WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to extend benefits for the long-term unemployed before they expire at the end of the year.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says more than one million Americans will lose benefits if lawmakers don't act. He says unemployment insurance is one of the most effective ways to boost the economy and that providing benefits does not stop people from trying to find work.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said he is willing to consider extending the jobless benefits.
Watch the president's address above, or read the full text below (via The White House):
Hi, everybody. The holiday season is a time for remembering the bonds we share, and our obligations to one another as human beings.
But right now, more than one million of our fellow Americans are poised to lose a vital economic lifeline just a few days after Christmas if Congress doesn’t do something about it.
Our top priority as a country should be restoring opportunity and broad-based economic growth for all Americans. And yesterday, we learned that our businesses created about 200,000 jobs in the month of November. That’s more than 8 million new jobs in the last 45 months. And the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in five years.
But we need to do everything we can to help businesses create more good jobs that pay good wages even faster. Because the hole that we’re still digging out of means that there are still millions of Americans looking for work – often because they’ve been laid off through no fault of their own.
We also have to look out for the Americans working hard to get those jobs. That’s why, as a country, we offer temporary unemployment insurance – so that job-seekers don’t fall into poverty, and so that when they get that job, they bounce back more quickly.
For many families, it can be the difference between hardship and catastrophe. It makes a difference for a mother who suddenly doesn’t know if she’ll be able to put food on the table for her kids. It makes a difference for a father who lost his job and is looking for a new one. Last year alone, it lifted 2.5 million people out of poverty, and cushioned the blow for many more.
But here’s the thing: if Members of Congress don’t act before they leave on their vacations, 1.3 million Americans will lose this lifeline. These are people we know. They’re our friends and neighbors; they sit next to us in church and volunteer in our communities; their kids play with our kids. And they include 20,000 veterans who’ve served this country with honor.
If Congress refuses to act, it won’t just hurt families already struggling – it will actually harm our economy. Unemployment insurance is one of the most effective ways there is to boost our economy. When people have money to spend on basic necessities, that means more customers for our businesses and, ultimately, more jobs. And the evidence shows that unemployment insurance doesn’t stop people from trying hard to find work.
Just this week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted that allowing benefits to expire will be a drag on our economic growth next year. A report by the Department of Labor and my Council of Economic Advisors estimated that it could cost businesses 240,000 jobs. And without the ability to feed their families or pay the bills, many people currently looking for work could stop looking for good.
So extending unemployment insurance isn’t just the right thing to do for our families – it’s the smart thing to do for our economy. And it shouldn’t be a partisan issue. For decades, Congress has voted to offer relief to job-seekers – including when the unemployment rate was lower than it is today.
But now that economic lifeline is in jeopardy. All because Republicans in this Congress – which is on track to be the most unproductive in history – have so far refused to extend it.
So this holiday season, let’s give our fellow Americans who are desperately looking for work the help they need to keep on looking. Let’s make it easier for businesses to attract more customers, and our economy to grow. And together, let’s keep doing everything we can to make this country a place where anyone who works hard has a chance to get ahead
Thanks, and have a great weekend.
Also on HuffPost:
Obama Holds Final Primary Night Event In St. Paul
ST. PAUL, MN - JUNE 3: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) (R) and his wife Michelle Obama bump fists at an election night rally at the Xcel Energy Center June 3, 2008 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Obama clinched the Democratic presidential nomination following today's primaries in South Dakota and Montana, although his rival Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has not yet conceded the race. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama acknowledges the crowd as he exchanges fist bumps with the audience after speaking at Hyde Park Academy, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
Obama Fist Bump
President Barack Obama fist-bumps custodian Lawrence Lipscomb in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building following the opening session of the White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth, Dec. 3, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama does a fist bump
President Barack Obama does a fist bump with Ethan Gibbs, the son of Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, after arriving by Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Washington, DC, April 19, 2009. President Barack Obama returned from the Fifth Summit of the Americas held in Trinidad and Tobago. AFP PHOTO/Aude GUERRUCCI (Photo credit should read Aude GUERRUCCI/AFP/Getty Images)
Barack Obama Campaigns Across U.S. Ahead Of Primaries
SPRINGHILL, WV- MAY 12: Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) (L) bumps fists with Iraq war veteran Paul Scott after playing a game of pool during a stop at Schultzie's Bar & Hot Spot May 12, 2008 in Springhill, West Virginia. Sen. Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) continue to battle for the Democratic presidential nomination. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
McCain And Obama Address LULAC National Convention
