Cathy McMorris-Rodgers on Jobs
Fact Check: This has become a familiar theme by Republicans, but the decline in the labor participation rate is largely due to factors beyond Obama's control--namely the retirement of the Baby Boom generation. When Obama took office in January 2009, the workforce participation rate was 65.7%--and now it is 62.8%. So there has certainly been a decline. But the rate had already been on a steady downward track since it hit a high of 67.3% in 1999.
Just over half of the post-1999 decline in the participation rate comes from the retirement of the baby boomers. Just 15% of the drop in the labor force stems from people who want a job and are of prime working age (25-54).
Fact Check: The GOP fired three separate rebuttal missives at Obama, but the speeches from Rodgers (Wash.) and Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Rand Paul (Ky.) were heavy on personal narratives and partisan rhetoric that don't lend themselves to obvious fact checks. Still, Rodgers' jab at Obama over the economy, as part of the official GOP response, did overlook several key points.
To start, that shrinking labor force she harps on is largely due to a wave of retiring baby boomers--not exactly a development Obama has any role in. And while the latest financial numbers are far from rosy, the White House can hang its hat on the fact that the December 2013 unemployment rate is the lowest in Obama's presidency: 6.7 percent, down from a 10 percent peak in October 2009. Also, the U.S. economy is up 3.2 million jobs since Obama took office.
Opponent's Argument for voting No:
The 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act created a bright line to protect people's right to a 40-hour work week, and make sure that that next hour after 40 hours is paid for with the time-and-a-half of wages. That created the weekend in America. That created the time off that middle class families have taken for granted for decades.
What this bill does is it blurs that line; it creates total chaos in terms of trying to come up with a system to set up ground rules with a case-by-case written contract, and then leaves it to the enforcement of State Labor Departments Wage and Hours Divisions, which are totally incapable of going into the tens of thousands of workplaces all across America.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:
Rep. CHARLES RANGEL (D, NY-15): The House, for weeks, has attempted to save the free world from a fiscal disaster. We have bailed out the banks and those who held mortgages. At the same time, we provided for energy extensions, we provided tax breaks for those people that tax provisions have expired. We provided for hurricane relief, for mental health. So over $1 trillion is out there for this House to ease the pain of millions of Americans.
While we were dealing with these gigantic powers, we overlooked the fact that over the last 12 months the number of unemployed workers has jumped by over 2 million, leaving 10 million Americans struggling for work. These are hardworking people that have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.
Rep. JERRY WELLER (R, IL-11): This important legislation provides additional needed assistance to the long-term unemployed. It's important that we pass this legislation today as our last act before we leave for the election campaign.
This legislation focuses the most additional benefits on workers and States where the unemployment rate is highest and where jobs are hardest to find. This program continues the requirement that those benefiting from extended unemployment benefits had to have worked at least 20 weeks. Americans were rightly concerned about proposals to eliminate that work requirement and allow 39 weeks or, under the legislation before us today, as many as 59 weeks of total unemployment benefits to be paid to those who have previously only worked for a few weeks.
Opponent's argument to vote No:None voiced.
Congressional Summary: Provides for the continuation of agricultural and other programs of the Department of Agriculture through FY2012. Revises agricultural and related programs, including provisions respecting:
This bill lacks fiscal discipline. It continues subsidies for the wealthy and increases farm bill spending by more than $20 billion, while using budget gimmicks to hide much of the increase. It is inconsistent with our trade objectives of securing greater market access for American farmers. [Hence] I must veto H.R. 6124.
Proponents argument for voting YEA: We had a meeting this morning with the Secretary of Agriculture to talk about implementation. So [despite the two vetoes], the work has been going on within the department of agriculture to get ready for implementation.
This is a good bill. It has wide support in the Congress. It does address all of the issues that have been brought to the Agriculture Committee.
Proponents support voting YES because:
The principle at stake here is the freedom that all workers should have to organize for better working conditions & fair wages. There are many employers around the country who honor this freedom. Unfortunately, there are also many employers who do not. These employers attempt to prevent workers from unionizing by using tactics that amount to harassment, if not outright firing. In fact, one in five people who try to organize unions are fired. These tactics are already illegal, but the penalties are so minor, they are not effective deterrents.
Opponents support voting NO because:
Democracy itself is placed at risk by this bill. The sanctity of the secret ballot is the backbone of our democratic process. Not one voter signed a card to send us here to Congress. None of us sent our campaign workers out to voters' houses armed with candidate information & a stack of authorization cards. No. We trusted democracy. We trusted the voters to cast their ballots like adults, freely, openly, without intimidation, and we live with the results. But here we are, poised to advance legislation to kill a secret ballot process.
Let's be clear. Every American has the right to organize. No one is debating that. This is a right we believe in so strongly we have codified it and made it possible for workers to do so through a secret ballot.
Proponents support voting YES because:
We have waited for over 10 years to have a clean vote on the minimum wage for the poorest workers in this country Low-wage workers had their wages frozen in time, from 10 years ago, but when they go to the supermarket, the food prices are higher; when they put gasoline in the car, the gasoline prices are higher; when they pay the utility bills, the utility bills are higher; when their kids get sick, the medical bills are higher. All of those things are higher. They are living in 2007, but in their wages they are living in 1997.
Opponents support voting NO because:
This bill is marked more by what is not in the bill than what is in it. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They create two-thirds of our Nation's new jobs, and they represent 98% of the new businesses in the US. What protection does this bill provide them? None whatsoever.
We can do better. In the interest of sending the President a final measure that provides consideration for small businesses and their workers, the very men and women who are responsible for our economy's recent growth and strength, we must do better.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a public policy organization dedicated to the principles of free markets and limited government, has created a Congressional Labor Scorecard for the 112th Congress focusing on worker issues. The score is determined based on policies that support worker freedom and the elimination of Big Labor's privileges across the country.
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