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But first, tonight, I want to start with some breaking news.
Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan joins me now.
And it could be huge news for the long-term unemployed folks in this country. We refer to them as the "99ers."
Senator Stabenow joining us, springing into action.
First of all, this is what we have been advocating on this program --
SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: Right.
SCHULTZ: -- that somebody step up and do something.
SCHULTZ: What have you done today, Senator?
STABENOW: Well, Ed, first let me say I"m so glad you are here, because it"s so important to be here. And the people are getting free health care services. Thank you for doing that.
This is important. We have people who have been, as you know, out of work the longest, who have now exhausted all of their unemployment insurance benefits. And so I"m introducing legislation with a number of Democratic colleagues. We would love to have Republicans. Senator Schumer is my main co-sponsor.
It will do two things. First of all, extend unemployment insurance benefits for 20 weeks for those who have exhausted benefits. And secondly, increase the incentives for employers to hire them.
We would extend for one year a very successful tax cuts we passed called the Hire Act that will give tax cuts to businesses right now that--we have some four million or more, five million, I think, people that will be hired through these tax cuts this year. We want to extend it and actually increase the tax cut if you hire somebody who has been out of work the longest.
SCHULTZ: So it"s not just helping out the 99ers who are in desperate need right now. It is somewhat of a jobs creator, because you"re telling businesses across the country if this bill passes, that there will be tax incentives, tax breaks on the table, especially if you hire someone who"s been in that 99er category.
STABENOW: Absolutely. And the bill"s called Americans Want to Work Act because Americans want to work, Ed.
This is not about folks that want to be on unemployment, just barely
holding it together with $300 a week. They want to work. So this provides
it"s a unique combination of helping people temporarily that are out of work, but also giving tax incentives, cuts to businesses.
SCHULTZ: Now, we were talking earlier. You"re realistic about this.
You"re probably not going to get any Republican help.
But I think the 99ers that are out there are saying, now someone is doing something. There"s something on the table to be address this. But there"s also an incentive out there for people to hire.
Is there a chance that you could get any Republicans to come over?
STABENOW: Well, I hope so. I mean, as you know, first of all it, took us almost three months to extend the current unemployment insurance benefits. And we finally got two members to join us, the senators from Maine. I hope we can do the same this time.
Members will be home in their states for an extended period in August. I would encourage people to contact them, ask them to co-sponsor the Americans Want to Work Act. And we"ll come back in September and we"ll see what we"ve got, because it will it be tough.
SCHULTZ: So this is going to be a crucial time now. This August recess that"s coming up is going to be a very crucial time that you"re going to need support from the grassroots out there, from people across the country who have had long-term unemployment, to put pressure on all of the lawmakers who are going home and going, of course, to have town hall meetings.
SCHULTZ: We haven"t seen this since the depression.
SCHULTZ: I mean, 80 years in this country, we just haven"t seen this.
You"ve got Harry Reid on board with this?
STABENOW: Absolutely. Senator Reid is an original co-sponsor. We have a number of colleagues that are on as co-sponsors. But we frankly need some Republican colleagues to step up.
You know, folks are out of work in every state, Democrats and Republicans. This is not a partisan issue.
SCHULTZ: Senator Stabenow, why 20 weeks?
STABENOW: Well, that"s the longest we"ve ever extended it. There are different tiers in unemployment.
The first tier extends for 20 weeks and then it goes on up. This would be an additional 20 weeks. It would parallel what we"ve done before.
The rumor out there is--some people have mentioned to me that the 99ers are going to become very politically active until one party or another say we"re up for sale right now. I mean, they want someone to step up legislatively and do something for them. And I think that you"ve disarmed them tonight.
You have proven that the Democrats are the party of the people, but also the party of jobs. And this plays right into what Nancy Pelosi did today.
What happened in the Senate today?
STABENOW: Well, this was very significant, and Senator Harry Reid deserves tremendous credit for this.
We finally broke a Republican filibuster, again, with our two Republican colleagues from Maine, Senator Collins, Senator Snowe, joining to us overcome a filibuster that will allow us to pass a jobs bill for teachers, police officers, firefighters, some 900,000 people across the country that were going to get pink-slipped had in their communities. Children are not going to be stuck in classrooms with 50 kids. This is about keeping teachers in the classroom.
We passed it today. The House is going to come back into session and pass it, and send it to the president, who I am absolutely sure will sign it.
SCHULTZ: OK. The climate in this town is so biting, that no one gets along. I mean, the Republicans have staked their claim on failure. They don"t want to help on anything.
SCHULTZ: And isn"t this somewhat of a soft underbelly by the Republicans right now? Because Mitch McConnell has said, well, we"re not going to tell you what our plan is until we come back in September.
I mean, isn"t this just a golden opportunity for the Democrats to take the high road and say we"ve got a plan, we"re trying to do this, and paint them as obstructionists?
How aggressive do the Democrats have to be during this recess when you go home?
STABENOW: Well, Ed, we will be very aggressive, because we do have a plan. We"ve been putting it forward. We"ve been creating jobs with the Recovery Act and building roads and bridges, and giving tax cuts to businesses that hire people now, some--over five million people as a result of the Hire Act.
We know there"s a lot more to do. A huge hole has been dug. But the question is, do we want to keep going, lowering the unemployment rate, or do you want to turn backwards?
And I would just leave with you this, Ed. Right now, to add insult to injury, the Republicans are filibustering a small business tax cut bill --
SCHULTZ: They"re unbelievable.
STABENOW: -- that would give loans in small businesses. So, you know what? We"re going to talk a lot about that in August.
SCHULTZ: What about your state, Michigan? High unemployment. I mean, this is tough.
STABENOW: Oh, it"s extremely tough. You know, our people have been hit harder, longer, deeper than anybody else. But, you know, the president was at a GM plant and a Chrysler plant last week, a Chrysler plant that"s adding a second shift. They"re going to add a third shift. GM with their new products.
If we have time and we can keep focused on middle class families, working people in this country, building things again, making things in this country, we"re going to turn this around.
SCHULTZ: "Made in America" is a big deal.
STABENOW: No question.
SCHULTZ: And I"m glad to see the Democrats taking this on, because this is key.
SCHULTZ: Senator, congratulations. Great work. I appreciate you stepping up and answering the challenge to do something for the 99ers, and also business as well.
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