Senate unanimously approves Tester’s plan to end unemployment insurance for millionaires

Senator calls on House of Representatives to pass ‘common sense plan’ to cut spending

(U.S. SENATE) – The U.S. Senate today unanimously approved Senator Jon Tester’s plan to save taxpayer dollars by ending federal unemployment benefits for millionaires.

Tester introduced his bipartisan Ending Unemployment Payments to Millionaires amendment with Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla.  The proposal is estimated to save millions of taxpayer dollars by stopping federal unemployment payments to Americans who earn at least $1 million per year.  

The Senate today approved Tester’s amendment on a vote of 100-0.  Tester called on members of the House of Representatives to quickly pass his “common sense plan” to cut spending.

“In tough economic times, millionaires shouldn’t be allowed to bill American taxpayers for unemployment insurance,” Tester said.  “While we work on a long-term strategy to cut spending and cut our debt, hardworking Montanans know that we can take common sense steps now to get spending under control.”

“We support Jon’s common sense effort to save taxpayers money while protecting unemployment insurance for the people who need it most,” said Jim McGarvey, Executive Secretary of the Montana State AFL-CIO.  “Unemployment insurance is supposed to be for folks who lose their jobs and need a temporary safety net before they find a new job.”

“Allowing individuals who earned more than $1 million last year to collect unemployment benefits is indefensible,” Coburn said.  “This is a common sense, bipartisan spending cut.  Ending this practice will save nearly $20 million every year and correct a gross injustice against unemployed Americans who didn’t earn $1 million last year.”

In 2008, nearly 3,000 households that reported income of $1 million or more on their tax returns were paid a total of $18.6 million in unemployment benefits, according to the IRS.  More than 800 households earning over $2 million and 17 households with incomes exceeding $10 million received federal benefits.

Tester, an outspoken advocate for cutting government spending and the national debt, successfully saved taxpayers $6 billion by trimming back a temporary “bonus” in last year’s federal unemployment insurance law.  Tester has also successfully canceled Congressional pay raises and introduced legislation to permanently revoke automatic pay raises for members of Congress.