Kyl: Unemployment Insurance a ‘Necessary Evil’

July 12, 2010 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) is making a lot of waves with some highly controversial statements about unemployment insurance and tax cuts. Here’s Talking Points Memo’s Brian Beutler on Kyl:

The second highest ranking Republican in the Senate doubled down on a controversial statement he made this weekend, arguing in greater detail that tax cuts for wealthy people should never be offset by tax increases in other areas — but that unemployment benefits need to be fully paid for by either spending cuts or tax increases. In so doing, he claimed candidly that the very existence of unemployment insurance is a “necessary evil,” while tax cuts ought not be paid for by increases in order to make it easier to shrink the size of government.****

“My view, and I think most of the people in my party don’t believe that you should ever have to offset a tax cut,” Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl told a handful of reporters outside the Senate chamber this afternoon. “That clearly reduced savings is a better way to offset increased spending than a tax increase is.”

On this, to put it mildly, Kyl is in opposition to most of the economic and political establishment, from both ends of the spectrum. Unemployment insurance is not a welfare benefit or a “necessary evil.” It is a federal insurance program, which helps guarantee that working Americans maintain a decent quality of life for themselves and their families during spells of joblessness. Virtually all Republicans support having an unemployment insurance system; where they differ with Democrats is in whether the spending should be offset or deficit-increasing. As for offsetting tax cuts with spending cuts or tax increases? Republicans very much support that, in principle if not always in practice.