12/06/2010 12:58 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Unemployment Benefits Should Not Be Held Hostage to Extend Tax Cuts to the Wealthy

Leaders from both parties are discussing a resolution on extending unemployment benefits and tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

But it is the two million American workers and their families that are being compromised. They deserve unemployment benefits to survive and pay for their mortgages, rent, food and basic necessities. They have suffered the most from the economic recession and have yet to benefit from any "recovery."

Their plight should not be comprised to appease the top 2 percent of Americans -- the wealthiest of the wealthy. They do not need tax cuts -- as people like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have pointed out. Extending the tax cuts to the wealthy would add $700 billion to the federal deficit over 10 years, a fact that "deficit hawk Republicans" seem to ignore. Their contention that elimination of the tax cuts for the wealthiest will stall economic recovery is a repeat of the trickle-down, voodoo economics that led to the economic catastrophe in the first place. Their policies compound the pain.

The extension of unemployment benefits to sustain two million workers and their families should not be held hostage to this economic nonsense. One does not see Congress holding hostage the Iraq or Afghan War budget, Karzai or the Afghan people to negotiations to protect tax cuts for the rich. The plight of working families should not be held hostage, either. The audacity of Congress to hold workers hostage to this "compromise" is wrong.

We cannot support the compromised negotiations that reject benefits for working families unless they are tied to extending tax cuts for super-millionaires. That's an economic and moral disgrace.

The administration should tour the nation and make clear its position that extension of unemployment benefits for workers and their families is non-negotiable and should be voted on free and clear of any compromise or linkage to retaining tax cuts for the wealthy.