The Senate recently passed a bill to restore unemployment insurance to 3.7 million Americans, some of whom have been without income since December 2013. Five Republicans voted for the extension after cuts to other programs ensured that the bill would not increase the deficit.

House Speaker John Boehner, however, wants three things before he'd be willing to help the unemployed: more tax cuts for the rich, more oil drilling and a bill to reduce environmental regulations. You can certainly tell where his priorities are.

When asked about what he needs to support the unemployment benefits, Boehner stated, "Listen, I made clear to the president last December that if he wanted us to consider an extension of emergency unemployment benefits, it would have to be paid for and it would have to include things that would help get our economy going." Well, the Senate version of the bill is now paid for and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, extending unemployment benefits would be a significant boost to the economy, benefit 33 million low-wage workers, and lift an estimated 900,000 people out of poverty. Boehner can't take yes for an answer.

Boehner went on to say that the White House hasn't "put forward anything with regard to how we would create more jobs. And so the ball's still in their court." Actually, despite the GOP's efforts to block everything he has done to aid the economy and create more jobs, Obama has still managed to save us from the 2008 recession with steady job growth and a record stock market recovery. In fact, according to, a total of 3,952,000 jobs have been added, and the NASDAQ Composite index has risen by 181 percent since Obama took office.

Some Republicans are not satisfied with refusing to help the unemployed or the poor. They also want to forbid others from helping them, too. For example, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill last week prohibiting cities in her state from establishing a mandatory minimum wage and other benefits for workers in her state. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Oklahoma ranks third in the nation for the proportion (7.2 percent) of hourly employees earning the federal minimum wage or less. I thought Republicans were against "big government" telling local governments what to do.

To be fair, there are Republicans who understand the need for extended unemployment benefits. For example, Gov. Brian Sandoval, of Nevada, wrote a letter of support for the Senate bill. Governors tend to be more aware and sensitive to the needs of their citizens.

Unfortunately, large corporations and the very rich have benefited the most from the Obama economic recovery. According to, "Pre-tax corporate profits set yet another record in the last three months of 2013, the most recent quarter on record. They were running at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.9 trillion, which is $1.2 trillion higher than in the recession-wracked final quarter of 2008, just before Obama took office."

Despite record corporate profits, wages of average Americans have not increased significantly, especially compared to their CEOs, who have seen record salary increases. The New York Times reported that the median compensation for CEOs in 2013 was $13.9 million, a 9 percent increase from 2012. Meanwhile, a record number of Americans - 46.5 million people - are on food stamps.

Republicans should stop holding the unemployed hostage in order to get additional tax breaks for the same people who have already seen significant benefits from the economic recovery.