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Top Small Business Democrats in Congress Back Clinton’s New Plan

Woman Working Business

The two top Democrats on the House and Senate Small Business Committees both released statements praising Hillary Clinton’s newly released small business plan. Hillary Clinton is proposing a comprehensive, job-creating package of reforms and innovations to make it easier to start, grow and sustain a small business. 

“Supporting small businesses is fundamental to growing the economy and creating good paying jobs,” Senate Small Business Committee Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) said. “As a former small business owner and the current ranking Democrat on the Senate Small Business Committee, I’m pleased to see Secretary Clinton’s comprehensive plan to strengthen and grow small businesses by simplifying the tax code, providing access to credit and unshackling the next generation of entrepreneurs from student debt. Hillary Clinton’s plan shows she will be a true Small Business President.” 

“Hillary Clinton has been a fighter for all Americans and this extends to Main Street small business owners,” House Small Business Committee Ranking Member Nydia M. Valazquez (D-NY) said. “She knows entrepreneurship is the cornerstone of our economy. Her small business plan will empower more Americans to pursue dreams of launching their own business, while creating good jobs locally and ensuring our nation remains globally competitive. By contrast, Donald Trump has a history in the private sector of repeatedly shortchanging small firms that did work for his company.  The choice in this election could not be clearer: Hillary Clinton has the experience and vision to strengthen our small business sector and boost entrepreneurship.”

The new proposals reflect what Clinton has heard since one of her first events of the campaign at an Iowa bike shop and across nearly 100 visits to small businesses since. Over a year ago, Hillary Clinton pledged that she would be the “small business president” if elected. Small businesses create around two-thirds of all new American jobs.

Clinton’s plans are aimed at making it easier to start, grow and sustain a small business in America. Her proposals will streamline the process of starting a small business; improve access to financing for small businesses; provide tax relief and simplification for small businesses; incentivize more health care benefits for small businesses and their employees; ensure the federal government is more responsive to small businesses; and, make it easier to fight back when small businesses get cheated.

Clinton and Senator Tim Kaine both grew up in small business-owning families. Clinton’s father ran a small drapery business in suburban Chicago where she grew up, and Kaine’s father ran a small ironworking business in Kansas City where he grew up. Kaine will discuss the new plan during a roundtable with small business owners this morning in Lakewood, Colorado, and Clinton will discuss it on a nationwide conference call with small business owners from all across the country this afternoon.

“Watching my father run a small business in Chicago, and working side by side with small business leaders throughout my career, I’ve seen firsthand how small business owners lift up their communities — but I’ve also seen the daily struggles they face. This is why I am putting forward a plan that will make it easier for people to create a business and for existing business owners to grow and hire,” said Hillary Clinton. “Whether it’s our efforts to streamline regulation and cut red tape so existing small businesses can hire more or our plans for new tax incentives that help new small businesses get off the ground, this plan is a comprehensive look at what small businesses need to succeed.  It’s clear that small businesses are the engine of our economy and strengthening them is key to making an economy that works for every American, not just those at the top.”

Clinton’s new plan would:

  • Streamline the process of starting a small business. It takes longer to start a business in the U.S. than it does in other countries like Canada or Denmark — often because of unnecessary red tape and licensing requirements at the state and local level. Hillary Clinton will offer state and local governments a deal – new federal incentives if they streamline unnecessary licensing and make it less costly to start a small business.
  • Improve access to financing for small businesses. Small business loans comprised just 29 percent of total bank loans in 2012, as compared with 51 percent in 1995. Clinton will work to boost small business lending by streamlining regulation and cutting red tape for community banks and credit unions, which are the backbone of small business lending in America — while also defending the new rules on Wall Street. Clinton’s plan also would allow entrepreneurs to defer student loan payments with no interest while they get their ventures off the ground.
  • Provide new tax relief and simplification for small businesses. Hillary will create a new standard deduction for small businesses—like the one available to individual filers—so they get tax relief without filing as many forms documenting their overhead costs, potentially including transportation, computer and phone use, maintaining an office and more. She will simplify the rules so small businesses can track and file their taxes as easily as filling out a checkbook or printing a bank statement. And the new plan would quadruple the start-up tax deduction to significantly lower the cost of starting a business.
  • Incentivize health care benefits for small businesses and their employees. Clinton would simplify and expand the healthcare tax credit for small employers in the Affordable Care Act, so that even more employers can provide quality, affordable healthcare to their workers. She will make sure that small businesses with up to 50 employees can be eligible for the credit, and she will simplify complex phase-out and eligibility rules so that it’s easier for many more small businesses to get the credit and cover their workers.
  • Ensure the federal government is more responsive to small businesses. Clinton will push the federal agencies to make government more user friendly and treat small businesses like the customer, including by guaranteeing a 24-hour response time to small business with questions about federal regulations and access to capital programs.
  • Make it easier to fight back when small businesses get cheated.  Clinton will stop large companies from using expensive litigation hurdles to deny small businesses their right to a remedy when they’re denied payment for services—and give small businesses recourse to take on predatory behavior.

