Jul 1, 2010
Senate Republicans give Michigan’s unemployed the finger
LANSING -- The Michigan Senate Republicans joined their U.S. Senate colleagues in giving Michigan’s thousands of unemployed workers looking for work in the Bush recession the middle finger when they refused to even allow a vote on a resolution urging U.S. Senate Republicans to lift their filibuster on a bill that will allow a six-month extension of unemployment benefits and Medicaid funding.
“Today, we are about to break for a couple of weeks for the 4th of July holiday, but because of the Republican Senators and the United States Senate's failure to act on the unemployment extension and the FMAP extension, we are facing some critical issues here in the state of Michigan,“ said Senate Minority Leader Mike Prusi, D-Ishpeming. “If we do not get that extension passed in Washington, D.C., by next week, 97,000 families in Michigan will lose their unemployment benefits.”
The Senate Republicans referred Senate Resolution 172 to the Committee on Government Operations where bills go to die. Democrats moved to discharge the committee from further consideration, but Republicans moved to postpone the motion temporarily.
Republicans have used the lame excuse that the bill will increase the federal budget deficit, but the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said the deficit was because of the Bush tax cuts for the rich that Congress did not pay for and the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The cost of allowing the unemployed an extension is just a tiny fraction of this year’s budget deficit.
“I think that is rather disingenuous when this same crowd of Republicans in six of the eight years of the Bush Administration turned a $236 billion surplus into a $1.4 trillion deficit,” Prusi said. “Now all of the sudden, they want to cut the deficit; they want to cut taxes; they want to cut regulations; they want to cut red tape; and the first thing they go after is cutting millions of Americans out of unemployment benefits and cutting millions of Americans off the Medicaid rolls.”
The Senate was on various recesses on and off on Thursday, waiting for bills to come over from the House because the Legislature breaks for most of the summer. Senate Republicans then moved that further consideration of the resolution be postponed for the day, meaning the summer, but Democrats asked for a vote on that postponement.
As predicted, every single Republican voted to stiff Michigan’s unemployed.
“Those are your constituents and my constituents that week by week will fall off the unemployment rolls; lose the support that keeps their families whole, puts food on their table, pays their rent, and allows them to live a modicum of a decent life here in the state of Michigan,” Prusi said. “They are playing pure partisan politics with the lives of our constituents, and I find it reprehensible that we will not even stand up.”
Republicans quickly moved to adjourn, despite objections from Democrats, and Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing - one of the Senate Republican’s most vocal critics - and Sen. Deb Cherry, D-Burton, were on the board to speak.
I hope Republicans have to go back to parades and picnics and look Michigan’s unemployed constituents in the eye and tell them tax cuts for the rich are more important for their very economic survival.