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Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said he was appalled by the recent callous statements made by House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada who has introduced legislation ending unemployment benefits for Tennessee families with dependent children.
Casada’s bill, HB3206, was defeated in the House Subcommittee on Employee Affairs on Wednesday despite state Reps. Donna Rowland of Murfreesboro and Mark White of Memphis voting for it.
“Well, I think we all need you to do the best you can to find a job, is what I suggest,” Casada replied during the hearing when asked how affected families should feed their children without the benefits.
Forrester said Casada’s unconcern for the state’s struggling families underscores the fundamental difference between the General Assembly’s Democrats and its Republicans.
“In times like these, many working families are temporarily between jobs, through no fault of their own, and need the help of their friends and neighbors while they get back on their feet,” Forrester said. “I cannot believe someone can be so uncaring.
“Democrats in the state Legislature are working tirelessly with Gov. Phil Bredesen to create more jobs in Tennessee communities. Unfortunately, we have some Republicans who are more interested in playing partisan politics than helping our state through a rough spot.”
Forrester noted that the unemployment rate for the state was at 10.7 percent in January, meaning more than 322,000 Tennesseans were out of work. As the subcommittee hearing continued, Casada said he opposed using any state money to extend unemployment benefits if and when federal stimulus dollars are exhausted.
“Well, when the money runs out, we don’t take it out of your back pocket … and give it to those that don’t have,” the College Grove lawmaker added.
Forrester said he was disappointed in Casada’s rationalization for ending jobless benefits when more than 8 million jobs have been lost across the U.S. since the recession began in December 2007.
“Because of the failed policies of a previous White House, this economy was sent into a ditch and our financial markets teetered on the brink of disaster,” Forrester said. “Fortunately Congress took some bold steps and enacted a stimulus package that is helping us recover.
“More needs to be done, though, and Republicans like Mr. Casada, Ms. Rowland and Mr. White need to remember what John the Baptist once said: ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’”
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