The full comprehensive proposal is available here.

Defense Workers Update: 5 Things Lawmakers Must Resolve During NDAA Negotiations

AFGE Federal Workers

Policies affecting working people’s pay, benefits, and jobs top AFGE’s priority list in National Defense Authorization Act.

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 270,000 civilian Defense employees nationwide, is highlighting five priorities for House and Senate lawmakers who will be meeting soon to resolve differences in their versions of the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

“The NDAA is a critical piece of legislation that establishes personnel and operational policies for the Pentagon to follow for the coming year,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “Every civilian and military employee in the Department of Defense should be paying close attention to this bill as it moves through the legislative process, because the decisions made here will affect their jobs.”

AFGE has identified five key issues that must be resolved between the House and Senate versions of the NDAA. They are:

1. Pay parity: Ensure equal pay raises for military and civilian workers

Federal civilian employees often work side-by-wide with military personnel and are crucial to ensuring our nation’s defense and security. Therefore, they should be afforded the same annual pay increases as those for the military. AFGE encourages lawmakers to retain the House-passed provision that would provide service members with a 2.1% pay raise in 2017 and to maintain the long-held tradition of pay parity between military and civilian employees.

2. Outsourcing: Maintain privatization ban and oppose commercialization of DoD purchases

Since fiscal 2010, Congress has banned DoD from conducting public-private contracting studies under Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76. This privatization ban was instituted because of systemic problems with the contracting out process and DoD’s failure to produce a full and meaningful inventory of its contractor workforce. Those issues persist, so Congress should reject Senate proposals to remove the A-76 ban and effectively gut the requirement for DoD to produce a contractor inventory.

Lawmakers also should remove provisions in both the Senate and House versions of the NDAA that would allow more defense goods and services to be labeled as “commercial.” This would result in DoD paying higher prices for these goods and services, which would hurt taxpayers, civil service employees and the military.

3. Travel costs: Reverse cuts in travel allowances for military and civilian workers

Thanks to a DoD policy change two years ago, thousands of military members and civilian DoD employees who travel for more than a month at a time now have to dip into their own pockets to pay for routine expenses like lodging and meals. Rather than covering 100 percent of an employee’s nationally established per diem allowance, like other federal agencies, DoD now covers just 75 percent of the per diem for employees traveling between 31 and 180 days, and only 55 percent for employees on travel for longer than 180 days. A provision in the House-passed NDAA would stop DoD from reducing the per diem allowance. This provision should be included in the final bill.

4. Pay and benefit cuts: Oppose downgrading commissary jobs and privatizing Voice of America

In a misguided attempt to cut the costs of operating military grocery stores, lawmakers have proposed downgrading the pay and benefits of the Defense Commissary Agency’s 15,500 civilian employees by changing their funding status from appropriated to non-appropriated. This change would cut employees’ pay by as much as one-quarter, force them to pay significantly more for health care insurance, render them ineligible for retirement benefits, and make it easier to fire them and privatize their jobs. Many of these employees are veterans or spouses of active-duty service members. This proposal must be removed from the NDAA.

Lawmakers also should reject a provision in the House-passed NDAA that would create a private, nonprofit organization to carry out all of the broadcasting and related programs currently performed by the Voice of America (VOA). AFGE opposes this provision because it would result in VOA workers losing their federal employee rights and protections. It is also likely to increase taxpayer costs significantly, as a similar move to de-federalize VOA’s Arabic Service in 2003 resulted on a 10-fold increase in costs without a resulting increase in benefit.

5. Workforce management: Increase financial incentive for employees to retire or resign

Federal agencies that are downsizing or restructuring can offer employees lump-sum payments as an incentive to voluntarily retire or resign. The maximum buyout has been capped at $25,000 since the Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment (VSIP) authority was established in 1993. The Senate version of the NDAA would raise the maximum payment for DoD employees to $40,000 to account for inflation and help DoD efficiently reduce the workforce without affecting mission or readiness. Lawmakers should include this provision in the final bill.

Legislative Committee Fails To Act On Governor Hassan’s “Gateway To Work” Program

Republicans Block The Proposal That Is Strongly Supported by New Hampshire’s Business Community 

CONCORD –Today, the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee failed to act on Governor Hassan’s Gateway to Work proposal, which would have strengthened workforce development in our state and has strong support from the NH Business and Industry Association. An attempt to remove the proposal from the table was defeated by the Republican majority on the Fiscal Committee.

Announced in Governor Hassan’s State of the State Address earlier this year, Gateway to Work will use repurposed existing federal funds to help New Hampshire’s citizens succeed in the workforce through strengthening job training, creating new apprenticeship opportunities, helping remove the barriers that cause too many citizens to fail in the workplace, and helping young people in the Granite State get a leg up on their futures.

“As we educate our young people and build the highly skilled workforce of the future, innovative businesses looking to grow here in New Hampshire need more workers now,” Governor Hassan said at the Gateway to Work kickoff event in March. “We have an opportunity to better use the talent of our own people right here in New Hampshire, helping our businesses thrive while closing the opportunity gap for New Hampshire’s children and families.”

