Standing in for President Barack Obama in the weekly address to the nation, Vice President Joe Biden urged Congress to extend the tax cuts for the middle class and prolong unemployment benefits to the jobless, both of which are set to expire at the end of the year.
"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," said Biden, who delivered the address when the president made a surprise visit to Afghanistan. "It just isn't smart."
He applauded the House of Representatives for approving the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class, and he urged his former Senate colleagues to follow suit. Biden said that though the economy has added jobs for five straight quarters, the country must help the jobless tread water rather than give unnecessary help to the nation's top income earners – a move which would add to the massive federal budget.
"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," Biden said. "That's bad economic policy, and it's also just simply wrong."
This week, administration economists said emergency unemployment benefits would expire for seven million people if Congress does not act, and Biden emphasized the modest but much-needed benefits are crucial to families' survival in brutal economic times.
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