Weekly Columns

The Job Elimination Act

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Washington D.C., July 18, 2019 | Whitley Alexander (202-225-6356) | comments

One thing that makes America the greatest nation in the world is our belief in the dignity of work. Work can provide purpose in our lives, and we take pride in the work we do. Hardworking Americans can provide for their families because of good-paying jobs. Thanks to our booming economy, overall wages are higher, hourly earnings are up 3.1 percent in the last 12 months, and job opportunities are on the rise with currently 7.3 million jobs available. This is great news, and it’s the result of President Trump’s economic agenda, which included cutting red tape for businesses and promoting growth through lower taxes for individuals and businesses, which I proudly supported.

Instead of working to further grow our economy, everything House Democrats did in Washington this week was an attempt to undermine the president. They are blinded by hatred for the president and do not care if they reverse our economic progress. They are singularly focused on denying him any accomplishments, and you don’t have to look further than the House floor agenda for evidence. This week, House Democrats agenda included voting to condemn the president and holding his advisors in contempt, and many Democrats voted for a resolution to impeach the president. Finally, they capped the week with a bill that could undermine the strongest economy we’ve seen in years.

I helped manage a business for over 30 years. Managing taught me the importance of taking care of hardworking employees, which includes fair compensation. This is how most employers feel today. Despite the overwhelming positive economic news, and despite the evidence that employers are compensating employees fairly, Democrats want to go back to policies that left millions of Americans behind and will eliminate jobs. That’s why today I opposed the Raise the Wage Act, legislation that will more than double the federal minimum wage to $15 dollars per hour.

House Democrat leaders claim this bill will help low-income workers earn a living wage, but in reality, the opposite is true. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which is tasked with estimating how congressional legislation will impact our economy, this bill could eliminate 3.7 million jobs, approximately equal to the population of Oklahoma. Additionally, CBO predicts that total real income would fall by $9 billion by 2025. The people who will be losing jobs and losing wages are predominantly low-income and young people working for the first time. Why on earth would anyone think killing 3.7 million jobs is a good idea?

This bill will have a profoundly negative effect on rural America. For example, the cost of living in Washington, D.C. is 96.1 percent higher than Johnson City, Tennessee. Legislation that increases the minimum wage to $15 will shut down businesses in rural America where they won’t make enough revenue to pay their employees. According to the Employment Policies Institute, raising the wage to $15 in Tennessee will cost around 66,313 jobs, about the population of Johnson City.

For this reason, I offered a bipartisan amendment that would have prevented the bill from taking effect unless the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative arm, could confirm through a study that the bill would eliminate fewer than 200,000 rural jobs. House Democrats wouldn’t even allow my amendment to be debated, which tells you everything you need to know about Democrats’ own expectations for this bill’s effect on jobs.

In addition to rural areas, workers in large cities will also face negative impacts from this legislation. A study concluded that Seattle’s locally implemented $13 per hour minimum wage – $2 shy of what Democrats propose – caused reduced hours in low-income jobs. If it’s been harmful to low-income workers in Seattle, a wealthy city with a robust employment market, we shouldn’t expect different results anywhere else.

Instead of trying to reverse our economy’s progress from the last two years, we should be implementing legislation to give every American tools to seek higher-paying jobs. Tennessee does a great job of this by providing tuition-free community college education, and the University of Tennessee will soon be providing free tuition for low-income households. Investing in America’s future is the best way to get people out of poverty and I hope my colleagues will work with me on legislation to give Americans more opportunities to advance.

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