Jim McDermott, a co-author of the unemployment insurance extension bill that passed in the House yesterday, talked with HuffPosts's Arthur Delaney after the vote, and blasted the Republicans and deficit peacocks who've been blocking this critical funding.
"It's a class warfare issue," said McDermott in an interview with HuffPost after the House vote. McDermott, chairman of the Ways and Means Income Security and Family Support Subcommittee, lamented the fact that congressional deficit hawks squawked little during two wars and when Congress authorized a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry.
"Wall Street is saying to them, 'These deficits, they're making problems, we need to get this deficit down,'" McDermott said. "So the very people who took the money and were stabilized because we created deficits are now turning around and biting the hand that feeds them, that is, the taxpayers. It's unconscionable."
"The Social Security Act of 1935 made these entitlements, Social Security and unemployment insurance and welfare," he said. "The Republicans have been after all three of those programs ever since 1935. They got welfare a few years ago, because that's poor people. They could jump on them. But unemployment and Social Security is middle-class people -- they haven't been able to get them, but it isn't because they're not willing to try."
It would start with offsetting the cost of benefits for the first time: "If you say that you can't feed people because you don't have the money right now, that is a real new precedent."
Those deficit peacocks in the House have been pushing Pelosi to consider, for the first time in history, to cut other programs in order to extend unemployment insurance. It's the argument Senate Republicans and Ben Nelson have also been using, suggesting everything from the sheer length of this crisis making it no longer an "emergency" to the laziness of the unemployed, the latter-day "hobos" who just don't want to go back to work.
That's what the Blue Dogs opposing UI extension (Baird, Berry, Bright, Cooper, Hill, Markey (CO), Marshall, McIntyre, Minnick, Nye, Shuler) and Ben Nelson are endorsing.