress who’ve been paid a six figure salary the last several years while doing absolutely nothing.  If you want to talk about mooching off the government, Republicans in Congress are the first ones we should be talking about.

Here’s an idea: Maybe if Republicans in Congress would actually try to pass a real jobs bill (not a rehash of the same failed Bush policies), then maybe we wouldn’t have so many millions on unemployment.

But hey, that’s just me using logic.  Something I know conservatives don’t like to use.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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