Ohioans Protest GOP's Opposition To Unemployment Extension At John Boehner's Office
After Marvin Bohn lost his job running the dining services program at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, it took two years to find a part-time gig. He said even Burger King rejected him when he applied for a job.
He said he got by thanks to $365 a week in unemployment insurance.
"Unemployment benefits pretty much allowed me to pay my rent, maintain my car, gas, pay utilities and buy food. Beyond that, pretty much nothing. There was no luxuries, but it kept me from being homeless," he told HuffPost on Wednesday.
That's why he joined a dozen Ohioans in a small protest outside the Troy office of incoming Republican House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday. Republicans, Bohn said, "seem to think it's more important to maintain the tax breaks for the rich than it is to get the unemployed benefits."
Working America, the community-organizing affiliate of the AFL-CIO, organized the protest. They strung up a few hundred job applications and jobs petitions. "Boehner, don't do us wrong, stop stringing us along," they chanted. They were greeted by a handful of Boehner fans.
Working America regional director Dan Heck told HuffPost a friendly Boehner staffer accepted thousands of petitions asking Congress to focus on jobs. Working America claims 50,000 unemployed members in Ohio.
The protest focused on the impending Nov. 30 expiration of federally-funded extended jobless aid. If Congress fails to reauthorize the program, two million people will prematurely stop receiving checks by the end of the year, according to the National Employment Law Project.
Congressional Republicans have opposed reauthorizing the benefits each time they've neared expiration for the past year because of their impact on the federal budget deficit. Congress has given the unemployed extra weeks of benefits during every recession since the 1950s, and usually, the benefits are funded with deficit spending.
The incoming Republican-controlled Congress will be hostile to that tradition. Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Huffpost that jobless voters who spurned Democrats in last week's midterm election won't get much help from John Boehner.
"It's a funny thing," said Pelosi. "I have this impression that some of the people who did not vote Democratic, because they -- they didn't vote Democratic -- are people who don't have a job. And they need unemployment insurance and the Republicans are not for it."
Bohn said he resented Republican claims that benefits keep people from looking for work or encourage them to do drugs. It's not as if $365 a week is "a life of luxury off the dole," he said.