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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  • strayaway

    Unfortunately, “there are still millions of Americans that have struggled to find work” while our politicians are trying to provide amnesty to 8M illegal aliens now working in the US.

    • Adam

      What would you do about it, simply kick them all out? That’s ignoring the very real dollars that illegal immigrants pump back into the local economies of the towns and cities they live and work in. Would you just put up a fence to keep them out? That’s ignoring the reality that desperate people will do desperate things to provide for themselves and their families, and oftentimes they come here fleeing from political and economic unrest in their home countries.

      Solving the immigration issue is more than just kicking people out. Businesses need to be forcefully dissuaded from hiring people in this country illegally and pay high enough wages to reduce the amount of people receiving government assistance. We need to provide better paths for legal immigration and residency, and we need to assist in finding lasting solutions for those countries suffering from political violence and economic turmoil. It requires real, lasting commitment on our part, and I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to provide that.

      • Pipercat

        Pay him no mind, he’s just trying to jack the thread.

      • strayaway

        Adam, Unlike you, my loyalties and empathy are with the unemployed Americans whom I am somewhat responsible for. I wouldn’t simply kick all illegal aliens out. Instead, I would incarcerate and heavily fine their cheating employers who have profited by being able to hire illegal aliens who will work for less than US citizens. Let their employers pay for their trips back home. Make it so expensive to hire illegal aliens that it would make more sense to hire Americans off of unemployment lines. The meat packing industry, for instance, used to hire unionized US citizens who made enough money to pay their own medical bills and send their kids to college. They were replaced by non-union illegal aliens. I don’t like that. Taxpayers footed the bill for educating their children and pay for visits to the emergency room. Construction work is heading in the same direction. The US Chamber of Commerce has come out in favor of this cheap labor supply. (surprise, surprise)

        Some bank robbers and thieves probably also are trying to “provide for themselves and their families”. So what? Are we supposed to honor their misdemeanors too? Reagan already solved the immigration problem. He gave amnesty to 1.5M illegal aliens in return for the Democrats promise to seal the border. The Democrats lied so here we are with 11M additional illegal aliens, 8M of whom occupy US job, and 1.3M Americans who need to have a job or cash assistance to allow amnesty for their replacement workers.

      • Adam

        Questioning loyalties? Keep drinking your tea.

        The fact of the matter is I have empathy for my fellow human beings, and following policies similar to the ones I outlined in my previous post would benefit us all, but there’s no political will to follow through with what needs to be done. Instead, we get soundbites and promises above and beyond what can actually be delivered.

      • strayaway

        Adam, you are an unwitting ally of the 1%. You can help foreigners all you want. Just send your check to them in any country you wish. Meanwhile, stop driving down the pay of US workers and stop putting them in unemployment lines with misplaced benevolence. I don’t want to hijack the thread with a discussion of amnesty as Pipercat put it. My main point was that there is a relationship between 8M illegal aliens working in the US and the 1.3M unemployed US workers about to run out of unemployment benefits. I could just as easily also bring up the trade agreements which these same misty eyed politicians voted for that have sent our jobs abroad. Now, the TPP agreement is being fast tracked. Get ready for even longer unemployment lines.

      • moe/larry & curly keys

        question for you————-and PLEASE read statistics b4 U answer: which of the past 6 presidents have deported the most illegals? 2 points for the correct answer

      • strayaway

        1.3M unemployed Americans are about to lose their unemployment income while 8M illegal aliens are allowed to hold those jobs and more. This is where we are. You can try to make this a Bush Obama contest. If so, both were/ are in the pockets of the 1%. Obama improved the numbers of deportations temporarily but now he is trying to promote amnesty for his corporate puppet masters just as Bush did.

      • moe/larry & curly keys

        and your blessed tea party maggot regressive white trash are the ones to blame for the unemployment benefit fiasco—————– lets see them walk this backwards
        NOTE: you nearly sidestepped the question; obstinately “answering” as a footnote,,, no points given
        …………………….archetypal crybaby answer

      • moe/larry & curly keys

        yes!!! thank you!!! these goddamn tears of laughter adorning my face and shirt as I cannot stop the joviality based waterfall continually seeing the regressive white trash religious scum collapsing under their own weight! jocularity ad infinitum!!

      • Jim Bean

        “regressive white trash'” seems to be a theme you’ve become enamored with.

      • moe/larry & curly keys

        absolutely! its akin to the accuracy of “caramel” or “sunshine” as it fits the item it is describing PERFECTLY. LOSER low IQ trash who have a hollow ‘fall-back’ position of JESUS SAYS,,,,,,,,,, they don’t read or investigate: they watch and listen only

      • Mack

        But most of those illegals are making minimum wage or less. Which getting rid of the illegals and giving jobs to Americans will only move them from unemployment to welfare. THAT SOLVES NOTHING

      • strayaway

        Mack, You neglect the law of supply an demand. To the extent that there is a reduced supply of labor, labor can demand more compensation.

