Barack Obama attacks Republicans over failure of veterans jobs bill

President Barack Obama attacked the Republican party on Saturday, for scrapping a bill that would have established a $1bn scheme to help military veterans get jobs.

In his weekly radio address, Obama attacked GOP politicians for failing to pass the planned law before Congress ended its session last week and lawmakers returned to their own states and districts ahead of the 6 November elections.

"These men and women have made incredible sacrifices for our country. They shouldn't have to worry about finding a job when they get home. But last week, Republicans in Congress voted it down. And then they left," Obama said.

The bill, which had some bipartisan support, would have given job priority to post-9/11 veterans, aiming to put them back to work as firefighters and police officers and in public work projects.

Joblessness is a huge problem for many veterans, whose employment prospects are three points below the national average. But Republicans opposed the scheme on the grounds of cutting government expenditure, pointing to several existing schemes aimed at putting ex-military men and women back to work.

The law attracted a handful of Republican supporters but fell in the Senate, two votes short of the majority of 60 needed to waive Republican objections.

Supporters had modeled the proposal partly after the Civilian Conservation Corps that was used during the Great Depression to employ people to build parks and dams.

"If Congress had done the right thing, we could be on our way to having a veterans' jobs corps that helps returning heroes find work as cops and firefighters in communities all across the country," Obama said.

The failure of the bill attracted high-profile condemnation from veterans' groups. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America described the vote as a "huge disappointment".

Some Democratic activists have already used the vote as a way of attacking potentially vulnerable Republican politicians on the issue of national security. That was a sentiment Obama seemed to echo as he urged people to express their anger as Republicans campaign for re-election.

"If you see them campaigning back home, tell them in person. Because there's been enough talk. It's time for action," the president said.

Powered by article was written by Paul Harris in New York, for on Saturday 22nd September 2012 16.59 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


image: © José Luís Agapito