“Through Gateway to Work, we can provide more of the workers our businesses need to thrive,” Governor Hassan said. “We can help give more of our families the opportunity to work their way to self-sufficiency and into the middle class. And we will do so using only existing federal funds, while achieving long-term savings for taxpayers by moving people off of public assistance,” added Hassan.  

The New Hampshire business community has continued to say that New Hampshire does not have enough skilled workers to fill the open jobs currently available now.  Recently the Washington Post highlighted New Hampshire’s growing need for skilled manufacturing workers as the majority of the workforce heads into retirement.

“While New Hampshire’s 2.8 percent unemployment rate is largely a good thing — it’s one of the nation’s lowest — it also means the labor pool is shallow. It’s created a squeeze for manufacturing companies in particular for two reasons: The industry’s workforce is aging at a faster than average rate, while fewer young workers have the proper skills — or interest — to fill the void of retiring workers,” wrote the Washington Post.

Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement after the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee failed to act on Governor Hassan’s Gateway to Work proposal:

“New Hampshire’s continued economic growth depends on our ability to meet the workforce needs of our businesses. As we work to retain existing businesses and attract new ones, the number one concern that I consistently hear from employers is their need for skilled workers.

“Gateway to Work has strong support from the business community because it would move people off of public assistance into sustainable careers, saving taxpayer dollars and providing innovative businesses with the workers they need to grow and thrive. With a strengthening economy and an unemployment rate that is among the lowest in the nation, the business community is desperate for workers. I am disappointed by the Fiscal Committee’s repeated delays with transferring the existing federal funds to launch Gateway to Work, and I am concerned that Republicans on the committee are allowing politics to prevent us from moving forward with this common-sense initiative to fill jobs at growing companies and help close the opportunity gap for New Hampshire’s children and families.”

After the vote, Sen. Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester), member of the Fiscal Committee, released the following statement: 

“I am frustrated and disappointed that the Joint Fiscal Committee played politics with our state’s economy today by voting against transferring TANF dollars to fund the innovative Gateway to Work program.  This program that has strong support from New Hampshire’s business community would have gone a long way towards strengthening our economy by providing potential employees with the skills and services they need to successfully gain employment.”  

“We hear constantly that with an improving economy, the most significant challenge our employers face today is finding skilled workers who are able to take jobs when offered. Gateway to Work targets potential employees who have barriers to employment such as reliable child care and transportation and helps lower those barriers to get them into the workforce. Every day that we delay implementation of this program, we leave both our unemployed constituents and our businesses behind.  We should be doing all we can to help Granite Staters escape poverty and move off of public assistance and towards self-sufficiency, and the vote by the Fiscal Committee today is a step in the wrong direction.” 

“Today’s action by the Republican majority forces our unemployed constituents to stay on public assistance programs instead of finding good employment and leaves our businesses without the workers they need to thrive and expand our economy.”

Representative Mary Jane Wallner (D-Concord) issued the following statement after the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee failed to act on Governor Hassan’s Gateway to Work proposal:

“I am extremely disappointed that Republicans continue to obstruct the implementation of the Gateway to Work initiative. It is a common sense program critical to New Hampshire’s future and should be approved as quickly as possible.

The Gateway to Work initiative would help workers, businesses, and the economy as a whole by investing in job training, apprenticeship opportunities and other supports for hard-working Granite Staters. There is no reason to delay an initiative that benefits everyone: Gateway to Work would help workers to get good-paying jobs, help businesses utilize a skilled workforce, and reduce government spending by moving people off public assistance and into stable careers. Republicans need to stop playing politics with our state’s future and approve Gateway to Work.”

By continuing to block programs like the “Gateway to Work,”  Republicans in Concord are showing that they are less interested in doing what is best for working people and businesses in New Hampshire and more interested in chasing wild conspiracy theories from doctored videos and sticking to their partisan opposition to Governor Hassan.

Republicans routinely complain about having too many people “living off the system” on public assistance and yet oppose one of the strongest proposals to help people “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” by providing them with the skills necessary to find a lasting career that will help lift them out of poverty.

New England Protesters Call Out Donald Trump’s Outsourcing Record and Divisive Rhetoric

Concord, N.H. — Donald Trump’s visit to New England concluded with a stop in Manchester yesterday. Protesters were on hand at every turn to stand against his divisive rhetoric and his businesses outsourcing jobs overseas, despite his claims of favoring American workers.

“Donald Trump’s claims of being for American jobs are utterly disingenuous,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “His companies employ low-wage workers in China, Bangladesh and Honduras, among others, because it means more money in his pockets. It is has been clear that throughout his career and his presidential campaign, he is only out for himself.”

Protesters also sounded the alarm on Trump’s racist and insulting rhetoric on Latinos and Muslims. At the Manchester event, Trump joked that a “Mexican plane” was flying overhead, “ready to attack,” and suggested that he was “looking into” banning TSA workers from wearing hijabs.

