Obama: GOP blocking unemployed, small business aid

The Associated Press Published: July 17, 2010
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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says Senate Republicans are playing politics with bills that would extend benefits to the unemployed and increase lending to small businesses.

Striking a deeply partisan tone in his weekly radio and online address, Obama said the GOP leadership has chosen to "filibuster our recovery and obstruct our progress" by blocking votes on agenda items the president says would breath life into the economic recovery.

"These steps aren't just the right thing to do for those hardest hit by the recession," Obama said. "They're the right thing to do for all of us."

The address was recorded at the White House before Obama flew to Maine on Friday for a weekend family vacation.

Lawmakers have battled for weeks over extending unemployment benefits to workers who have been out of a job for long stretches of time. The last extension ran out at the end of May, leaving about 2.5 million people without benefits.

The House has already passed a bill to extend the benefits through November, but with the death of Sen. Robert Byrd, Senate Democrats don't have the 60 votes they need to overcome a GOP filibuster. The Senate plans to take up the measure again on Tuesday — when Byrd's successor, the former chief counsel for Gov. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is expected to be sworn in.

Obama said lawmakers' obligation to extend benefits is both moral and practical, citing some economists who believe extending unemployment insurance is one of the most cost-effective ways to jump-start the economy because it puts money in the pockets of people who are likely to spend it quickly.

The $34 billion needed to extend benefits would be borrowed, adding to the nation's mounting debt.

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