Rand Paul: Unemployment Benefits Extension Would Be A 'Disservice' To Workers

12/08/2013 10:19 am ET | Updated Dec 08, 2013

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Sunday he opposes extending unemployment benefits for workers, arguing that it would be a "disservice" to jobless individuals.

"I do support unemployment benefits for the 26 weeks that they're paid for. If you extend it beyond that, you do a disservice to these workers," he said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday."

About 1.3 million long-term jobless Americans will lose federal benefits if Congress fails to reauthorize the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which expires at the end of December.

Without congressional action, the most time that people could get would be six months of state unemployment benefits.

"When you allow people to be on unemployment insurance for 99 weeks, you're causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy," Paul argued on "Fox News Sunday."

Paul has consistently opposed long-term unemployment benefits. In 2010, he similarly said during an interview on Fox News, "You get out of a recession by encouraging employment, not encouraging unemployment."

But studies have shown that extended unemployment insurance does not encourage workers to stay home and watch TV rather than looking for jobs.

“It didn’t seem to reduce the job finding rate. They didn’t affect people finding jobs quickly. But for people who were unemployed a long-time, it kept them in the labor force," Princeton University economist Henry Farber told the Wall Street Journal earlier this year. Farber is one of the coauthors of a recent study on the issue.

There is bipartisan support for passing an extension. A group of House Republicans, led by Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.), are preparing to send the GOP leadership a letter pleading for action.

A small group of House and Senate lawmakers are currently working to craft a budget. When asked on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday whether Democrats will oppose a budget that doesn't include an extension of unemployment benefits, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) replied, "No, I don't think we've reached that point where we've said this is it, take it or leave it."

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who is part of the budget-writing committee, said Republicans could support an extension if it's paid for.

"It's about $25 billion that no one was talking about ... until the last week," he said. "So it's an additional cost within this budget agreement. I think the thought always was that it would be handled separately. So I'm glad to hear my colleague, Dick Durbin, say that that's not necessarily a sticking point in this, because I think there are different ways to look at it."

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