Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak for the unemployed. I've had more calls in my office in the last 2 weeks from those who have run out of benefits. That's a fact of life. The last speaker who talked about the unemployed and that they are better off without us helping them, figure that out. The unemployed are better off when they can put food on the table for their families. The unemployed are better off when they can pay their rent. That's when the unemployed are better off. And that doesn't happen by osmosis.
This legislation is incredibly important because millions of Americans woke up this morning and will not be able to pay their rent, will not be able to pay their electric bill, will not be able to do at the grocery store what needs to be done.
For years, there were policies that placed the extraordinarily wealthy people of this country--the big banks, the well-connected--above seniors, above the middle class, above the American people. Just today, at one of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission's hearings, you should have watched it when these guys wiggled in their chairs in answering the questions of the Commission of how we got into this mess.
Look, there's enough blame to go around on both sides. But you guys were in charge--not us. Remember, 8 million jobs, millions of people's retirements lost, because of the recklessness of Wall Street. And we can't dig down and help those people who are unemployed--the extent of the time of unemployment we haven't seen in so many years. But if you go back to 2005, when we were warned of the clouds that were heading towards us, you will remember in those 2 years before that, 2003 to 2005, the average salary and wage went down 1.5 percent.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.
Mr. LEVIN. Mr. Speaker, I yield the gentleman 1 additional minute.
Mr. PASCRELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair reminds all Members to address their remarks to the Chair.
Mr. PASCRELL. During that period of time, which was a bellwether for what was going to happen--which was a distant early warning signal--why we couldn't understand where is this money going if everybody's making profits? And then we examined the record. Where was it going? It was going to corporate profits because nobody was watching. There was no oversight.
These unemployed are suffering because of those profits in times where we were starting to tighten our belt and understand what was coming our way. The emergency unemployment compensation program began to phase out at the end of May, so this bill will retroactively restore those necessary benefits.
This is dignity we're talking about. This is a man or woman looking at their families and saying, We are going to eat tomorrow; we are going to pay the electric bill; and we are going to pay the rent. I think this is important and critical.
After two wars and after two massive tax cuts to help the rich--that you never paid for--you have the nerve to tell the unemployed people in this country that you must be wanting to be unemployed. ``I'm sorry, we cannot help you.'' But if you're part of corporate America and you stuck it to the Americans in the middle class of this country and the poor, ``That's all right. We'll find a way to bail you out.''
Let's make sense. Let's be fair.