A bipartisan group of senators has introduced a bill that would end unemployment payments to jobless millionaires.

Senators Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Mark Udall, D-Colo., Jon Tester, D-Mont., and John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced the bill. They estimate it would save up to $100 million by stopping federal unemployment payments to those earning more than $1 million.

“Allowing individuals who earned more than $1 million last year to collect unemployment benefits is indefensible,” said Coburn. “This is a common sense, bipartisan spending cut. Ending this practice will save nearly $20 million every year and correct a gross injustice against unemployed Americans who didn’t earn $1 million last year.”

According to IRS statistics, 2,840 individuals with an adjusted gross income of over $1 million received a total of $18.6 million in unemployment payments in 2008. This included more than 800 people earning over $2 million, and 17 with incomes exceeding $10 million. In all, multimillionaires were paid $5.2 million in jobless benefits.

“Especially at a time when money is tight and our debt is out of control, we should be looking for smart, strategic ways to save money,” said Udall. 

The Ending Unemployment Payments to Jobless Millionaires Act of 2011 would prohibit payments of unemployment compensation, including emergency unemployment compensation, to any individual whose resources in the previous year was equal to or greater than $1 million.

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