With President Obama visiting troops in Afghanistan, Vice President Biden says Congress must extend both the middle class tax cuts and unemployment insurance for the sake of those families and the broader economy.
Hi, this is Joe Biden. I’m filling in for President Obama this weekend because he’s on his way back from Afghanistan, where he was spending some time with the brave men and women of our Armed Forces.
It’s tough to be far from home during the holidays, especially in a warzone, so he wanted to be there in person to thank them on behalf of all Americans for their service and the sacrifice each one of them are making. And here at home, the First Lady and my wife Jill have made supporting military families a priority. These families are also making difficult sacrifices for our country, and they deserve our admiration and gratitude as well.
Our service members and their families are always on our mind, even as the President and I are working on other issues that all American families are deeply concerned about: accelerating our recovery, growing our economy, strengthening our middle class, and getting our friends and neighbors back to work.
In recent months, we’ve seen encouraging signs on that front. After shrinking for four straight quarters, our economy has now grown five straight quarters. After nearly two years of job loss, our economy has created more than one million private sector jobs just this year.
And after teetering on the brink of liquidation last year, our auto industry is posting healthy gains, assembly lines are running again, and American manufacturing is getting up off the mat and fighting its way back.
Still, Friday’s jobs report was a sobering reminder of that. While we saw another month of job growth in November, it just wasn’t enough.
That underscores why it’s so important to get going without delay on two things that will have the most impact in growing the economy.
One: we’ve got to extend the tax cuts for the middle class that are set to expire at the end of the month. If we don’t, millions of middle-class families will see a big bite out of their paychecks starting January 1. And that’s the last thing we should let happen. After a decade in which they lost ground, middle class families can ill-afford a tax hike – and our economy can’t afford the hit it will take if middle class families have less money to spend.
And the second thing we’ve got to do is extend unemployment insurance for Americans who have lost their jobs in a tough economy. Without unemployment benefits, families can’t spend on basic necessities that are grown, made, and sold by other Americans.
Together, the economic hit caused by raising taxes on the middle class, and denying two million Americans unemployment insurance, will wind up costing us hundreds of thousands of more jobs. It just isn’t smart.
And, cutting unemployment insurance is not only not smart, it’s not right either. It would mean telling millions of our neighbors who are out of work today through no fault of their own, that they’re on their own.
That’s no message to send in the season of hope. We all know someone who’s hit a rough patch. When that happens in America, we help him get back up on his feet. That’s who we are. That’s the American way.
So I just don’t agree with the folks who’ve said we can’t afford a lifeline for Americans who lost their jobs during the worst recession in generations, but we can afford to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans. That’s bad economic policy, and it’s also just simply wrong.
Congress must extend these needed unemployment benefits before it goes home for the year. And it must bolster economic growth by preserving tax cuts for our middle class. I’m glad that the House of Representatives voted to do that this week, and I call on the United States Senate to do the same.
Look, there’s no doubt these are tough times. But we are slowly but surely fighting our way back, moving forward. And we’re going to keep fighting – to grow this economy, to strengthen our middle class, and to restore the American Dream. That’s my pledge to you.
And hey, one last thing – since the President will be back to record this message next week, let me take this chance to say from my family to yours: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, have a great Holiday season and an even better New Year.
Thanks, and enjoy the weekend.