Speaker Boehner and GOP leaders in the House might have sent around a memo instructing Republican members to “show compassion” when talking about jobless Americans but the cold truth remains: actions speak louder than words. Today, Boehner said the GOP-led House would take no action to help millions of unemployed Americans and their families who have already lost or are slated to lose their unemployment benefits without a political trade-off.
The Speaker was asked at a morning news conference if the House planned to vote on extending emergency jobless benefits — a top 2014 priority of President Obama and congressional Democrats.
Boehner did not answer directly and criticized Senate Democrats who are pushing an emergency three-month extension of the benefits, which lapsed in December.
“We’re all concerned about those who have had a difficult time trying to find a job,” Boehner said following the first closed-door House GOP conference meeting of the year. But he added: “The Senate ought to be looking at ways to really solve this problem.”
The Speaker repeated what he said he told White House chief of staff Denis McDonough in December: “I made clear that we would consider extending emergency unemployment benefits if it was paid for and it there were provisions we could agree to that would get our economy moving again and put the American people back to work.”
What Speaker Boehner and House Republicans are demanding is essentially tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations in exchange for extending emergency benefits for Americans who, from no fault of their own, lost their jobs.
Bottom line: fifty years after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the War on Poverty, the House of Representatives is led by a political party that needs talking points to tell them to show compassion to the unemployed and who demand favors for special interests before helping jobless Americans.