Congresswoman Gwen Moore Blasts Republicans, But Compliments Rep. Paul Ryan
Though Congress has managed to break Washington gridlock to pass an Omnibus spending bill, Democratic Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Milwaukee says most Republicans "would like to carry us back to a point in time when government does practically nothing."
Her comments come on the heels of a Congress' votes last week to approve the spending bill that will fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year, preventing another sequester.
But Moore says the Omnibus bill is far from "magnanimous" and will contribute to "a lot of pain and suffering...to people and to our economy if we don't get out of sequester levels."
Congress also has not passed an extension of federal unemployment benefits, which Moore says will create a "ripple effect" on the unemployed as well as businesses they would otherwise patronize.
"You have members of Congress who literally have the philosophical view that by extending these unemployment benefits...that it discourages people from working," she says. "The reality is that our economy is still recovering. It's still very, very soft."
Moore does, however, give "due compliments" to fellow Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan on his efforts in breaking the budget deadlock.
"If you're in the majority, you have the responsibility to govern, so he's taken a lot of hits and criticisms for doing anything," she says. "Republicans, in my experience, they don't like this budget initiative. They don't like the trillion dollars in spending, which is far below where we have been."
Moore, who represents Wisconsin’s Fourth Congressional District including Milwaukee and parts of north and south shore suburbs, says she and other members of Congress had a tough decision to make in voting for the bill.
"The older I get, the more conservative I get, and the more I understand really what the word 'compromise' means," she says. "The sequester held a lot of people hostage, individuals and business, people living on the fringes. We really curtailed a lot of misery for a lot of people by passing some sort of budget."
Moore says the budget includes funding for school lunches for 32 million disadvantaged children, senior meals and the Head Start Program. It also provides disaster funding, protects Pell Grants, and gives some money to the National Institutes of Health.
"So there were things that I thought were worthwhile supporting, and so I'm not dancing in the street about it, but there was a trillion dollars worth of spending that was desperately needed, and it gets us through 2014," she says.
The fight over unemployment benefits may yet continue. Some in Congress have called for off-sets in order to continue funding certain programs or to extend unemployment benefits.
"Ever since we have had any kind of unemployment level at 7 percent or above, Democrats or Republicans,...we have extended these unemployment benefits," Moore says. "We get how our capitalist economy works, and off-setting it with what? With other programs that help people? It's rare that we would require an offset."
Still Moore believes a legislative fix is possible if people rally for the benefits to continue.