• Extending Emergency Unemployment Insurance for Americans Looking for Work. At a time when we as a nation should be moving forward in our efforts to help those who are long-term unemployed find new jobs, we should never have taken a step backwards by abruptly cutting off their unemployment insurance. The President urges members of both parties to come together right now to at a minimum pass a bipartisan three-month extension under consideration in the Senate. By temporarily extending emergency unemployment insurance for three months, this bipartisan bill will provide benefits for over 2 million Americans when they need it most, including the 1.6 million Americans who have already lost access to these benefits since the program expired at the end of last year.
• Raising the Minimum Wage to $10.10. The President will continue to call on Congress to pass the Harkin-Miller plan to raise the Federal minimum wage for working Americans in stages to $10.10 and index it to inflation thereafter, while also raising the minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in over 20 years. The President knows this is important for workers and good for business.
• Rewarding Hard Work by Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). President Obama’s Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit expansions benefit 15 million families each year, providing an average tax cut of about $800. The President is now calling on Congress to pass a significant increase in the EITC for workers without children, including non-custodial parents. Currently, workers without children qualify for a maximum credit of about $500, which phases out at very low incomes. The President is proposing to encourage work and reduce poverty by raising the maximum credit and making the EITC available to more low-wage workers to provide a more meaningful work incentive.
• Removing Retirement Tax Breaks for the Wealthiest While Improving Them for the Middle Class. About half of all American workers do not have access to workplace retirement savings plan. Furthermore, our tax incentives mostly benefit high-income individuals already well-positioned for retirement, allowing them to reap tens of thousands of dollars more in tax breaks than middle-class families. The President’s budget will propose to establish automatic enrollment in IRAs (or “auto-IRAs”) for employees without access to a workplace savings plan, in keeping with a plan that he has proposed in every budget since he took office. And, the President wants to work with Congress to make sure that when we take steps to reform our tax code that we also reform upside-down retirement tax incentives.
• Supporting Workplace Fairness for Women. The President reiterated his call for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act that would strengthen the Equal Pay Act and give women more tools to fight pay discrimination. The Administration will also continue to work to ensure that having a baby does not jeopardize a woman’s job, and that more hard working Americans can have access to paid leave in order to take care of family members and themselves. Because the President knows that when women succeed, America succeeds.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.