Republican Mark Kirk, hours away from being sworn in as a US senator, said Monday that efforts to extend jobless benefits are misguided but argued it is imperative to extend Bush’s tax cuts for wealthy Americans.
On MSNBC’s Morning Joe Monday, Kirk said current proposals to extend unemployment benefits “take us into the direction of Greece and Ireland that are now imploding as economies.”
“We see overseas what happens when governments spend money they don’t have,” he added. “Proposals to extend unemployment insurance by just adding it to the deficit are misguided.”
The temporary extension of unemployment benefits are set to expire November 30th and nearly two million job-seeking Americans are expected to lose their benefits in December.
If no benefit extension is passed, an additional several hundred thousand unemployed workers are expected to lose their benefits every month thereafter.
“I want to make sure that we extend tax cuts no matter what to prevent a double-dip recession because if we throw millions of Americans out of work, one thing is, that’s heartache and sorrow in their family,” Kirk said.
“If they’re not paid for though, do we not risk going the way, as you said, of Greece and Ireland?” the show’s host, Joe Scarborough, asked in response.
Howard Dean, who appeared on the show as well, also questioned Kirk’s position.
“He wants to give tax breaks to people who make a million dollars a year and then deny unemployment benefits to people who are just getting by?” Dean asked. “I don’t get that.”
“You got to pay for helping people who have lost their jobs but you don’t have to pay for giving tax breaks to people who make a million dollars a year?” he added.
The Bush tax cuts are set to expire December 31st.
Kirk defeated Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias for President Obama’s former Illinois Senate seat and is one of three new members of the Senate who will be sworn in to the chamber during the lame-duck session.
“Republicans are trying to re-write economics and reality,” Senator Jack Reed said in mid-November. “They want to provide $700 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, but not pay for them. At the same time, they are demanding that emergency unemployment benefits for middle-class folks be fully paid for.”
“That is a little like the dieter who orders a Diet Coke and a Big Mac.”