INTERVIEW: White House pushes for unemployment insurance extension

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – In Washington the battle continues over the extension of the federal payroll tax holiday, and an extension of unemployment insurance for people out of work. Today the White House revealed details of a study that shows how many people will be impacted if the unemployment benefits aren't extended. In Virginia alone the impact could be as many as 61,000 people.

Alan Krueger is the chair of President Obama's council of economic advisers he joins me now to talk about the report.

RYAN: Dr. Krueger, thank you for being here, sir.

KRUEGER: Thanks for having me.

RYAN: Now, Republicans earlier this week passed a plan they say would take care of the things the president has requested, like extending unemployment insurance and the payroll tax. Why in your mind doesn't that proposal work?

KRUEGER: Well it's important that the way that the payroll tax cut, extension of unemployment benefits, are funded is done in a way that makes sense for the economy, protects our investments and is fair across a wide range of the American public. The president proposed in the American Jobs Act a way to pay for the payroll tax cut and for extending benefits. And it wouldn't add to deficit over the ten-year period. So I think he has very sensible way of going about this. And if Congress fails to extend the payroll tax cut we gonna see taxes increase starting with the first paycheck next year with 4.4 million workers in Virginia, 160 million nationwide as well as hundreds of thousands of worker lose access to their unemployment benefits.

RYAN: Now Dr. Krueger, republicans have argued that tax hikes that you talk about on wealthy earners could actually stunt economic growth. You are obviously an economist by trade, a labor economist in fact. Would taxing job creators actually prevent them from creating jobs? Could that actually keep the recovery from moving forward at a faster clip?

KRUEGER: The small surcharge that the Senate democrats had proposed to fund the payroll tax cut for the middle class and the extension of unemployment benefits, I think, would have no affect on the ability of companies to create jobs. A very tiny fraction of small businesses are in tax brackets above, have income above 1 million a year, on top of that, the tax surcharge would not take effect until after next year when the economy would be stronger.

RYAN: In your mind, how far is the president willing to go on this? Is there room for compromise with republicans?

KRUEGER: You know, my role as the president's chief economist is advice him on economic policy, to look at the look at economic proposals, to see if they make sense for the economy. I think there's way of doing this in a responsible fashion. What's most important is that Congress get the job done. They have time to complete their task of extending the payroll tax cut, continuing extended unemployment benefits, before the end of the session.

RYAN: We appreciate you being here. Thank you.

KRUEGER: Thank you.

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