On the one hand, they paid into the system... on the other hand, they're millionaires... did they really *need* it. Discuss!
Originally Posted by bloombergWire: Bloomberg News (BN) Date: Oct 2 2012 5:00:15
Almost 2,400 Millionaires Pocketed Unemployment Benefits in 2009
By Frank Bass
Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Almost 2,400 people who received
unemployment insurance in 2009 lived in households with annual
incomes of $1 million or more, according to the Congressional
The report was released after about 1.1 million people
exhausted their jobless benefits during the second quarter of
2012, when more than 4.6 million filed initial unemployment
claims. Eliminating those payments to high earners is one idea
being considered as U.S. lawmakers struggle to curb a projected
$1.1 trillion deficit for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30,
with the nationwide jobless rate at 8.1 percent.
“Sending millionaires unemployment checks is a case study
in out-of-control spending,” U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, an
Oklahoma Republican, said in an e-mail. “Providing welfare to
the wealthy undermines the program for those who need it most
while burdening future generations with senseless debt.”
The 2,362 people in millionaire homes represent 0.02
percent of the 11.3 million U.S. tax filers who reported
unemployment insurance income in 2009, according to the August
report. Another 954,000 households earning more than $100,000
during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression
also reported receiving unemployment benefits.
The reported benefits may include those received by spouses
or dependents of people who made high incomes, or benefits
received earlier in the year before a household member got a
Eliminating the federal share of unemployment benefits for
millionaires would save $20 million in the next decade, the
congressional researchers said in their report.
Congress has expanded unemployment benefits that had been
paid for by states and lasted 26 weeks. The federal money
lengthened the maximum period to 99 weeks, though the
researchers said in practice no state currently offers more than
Coburn introduced legislation in February 2011 to prohibit
federally funded unemployment benefits for people who had at
least $1 million in assets in the year before they filed a
claim. The Senate voted unanimously for his measure, the Ending
Unemployment Payments to Jobless Millionaires Act of 2011. It
was later added to another bill, which hasn’t passed the Senate.
Coburn found that 18 households reporting an adjusted gross
income that exceeded $10 million received an average
unemployment benefit of $12,333 in 2009. The average benefit for
74 households earning between $5 million and $10 million was
$18,351. The average household making $1 million or more
received $11,113, or about 37 weeks of unemployment benefits.
Unemployment benefits, which averaged about $300 per week
in 2011, are paid out of accounts funded by payroll taxes and
administered by states. Like Social Security and Medicare, the
federal health insurance program for the elderly and disabled,
unemployment insurance has no income limits.
The Internal Revenue Service reported that 2,840
millionaire households, or 0.03 percent of tax filers, received
unemployment benefits in 2008. Another 816,700 beneficiaries
earned between $100,000 and $1 million in 2008, the report said.
The House of Representatives last December passed a bill
that would have taxed jobless benefits at 100 percent for single
filers with an income of $1 million or married filers earning
more than $2 million. The provision, part of a jobs bill written
by Michigan Representative Dave Camp, a Republican who leads the
House Ways and Means Committee, was dropped before the
legislation was sent to President Barack Obama for his
Lawmakers voted in February to fund the $30 billion cost of
extending unemployment benefits by auctioning public television
airwaves and increasing pension contributions by new federal
employees. The extension expires at the end of the year.
During the recovery from the recession, real unemployment,
including discouraged workers and part-time employees seeking
full-time jobs, peaked at 18 percent in January 2010. The number
of American workers who collected unemployment benefits topped
out at 6.6 million in May 2009, the highest seasonally adjusted
number in more than 30 years, according to the Labor
Department’s Employment and Training Administration.
The average unemployed American is out of work for nearly
40 weeks, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even
so, congressional researchers said it’s possible that IRS
figures understate the number of households that receive
unemployment insurance because the first $2,400 in benefits
wasn’t taxed in 2009, although it is now.