Two Thumbs Up for Republican version of helping working families; 5 Thumbs Down

Last night, I had a dream that the Republican Party finally started representing people with incomes below $1 Million a year. Behold! The Republican Party today announced a series of…the stale old political objectives of the 1% covered with pretty new wrapping paper. 

Let’s take a stroll through legal and political history together to see what I mean. My comments are in bold type, like this. 

By Olivia LaRosa, June 20, 2014

Senate Republicans on Wednesday rolled out their own policy agenda for middle-class voters in an effort to counter the Senate Democrats’ 2014 platform, “A Fair Shot for Everyone.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) led a news conference Wednesday morning to unveil GOP solutions for working families.

The campaign-year initiative consists of six bills designed to retrain mid-career workers, give families more flexibility and provide tax breaks for home offices that include baby cribs.

Me: THUMBS UP! And while you are at it, repeal the requirement that people have to use one computer solely for business, and another for personal work. That would help many more people than this “baby crib” exception (see below) that no one pays attention to anyway. 

“Some of our members wanted to come together today to talk about some Republican proposals that could immediately be acted upon to improve the lives of working families who are struggling in the Obama economy,” McConnell told reporters.

Me: THUMBS DOWN! It isn’t the Obama economy. It’s Congress’s economy. Congress has the power to tax and spend. See: US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8.

McConnell on Wednesday introduced the Working Parents Home Office Act, which would allow parents to deduct costs associated with a home office that has a baby crib. Current law disallows a deduction if there is a crib in the office while the parent is working.

“These are just the kinds of things that could make a difference in people’s lives now,” he said.

Me: THUMBS UP! See THUMBS UP #1. I still think that repealing the silly law about having to use separate computers for business and personal would help more families. 

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has introduced the Forty Hours is Full Time Act, which would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s 30-hour workweek rule.

Me: THUMBS DOWN! This “40 hours is Full Time Act” is designed to prevent families from obtaining healthcare through the Affordable Care Act even if they are prevented from working 40 hours a week by their employers. Employers/contractors win.  

How does this help working families? Employers now can avoid offering benefits by limiting worker hours and the worker has no say, even without this meaningless bill. Here’s what’s gonna happen. A few million dollars will be spent challenging the law, if passed. It will go to the Supreme Court, which has already ruled that the ACA is legal and is Federal law. That doesn’t mean much, but as Labor Law is Federal, not State, it still means something. 

How can anyone claim with a straight face that this bill helps families? What are the odds that this bill will ever go into effect as a law? 1000/1

A “liberal” Republican offers this useless bill. 

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has introduced legislation, the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills Act, to reform the federal government’s Jobs Corps and other adult education and vocational rehabilitation programs.

Me: THUMBS DOWN until proven innocent. Whenever a Republican talks “reform” they mean “privatization.” What privatization means is that services formerly offered by public entities are sold off to corporations whose only motive is earning a profit FOR THEMSELVES. Service deteriorates or is actually shut down, as happened in Detroit this week, when thousands of families lost water service. So, this is likely another privatization bill. Employers/contractors win.  

Then the government (that means YOU) has to spend money to remediate the poor service AND likely pay off the contractor for the lost business opportunity. How does this help working families? 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) offered the Raise Act, which would amend the National Labor Relations Act to allow employers to give merit-based raises to employees even if those compensation increases are not part of collective bargaining agreements.

Me: THUMBS DOWN. Pure political theatre. Union workers are entitled to merit raises right now. Another useless bill. No help for working families here, either. Score! employers/contractors.  

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) has endorsed an alternative to the Democrats’ Paycheck Fairness Act. It includes language to prevent employers from retaliating against workers who discuss or inquire about their salaries. It also would not raise caps on punitive damages that employees may seek in courts, a key provision of the Democratic bill.

Me: THUMBS DOWN. More political theatre.   All this bill does is gut enforcement action against employers who engage in illegal acts against employees. It is designed to counteract the teeth in the Democratic proposal and nothing more. Employers who retaliate for legal activities of employees should pay. No help here. Score! employers/contractors. 

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) is pushing the Working Families Flexibility Act. It would let employers offer workers the option of comp time or overtime pay. It would require employers to establish written agreements allowing employees to choose the option that best fits their needs.

Me: GREAT BIG THUMBS DOWN. Employers have been trying to eliminate overtime rules for nearly a century now. We got overtime rules because employers abused us by making us work until we died. This bill is nothing more than a stalking horse to kill overtime pay, which often keeps families above the poverty line. How does this help working families? 

In conclusion, I see that my dream has turned into a nightmare of empty suits full of empty promises. Don’t be fooled by the fancy words. This is not a Fair Shot. It’s a boatload of snake oil and fake populism designed to keep corporations at the head of our government. It’s just an old tired Trojan horse that has turned into a zombie. Score! employers/contractors. 

You can’t fix things by not fixing them. You cannot claim to offer help when you do the opposite. The changes in government and economic systems have always occurred, always, because the people at the top got too greedy. Start supporting politicians who want BETTER government. No one cares how big it is if it works properly. 

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