Obama Pushes Republicans to Put Aside Politics, Pass Unemployment Benefits

Jim Chukalas, from Fredon Township, N.J., was laid off from his job as a parts manager at a Honda dealership two years ago and has exhausted his unemployment benefits. Charlottesville, Va., resident Leslie Macko benefits eligibility will only last for a few more weeks and the president said that she has turned to her father for financial support. Denise Gibson of Queens, N.Y., was laid off from her job at a real estate agency earlier this year and has yet to get hired.

"They desperately want to work. It's just, right now, they can't find a job," Obama said. "These are honest, decent, hardworking folks who have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own and who have nowhere else to turn except unemployment benefits and who need emergency relief to help them weather this economic storm."

Obama called out Republicans for their legislative priorities during the Bush Administration.

"I have to say, after years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit, the same people who didn't have any problems spending hundreds of billions of dollars on tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are now saying we shouldn't offer relief to middle-class Americans like Jim or Leslie or Denise who really need help," he said.

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe contributed to this report.

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