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Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, when I think of Senator Byrd and all of our great memories of him, it reminds me of how important it was to him to understand what people are going through in their lives--in this economy, certainly. I know if he were here, he would be on the floor, speaking about the importance of helping people who have lost their jobs--people who, through no fault of their own, have gotten caught in this economic tsunami, who find themselves maybe one step away from losing their house after they lost their job, probably lost their health insurance. Maybe they are in the midst of foreclosure right now because they lost their job and cannot pay their house payment.
These are families who are counting on us to understand, as Senator Byrd always did, what it is like to be a middle-class family, a working family, where the breadwinner has lost their job or the breadwinner can no longer bring home the bread--the food, gas for the car, pay the electric bill--because they have lost a job.
We know there are five people today looking for every one job that is available. That used to be worse. It used to be six people looking for every one job. We are beginning to see things turn. When President Obama took office, as we know, we were losing about 750,000 jobs every month. By focusing on the recovery, by investing in people, by investing in making things in this country, by focusing on job training as well as helping people without jobs, we have been able to turn that around. There were zero jobs lost at the end of the year and now we are gaining jobs.
But even though it is turning around, we are still in a situation where we have five people, five Americans who are looking for every one available job. The e-mails and the phone calls I get truly are heartbreaking. They are from people who have worked all their lives. These are not people who, as some have said, are lazy. These are people who have worked hard all their lives and they have done nothing but play by the rules--take care of their families, followed the law, put a little bit aside to send their kids to college. They want to have a good American life, what they have worked hard for as their American dream.
Unfortunately, because of a lot of factors in the global economy--too much, in the last decade, of folks paying attention to cheap prices and not American jobs and losing jobs overseas, not enforcing our trade laws or not focusing on making things here in this country--we have a situation where people have lost their jobs. Then, when you add to that what happened on Wall Street--where people lost savings, pensions, 401(k)s, and maybe their job; when credit dried up and small businesses could not get loans or manufacturers couldn't get the help they needed--people found themselves in a disastrous situation through no fault of their own.
They did not create the Wall Street crisis. They were not the ones who decided whether to enforce our trade laws. They weren't the ones to decide whether we as a country were going to invest in American manufacturing. But they are taking the brunt of it.
We have talked for 8 weeks now, 8 weeks to pass a bill that is a jobs bill, to invest in jobs in the economy and to continue help for people who are out of work through no fault of their own. Boy, they hope it is temporary. They surely hope it is temporary and we hope it is temporary.
Despite 8 weeks and a tremendous amount of negotiation, we have not been able to get the votes to stop a filibuster. We have come up short every time. I am hopeful this week we will be able to get beyond that. The people in Michigan are desperately hopeful. They are also desperate. They are also angry that we have not been able to get beyond this partisan wrangling to be able to actually help them keep a roof over their head and keep food on the table for their families. We will have another opportunity, I hope this week, to change that. It is absolutely critical that we do.
There are a lot of people who are not down in the weeds about what is going on legislatively; are not following closely what is happening here--but they know this: They know they need help. They want to know who is on their side and who is willing to understand and come forward and appreciate what families across this country are going through. I hope this week we are going to be able to say to them that finally this Senate gets what is happening to families and we are going to extend the temporary assistance that has been needed for so many families through unemployment insurance.
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