After Republicans killed another attempt to extend emergency unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) rose to the floor of the Senate to call out her colleagues for breaking the commitment America has made to those who are struggling.
The senator pointed out that Republicans helped George W. Bush extend unemployment benefits five times, before specifically calling attention to the rhetoric of two prominent Republicans.
“One Republican senator recently said that emergency unemployment insurance does a ‘disservice’ to people because it causes them to ‘become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy,'” she said, clearly referencing comments from her colleague, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).
Then she took on Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI): “Last year’s Republican vice-presidential nominee, Congressman Ryan, said that federal safety net programs like unemployment insurance are ‘like a hammock which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency.'”
Warren called this kind of rhetoric an “insult” and used a anecdote from a constituent to substantiate her point.
This is an insult to hard-working people across this country, people who are doing their best and can’t find a job. This is an insult to people like Terry, a 41-year-old resident of Gardener, Massachusetts, who lost her job last year. Here’s what she wrote to me after Congress let the unemployment insurance program expire. “My employer suddenly let me go and I found myself unemployed for the first time since my very first part-time job at 15. I have been diligently looking for work, applying everywhere, but I haven’t had any job offers.” She writes that unemployment insurance is “all we have. I’m already on the brink of losing my home, we’re struggling to hang on to what very little we have. I know I am one of 1.3 million faces, but I’m a face from near your home. I’m a face that never thought I’d be in this situation. I’m a face that needs the help of my government services that I have paid into for many, many years. I’m a face that has done everything I am supposed to do but I feel like I have fallen aside and no one sees me. I’m not an abuser of the system. I’m someone who really needs my government to be there for me now. Please see me.”
Bush not only passed an extension when the unemployment rate was 6.0 percent, .6 percent lower than the current rate, he also signed a $152 billion stimulus when the rate was 4.8 percent.