April 17, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Education & Labor Archive

Bill Would Clear Path for Global Companies to Invest in the U.S. | Commentary

The House this month passed the Global Investment in American Jobs Act and the Senate is currently considering companion legislation. That’s good news for our economy, since this legislation would help clear a path for global companies to invest in the United States.

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GOP Leery of Labor's Push for a Health Care Law Fix

A simmering conflict between organized labor and the Obama administration over the 2010 health care law could drive a wedge between the White House and one of its most reliable backers. Congressional Republicans, on the other hand, are eager to expose the divide and warn the administration they will firmly oppose any attempt to acquiesce to labor’s concerns.

Health Care Plan Dispute Complicates AFL-CIO's Goals

The labor debate over the 2010 health care law comes at an awkward moment, when the AFL-CIO is trying to broaden its reach and join with other left-leaning groups to be more effective at countering conservative movements steeped in the tea party.

Workplace Protections: A Rare Opportunity for Compromise | Commentary

Lawmakers returning to town after Labor Day are facing an agenda filled with political land mines, from threats of a government shutdown over spending to the sequester. But there is one bill that is smooth sailing, enormously popular and so common-sense that Americans are routinely shocked to learn it isn’t already law.

Congress Should Pass Workforce Training Bill | Commentary

The Senate can dramatically improve how workforce development pipelines operate in local communities by approving the Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success Act.

Congress Should Reform Social Security Disability Insurance | Commentary

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, ratified 23 years ago this month, is based on what was then a radical idea: that the physical and social environment people with disabilities face is as much responsible for their inability to fully integrate into society as their health-based impairments. But despite the improvements mandated by the ADA, the employment rate of working-age Americans with disabilities (aged 16-64) hit an all-time low of 14.5 percent in March 2012 (latest number available) — by comparison, it was 28.6 percent in March 1990 and 18.7 percent in March 2007, just before the Great Recession.

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Obama Draws on King Legacy to Push Economic Agenda

President Barack Obama used his address marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington to push elements of his economic agenda as the unfinished business of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “dream.”

Don't Let Tax Reform Keep Students Out of Dorms | Commentary

Recently, Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, started rebuilding the tax code from scratch, aiming to eliminate all existing tax breaks and loopholes. As the code gets rebuilt, the tax benefits associated with Section 529 college savings or prepaid tuition plans could be at risk of being eliminated. 529 plans are designed to encourage early saving for future higher-education expenses, and the tax benefits are an important part of their increasing popularity and success — it is critical that the tax benefits for 529 plans remain intact.

The Need for Parity in Commuter Benefits | Commentary

Members of Congress from both houses and both parties are working to bring permanent parity to pretax benefits for transit and parking. Pretax commuter benefits save millions of middle-class Americans up to 40 percent on the cost of their commute to and from work. As president of WageWorks Commuter Services and former CEO of TransitCenter, one of my primary goals has been to impress on lawmakers the relevance of commuter benefits and the importance of permanent parity. This is ingrained in our vision at WageWorks, where we believe everyone deserves an easier, less expensive commute.

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Obama's 'Grand Bargain' Tax Plan Is Hard Sell to GOP

Lawmakers regarded President Barack Obama’s latest attempt to engage them on an economic proposal as largely irrelevant Tuesday, with neither Democrats nor Republicans viewing it as an actual step forward toward breaking their ongoing budget impasse.

Student Loan Rate Crisis Echoes Subprime Mortgage Mess, Masks Deeper Problems for Youth | Commentary

Much discussion in Washington recently has centered around the doubling of interest rates for student loans from 3.4 to 6.8 percent APR and the fact that Congress has been unable (at least for now) to implement a rate freeze. Yet, doesn’t this debate simply mask the wider problem of higher education — namely that as the cost of tuition continues to rise, the employment value of graduation simultaneously declines?