Highlights of the protests

New Hampshire

WMUR

 

Eagle Tribune: Trump talks trade in NH visit

Trump and his trade remarks came under fire from the Clinton campaign and Democratic leaders, including New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley.

“New Hampshire, and the United States, deserve a president who will fight for workers and their families, not a fraud who will do anything to get ahead and cares only about himself,” Buckley said. “Donald Trump is unfit to serve as president of the United States, and voters across America will make that quite clear come November.“

NH1


Maine

WLBZ

Portland Press Herald: Trump takes aim at Clinton during raucous rally in Bangor

[Maine Attorney General Janet Mills] said Trump and his companies represent the outsourcing of jobs that has hurt manufacturing in Maine and other states. None of the products he touts or wears is made in the United States, she said.

“Donald Trump has nothing in common with the working men and women of Maine and no interest in helping them,” Mills said. “He has lined his pockets with cheap foreign labor at the expense of Maine workers and American workers. The ‘King of Debt,’ so-called, who says wages are too high, will be no help to the people of Maine.”

WGME


Massachusetts

CBS-Boston: Donald Trump’s Private Boston Fundraiser Target of Protestors

A group of about 100 protesters that included Congressman Michael Capuano and Ayanna Pressley held signs and chanted across the street from the hotel in Post Office Square more than an hour before Trump’s arrival.

NECN: Protesters Gather Outside Trump’s Closed Fundraiser in Boston

“Donald Trump needs to know that his disastrous message on the economy and is bigoted hate speech is not welcome in Boston, it’s not welcome in Massachusetts and that’s what people here want to let him know,” said Dan Hoffer of the Service Employees International Union Local 888.

U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano was among those protesting the real estate mogul outside the Langham.

“This is his welcome to Boston,” the Democrat said of Trump.

New Report Shows The Underlying Issues In The American Workforce

Over the last forty years we have lost millions of high paying manufacturing jobs. Many of these jobs did not require any advanced degrees and any specialized training was down by the employer or the union.

At the same time parents began pushing their children to go to college because in the 1980’s college educated workers were in short supply and were paid accordingly.

Now almost every employer is requiring some level of college education to even be considered for employment. This has created a new problem, underemployment.

Everyone knows about unemployment, the percent of workers who are unemployed and are currently seeking employment. Currently we have a national unemployment rate of 5.5%. Considering that in October of 2009, deep into the great recession, our national unemployment peaked at 10%, 5.5% means we have made great progress.

But have we really? Yes, the number of unemployed people in the U.S. has been cut in half but that is not the entire story.

During the recession when millions were out of work, struggling to pay their bills, people would take any job they could. People with bachelors’ degrees were working at McDonalds just to pay their outrageous student loans. This is what we refer to as underemployment, where a worker is employed in a job below their education and skill level.

underemployment_headerToday, PayScale Inc released a new report, “Underemployed: The War on the American Worker,” highlighting America’s underemployment problem.

“There are many economic indicators followed by business and policy leaders to gauge the health of an economy. One notable such report is the monthly jobs report produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which includes unemployment figures. However, unemployment only tells part of the story. At PayScale, we believe another crucial indicator is underemployment – people who are either working at jobs that don’t leverage their education or seeking full-time work, but are working part-time. Therefore, we created our latest report tying underemployment figures to educational choices, jobs, and gender,” said Katie Bardaro, Lead Economist, PayScale.

To conduct their research PayScale interviewed nearly one million people over a two-year time frame starting in March of 2014.

underemplyment_chart05aPayScale found that 46% of those surveyed consider themselves underemployed. Of these respondents, 76% say they are not using their education or training while 24% say they are working only part-time but would like full-time work.

“There are two underlying themes in this report: The importance of education and the persistence of the gender gap. The report notes underemployment decreases as educational attainment increases. Also, in addition to a pay gap and an opportunities gap, we see the gender gap materialize in underemployment as well: Women report a greater percentage of underemployment than their male counterparts,” added Bardaro.

Education level does make a difference. PayScale found that Medical Doctors have the lowest level of underemployment at 30%. That is a vast difference when compared to the 50% who claim to be underemployed with an Associates Degree.

The report shows that just over 40% of those with a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) report being underemployed. Of the underemployed MBA degree holders, 90% reported they are not using their education and training.

underemplyment_chart10When we break down the numbers by gender, women have a slight edge over men in underemployment. 49% of woman report being underemployed compared to 42% of men. Women are also 7% more likely to be underemployed due to working part-time when they really want to be working full-time.

“These statistics may be a reflection of the gender opportunity gap,” wrote PayScale. “According to PayScale’s research, as employees climb the corporate ladder, men are often promoted more quickly than women, and women generally report more negative feelings about job satisfaction, job stress, and communication with their employers. (Learn more about the gender opportunity gap and the gender pay gap in PayScale’s report, Inside the Gender Pay Gap.)”

You can find out more about PayScale’s report here.

