State Democratic Party chair criticizes Haslam for waiting to extend unemployment benefits

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 5:46pm

State Democratic Party chairman Chip Forrester criticized Gov. Bill Haslam Tuesday for taking a wait-and-see attitude toward extending benefits to thousands of unemployed Tennesseans.

“Mr. Haslam needs to prove he’s serious about governing — not scoring political points. The livelihood of nearly 30,000 citizens is on the line. Republicans owe it to these hurting families to act responsibly,” Forrester said.

Earlier in the day, Haslam told reporters his staff is evaluating whether to ask the legislature to seek the additional federal money for the benefits.

Benefits ran out in April for 28,000 Tennesseans after the legislature failed to enact a law to extend them. Democrats now are trying to persuade Republicans who run the House and Senate to accept nearly $58 million in federal funds to send up to 20 more weeks of unemployment checks.

With the legislature getting ready to adjourn for the year by the end of the month, House and Senate committees have yet to act on bills to resurrect the benefits. Haslam expressed concerns about the cost to the state. It is estimated to cost state and local governments nearly $3 million.

“Gov. Bill Haslam and Republican legislators haven’t lived up to their promise to create jobs, and now their negligence is jeopardizing critical financial support that is keeping children fed, bills paid and families out of foreclosure,” Forrester said.

“We’ve seen harmful bills that rob citizens and teachers of their rights get all the attention this session. Now Republicans have a chance to make an actual difference by fixing their screw-up.”

The libertarian Tennessee Center for Policy Research, meanwhile, called on Haslam and Republican legislators to refuse to revive the benefits.

“While it is touted as a measure to ‘protect’ the unemployed, this proposal is bad for everyone,” said TCPR president Justin Owen. “It strips taxpayers of an additional $60 million that our state and federal government don’t have to spend. It also harms the very unemployed who are stuck in a rut. We need to be throwing them a rope, not dumping buckets of water on them.”

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3 Comments on this post:

By: Liberal Bias on 5/18/11 at 6:12

While I am impressed by Justin Owen's well-worded "sound bite," I am rather curious about the specifics of the "rope" he references in his statement. How are these 30,000 fellow Tennesseans going to eat? Keep a roof over their heads? Survive? While it has been historically popular among the GOP's base to bash government social programs, the reality is that our economy was brought to the brink of disaster by funding two wars and failing to regulate the financial industry. But, that's academic. Let's hear their plan...

By: frodo on 5/18/11 at 7:41

Is it just an accident that neither Forrester nor Woods mention how many years some of these people have already been on the dole collecting unemployment checks? Have we reached a new era in our society where a paycheck is a permanent right, no matter what? I am sympathetic to the unemployed. I really am. But it is time Forrester, the Dems and Liberal Bias (above) stop nickel-and-diming us into oblivion and own up to their new standard for America...permanent paychecks for all.

And Liberal Bias has it wrong on what brought us to the brink of disaster (actually, I think we are over the brink now and there is no going back). George Bush spent his billions, and a Dem House of Reps funded it. Obama is spending his trillions, and some folks call that responsible. But, sure, pass some more ketchup to the unemployed in the back seat. It won't matter much when this van finally hits the bottom of the canyon. Spend, spend. Eat, drink and be merry. And maybe there'll be another McD drive-thru on the way down.

By: Moonglow1 on 5/19/11 at 7:23

Moonglow1: Haslam & Justin Owen are BAD for Tennesseans. They are merely mouth pieces for the corporate controlled ALEC whose agenda is to "sell govt" to private enterprise and drive down wages to increase corporate profits. They care nothing about the unemployed. They want people hungry and starving so the IF corporations (who are making record profits) ever bring back jobs to the USA from China they can hire you at the lowest wage possible. These people have no decency or empathy for their fellow man. President FDR who was a man of privilege and wealth understood how to govern, the rule of law, and the role of government to combat poverty. These pathetic tea party cowards are not leaders. They are denying us our freedoms. And they take from the govt and give the benefits to themselves so in essence they are stealing from the people but denying your right to receive unemployment from the federal govt. Where are the jobs Haslam. All of those tea party bills you passed like caps on lawsuits create jobs right? What about all of the teachers whom you fired to clear the way for private enterprise charter schools funded by taxpayers. We know what will happen there don't we. Steal our money & run.