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Can the GOP be tough on the rich? How about no food stamps?

The White House on Thursday rejected as insubstantial a GOP proposal to curtail unemployment insurance and food stamps for the rich as an offset for extending the payroll tax cut.

By Ron SchererStaff writer / December 1, 2011

New York

Who says Republicans can’t be hard on millionaires and billionaires?

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On Wednesday, Sen. Dean Heller (R) Nevada proposed means testing of the ultra-rich for eligibility for unemployment insurance and food stamps as well as raising their Medicare premiums.

The income garnered by keeping people like Warren Buffett from using the SNAP program (food stamps) would be part of an effort to pay for a one-year extension of the 2 percent payroll tax cut, which will cost over $120 billion.

In fact the US Department of Agriculture already does require means testing in order to receive food stamps.

On Thursday, White House press spokesman Jay Carney called the Republican proposal “gorilla dust.”

Washington observer Peter Davis, a former congressional staffer who writes a blog, Davis Capital Investment Ideas, says the legislation is a very “cosmetic” offset to a $122 billion payroll tax cut.

In an interview, Stewart Bybee, a spokesman for Senator Heller says the purpose of the anti-millionaire legislation is to “preserve taxpayer funds for those who need it the most.” He adds, “Millionaires and billionaires I think can sustain their lifestyle without taking unemployment compensation.”

According to IRS data in 2009, some 2,353 households that reported $1 million in income collected a total of $20.7 million in unemployment compensation. Some 716 households that reported making $2 million collected $6.67 million in income, while 18 households reporting $10 million in income collected $222,000 in unemployment.

But, actually keeping people like Bill Gates or Jamie Dimon, the chairman of J.P. Morgan Chase, from collecting unemployment benefits might be difficult.


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