GOP Signals Deal on Jobless Benefits if Dems Play Ball
Policy + Politics

GOP Signals Deal on Jobless Benefits if Dems Play Ball

AP Photo/Nati Harnik

Republicans and Democrats squared off over long-term unemployment benefits across talks shows Sunday morning, with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) saying that extended benefits provide a disincentive to look for work. 

Some 1.3 million have been out of work for 27 weeks or more, highest levels since World War II. Unemployment benefits for these people expired last week. Democrats have been pushing to extend them, while Republicans say that more than 6 months is enough time to find a job.   

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“What I have always said is that it needs to be paid for, but we also need to do something for long-term unemployed people and that is we need to create something new that would create jobs,” Paul said on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. “So what I’d like to do when we get back is one, if we extend it we pay for it, but two, we add something to it that would create jobs.” 

“I do think, though, that the longer you have it, that it provides some disincentive to work, and that there are many studies that indicate this,” Paul added. “So, what I’ve been saying all along, we have to figure out how to create jobs and keep people from becoming long-term unemployed.” 

Speaking after Paul on ABC, Sen. Chuck Schumer said that Paul, who is thought to be a contender for the 2016 GOP presidential ticket, was insulting Americans by calling an extension of benefits a disservice.  

“Most of the people I meet who are on unemployment are people who have had jobs for 25 years, lost them, they’ve been knocking on doors every week,” Schumer said. “I think it’s a little insulting, a bit insulting to American workers when Rand Paul says that unemployment insurance is a disservice.” 

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“They want to work, they don’t want unemployment benefits,” Schumer added. “They’re just hanging on with unemployment benefits, you cut them off, they may lose the house they paid for, take their kids out of college. So I would hope he would reconsider, past the three month extension.” 

Sen. Harry Reid, speaking on CBS’s Face the Nation, said that extension of unemployment benefits were part of a broader plan to focus on the middle class in 2014. 

“It’s the right thing to do. We have long-term unemployment. That’s why the American people support this – Democrats, Independents and Republicans,” Reid said. 

He added, “Republican members of Congress” resisted extension of benefits. “The vast majority of the American people believe that unemployment benefits should be extended,” he said.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), speaking on the same show, said that he would only be willing to consider extending benefits if Democrats compromised in other areas. 

“I would like to find a way to get a compromise to extend unemployment insurance, at least for a brief period of time, but at the same time, the Democrats should make compromises, King said. He suggested that the relaxation of what he called "burdensome regulations" on the economy would get Republicans to the table. 

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