WASHINGTON - JULY 8: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (L) gives a 'fist bump' to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) during the national convention of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) at the Washington Hilton July 8, 2008 in Washington, DC. Obama has been recently criticized for moving to the political center after calling for a slowing of withdrawal of troops from Iraq, supporting a proposed wiretap law and government funding of faith-based programs. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Barack Obama Campaign Weeks Away From Election Day
CHANTILLY, VA- OCTOBER 22: Democratic presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) fists bumps with Ethan Gibbs the son of Robert Gibbs the campaign communication director as he arrives at Dulles International Airport October 22, 2008 in Chantilly, Virginia. Obama continues to campaign with election day less than two weeks away. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Illinois Senator Barack Obama (right) and North Carolina Governor Mike Easley bump fists at Sen. Obama's surprise appearance at a North Carolina Democratic Party dinner October 4, 2008 at the The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - APRIL 7: In this handout provide by the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama (L) receives a fist-bump from a U.S. soldier as he greets hundreds of U.S. troops during his visit to Camp Victory on April 7, 2009 in Baghdad, Iraq. Obama is serving as the 44th President of the U.S. and the first African-American to be elected to the office of President in the history of the United States. (Photo by Pete Souza/White House via Getty Images)
President Barack Obama
WASHINGTON - APRIL 8: In this handout provide by the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama (L) holding a football, offers a fist-bump, to senior staff member Pete Rouse (R), during a meeting with senior advisors in the Oval Office of the White House on April 8, 2009 in Washington, DC. Obama is serving as the 44th President of the U.S. and the first African-American to be elected to the office of President in the history of the United States. (Photo by Pete Souza/White House via Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama gives a studen
US President Barack Obama gives a student a fist bump while touring the Wind Turbine Manufacturing and Fabrication Lab at Lorain County Community College, in Elyria, Ohio, January 22, 2010. Obama is visiting Ohio to tour local businesses and hold a town hall meeting on jobs and the economy. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama bumps fists wi
US President Barack Obama bumps fists with a school children after reading Christams book 'The Polar Express' to an audience of elementary school children at the Richard England Clubhouse and Community Center in Washington, DC, on December 21, 2009. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama fist-bumps wit
US President Barack Obama fist-bumps with a supporter after speaking at a fundraiser for Senator Michael Bennet February 18, 2010 at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (2nd-R) fist b
US President Barack Obama (2nd-R) fist bumps with Marvin Nicholson as he plays golf at Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, on August 26, 2010. The US First Family is vacationing on the Island until August 29. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
President And Mrs. Obama Host Annual Easter Egg Roll
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: (AFP OUT)U.S. President Barack Obama gives a fist bump to a young boy during a 'Let's Move' tennis clinic during the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House April 25, 2011 in Washington, DC. About 30,000 people are expected to attend the 133-year-old tradition of rolling colored eggs down the White House lawn. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama gives a young
US President Barack Obama gives a young boy a fist bump as he greets guests after speaking about the economy at Shaker Heights High School in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, on January 4, 2012. Obama announced plans to appoint Richard Cordray as acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a recess appointment, bypassing Congress and setting up a bitter election-year legal showdown with Republicans. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama fist bumps service members after he addressed troops at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Wednesday, May 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
US President Barack Obama (L) asks for a
US President Barack Obama (L) asks for a fist bump from a young girl as he speaks with patrons outside the Kozy Corner restaurant in Oak Harbor, Ohio, July 5, 2012, where he made an unannounced visit to speak with supporters while on a bus tour of Ohio and Pennslyvania. AFP PHOTO/Jim Watson (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages)
Obama Welcomes 2012 NCAA Women's Basketball Champions To White House
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 18: U.S. President Barack Obama gives a fist bump to Baylor University basketball guard Terran Condrey while welcoming the 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball champions in the East Room of the White House July 18, 2012 in Washington, DC. The Baylor Lady Bears became the first NCAA basketball team to complete a 40-0 season by defeating Notre Dame 80-61 in the NCAA women's championship. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Barack Obama, Odyssey Sims
Point guard Odyssey Sims gets a fist bump from President Barack Obama at a ceremony honoring the 2012 NCAA Women's basketball champions Baylor University Bears in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
US President Barack Obama (L) fist bumps with supporters after delivering remarks during a campaign event at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada, August 21, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages)
President Barack Obama pounds fists with a supporter after speaking at a campaign event at The Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center at Kent State University Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012, in Kent, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
US President Barack Obama fist-bumps with a woman during a lunch visit to the West Tampa Sandwich Shop and Restaurant in Tampa, Florida, September 8, 2012, during the first day of a 2-day bus tour across Florida. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)
US President Barack Obama (L) fist bumps a supporter after speaking at a campaign rally in Nashua, New Hampshire, on October 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)