Weekly Address: Vice President Biden Calls on Congress to Preserve the Middle Class Tax Cuts and to Extend Unemployment Insurance This Year

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.

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