Paul open to offset jobless insurance

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Sunday suggested he was open to extending long-term unemployment benefits as long as the insurance is offset.

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Paul also said that any extension of the benefits, which expired for more than one million people late last year, would also need to be paired with job-creating policies – like slashing taxes in areas the hardest hit by unemployment.

“I think it’s wrong to borrow money from China or simply to print up money for it,” Paul said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“What I’ve been saying all along, we have to figure out how to create jobs and keep people from becoming long-term unemployed.” 

Paul’s tone was significantly different than a month ago, when he said that extending unemployment benefits would be a “disservice” to workers.

Paul on Sunday reiterated that he believes long-term jobless insurance can dissuade unemployed people from seeking work.

The Senate is scheduled to consider a three-month extension of the jobless benefits without offsets on Monday, a bill which has so far gained very limited support from Republicans.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), also appearing on “This Week,” said that Republicans was proving themselves out of touch by showing little interest in extending the benefits.

Democrats have been making income inequality a bigger part of their political message in recent weeks, and Schumer suggested the unemployment benefits and similar issues will be a big winner for his party in this year’s election.

“They’re going to show themselves so far out of the mainstream, it’s going to hurt them in the elections,” said Schumer.

Schumer also chided Paul for his comments that unemployment benefits can be a disincentive for work, saying the recipients he knows are furiously chasing jobs, and that the insurance can be a lifeline for those out of work.

“I think it’s a little insulting, a bit insulting to American workers when Rand Paul says that unemployment insurance is a disservice.

--This report was updated at 3:25 p.m.