Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi: 'Extending Unemployment Benefits Is Best Way to Stimulate Economy'

May 14, 2003

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke today at a rally of several hundred unemployed workers to protest the Republicans' refusal to extend unemployment insurance. Below is a transcript of her remarks:

"Thank you, John Dodds, for that kind introduction. And thank you to the magnificent labor leaders, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Steelworkers President Leo Gerard, for organizing this rally. It is great to see all of you, but it’s too bad that you have to be here today and not on the job. And despite the tremendous turnout, even all of you do not equal the number of jobs lost every working hour of every working day since President Bush took office two years ago - 563 jobs.

"Since January 20, 2001, when George W. Bush was sworn in as President, 2.7 million private sector jobs have been lost, the worst record of job creation of any Administration since the Great Depression. That means that every working hour of every working day of the Bush presidency, another 563 Americans lose their jobs.

"The American people do not need a dividend tax cut; America’s unemployed workers need jobs.

"As you know all too well, the economic news is not good. Just today we learned that retail sales dropped in April. Last month, consumer spending -- the main force keeping the economy going -- slowed on everything from clothing and furniture, to building materials and garden supplies.

"And earlier this month, the Department of Labor announced that April’s unemployment rate reached 6 percent, with nearly 9 million Americans are out of work. Another 9 million Americans have either given up looking for work at all or are working part time. Millions of families are struggling with the hardship and uncertainty of life without a paycheck. Without unemployment benefits, many of these families would have nowhere to turn.

"Temporary federal benefits expire on May 31, but President Bush and Republicans in Congress have refused to include any extension of benefits in the tax bill that passed the House last week and show no signs that they will extend unemployment insurance before it expires.

"This extension is important to America’s working families and to our economy. Economists tell us that extending unemployment benefits is the most effective way to quickly grow the economy and create jobs. It is a fast, fair and fiscally responsible investment. For every dollar the federal government invests in unemployment benefits, the return is $1.73 in economic growth. In contrast, for every dollar the federal government provides to cut taxes on dividends, the return is only nine cents.

"As part of an economic growth package that creates over one million new jobs this year, without adding a penny to the deficit, Democrats have proposed a six-month extension of the temporary federal unemployment benefits program.

"Our plan provides 26 weeks of federal benefits for workers who lose their job, and an additional 13 weeks for workers who have already exhausted their benefits without finding a new job in this stagnant economy.

"None of the Republican tax plans -- the President’s, the House, or the Senate -- provide one thin dime.

"The unemployment rate is higher today than when temporary federal unemployment benefits were first approved in March of last year, but Republicans have decided that instead of helping unemployed workers, they should give the average millionaire nearly $100,000 in tax breaks.

"While Republicans insist on tax breaks for those who need it least, our Democratic priorities are clear: we will fight to get the economy back on track, create jobs, and help unemployed workers.

"Let’s give President Bush the pink slip for the worst record of job creation since the Depression. Let’s put Americans back to work."


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