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Chris V.
Democrat MD 8

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  • Rules of the House

    by Representative Chris Van Hollen

    Posted on 2015-01-06

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    VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague.

    Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely astounding that within minutes-- minutes--of our being sworn in, our Republican colleagues want to pass a rule that will stack the deck in favor of trying to give another big tax cut not to the middle class, but to millionaires, the folks at the very top. That is what their budget does.

    What is equally astounding is that this economic theory of trickle- down economics crashed and burned in the real world between 2001 and 2008. Our Republican colleague says that if you give millionaires these tax cuts, they are going to spend them, and a little bit will trickle down to the middle class and people who aspire to the middle class and boost everybody up.

    That is not what happened. What happened? Sure, the folks who got the tax cuts at the top, they did better. Nobody else did. In fact, real wages went down. What went up? The deficit--and everybody has to pay for that deficit.

    Now, I heard the Speaker this morning say he wanted to deal with the issue of wage stagnation. That is what we should be focused on. We shouldn't be talking about tax cuts for the wealthy and a trickle-down theory. We should try to build this economy from the middle class out and from the bottom up.

    I am glad the Speaker said that because we are going to give him an opportunity to vote for something that will address wage stagnation. I am going to offer a motion at the end of this debate. It is called the CEO-Employee Paycheck Fairness Act, and it addresses this issue.

    If you look back in the 1960s and 1970s, when workers were working hard, they got paid more, but beginning around 1979, they kept working hard, productivity kept going up, but their wages got flat. What happened during the same time? CEOs took care of themselves. Their pay started to go up and up and up. It used to be about 20 times that of the average worker.

    In other words, the CEO and the folks at the top got about 20 times what they were paying their employees, but as you can see, it has now shot up so that CEOs and the top guys get paid about 300 times what their workers are getting paid.

    We have a simple proposition: that corporations should not be able to deduct the bonuses and compensation for their CEOs and other executives over $1 million unless they are giving their employees a fair shake, a fair wage. Right? Why should the taxpayers be subsidizing that? Between 2007 and 2010, they took about $66 billion, thereabouts, in deductions for bonuses for performance pay when they were sometimes laying off employees and cutting their paychecks, so we say: ``Hey, okay, pay yourselves what you want, but if you want the taxpayers to allow you to deduct your bonuses and performance pay, for goodness' sakes, you had better be giving your employees a fair shake.'' Over time, that would close that gap in worker productivity and wages and do what the Speaker said he wanted to do this morning, which is deal with wage stagnation. Let's help the workers, not just the CEOs. Let's vote for the CEO-Employee Paycheck Fairness Act.

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