(CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats are pushing hard for a three-month extension of long-term unemployment benefits that would add another $6.5 billion to the budget deficit ($26 billion for a full year).
For them, it beats talking about Obamacare, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley on Sunday: "The reason why the White House is so actively pushing this is they want to desperately talk about anything but Obamacare.
"The best thing we could do to help people who are unemployed or underemployed is fix Obamacare and replace it with a patient-centered plan that puts people in charge, not the government in charge, and got rid of the uncertainty that so many small businesses here in my state and across the country talk about."
In his Saturday radio address, President Obama criticized congressional Republicans for letting a "lifeline" for the long-term unemployed expire at the end of 2013. "And denying families that security is just plain cruel," he said. "We're a better country than that. We don't abandon our fellow Americans when times get tough -- we keep the faith with them until they start that new job."
Republicans say they don't mind extending jobless benefits, as long as the extension is paid for. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to bring a bipartisan bill to the floor on Monday. He and other Democrats are seizing the occasion to blast Republicans as heartless and out of touch. Unemployment insurance, for them, is a political issue.
Walker said any discussion about extending benefits should include reform, and he pointed to changes in his own state:
"We just made a change last year so that people had to look five times or more a week for work. Without our requirement change, they could go as little as two times a week. I don't know about you, Candy, but if I was out of work I'd be looking more than twice a week for a job. I'd be looking for every day except maybe today, I'd take Sunday off to go to church and pray that I could find a job on Monday.
"But I think there need to be reforms in that system. I also think Wisconsin is one of the few states in America that just changed things so that adults, without kids, looking for work now have to be enrolled in one our employment training programs...Instead of just talking about extending benefits, we should talk about getting people the training they need to fill those jobs. That's much better off than just putting a check out."