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Saturday August 06, 2011 | 06:52 PM

Rep. Mike Michaud isn’t selling it as cure all for the economic woes that are ailing the nation – and the world for that matter – but the Maine Democrat from the 2nd district is proposing legislation he says will provide some help to unemployed workers.

Michaud says dislocated workers should not be taxed on either their unemployment benefits or federal trade adjustment assistance benefits. He also wants people who have been unemployed for more than six months to be able to take penalty-free withdrawals from their 401(k) retirement plans.

Michaud introduced the bill as Congress is on its August recess, and thus far has one original co-sponsor, Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson of California. He does not yet have an official cost attached to the bill, and his office says Michaud will be working to build support and find ways to move the proposal forward later this year.

Michaud cites figures showing that for every $1 spent on unemployment insurance, $1.63 is generated in economic demand. But a person getting $295 a week in unemployment benefits pays $118 a month in federal taxes, and sometimes states levy their own taxes on unemployment benefits. according to Michaud.

"This bill represents a commonsense way to provide additional relief to unemployed workers that are facing incredibly difficult financial situations,” Michaud said in a statement.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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