February 5, 2008


U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) continued to highlight the need to include extended unemployment insurance in an economic stimulus package at a meeting of the Finance Committee this morning.  After hearing testimony from Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Senator Snowe underscored the importance to the economy of providing relief to the unemployed.

“The number of long-term unemployed in this country is twice as high as it was prior to the last recession in 2001, said Senator Snowe, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee.  “If the point of this stimulus package is to jumpstart the economy, then it addressing the key component of unemployment in America should be at the core of any legislation that passes Congress.”

Senator Snowe’s comments comes a few days after the Labor Department reported that the economy lost 17,000 in January, the first time in four years that employment has shrank.  A recent economic study cited in a report  by the Congressional Budget Office indicated that the near-term economic stimulus of extending Unemployment Insurance is much higher than most other proposals under consideration – for every $1 the federal government spends on UI now, it adds $1.64 to national GDP.   According to the CBO, the cost-effectiveness of extending UI benefits is 'large', and the resulting boost to the economy would be faster than nearly any other alternative.

Senator Snowe also spoke on the need end the “fiscal shell game” of putting off tax reform and a permanent solution to AMT.

“We must never again wait until the last possible moment to give 25 million taxpayers certainty about their tax burden as we did last year when we were unable to clear AMT relief legislation until late December,” Senator Snowe said.  “We should make permanent the most meritorious tax cuts while simultaneously ensuring that this nation has sufficient revenue to bring the budget into long-term fiscal balance.”

Last month, the CBO projected that this nation will run a $274 billion surplus over the next 10 years, but that surplus will only materialize if we enact no new spending, do not fix the alternative minimum tax, and allow the tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003 to expire.