Top Democrat pushes for tying unemployment insurance to economic conditions

Laveta Brigham

Incoming Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenEfforts to secure elections likely to gain ground in Democrat-controlled Congress Biden announces veteran diplomat William Burns as nominee for CIA director Houston Chronicle calls on Cruz to resign MORE (D-Ore.) on Wednesday said he will push for tying additional unemployment […]

Incoming Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenEfforts to secure elections likely to gain ground in Democrat-controlled Congress Biden announces veteran diplomat William Burns as nominee for CIA director Houston Chronicle calls on Cruz to resign MORE (D-Ore.) on Wednesday said he will push for tying additional unemployment benefits to the state of the economy, as opposed to setting deadlines for their expiration.

“I’m going to push with every bit of my energy to make sure there are triggers to tie benefits to economic conditions, so the Senate doesn’t need to come back,” he told reporters.

Key unemployment insurance provisions in the CARES Act from March expired in August after Congress failed to renew them, and others nearly expired in late December after President TrumpDonald TrumpGrowing number of GOP lawmakers say they support impeachment YouTube temporarily bars uploading of new content on Trump’s channel House passes measure calling on Pence to remove Trump MORE delayed signing the latest relief bill.

Benefits set to expire March 14 include an additional $300 a week for jobless Americans and assistance to self-employed and freelance workers. Some programs will continue paying benefits for eligible recipients into early April.

Those looming expiration dates have put pressure on Congress to pass another COVID-19 relief bill. President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenGrowing number of GOP lawmakers say they support impeachment House passes measure calling on Pence to remove Trump Disney, Walmart say they will block donations to lawmakers who objected to Electoral College results MORE is expected to unveil his proposal Thursday.

Wyden has long pushed for benefits to be tied to economic conditions so that they will phase out as unemployment drops to more manageable levels instead of expiring on an arbitrary date.

Wyden said he would also push to increase base-level unemployment benefits, and improve state-run technology and administration. Outdated technology and poor administration left many states scrambling to get additional benefits up and running early in the coronavirus pandemic, leaving some people waiting weeks or months before they could receive their benefits.

Wyden also outlined some of his priorities on taxes.

The senator said that after Congress provides short-term economic assistance, it needs to make the economy work better for all Americans.

“That has to start with fixing the broken tax code, and requiring millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share” he said.

He said he plans to do further work on a proposal he released in 2019 that calls for taxing ordinary income and capital gains at the same rates, and taxing high-income taxpayers’ investment gains annually, rather than when the investments are sold.

He said he wants to roll back “corporate tax giveaways” in Trump’s 2017 tax-cut law. He said he wants to address issues relating to taxing multinational corporations created by the law and has been working on a framework corporate taxation that will be circulated in the near future.

When asked if he wants to return the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to its pre-Trump tax law level of 35 percent, Wyden noted that Biden hasn’t called for that. The president-elect has instead proposed raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent.

Wyden also said he wants to roll back Trump’s tax cuts for high-income individuals, end the carried interest tax break that benefits investment-fund managers, and better target a tax deduction in Trump’s 2017 law for income from noncorporate businesses.

Additionally, Wyden said he plans to work with Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOn The Money: Sanders will be gatekeeper for key Biden proposals | Senate majority gives Biden path to student loan forgiveness | Confirmation hearing for Yellen expected next Tuesday Brown puts housing, eviction protections at top of Banking panel agenda Brown says Graham yelled at officer for not doing ‘enough’ to protect senators MORE (D-Ohio) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand Bennet50-50 Senate opens the door to solutions outlasting Trump’s moment of violence Build trust in vaccines by investing in community workers Manchin slams Trump for ‘dangerous’ political ‘posturing’ during pandemic MORE (D-Colo.) on expanding tax credits that benefit low- and middle-income households, such as the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit.

The incoming Finance Committee chairman also said that he wants to ensure that the IRS has more funding so that it can crack down on wealthy people who aren’t paying the taxes they owe.

–Naomi Jagoda contributed to this report, which was updated at 2:38 p.m.

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