NBC Montana: ‘Jobless millionaires’ would no longer receive unemployment pay under new bipartisan bill

by Jackson Walker

A new bill with bipartisan support aims to take away unemployment benefits from those whose net worth is over $1 million.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., introduced the Ending Unemployment Payments to Jobless Millionaires Act of 2023 Thursday, a measure that would prevent these individuals from receiving government unemployment assistance. These “jobless millionaires,” who made more than $200 million in unemployment benefits last year, represent a waste of tax dollars, Sen. Ernst said.

“‘Bah humbug!’ to this reverse-millionaires tax taking money out of the paychecks of hardworking Americans to pay the wealthy not to work,” she said. “Ebenezer Scrooge certainly never would have learned the meaning of Christmas if he was visited by Washington bureaucrats instead of three ghosts. But just like Scrooge, it’s never too late for even the big spenders in Washington to change their ways! We can make that happen by passing this commonsense, bipartisan bill.”

The IRS reports 14,951 millionaires collected $213.3 million in unemployment benefits in 2022. Of these individuals, 300 were multi-millionaires. Each millionaire made $14,265 on average for being unemployed, a sum that contributed to the more than $500M total given to out-of-work millionaires since 2021.

“At a time when Montana families are struggling with rising costs on everything from housing to groceries, it defies logic for multi-millionaires to receive unemployment benefits on the taxpayers’ dime,” Sen. Tester said. “I came to Washington to fight for working families, not fat cats who look for loopholes to line their pockets.”

In 2021, Sen. Ernst spoke on jobless millionaires who would benefit from a COVID spending bill, saying “The Democrats are paying millionaires to not work, with taxes paid by lower income workers. How do you like that socialist scheme?”

Unemployment pay has become a hot button issue in the U.S. as policymakers work to tighten excess spending. In September, a California bill looking to give striking works full unemployment benefits went to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk for review.