No More Food Stamps or Unemployment Pay for the Rich

While millionaires getting food stamps are rare, some of them do indeed pursue unemployment benefits.

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The New York Times is reporting that Americans with gross adjusted income over $1 million would no longer be eligible for food stamps or jobless pay, producing $20 million in savings to help extend the payroll-tax holiday.

... The idea is also embraced by many Democrats, who had a similar version of the savings in a Senate bill to extend the payroll tax cut, as did a failed Republican Senate bill.

Yet as it turns out, millionaires on food stamps are about as rare as petunias in January, even if you count a lottery winner in Michigan who managed to collect the benefit until chagrined officials in the state put an end to it.

But the idea of ending unemployment insurance for very high earners -- which would be achieved essentially through taxing benefits up to 100 percent with a phase-in beginning for those with gross adjusted income over $750,000 -- demonstrates an increasing desire among members of Congress to find some way to make sure that the wealthiest Americans contribute more to reducing the deficit and paying for middle-class tax relief.

Democrats have sought a surtax on income over $1 million to pay for an extension of a tax break for the middle class, a surtax that Republicans have rejected. Employees’ share of the payroll tax, now 4.2 percent of wages, is scheduled to rise to 6.2 percent in January unless Congress takes action. The Senate is expected to come back this week with another version of its bill to extend the tax holiday. On Monday night, the majority leader, Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, served notice to Congressional Republicans that he would prevent final votes on a must-pass bill to finance government operations until the Democrats get what they want on the payroll tax.

The savings will help today's struggling American worker. Congress, however, still has its work cut out for it. More than 13 million Americans remain unemployed.

Read more at MSNBC.

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