Obama says GOP tough on jobless
Differences on deficit stall aid
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Saturday pinned blame on Republicans for making life harder for the unemployed and for those who could lose their jobs without new federal intervention. He did so even as he sought to distance himself from the “dreary and familiar politics” of Washington.
Capping a week in which the administration scored a victory – a $20 billion fund to be paid by BP for the victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill – Obama reserved his radio and Internet address to focus on the work that didn’t get done.
His main concern was the rejection of a bill in the Senate that would have provided more money for the long-term unemployed, aid for strapped state governments, and the renewal of popular tax breaks for businesses and individuals.
The broad economic bill failed Thursday when the 56-40 vote fell four shy of the total required to break the GOP filibuster. Republicans support many of the policies in the legislation but are demanding changes to shrink its toll on the deficit.
“Americans want us to show we’re serious about lowering the debt, so the president and his allies in Congress have a choice to make: They can either vote to reduce the deficit, or they can lock arms and dig an even deeper hole of debt,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
In his address, Obama also bemoaned the stalling of a separate measure that would lift a $75 million liability cap on economic damages for companies such as BP during disasters like the Gulf oil spill. The Senate is considering a bill to increase that cap to $10 billion.
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