Will Unemployment Be Extended into 2014?

President Obama with Democratic Leadership

President Obama has been vocal in his support for extending unemployment benefits/ Photo courtesy of the White House

Emergency unemployment benefits expired at the end of December and cut off jobless aid to 1.3 million out-of-work Americans. Whether benefits will be extended is now the top debate in Washington. Democrats are unified in support of an extension while many Republicans oppose it. Lawmakers in the Senate have voted to advance debate on an extension, but action is uncertain in the Republican-controlled House.

A three-month extension of the program would cost $6.5 billion, and Republican lawmakers have said that they will only support the extension if the cost is offset with cuts somewhere else in the budget. President Obama, meanwhile, has voiced his support for an extension longer than three months.

Since lawmakers are now debating ways to offset the cost of an extension, we thought we'd share one possibility from our research on tax breaks:

A three-month extension of unemployment benefits would cost $6.5 billion. Lawmakers could more than offset that cost by closing the tax break that allows corporations to defer paying taxes on income earned overseas. Three months of that tax break costs the federal government around $10.4 billion – far more than the cost of the benefits extension.