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Earl B.
Democrat OR 3

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  • Save American Workers Act of 2015

    by Representative Earl Blumenauer

    Posted on 2015-01-08

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    BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, America's middle class is facing a crisis. Despite the fact that productivity has soared and profits have increased, these gains are not flowing to the vast majority of Americans.

    In 81 percent of America's counties, median income today is lower than it was 15 years ago. After adjusting for inflation, today's average hourly wage has the same purchasing power as it did in 1979, this despite the fact that American workers are producing far more. Productivity has increased 74 percent since 1973.

    There is a reason why the wealth is concentrated at the top. There are a myriad of tiny little changes that have a cumulative effect on the vast majority of American workers. Refusing to raise the minimum wage, attacking the right to unionize, special tax benefits for a few, and today's legislation are all examples.

    No doubt changing the definition of 40 hours for purposes of the Affordable Care Act will benefit a few businesses, but there are far more employees who work 40 hours a week or more than who work 30 to 40 hours, and as has been pointed out by the conservatives at the National Review and The Weekly Standard, it is easier to drop employees to 39 hours a week than to 29 hours a week. This meaning this proposal is going to reduce far more hours of work and wages for whom it matters the most.

    Wages aren't the only benefit at stake. As has been pointed out, according to the CBO, a million workers will lose health insurance through their employer, half of whom will lose it altogether. The other half will be shifted to the government through Medicaid, increasing spending by more than $50 billion over the next decade.

    Mr. Speaker, this would be one of the myriad of policies that further disadvantages America's middle class. This is another step by my Republican friends to deny more people the benefits of that work, widen the divide, and disadvantage not only families today but far into the future.

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