House Republicans Try To Slash Unemployment Aid, Call It "Accountability"

December 14, 2011 2:01 pm ET — Brian Powell

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the House Majority Whip, appeared on Fox News this morning in the wake of the House's passage of a Republican bill to extend the payroll tax holiday. Fox News host Bill Hemmer pointed out to McCarthy that his party's bill was unlikely to succeed in the Democrat-controlled Senate because House Republicans attached a variety of extraneous measures. Some of these attachments include huge cuts to unemployment insurance and provisions allowing states more leeway to require drug testing as a prerequisite for receiving benefits — an idea several federal courts have already found unconstitutional. McCarthy defended the legislation, describing the slashes in unemployment benefits as putting "accountability into unemployment insurance."

MCCARTHY: Well yesterday, we passed a bipartisan bill that made sure everyone who's working would not get a tax increase, put accountability into unemployment insurance, um, we fix a cut, 27 percent to doctors when it came to Medicare, to make sure the health care provider's still there, and then we also put in there about Keystone, a pipeline for job creation, that they have to make a decision. Not to say one way or another. And you know in Arkansas yesterday, 61 people were laid off because they have made politics in Keystone about not making the decision after the election. Now that's a bi-partisan bill.

Watch:

CNN explains that what McCarthy describes as "accountability" many people would describe as something much more draconian:

The House GOP measure extends the payroll tax cut for one year and renews aid for the unemployed, while cutting back the maximum length of jobless benefits from the current 99 weeks to 59.

The bill also allows states more flexibility in distributing unemployment assistance, permitting states to require those applying to submit to drug tests or show they are pursuing a high school degree, if they don't have one. The bill would also avoid a scheduled cut in pay for Medicare physicians for two years, a provision known as the "doc fix."

To pay for the bill, GOP leaders use a series of spending cuts, including freezing pay for federal employees and members of Congress, eliminating a child tax credit for those in the United States illegally, and increasing Medicare premiums for those who earn more than $80,000 annually.

In other words, what McCarthy means by "accountability" is that if Democrats want to extend tax relief for working Americans, they'll first have to cut back on support for children, the elderly, and the unemployed. That's the holiday spirit!

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