At a press conference in the White House Rose Garden yesterday, President Obama urged Congress to extend unemployment benefits for Americans who have been unemployed for over six months—Americans like Denise Gibson from Queens! OK, there were two other unemployed Americans at the speech, but Obama specifically said that Gibson "has been interviewing for jobs, but so far nothing has turned up. Meanwhile, she's fallen further and further behind on her rent and with her unemployment benefits set to expire she's worried about what the future holds." If nothing else, at least she can put President Obama as a personal reference on her resume.
Obama slammed Senate Republicans attempting to block the $34 billion unemployment insurance extension, saying, “The same people who didn’t have any problem spending hundreds of billions of dollars on tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are now saying we shouldn’t offer relief to middle-class Americans." Democrats have been one vote short of being able to push the bill through the Senate with a majority vote, but hope that new Democratic Senator Carte Goodwin from West Virginia (being sworn in today to succeed Robert Byrd) will bring them to the 60th vote they need to avoid a Republican filibuster. Obama claims the Republicans assume the aid will discourage unemployed Americans from looking for jobs, which he said "reflects a lack of faith in the American people."
However, Republicans say they want to extend unemployment insurance—just as long as they don't spend too much. House Republican leader John Boehner said, "The president knows that Republicans support extending unemployment insurance, and doing it in a fiscally responsible way by cutting spending elsewhere in the $3 trillion federal budget." Meanwhile, New York City's unemployment rate is still around 9.5%, just about the same rate as the rest of the country. Good luck, Denise!