Election 2010 is now officially underway, as the US Senate and the US House of Representatives adjourned this week for the August recess. It is hardly surprising given the current economic and financial market news that the top national issue for the fall is how to deal with the US economy and the federal deficit.
On Thursday US Senate Candidate Elaine Marshall responded to a letter to the Editor by Incumbent Senator Richard Burr (R-NC). Burr’s letter, published Tuesday, August 10, in the Asheville Citizen-Times, referenced a letter by a constituent. That original letter said, “Politicians should apologize for attacking the unemployed.”
Sen. Burr’s letter said the writer was “uniformed” about his “support for extending unemployment benefits.”
His letter says, “Like President Obama stated last November, providing for the unemployed is a priority, but we must do it in a way that does not add to the national debt. I think everyone agrees that we should extend unemployment benefits, but, throughout this debate, one party used the unemployed as a political tool while the other party tried to extend the benefits and pay for them.”
Secretary of State Marshall and her campaign responded with press release Thursday that included a list of votes by Senator Burr. It listed over a dozen votes against extending unemployment benefits.
“With the American economic recovery hanging in the balance, private employers added 71,000 jobs in July, down from 83,000 in June and below the consensus forecast of 90,000. The unemployment rate remained steady at 9.5 percent,” according to a New York Times article August 6.
“Over all, the nation lost 131,000 jobs in July, more than expected, as federal Census Bureau workers left their temporary posts, and as state and local governments cut back their work forces.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called US House members back from recess to take an emergency vote to pass the funding bill to pay for jobs for teachers, firemen and other emergency workers, and to provide some funds for the states for Medicaid.
According to Congress.org, the Senate voted on that bill on August 5, with Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) voting “aye” and Senator Burr voting “nay,” . The media held many interviews with the “99ers” individuals who were on unemployment for months and whose benefits had expired. The US Senate was at a standstill due to the Republicans’ filibuster and their refusal to support the bill to extend unemployment benefits.
Newt Gingrich was quoted on MSNBC today saying that workers are “spoiled” by the “welfare” of unemployment benefits.
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann interviewed Mike Hatchell of Lumberton, NC, who had been unemployed for over 12 months and was discouraged by the current economic conditions and the lack of jobs. Gingrich had singled out Hatchell for turning down jobs and continuing to collect “welfare” (unemployment insurance benefits).
Hatchell told Olbermann that Gingrich and Washington are “out of touch” with ordinary families and the job market in places like North Carolina. He said Gingrich is particularly out of touch with middle class and lower income wage earners.
Elaine Marshall’s statement issued in a press release Thursday echoed this message. Marshall said, :”After 16 years in Washington, Senator Burr is out of touch. The problem is not North Carolinians’ work ethic, the problem is there’s not enough work. And Washington should be helping create jobs, not blaming folks who can’t find one.”
Many Republican analysts in North Carolina have compared the current election climate and mood of the North Carolina electorate to that of 1994, when Gingrich and his cohorts captured the US House. Given his message today, it may be that Gingrich is not as well versed this election year and the Republicans are off-message on the economy.