U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement today regarding Congress' ongoing debate about unemployment and other federal benefits.
"I was pleased my Republican and Democrat colleagues in the Senate were able to come together last night and agree to extend employment benefits in a fiscally-responsible manner. Sadly, the Democratic leadership of the House rejected this agreement because they didn't want to set a precedent of paying for these benefits. The American people who have to pay for these extensions, however, don't have the luxury of not paying for things. The House's decision to avoid making the same hard choices families face speaks volumes about why we have a debt crisis and why Congress has an approval rating of 14 percent," Dr. Coburn said.
"The American people and the rest of the world understand that our debt and deficits are as much of an emergency as our unemployment rate. The American people also understand the best unemployment benefit is a job. An economy with as much debt as our simply can't create jobs at the rate we need them. Members of Congress who choose to ignore this reality will, soon enough, be replaced with people who understand this reality and choose to live and govern within it.
"The American people watching this debate should understand that a so-called lone senator is not blocking these benefits. Every Republican Senator voted to stay in session until these benefits were extended. Moreover, every Republican Senator has voted to extend these benefits in a fiscally-responsible manner while the Majority in the Senate voted against such efforts multiple times this week.
"This should be an easy task for Congress. No one in America, outside of a few politicians in Washington, believes the federal budget is running at peak efficiency and can't be trimmed to pay for important priorities like unemployment benefits. Any person with a thimble full of common sense could identify $9.2 billion of waste in our more than $3.5 trillion budget. Yet, Congress finds this task so painful they would rather leave town and let certain unemployment benefits expire. Congress should reconsider its position and extend these benefits in a way that is fair to both the unemployed and future generations," Dr. Coburn said.