Senators Coburn (R-OK), Mark Udall (D-CO), Tester (D-MT), and Representative James Lankford (R-OK) released the following statement today regarding a bill they have introduced that would end unemployment payments to jobless millionaires, saving nearly $100 million by stopping federal unemployment payments to those earning more than $1 million.
"In a federal budget rife with waste, duplication and, sometimes, sheer stupidity, giving unemployment benefits to millionaires may take the cake. Ending this practice will save nearly $100 million and correct a gross injustice against the millions of Americans who are out of work. Congress should pass this bill without delay. If there was ever a common sense spending cut, this is it," Dr. Coburn said.
"Unemployment insurance is a critical, temporary, safety net for Americans who need help getting by," said Senator Mark Udall of Colorado. "But making Coloradans pay for unemployment insurance for millionaires isn't fiscally responsible - and frankly, it doesn't make sense. Especially at a time when money is tight and our debt is out of control, we should be looking for smart, strategic ways to save money. I'm proud to work with Senator Coburn and Congressman Lankford on this common-sense proposal to save the taxpayers up to $100 million."
"This unemployment safety net should be provided for those most in need, not giving an extra cushion to those who have failed to prepare for the future," said Congressman James Lankford. "Members from both sides of the aisle should be willing and able to support legislation that incentivizes individual responsibility and helps cut wasteful spending. This is one of many common sense proposals that will help restore the American people's faith in our government and confidence in our fiscal state."
According to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, as many as 2,840 households who have reported an income of $1 million or more on their tax returns were paid a total of $18.6 million in unemployment benefits in 2008. This included more than 800 earning over $2 million and 17 with incomes exceeding $10 million. In all, multimillionaires were paid $5.2 million in jobless benefits.
This bill would save more than $20 million every year and more than $100 million over the next five years as well as takes necessary steps to ensure unemployment insurance is used for its intended purpose - to provide a financial safety net for laid-off workers who are seeking re-employment.