By Erik Wasson
Rand Paul slams jobless benefits extension plan
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Sunday that he would oppose an effort underway in Congress to extend jobless benefits.
Paul told "Fox News Sunday" that he supports 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, but the extended version of that allows more weeks of benefits must end.
“I do support 26 weeks of unemployment that they're paid for, if you extend it beyond that you do a disservice to these workers,” Paul said.
Paul said that business surveys indicate a reluctance to hire workers who have been on unemployment insurance for lengthy periods.
“When you allow people to be on unemployment for 99 weeks, you are causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy,” he said.
Democrats are pushing for unemployment benefit extension to be included in a budget deal that is close to being finished this week. The core stumbling block has been finding a way to foot the $25 billion cost.
“Senator Paul is out-of-touch with the needs of Americans who are hurting and need help while the economy continues to recover,” Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Czin said in a statement. “Paul's position stands in stark contrast to President Obama, who is committed to helping those who need it most while the economy gets back on its feet.”
Paul also touted his new economic plan for the bankrupt city of Detroit and other inner cities.
The Economic Freedom Plan would cut corporate and individual income tax rates to a flat 5 percent, suspend capital gains taxes, expand business expensing tax breaks, suspend environmental regulations and open up more immigration visas in troubled areas.
Paul said that there is no government stimulus plan for Detroit and other cities that could pass Congress right now.
“I think it is the only one that politically could pass,” he said of his own plan.
The federal program that provided 99 weeks of benefits was phased out as part of the "fiscal-cliff" deal last January.
Currently, the maximum number of weeks available at this point is 73, offered only in Nevada and Illinois, which have jobless rates above 9 percent.
Otherwise, states offer between 40 and 63 weeks of benefits, which includes the 26 weeks offered by most states.
North Carolina is the only state that does not participate in the federal program. The state offers 19 weeks of state benefits. After January, only the state level of benefits would be available, meaning those who have exceeded the maximum provided by that state would no longer get checks.
— Vicki Needham contributed to this report, which was updated at 11:22 a.m.