WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today calling on President Bush, who was campaigning in Ohio, to support the immediate extension of the Temporary Unemployment Compensation Program (TEUC). The program, created in March 2002, provides temporary federal benefits for unemployed Americans who have run out of regular, state-funded jobless benefits. Since the Republican Congressional leaders allowed the program to expire in December 760,000 Americans have been cut off from assistance. Although the majority of the House has voted in support of an extension the Republican leadership continues to block one. Ohio has lost 270,000 jobs since January 2001.
“Rather than dropping into Ohio for a quick and easy campaign event, President Bush ought to explain to Ohioans why he supports paying the salaries of thousands of Iraqis but refuses to urge the Republican Congress to extend temporary jobless benefits for millions of people right here at home who cannot find a job.
“There are valid reasons to help the Iraqi people get back on their feet in the aftermath of Hussein’s tyranny. But don’t the estimated 760,000 jobless Americans with no paycheck and few job prospects also deserve our consideration and compassion?
“Democrats have urged the President to join us in pressuring the Republican Congress to pass an extension of temporary federal unemployment benefits. But he has stubbornly refused, instead arguing against the evidence that job creation is on the rebound.
“Last Friday’s unemployment report was yet another indicator of President Bush’s failed economic program. Although 21,000 government jobs were created, the private sector actually lost jobs. And an estimated 392,000 Americans gave up looking for work in an economy that has the highest rate of long-term unemployment in 20 years. The President needs to stop pretending that more tax cuts is a real plan to create jobs. Even many Republicans are walking away from that rhetoric in recognition of the threat to the long-term fiscal health of this nation.
"Democrats urge the President and Congressional Republicans to join us in fashioning an economic recovery plan that creates jobs and reins in record budget deficits and exploding debt. The very first initiative in that plan should be the extension of temporary federal unemployment benefits that will help hundreds of thousands of American families make ends meet and weather this jobless recovery. It’s time Republicans recognize the reality in America today.”