WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) made the following statement today on the Floor of the House of Representatives regarding the Republican Leadership’s decision to leave for the year without extending the Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) program despite persistently slow job growth and high unemployment:
“Today, Congressional Republicans breathe life back into the spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge and, for the second year in a row, ignore the plight of America’s unemployed during the holiday season. The Majority’s failure to extend emergency unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed is not only unconscionable, it’s cold-hearted.
“In May, President Bush said: “My economic plan is summed up in one word – jobs.” But the truth is, even after four straight months of anemic job growth, George W. Bush is on course to become the first president since Herbert Hoover to preside over a net jobs loss during his four-year term.
“Yes, the economy added 57,000 jobs in November. But here’s what Republicans won’t mention: The economy has to create 150,000 jobs a month just to keep pace with population growth.
Overall, there are 8.7 million unemployed Americans today, and nearly one-fourth of them – some 2 million people – have been jobless for more than 26 weeks. That is the highest percentage of long-term unemployment since July 1983. And there are about 4.2 million other workers who want a job but who are not even counted among the unemployed.
“The reality is this: If the President and Congressional Republicans refuse to extend federal temporary unemployment benefits – which are scheduled to be phased out beginning December 21st – an estimated 80,000 to 90,000 jobless workers who exhaust their state benefits every week will be completely cut off.
“That is not only callous, it’s unnecessary. We have the funding to extend these benefits. That’s right, there is $20 billion in the federal fund dedicated to unemployment benefits, which is financed by unemployment taxes deducted from workers’ paychecks.
“I know the President and our Republican colleagues would like nothing more than to pronounce our economy healed and to unfurl a banner reading ‘Mission Accomplished.’ But given these unemployment figures, it is plain that millions of Americans continue to hurt. The least we can do is reach out a helping hand.”