      • rossbro

        Au Contraire !!! Illegals did not put Americans out of work in meat packing. The jobs were sent to right to work states where companies could walk all over employees and force people to work cheap and with no benefits. Blame the Companies, not the workers, legal or not. Now the Chinese bought chicken companies. The meat will be shipped to China and processed, then shipped back here. Wanna eat Chinese food after the fiascos recently occurring in China with food and doggie treats?? Not me !

      • strayaway

        I don’t blame the illegal aliens. They come here to work at wages higher than the places they came from and get free educations and better medical care for their families. I blame the employers and government officials who encourage employers to get rid of their American union workers and replace them with lower paid illegal aliens. But it doesn’t matter who I blame because it is the result that matters; eight million employed illegal aliens and 10.9M unemployed Americans looking for work including 1.3M whose benefits are running out. Read “Postville” the story of how a union plant couldn’t compete, went out of business, and whose new owners reopened it as a third world sweat shop; this in Iowa which I don’t think is a right to work state. You are right though that it wasn’t technically the illegals who put the union workers out of work. It was federal government policy and company managers. The end result was still that Americans lost jobs.

        Regarding the imported Chinese chickens: As I mentioned before, trade policies are every bit as detrimental to US workers as immigration policies. Replace middle class income taxes with import taxes as much as possible and it would make sense to hire Americans. These 1.3M unemployed about to lose their benefits are victims of the present system. The solution is simple. Encourage domestic production by Americans. I want to see a shortage of workers so workers can DEMAND a larger share of the national economic pie instead of being forced to beg for scraps. Some politicians would prefer workers to beg so they are needed. It’s sick.

      • Jim Bean

        “the very real dollars that illegal immigrants pump back into the local economies of the towns and cities they live and work in” – are very really dollars they received FROM the local economies of the towns and cities they live and work in. When you deduct for the dollars they sent back to their families in Mexico, its a net loss for the US economy.

    • BigTBone

      They’ve already been working here for 2 decades, numb nuts.

      Who the hell pays the illegals? The poor?

      • strayaway

        You are being illogical. Why should anyone be rewarded for committing misdemeanors for 2 decades while we have this problem with 1.3M Americans losing unemployment benefits? Your loyalties are misplaced. Punish those who hire them and the politicians who wink at the huge number of unemployed Americans and pretend they are outraged while sponsoring 8M illegal aliens who have replaced them.

      • BigTBone

        It’ll cost a fortune to deport people to countries they have no affiliation with.
        The punishment for a non-criminal being here will be a monetary fine. That’s it.

      • strayaway

        It costs a fortune to keep them here providing cheap replacement labor for cheating employers. But the topic here is supposed to be the 1.3 million US workers who are about to lose their unemployment. That cost is one of the costs of not deporting foreigners here working their jobs illegally. The proposed monetary fine is a joke and will be less than what legal aliens have to pay in fees before they can become citizens. You are selling out your country and US workers pretty cheap.

      • Stephen Barlow

        Who makes more money, employers who pay under the table and scam the nation on taxes, or the legitimate American businesses that still pay well, reward loyalty and include benefits in the pay package?
        Reagannomics at work.

    • moe/larry & curly keys

      the regressive crybaby republicans are “trying” to help NEITHER——

    • Stephen Barlow

      8 million working picking the food you eat, a job you would refuse to do, even for twice the minimum wage.

      • strayaway

        I would consider paying an extra $.10 for a head of lettuce an absolute bargain if it put Americans to work for three times what is being paid now. It would save more than that in taxes. Americans will do any work but they will not work for illegal alien caste wages. What is it with “progressives” and their too frequent condescension toward US workers and wanting a servant class to serve them?

        I live a below average income area. We have a number of apple orchards that, for the most part, hire locals. They get the job done just fine thank you. Would you still buy wine from the Pelosi vineyards though if you knew Nancy hired illegal aliens to pick grapes or wash dishes in her restaurant? I wonder how much the Pelosi profits would fall if the illegal labor supply was cut off. I have worked briefly picking tobacco, have, for many years, raised a quarter acre garden, raised my own beef, and butchered venison. So you are sort of wrong about me refusing to do such work.

        Another flaw with your talking point is that only a very tiny percentage of illegal aliens pick vegetables. They don’t pick vegetables in LA, El Paso, or Chicago. They work construction, do janitorial work, etc. in such places. You know, all the work Americans won’t do for illegal alien wages but used to do for union wages.

        FACT: The President and the US Chamber of Congress are trying to provide amnesty for 8M illegal alien workers in the US while pretending to care about the 1.3M US workers whose unemployment is running out. Ok, maybe they care for their votes.

      • Stephen Barlow

        ???? ” What is it with “progressives” and their too frequent condescension toward US workers and wanting a servant class to serve them?”

        From the party that wants to abolish the minimum wage?

        I don’t have to read further. you are as full of crap as a constipated elephant.

        Don’t bother to reply because I won’t waste My time.

      • strayaway

        Stephen, Warning, don’t read this!

        You gave a god example suggesting that neither I nor another americans would pick the food I eat.That’s disgusting suggesting that Americans aren’t willing to work. It’s arrogant.

