This morning the Senate voted for a two-month extension of federal unemployment insurance and the payroll tax cut after Republicans in Congress once again balked at extending the vital provisions through 2012. Such a short-term extension is wholly inadequate. The American people digging out of the deepest recession in decades deserve much more certainty and compassion about their economic distress.
During this two-month period, workers in some of the hardest-hit states -- including Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Missouri -- are projected to lose access to the 20-week Extended Benefits program and with very little warning tens of thousands of long-term unemployed Americans will be cut off unemployment insurance.
There is no excuse for Republicans to have blocked a full-year extension of federal unemployment insurance and the payroll tax cut. Imagine Speaker Boehner and the Republicans in Congress putting up such a fuss over extending tax cuts for the very wealthy. It's impossible.
In fact, if this year has reinforced one consistency about the Republicans in Congress it is their complete unwillingness to ask the very wealthy to sacrifice some of their tax breaks to help get our economy back on a more stable footing. At every turn -- whether it has been jobs legislation or deficit reduction or as is the case now, a tax cut for the middle class and a continuation of federal unemployment benefits -- the top priority of the Republican majority is protecting the tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.
American families deserve better.