Leo W Gerard: Donald “You’re Fired” Trump, Kills Jobs

After mouthing off in ways that had the effect of repeatedly shooting himself in the foot, Donald Trump tried to recover last week by puffing himself up as the jobs candidate.

“When I see the crumbling roads and bridges, or the dilapidated airports, or the factories moving overseas to Mexico or to other countries, I know these problems can all be fixed,” Trump told a New York audience, “Only by me.”

That would suggest Trump knows how to create infrastructure and manufacturing jobs. American jobs. Good-paying jobs. It suggests he appreciates the value of workers’ contributions to an enterprise. And that he understands the daily struggles of non-billionaires. This proposition is utterly ridiculous. The name Donald Trump is synonymous with the words “You’re fired!” He made money by brutally, publicly taking people’s jobs from them. And he clearly enjoyed it.

2016-06-26-1466952302-5525812-TrumpBlogjobs.jpg

Trump’s most recent victim was was Corey Lewandowski. This employee didn’t suffer the indignity of a televised firing on “The Apprentice.” But Trump did havehis guards visibly escort his former campaign manager out of Trump Tower last week. This after Lewandowski’s experienced guidance helped Trump, a political novice, defeat 16 seasoned Republican contenders.

When Trump got what he wanted out of Lewandowski, he threw the guy out. Trump showed no appreciation for the guy’s contribution to the enterprise. Trump exhibited no sense of loyalty. That is exactly the kind of corporate callousness and betrayal that has embittered American workers for the past two decades.

Workers give their all, go above and beyond to help make corporations like Nabisco and Carrier highly profitable. Then greedy corporations turn on those dedicated workers, close U.S. factories and move production to places like China and Mexico. American workers are left unemployed and billionaire owners like Trump get a few extra bucks.

Trump practices this corporate model. He manufactures Trump Collection products overseas. He makes Trump ties in China. He stiches Trump suits in Vietnam and Mexico. He produces Trump furniture in Turkey. He fabricates Trump picture frames in India. He constructs Trump barware in Slovenia.

That’s more money for Trump, true. But it’s not creating American jobs.

Trump doesn’t care about the slave-wage workers producing his products overseas or the minimum-wage workers unable to scrape by in the United States. When asked if the federal minimum wage of $7.25 should be raised because nobody can live on that little money, Trump said no.

Trump was born with a silver gaffe in his mouth, raised in luxury, set up in business by his father and bailed out by his daddy when he stumbled. He has no idea what living on the minimum wage of $290 a week means. He once had to live on a strict budget of $112,500 a week. That occurred as he neared bankruptcy 26 years ago.

Not only that, the billionaire said Americans’ wages, which have been stagnant for decades, are too high. Trump thinks the truck driver or mechanic or welder who earns $52,000 a year in 2016 is making too much money. But, of course, Trump knows what scrimping is. He once had to live on $112,500 a week.

The same day Trump fired Lewandowski, Moody’s Analytics, a subsidiary of the credit rating and research agency Moody’s Corp., released a report authored by four economists predicting an economic and jobs disaster if Trump is elected president.

Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi, who has worked for both Democratic and Republican politicians, told the New York Times that he and the other authors found Trump’s policies, “will result in a lot of lost jobs,  higher unemployment, higher interest rates, lower stock prices.”

If Trump is elected and achieves all of his proposed policies, the economists projected that he would plunge the country into an economic downturn that would be longer and deeper than the 2008 Great Recession and destroy more than 3.5 million jobs.

That is the opposite of a jobs president.

On Friday, when the world learned that Britons had voted to exit the European Union, Donald Trump hailed the result as a “fantastic thing.”

“I think it’s a great thing that happened,” he said, as financial markets worldwide plunged on the news, and the value of the British pound plummeted to depths not seen since 1985, far below its worst during the Great Recession.

The value of the Euro also dropped, and the American stock market suffered as well, with the Down Jones Industrial Average falling 610 points, the eighth largest loss ever.

Bad stock market news is not good for jobs. And when the pound loses value, British workers get hurt.

But it’s good for Donald Trump. And that’s all he had in mind. He told reporters Friday: “When the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry, frankly.”  He was referring to foreign visitors taking advantage of the currency devaluation to visit his golf course in Scotland.

Even if Brexit drives Europe back into recession and millions once again lose their jobs and their homes, the rich will still play golf at Turnberry. And that’s more money for billionaire Trump. That’s foremost in Trump’s mind.

Worse than Brexit for the global economy would be a President Trump. That’s according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, (EIU) one of the leading firms analyzing threats to the global economy. EIU ranked a Trump presidency riskier to the global economy than Britain leaving the European Union – and in just one day, that event left global markets utterly shaken.

Donald Trump definitely has expertise. It is self-promotion. It is financial self-interest. It is firing people. It certainly is not promoting American workers’ interests, raising their wages or building an economy that would generate family-supporting jobs.

Trump’s NAFTA Baloney

trump-lies-720By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Either Donald Trump is flat fibbing about the North American Free Trade Agreement or he’s clueless about the deal unions say has cost thousands of American jobs.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee wants voters—especially working stiffs–to believe he’ll ditch the trade deal when he’s president.

