Despite all the fancy econo-talk predicting the recession's end, the fact is 3 million Americans have been out of work for more than half a year, and every month 300,000 people exhaust their unemployment benefits, which are provided for 26 weeks.
In response, the Senate, following the House lead, overwhelmingly passed a bill Tuesday to extend benefits for up 20 weeks so workers can try to hang on to their houses and cars, pay their bills and feed their children until they get back on their feet. But President Bush is threatening to veto it, as he did a similar measure last August, on the grounds that the $6.3 billion price tag will increase the federal deficit and, therefore, the burden on taxpayers.
The budget agreement does, in fact, allow for such deficit financing -- if the president signs a declaration of emergency. But Bush refuses. Democrats, for their part, have rightly attacked the administration's willingness to dole out foreign aid at the expense of helping Americans. After all, if millions of Americans, without work or unemployment benefits do not constitute a national emergency, then what does?