As Congress considers much-needed relief for America’s jobless workers and debates proposals to jump-start the economy, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) blocked a stopgap bill to extend jobless benefits, saying its $9 billion cost should not be added to the national debt. Coburn’s block means the Senate, which goes on a two-week recess today, won’t consider helping jobless workers until at least April 12.
As the New York Times noted:
“As a result, some people who have been out of work for more than six months will at least temporarily lose benefits. Health insurance subsidies for the jobless will also expire. Republicans said Senate negotiations had produced a compromise that did not pass muster in the House.”
Coburn is taking up where Sen. Jim Bunning left off in sticking it to America’s workers who, unlike him, don’t have jobs or taxpayer-provided health care and retirement benefits. Bunning, a Kentucky Republican, earlier this month delayed unemployment benefits for 400,000 desperate Americans and forced an unnecessary furlough of another 2,000.
But unlike Bunning, an outsider to his own party, Coburn is supported by the majority of Republican senators who are indicating strong opposition to addressing the suffering of the nation’s nearly 17 million jobless workers.