Trump is short on specifics about how he’d put the kibosh on NAFTA. So let’s get specific.

A President Trump couldn’t repeal NAFTA by himself. Only Congress could. So is Trump just trying to dupe John and Jane Q Citizen into voting for him, or does he really not know how government works?

Either way, the odds of getting rid of NAFTA—or successfully renegotiating the trade pact—would be better under Hillary Clinton, Trump’s almost certain Democratic foe–or Bernie Sanders should he somehow edge Clinton at the finish line.

First some background: Republican President George H.W. Bush finished completing the deal with Canada and Mexico about three months before the 1992 presidential election. Bush was seeking a second term, but he lost to Democrat Bill Clinton.

The spouse of this year’s all-but-certain Democratic presidential nominee, Clinton got behind NAFTA. In 1993, Congress passed the trade deal, and he signed it.

The Democrats enjoyed majorities in the House and Senate, but the Republicans got the NAFTA bill passed. Most Democrats voted against it. The House endorsed NAFTA 234-200; the Senate 61-38.

In the House, 156 Democrats voted “nay” and 102 voted “yea.” Republicans favored the NAFTA bill 132-43. (The naysayers included an independent Vermont congressman named Sanders.)

The Senate split similarly: 28 Democrats opposed the legislation, and 27 were for it. Republicans favored NAFTA 34-10.

Okay, back to the present, where the GOP controls both houses of Congress. Most House and Senate Republicans still favor trade pacts like NAFTA, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which unions also vehemently reject. 

President Barack Obama, a Democrat, favors the TPP, which he says will really create more jobs. Most Democratic lawmakers side with unions and against the president.

Here’s the bottom line: If Trump is elected president, the GOP will almost certainly retain its majorities in both chambers, if not boost them. So the chance of NAFTA’s demise with a Trump presidency is virtually zero.

On the other hand, if Clinton or Sanders wins, the Democrats are apt to increase their House and Senate numbers. If the she or he wins big, the Democrats might take back the Senate and the House—or at least significantly whittle down the GOP’s margin the lower chamber.

The TPP would be toast, and NAFTA would be in big trouble.

Admittedly, Hillary Clinton backed NAFTA when the Big Dog was president. She has since changed her mind.

“Hillary has said for almost a decade that we need to renegotiate NAFTA, and she still believes that today,” maintains a Clinton campaign online Factsheet. “And she would review all of our trade agreements with the same scrutiny.”

The Factsheet also declares that Clinton would “say ‘no’ to new trade agreements that don’t meet her high bar – including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Hillary will hit pause and say ‘no’ to new trade agreements unless they create American jobs, raise wages, and improve our national security. After looking at the final terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, including what it contains on currency manipulation and its weak rules of origin standard for what counts as a car that can get treaty benefits, she opposed the agreement because it did not meet her test. And she will hold every future trade agreement to the same high standard.”

Trump, too has changed his tune. Before he ran for president, he was fine with outsourcing. While he never tires of trashing U.S. companies that ship jobs and production abroad, he’s a big-time outsourcer himself.

Trump flip-flops almost every time he opens his mouth, but he’s shown uncharacteristic consistency on unions. He’s anti-union.

He says he prefers “right to work” states to non-RTW states. Both Clinton and Sanders are staunchly anti-RTW.

While Trump insists union members love him, he’s determined to keep his hotel workers in Las Vegas from having a union. Clinton and Sanders support workers’ right to unionize.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called Trump “a bigot. From his anti-American proposal to ban Muslims to his horrendous comments about women and immigrants, Trump is running on hate. It seems the only group he won’t criticize is the KKK.”

Added Trumka, a former president of the United Mine Workers of America: “Those statements and positions are bad enough. But what’s getting less attention is how Donald Trump really feels about working people…

“First, Trump loves right to work. He said it is “better for the people” and his position is ‘100 percent.’ Meanwhile, he is fighting tooth and nail against workers at his hotel in Las Vegas.

“Second, Trump was a major financial backer of Scott Walker and says he admired the way Walker took on public unions in Wisconsin.

“Finally, and most disturbingly, Trump says our wages are already too high. Can you believe that? Trump is advocating the polar opposite of our raising wages agenda.

You see, Trump says he’s with the American working class, but when you look close, it’s just hot air.”

Our Failure To Invest In Infrastructure Is Actually Costing You Thousands

Crumbling Road

Just drive down the road and you will quickly realize that our roads and bridges are in dire need of repair. However roads and bridges are not the only part of our crumbling infrastructure that needs to be addressed before its too late. Our infrastructure includes water, wastewater, electricity, airports, inland waterways & ports, and rail.

Failure to act“Infrastructure is the backbone of the U.S. economy and a necessary input to every economic output. It is critical to every nation’s prosperity and the public’s health and welfare,” wrote the American Society of Civil Engineers in their new study, Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Future.

