Sen. Bob Casey, Pennsylvania Democrat, said that if extending unemployment benefits for an estimated 1.3 million people who were cut off on Dec. 28 requires finding spending offsets elsewhere, Congress “can and should” ferret out the savings to do it.
“I think we can find an offset and we should,” Mr. Casey said Tuesday on MSNBC. “As you know, we went a lot of years in this country providing unemployment compensation without an offset, but if that’s what it takes to get it done, then I think we can get that done.”
Sens. Jack Reed, Rhode Island Democrat, and Dean Heller, Nevada Republican, are pushing for a three-month extension of the benefits that would not be paid for in other parts of the budget. By the middle of next year, 1.9 million more people will be affected if benefits aren’t extended.
Mr. Casey said extending the benefits will not only aid the unemployed and their families, but the larger economy. Many analysts say unemployment benefits are one of the quickest ways to infuse money back into the economy because they’re immediately spent by the recipients.
A three-month extension would cost approximately $6.5 billion, and a yearlong extension would cost $24 billion or $25 billion.
Mr. Casey said that there are “plenty of places” to find the approximately $19 billion to fill in that gap.
“Often, the tax code provides some opportunities,” he said. “Our side, for not just on this issue but on a range of issues, has provided the opportunity for getting rid of loopholes and giveaways in the tax code, and I hope our Republican friends are willing to join us in getting rid of some loopholes that have been in place for a long period of time to be able to do this for the unemployed and for the larger economy.”