Rand Paul: Extending unemployment insurance a “disservice” to workers

The Kentucky senator implies the long-term unemployed are insufficiently motivated to go and find work

By Elias Isquith

Published December 9, 2013 3:10PM (EST)

Rand Paul                              (AP/Charles Dharapak)
Rand Paul (AP/Charles Dharapak)

In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul expressed his opposition to a further extension of the nation's long-term unemployment insurance, saying that such an extension would be "a disservice to these workers."

"I do support unemployment benefits for the 26 weeks that they're paid for," Paul said. "If you extend it beyond that, you do a disservice to these workers. 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."

As the Huffington Post notes, Paul is suggesting that the 1.3 million people currently on federal unemployment benefits have their federal aid end at the end of December, when the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program is scheduled to run out.

More from the Huffington Post:

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."

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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