ABC News' Rick Klein reports: Tea Party-backed Senate candidate Joe Miller today added his voice to those who are critical of Democrats' efforts to expand unemployment insurance, and went even further than most candidates in saying that federally backed compensation to the unemployed isn't "constitutionally authorized."
“The unemployment compensation benefits have gotten -- first of all, it's not constitutionally authorized,” Miller, R-Alaska, said on ABC/Washington Post’s “Top Line.” “I think that’s the first thing that's gotta be looked at, so I do not favor their extension.”
Democrats tomorrow hope to extend federal unemployment benefits to those who have been out of work for more than 99 weeks, after Republicans repeatedly blocked similar moves, arguing that Democrats haven’t found corresponding budget cuts.
In questioning the constitutionality of unemployment benefits, Miller appears to be going further than other Tea Party-backed candidates – such as Nevada’s Sharron Angle and Kentucky’s Rand Paul – who have also blasted Democrats for seeking to extend unemployment benefits further than current law provides.
He also said he wants to “transition out” of Social Security over time – but said it’s important not to impact benefits for senior citizens who are already receiving funds through the system.
“I think it's absolutely critical that the government keep its contract with the seniors that are currently dependent on Social Security,” Miller said. “The first, I think, bit of order that we've got to get in place is financial solvency. But yeah -- ultimately, we've got to transition out of the Social Security arrangement and go into more of a privatization. And you know, it's not that radical of an idea. … . It's a system that is broken, and so there does have to be change, there has to be transition. But for now, those that are dependent on it -- we've got to keep those obligations and commitments.”
Miller is running in a GOP primary against Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and has been endorsed by former Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska.
“It's absolutely definite that her endorsement of this campaign has helped us,” Miller said of getting Palin’s endorsement. “It's certainly given us national recognition. Really, in Alaska, what makes campaigns work, though, is the sweat equity that people put into the volunteer networks. It's a very small state, population-wise. We expect in our Republican primary to have probably less than 100,000 votes. So really, what makes these campaigns move forward are the people on the ground.”