House GOP Seems Eager to Pass Student Loan Plan

The student loan interest rate legislation approved Wednesday by the Senate appears to face a clear path in the House, where Republicans wasted no time pointing out that the proposal closely mirrors their original plan.

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Detroit's Woes Put New Spotlight on Pension Overhaul Proposals

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah seemed to be trying to spark interest in an issue that was thoroughly on the back burner when he introduced a bill, with no co-sponsors, early this month addressing troubled public pension funds.

A Change in Calculation on Unfunded Liabilities, or Change of Heart?

As a top aide to President George W. Bush, Andrew Biggs argued for allowing workers to funnel payroll taxes into stocks instead of the Social Security trust fund backed by Treasury bonds. But Biggs has now emerged as a leader in prodding public pension funds to use a new gauge — based on Treasury bonds, not stocks — to evaluate unfunded liabilities.

Obama Returns to Economic Themes This Week

President Barack Obama’s vision for a middle-class economic agenda has been knocked off stride in the first six months of his second term, and he’ll try to fix that starting this week and heading into the big budget fights this fall.

Exploitation Isn't 'Cultural Exchange' | Commentary

In a July 15 Roll Call opinion piece, “Don’t Devalue Exchange Programs in Immigration Reform,” Michael Petrucelli argues that the Senate immigration bill was wrong to include basic labor protections for the more than 100,000 student guestworkers who come to the U.S. each year through the J-1 visa program. Petrucelli argues that these workers aren’t really workers, but cultural exchange participants, and that the J-1 Exchange Visitor program isn’t really a guestworker program, but a tool of public diplomacy.

Unless Congress Acts to Restrain the NLRB, Dog Days Are Ahead for U.S. Manufacturers | Commentary

If the National Labor Relations Board has its way, U.S. manufacturers may have their highly integrated workforces carved up into a multiplicity of collective bargaining units at the behest of unions seeking to unionize their employees.

ENDA Has Been Waiting 2 Decades for Passage

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act has been pending in Congress for two decades. Here is a look at the key turning points in the legislative history. 1994: ENDA was first introduced in the 103rd Congress in 1994 with 30 co-sponsors in the Senate and 137 co-sponsors in the House. The bill, though introduced in various forms since then and mainly supported by Democrats, has almost always had at least one Republican co-sponsor. Even in 1994, the proposal had the backing of Sen. Jim Jeffords, a Republican from Vermont who in 2001 became an independent who caucused with Democrats, as well as seven House Republicans. 1996: The Senate held a floor vote on ENDA but it failed by one vote, 50-49. The main sponsor, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., gave an impassioned speech in the chamber, saying: “Today we have the chance to take a meaningful forward step on the road to make America America. We have a really important opportunity to turn our back on bigotry, to turn our back on intolerance, to turn our back on discrimination. We can take an important step in the progress of making America America.” 1998: President Bill Clinton, who had urged Congress in his State of the Union addresses to pass ENDA, signed an executive order that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation for federal employees. 2007: ENDA was introduced for the first time with language that protected gender identity. Though that specific provision was stripped from the bill when it came up for a vote in the House, it marked the first and only time that the proposal passed out of a chamber of Congress. The House supported the bill 235-184, but it eventually died in the Senate, mainly because President George W. Bush threatened a veto. 2013: The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee cleared ENDA on Wednesday, readying it for a vote by the full chamber. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he plans to bring the legislation to the floor swiftly, and the bipartisan support the bill garnered in committee hints at the likelihood that it will pass the Senate.

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Momentum Bolsters Workplace Discrimination Bill

In June, several lawmakers received a visit from Kristin Beck, a Florida native who, after serving for more than 20 years as a male U.S. Navy SEAL, recently revealed her identity as a transgender woman.

On 5th Anniversary of GI Bill, Benefits Need Protections From Unscrupulous For-Profit Colleges | Commentary

Five years ago last week, the Post-9/11 GI Bill was signed into law to honor those who served and sacrificed by giving them a shot at a better future and a chance at the American dream.

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