“Each Failure to Act study demonstrates that deteriorating infrastructure, long known to be a public safety issue, has a cascading impact on our nation’s economy, impacting business productivity, gross domestic product (GDP), employment, personal income, and international competitiveness,” ASCE added.

Failing to properly invest in maintaining and rebuilding our infrastructure is costing Americans thousands of dollars a year and it is about to get worse.

“From 2016 to 2025, each household will lose $3,400 each year in disposable income due to infrastructure deficiencies.” ASCE warned that if this infrastructure gap is not closed, by 2025, households would lose $5,100 annually and the economy could lose over $4 trillion in GDP.

ASCE 3400 lossIf we do not make the needed repairs today, they will ultimately cost us more in the future. It is the Republican led budget austerity that is leading us down this dangerous path. Since 2002, spending on roads and highways alone has fallen 23%. That is millions of dollars lost in our GDP and thousands of jobs lost, every year, by not investing in our future.

“America is currently spending more failing to act on our investment gap then we would to close it. Inefficient infrastructure is costing every household $9.30 a day. However, if every family instead invested an additional $3 a day per household, we could close the infrastructure investment gap in 10 years,” added ASCE.

“By increasing the investment by $144 billion a year for the next 10 years at the federal, state and local levels, we can upgrade our infrastructure, and protect our GDP, jobs, families’ disposable income and our nation’s competitiveness.”

America cannot wait any longer. The time is now.

Take action by sending a message to your elected leader.

Share this post with the hashtag, #InfrastructureMatters


 

Related reading: Business and Labor Agree: Let’s Fix our Crumbling Infrastructure Now

The DOL To Double Overtime Rule Lifting The Wages Of An Estimated 12 Million Workers

Thomas Perez delivers remarks after President Barack Obama announced Perez as his nominee for Labor Secretary, in the East Room of the White House, March 18, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Thomas Perez delivers remarks after President Barack Obama announced Perez as his nominee for Labor Secretary, in the East Room of the White House, March 18, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

12.5 Million Americans: the number of people that the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates will be affected by President Obama’s changes to the overtime rule.

Today, the Department of Labor, under President Obama’s direction, will update the threshold for salaried workers who automatically qualify for overtime when they work more than 40 hours a week.

“We’re making more workers eligible for the overtime that you’ve earned. And it’s one of the single most important steps we can take to help grow middle-class wages,” said President Obama.

“New overtime protections mark a major victory for working people that will improve the lives of millions of families across America,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “We applaud the Obama Administration heeding the call for action to ensure working people get paid for all the hours we work. Taking this step to restore overtime is one of the many ways we are beginning to change the rules of our economy that are rigged in favor of Wall Street.”

“The fight for even stronger overtime protections and to raise wages for all working people continues. But today, millions of workers will receive a long overdue raise, healthier and more productive jobs, and more time to spend with our community and loved ones,” added Trumka. 

This simple rule change will have a significant impact on our local and national economy. The White House estimates this rule change will put $12 billion dollars into the hands of hard working Americans over the next ten years.

The DOL is lifting the threshold for salaried workers from just over $23,660 a year to $47,476. This means that if you are a salaried employee who makes less than $47,476 dollars you will now be entitle to overtime (time and 1/2) for every hour worked in a week above 40.

This doubles the current salary threshold while being responsive to public comments regarding regional variations in income by setting the salary threshold at the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers in the lowest income Census region (currently the South). Tying the salary threshold to the lowest-wage region of the country has strong historical precedent in previous rulemakings.

This salary threshold will be reevaluated and updated every three years ensuring that if continues to meet the 40th percentile mark.

Employers have used this low salary threshold to cheat workers out of higher wages for decades. Many of these workers routinely work 50-60 hours a week and are paid a flat rate. In some cases salaried workers were putting in so many extra hours, without any additional pay, that their per-hour rate would drop below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Now employers will have to choose between raising the wages of salaried employees or keeping employees at their current salary but reducing the number of hours they work in a week. Reducing the number of hours worked would lead to job growth as employers will need to hire additional workers to fulfill their needs.

Check out this short video from the White House that explain the rule change and how it will effect individual salaried workers. 

EPI estimates that raising the overtime salary threshold will directly benefit a broad range of working people, including:

  • 6.4 million women, or 50.9 percent of all directly benefiting workers
  • 4.2 million parents and 7.3 million children (under age 18)
  • 1.5 million blacks, and 2.0 million Hispanics
  • 4.5 million millennials, defined as workers age 16 to 34 (who make up 28.2 percent of the salaried workforce but 36.3 percent of directly benefiting workers)
  • 3.6 million workers age 25 to 34 (who make up 22.9 percent of the salaried workforce but 28.7 percent of directly benefiting workers)
  • 3.2 million workers with a high school degree but not more education (who make up 15.5 percent of the salaried workforce but 25.3 percent of directly benefiting workers)

This is a monstrous step in the right direction to lift the wages of millions of Americans. The White House estimates that the new rule is expected to extend overtime protections to 4.2 million more Americans who are not currently eligible under federal law.

