Obama presses for extension of jobless benefits

By Reuters
Posted July 19, 2010 at 7:01 a.m.

U.S. President Barack Obama will seek on Monday to pressure Republicans to pass an extension of unemployment benefits that he says is crucial to help middle-class families hit by the recession.

Obama is to deliver remarks on the economy in the White House Rose Garden at 9:30 a.m.

Fresh from a victory on landmark legislation to revamp Wall Street regulations, Obama still faces eroding confidence in his handling of the economy and wants to show Americans he is focused on reviving growth and dealing with a 9.5 percent unemployment rate.

Republicans have resisted extending jobless benefits, saying they believe they need to be paid for in the budget rather than through deficit spending.

With congressional elections approaching in November when Obama’s Democrats are at risk of big losses, the president hopes to put Republicans on the defensive.

“Republicans have blocked the extension of emergency relief for the unemployed three times in the last few weeks, denying millions of people who are out work and trying to find a job the needed relief,” a White House official said.

The official said Obama will talk about people who need the extension “and he will have strong words for Republicans who have previously supported unemployment extensions under Republican presidents but refuse to offer relief to middle class families today.”

Obama will also accuse Republicans of “calling for hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while telling working families that we can’t afford to help them when they need it most.”

Senate Democrats have scheduled another vote on the unemployment benefits for Tuesday.

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