Jobless benefits for rich questioned

Oct. 2, 2012 at 4:00 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- The bipartisan Congressional Research Service said barring millionaires from receiving unemployment benefits would have negligible gains for the U.S. budget.

"The potential administrative costs could outweigh the potential savings," the research office said, referring to a policy shift that would exclude the wealthy from jobless benefits.

Currently, 2,362 millionaires receive unemployment benefits, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

A few lawmakers, including Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., are seeing red over the issue, figuring that paying millions of dollars in benefits to millionaires adds unnecessarily to the U.S. debt.

The research office said the millionaires on the dole were awarded $20.8 million in public assistance in 2009, 0.02 percent of the total given out that year.

The research office said the amount given to millionaires was "relatively small."

The Journal reported the issue is not as simple as it looks, given the millionaires all paid taxes with the expectation that they would be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Further, finding a dividing line for who is too rich to receive the benefits could get contentious.

The government could save more by cutting benefits given to Americans who earned $200,000 and $500,000 -- a total of over $1 billion. Households earning between $100,000 and $200,000 received even more in unemployment benefits -- a total of nearly $7 billion, the Journal reported.

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