"Republicans, me included, have supported numerous extensions of unemployment benefits and we're anxious to do so again," the Indiana Republican told interviewer Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." "The deficit this year is a trillion dollars for the second year in a row ... The American people have had it with runaway federal spending, deficits and debt, and they want to see men and women in Washington, D.C. make the hard choices."
Polls released last week showed that despite anxiety about spending, registered voters actually favor helping the unemployed even if it adds to the deficit.
Nevertheless, extended unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless lapsed at the beginning of June because Republicans in the Senate, joined by Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson, insisted that the $33 billion cost of reauthorizing the benefits not be added to the deficit (though some deficit hawks actually don't consider stiffing the jobless a smart way to reduce the deficit to begin with). Fox's Wallace said he understood the Republicans' argument that the unemployment benefits be "paid for" -- but why not also "pay for" a reauthorization of the tax cuts, which will cost $678 billion?