The new rule is slated to take effect on December 1st of this year.


Below are a couple of charts from the EPI that break down what industries will see the biggest boost from this new rule change and the number of workers impacted by the new rule, state by state.

In New Hampshire, over 54,000 workers will be directly effected by this new rule change.  Texas, Florida and California will see the biggest increases with over 1 million workers benefiting from this change.

Leo W Gerard: Failure of Korean Trade Deal Voids TPP

On the fourth anniversary of the Korean trade deal, its lofty promises have been revealed as putrid pie in the sky:  More jobs lost. No exports gained.

Just like NAFTA, just like China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), free traders swore that the Korean deal would shower jobs and economic prosperity down on America.

It didn’t happen. Actually, the exact opposite did. In all three cases, the schemes enticed corporations to close American factories and offshore work. That enriched CEOs and shareholders. But it impoverished millions of American workers and bankrupted communities.

Now, a backlash is evident in the groundswell of support for insurgent presidential candidates on both the left and right who denounce these failed free trade policies. This is an uprising against a quarter century of Washington, D.C., based free-trade boosterism. Its first victim should be the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive scheme between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries.

EPI chart

“It’s gonna be great!” That’s what the TPP groupies keep saying. Just like the NAFTA junkies did. Remember when the free traders breathlessly said letting China in the WTO would open up its market of a billion consumers to U.S. manufacturers? Instead, tens of thousands of American factories have closed and China is selling its iPhones, televisions and steel to American consumers.

The deal with Korea is the most recent example of just how badly free traders hurt American workers and communities. The promise from free trade promoters was that the Korean deal would expand U.S. business opportunities and “support” 70,000 American jobs. The U.S. International Trade Commission estimated exports to Korea would rise by at least $10 billion.

None of that happened. U.S. exports to Korea have been flat for the entire four years. Meanwhile, imports from Korea rose 26.8 percent. As a result, the U.S. trade deficit with Korea more than doubled in just four years.

That means American workers lost jobs. Instead of Americans manufacturing commodities, Koreans did. Then the goods were shipped to the United States duty free under the deal that was supposed to be so great for American workers.

Robert E. Scott, senior economist and director of trade and manufacturing policy research at the Economic Policy Institute, calculated that in just four years, thattrade deficit with Korea cost 95,000 Americans their jobs, mostly in manufacturing.

Free traders bragged at the time the Korean deal was signed that it would finally give American car and parts manufacturers access to the Korean market. And if an increase of less than $1 billion worth of vehicle and parts exports to Korea over four years is access, then it’s a success. By contrast, imports of Korean cars and parts to the United States increased by $10.6 billion over the same period. Frankly, that’s ten times more successful. For Korea.

That’s not the kind of news that devastated former car and car part manufacturing towns like Flint and Ypsilanti, Mich., want to hear after that 70,000-job promise made by those Korean free trade deal pushers. It’s certainly not good news either to devastated steel towns like Duquesne and Monessen, Pa., where the metal for cars and car parts was once forged.

The abject failure, the upside-downness of the Korean deal, is illustrated by these two statistics: The U.S. trade deficit with all nations over the past four years declined slightly, by 5 percent. At the same time, the trade deficit with Korea surged up 115 percent.

Clearly, something is very, very wrong with the Korean deal. And with NAFTA, which is still sucking manufacturers like Carrier over the border to Mexico, a corporate desertion announced in February that will cost 2,100 American workers their jobs at two Indiana plants.

And, similarly, clearly something is wrong with China’s entry into the WTO, considering that U.S. Steel Corp. just filed a petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission asking it to outlaw all Chinese steel because of numerous violations, including five Chinese military officials hacking into the corporation’s computers to steal trade secrets.

All of the free trade schemes had the same bad effects. But each time a new one is proposed, like the TPP, its cheerleaders say, “No, no, trust me, this one is the one. This time it’s going to be great!”

Dean Baker, co-director of Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), and CEPR economist David Rosnick suggested a reason for this. The free traders keep using the same rosy, but broken model to predict results from proposed trade deals.

That rosy model claims that gains to the U.S. economy from the TPP would be 0.5 percent of GDP when the impact of the agreement is fully realized in 2030. By contrast, another model by different economists found that the deal would cause a loss in GDP of .54 percent by 2025 and cost the United States 448,000 jobs. Frankly, based on experience from NAFTA, China and the Korean deal, the second, less-perky model seems much more realistic.

And that’s what Baker and Rosnick pointed out. They compared the projections from the rosy model to what actually happened. They found the model failed, both for Korea and NAFTA. That raises serious questions about why anyone is using it to predict rosy results for the proposed TPP deal.

The first step toward achieving trade deals that work for American workers is admitting that what’s going on now has failed. The process is flawed beginning with who sits at the bargaining table – that would be corporate lobbyists, not laid-off auto workers from Flint. Every one of the TPP’s 5,544 pages should be shredded. Then negotiators, including all stakeholders, can concentrate on seeking fair deals under which American workers, American communities and American businesses all prosper.

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