        Also, i have no objection to instituting living wages at the local or state level. That too is an incorrect assumption on your part. A living wage would increase productivity by spurring automation and robotization; something japan is getting ahead on. Also, it would decrease the demand for illegal aliens who offer the advantage of working for less. However, it would be necessary to have import taxes because just driving up wages under present circumstances would further drive jobs offshore.

        You seem to have experience with constipated elephants. To each his own.

      • Stephen Barlow

        TY for the warning. Stay constipated old fraud!

  • Veritas vos Liberabit

    For the actual amount of time and hours these congressmen put into meaningful work, it is fair to say that they are indeed receiving unemployment benefits on a permanent basis. So the President is correct in challenging them to live without an income, even if it is for the time and hours not meaningfully worked, which far surpass the actual time and hours actually worked. Should they get pay by commission, rather than a base salary? Would that be an incentive for them to actually work full time? Just wondering!

    • Pat

      Great idea! So sick of these clowns accomplishing nothing! They need to learn the meaning of the term, “WORKING for a living”. I wish we could fire every one of their sorry asses today. If we did, they’d be the first ones in the “unemployment benefits line”.

    • Stephen Barlow

      That IS about the truth. Particularly in the ouse, where no one has actually represented voting constituency in more than a decade.

  • BigTBone

    Send Pablo Cruz the shutdown bill while you’re assigning responsibility.

    Being a hooker isn’t a job either, but your mom still managed to squeeze you out in between backseat romps.

    How’s the search going for your dad? Narrowed it to a Borough yet?

    • moe/larry & curly keys

      and white trash moonshiners and toothless low IQ inbred religious scum vote for any tea party crybabies? NOTE: pimps and hookers don’t have valid ID or funds to register to VOTE- ergo U are the above mentioned white trash crybaby religious scum– do U want pepperoni on your deep dish pizza?

      • moe/larry & curly keys

        that would explain why U create YET ANOTHER bogus username — mirroring my name ( I love duplication of meeeeeeeeeee by crybabies) and then “POOF”… You are gone again!!! lets all hear it for yet another crybaby regressive white trash republican loser!!

      • Pipercat

        Paid by the post, I’d reckon.

      • moe/larry & curly keys

        they cannot stand,,,, they print and run

      • Pipercat

        Maybe I’ll get one someday. Problem is, they would be insulting my cat..

      • moe/larry & curly keys

        mail me the cats litterbox……
        FOX “news” can Use it

      • Pipercat

        I have a choice of three! Stinky, large and stinky and stinkiest of all!

      • moe/larry & curly keys

        FOX “news” would appreciate the wettest one as the “women” on that network seem NOT to have any ability to get wet anymore
        ……….but I still wanna sex palin

      • Pipercat

        Here BB… we need the stinkiest!

  • jimv1983

    I’m certainly not a republican but I think part of the reason they are made is because he extended unemployment benefits while also cutting military pension increases. I kind of agree with them on that.

  • jimv1983

    The tax payer is paying for any vacation the p president takes. It is a very stressful job and they should have some vacation. If you want to get into exactly how much it is costing the tax payer that is fine. Obama has taken like 92 days of vacation since he was first sworn in. Bush took like 370 days during his time in office. Who do you think spent more money on vacations overall?

    • moe/larry & curly keys

      to quote saint Reagan,,,,,,,,,,” there U go again”…………………annoying a regressive crybaby rightwinger with FACTS

      • Mack

        Reagan was either incompetent due to his Alzhiemers or he was a criminal. (I Cant Remember Defense) . Definitely not a saint.

      • moe/larry & curly keys

        my moniker calling him a saint is dripping in sarcasm. Reagan started the destruction of the middle class

    • Stephen Barlow

      Bush also managed to spend $2 TRILLION on extended desert and mountain resort bivouacks for half a million American troops. Many were even forced to extend their stay another 18 months gratis on the taxpayer.

      Why are you whining about the pocket change issues and ignoring 15% of the debt?

      • jimv1983

        Who said I was ignoring that? Someone commented on Obama taking a $4 million vacation. I wasn’t “whining”. My comment was a direct reply to that.

  • moe/larry & curly keys

    ok! who took more vacation time,,,, Obama or bush or Reagan?? Hmmm,,,,,,,,,,,,, silly facts again!! and we all are still loving regressive crybaby cruz for an unneeded GOVT shutdown ( see: lost 24 BILLION) …………hows that shoe fitting you?

  • rossbro

    My Foodstamps cut 11% today. Maybe now I’ll go get a new job. Oh, wait, they’ve all been shipped to Asia.

  • Frank

    The government needs to simply increase taxes on companies netting over x amount of profit. Then give them tax breaks to off set on that tax for FULL time workers they hire. With the record profits many have been making it would be a simple thing to do and encourage employers to put the money back into more peoples hands and stimulating the economy even more.

  • Stephen Barlow

    That’s about the most common sense reality check the President could smear in the faces of the Republicans.

  • Stephen Barlow

    Just take it out of the Shutdown Budget. That 24 Billion Dollar loss…

    And add it to the 2 TRILLION DOLLAR Republican vacation fund called Afghanistan or Iraq or Pakistan or all three.

    Obama put up with pinheads like you all last year and the three before that. He deserves a month in the sun away from all of yous.