Payroll Deadline Nears

Congressional Democrats offer to trim six weeks from jobless benefits.

Congressional Democrats made their first proposal on one of the more contentious elements of the payroll tax cut package with an offer to trim maximum U.S. unemployment benefits by six weeks.

The plan offered to Republicans yesterday would end unemployment benefits after 93 weeks instead of the 99 weeks now available in states with the nation’s highest jobless rates, according to a document explaining the proposal. Republicans have proposed reducing the expanded jobless benefits to 59 weeks.

$100 Billion Cost

The Democratic offer didn’t suggest how to pay the $100 billion cost of the package for the rest of the year. Republicans have proposed paying for it by, among other things, continuing a pay freeze for government workers, which Democrats oppose. Democrats had proposed a surtax for high-income earners.

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