Week Ending June 1, 2012
Extending Bush Tax Breaks for Earnings between $250,000 and $1 Million Would Costs Federal Government $366 Billion
New data released by Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation reveals that if Congress restricts the expiration of the Bush-era tax breaks merely to annual incomes above $1 million – rather than President Obama’s proposed threshold of $250,000 for joint filers – the federal government’s revenue loss would be $366 billion over 10 years, or 44%. Given that the entire $366 billion would benefit high earners, this would be an enormous tax break for the wealthiest 2%. Lower tax revenues affect funding for health care, education, law enforcement and other vital priorities, as well as being a primary driver of federal budget deficits. This tax issue is moving atop the summer congressional agenda because all of the Bush tax breaks are scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, 2012. AFSCME strongly supports allowing the Bush tax breaks to expire as scheduled on Dec. 31, 2012 for income above $250,000 for joint filers and $200,000 for single filers.
Recovery Act Added Up to 1.5 Million Jobs in First Quarter of 2012
Thanks to the AFSCME-supported American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) championed by President Obama, federal funds to states continue to help prod a rough economy forward. According to a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Recovery Act increased the number of jobs between 200,000 and 1.5 million during the first quarter of 2012 (January to March 2012). In addition to saving and creating jobs, the CBO has concluded that the Recovery Act has increased the number of hours worked. The report estimates that the combination of the increase in jobs and the increase in hours boosted the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by between 300,000 and 1.9 million from January 2012 to March 2012.
House Blocks Equal Pay Vote; Senate Set to Vote Tuesday
The House GOP leadership blocked the opportunity for a vote on The Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 1519), which would end pay discrimination in the workplace. Earlier in the week, the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee held a hearing on the gender wage gap and the bill, with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) delivering the message, “women and economic growth: they simply go together.”
The Senate Paycheck Fairness bill (S. 3220) is scheduled for a vote on June 5. It strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) by barring retaliation against any workers – both male and female – who voluntarily discuss or disclose their wages. And, it would allow women to receive the same remedies for sex-based pay discrimination that are currently available to victims of race and ethnicity-based discrimination. It would also provide training and technical assistance to prevent discrimination.
House Panel Examines Barriers to Lowering Health Care Costs
A House subcommittee held a hearing on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and lowering health care costs for employers and workers. Small business owner Jody Hall, of Cupcake Royale and Verite Coffee in Seattle, Washington, testified about the unfair economic advantage of employers not offering health care coverage. She also testified that the ACA’s health insurance exchanges will bring down health care costs. During the hearing, Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) argued against decades of current federal tax rules which help to promote employer-sponsored health care coverage for millions of Americans.
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