Democratic congressional candidate Jensen says Congress isn't doing enough to help poor, jobless

12/12/2013 06:29 PM

Congress appears to be undervaluing the importance of helping the unemployed and should refocus its efforts on education and family assistance programs, said Democratic congressional candidate Elisabeth Jensen in her first extended interview with Pure Politics.

But Jensen did say Wednesday in her interview with Ryan Alessi that the budget deal reached by Republican Congressman Paul Ryan and Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray is an example of how Congress can work.

The deal moved forward Thursday after the House approved the two-year agreement in a 332-94 vote.

Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr of Lexington, whom Jensen is seeking to challenge next year in Central Kentucky’s 6th congressional district, was among the majority who voted for the bill.

The budget deal includes $63 billion of “sequester relief” to give federal agencies more flexibility on how to administer the sequester cuts. Jensen said while she believes the country needs to be fiscally responsible, she disagrees with the way the cuts were initially implemented.

“When you are trying to keep people working and in the job market, if you don’t have a place to take your children you can’t go to work. So what is the result of that? It means you quit your job and you get your snap benefits or you get other entitlement programs, you get unemployment insurance so it is kind of like you cut off one area and it costs you more in another,” Jensen said. “So I hope we never get to that place again where it is just random.”

In terms of entitlement reform, Jensen said something has to give but that it should not come at the expense of hurting those in the country who have the least.

That is one complaint of many congressional Democrats with the part of the budget deal that does not extend unemployment benefits which are set to expire this month.

Jensen said not extending those benefits are going to hurt a lot of families. But if there are going to be changes made to the amount of time a person can stay on unemployment, Jensen says the federal government should provide a work training program.

“First of all, the program has the most small amount of waste of almost any government program,” Jensen said. “Right now we have working families who work 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 hours a week on minimum wage and can still qualify for their benefits. I think something has to give in this country.”


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