Tester: Debt deal must end unemployment insurance for millionaires
Senators call for common-sense plan to negotiations
(U.S. SENATE) – Senators Jon Tester, Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Mark Udall, D-Col., say any agreement to address the federal debt limit must save taxpayer dollars by ending unemployment benefits for millionaires.
The senators today told the president and Congressional leaders that their common-sense reform of the unemployment insurance program should be a part of the deficit reduction negotiations.
“As Congress works with you to make the difficult yet necessary decisions that will define our nation’s fiscal priorities, we believe leaders would be remiss to not include this bipartisan and commonsense reform,” the senators wrote.
The Senate unanimously approved Tester’s bipartisan Ending Unemployment Payments to Millionaires amendment in April. It would stop payments to Americans who earn at least $1 million per year.
The House of Representatives never considered the measure.
In 2008, nearly 3,000 households that reported incomes of $1 million or more 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.
The senators’ letter to debt negotiators appears below and online HERE.
President Barrack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
As you undertake the difficult task of crafting a debt reduction package for the good of the country, we write to request that any package you present to Congress includes a recommendation to end unemployment payments to jobless millionaires and billionaires.
Like you, we share a common goal of placing our nation on sound fiscal footing. As we work toward this goal, we would like to ensure that a commonsense, bipartisan reform within the Unemployment Insurance program be included in any deficit reduction agreement. On April 6th, 2011, the Senate unanimously agreed to end the payments of unemployment insurance benefits to people who make over one million dollars. The Senate was in full agreement that unemployment benefits are intended as a social safety net for people who lose their jobs, not to provide extra cushion for the financially well off.
As Congress works with you to make the difficult yet necessary decisions that will define our nation’s fiscal priorities, we believe leaders would be remiss to not include this bipartisan and commonsense reform. Inclusion of this provision would save the American taxpayers $20 million annually while resetting the program’s function to its intended purpose.
Thank you for considering the inclusion of this proposal in any package of reforms that you submit to the American public and Congress. We look forward to working together to find more commonsense, common-ground solutions.