Ya gotta feel sorry for the House Republicans … it has been be over two weeks that they have been denied an opportunity to vote to Repeal Obamacare … of course in that time, we now know that the sign-ups exceeded the targets, the insurance companies have figured out how to stay very profitable, and new stories keep popping up that those “ads stating that Obamacare cost me my insurance” being false (heck, that should be a surprise as PolitiFact has reported 13 fact-checks on Americans for Prosperity claims and has never received higher than a Half True. The majority of its claims have registered as False or Mostly False.)
But now, the House will gavel itself back into session this Monday at 2 PM … but the real first tough vote won’t occur until after it votes on (per the schedule) H.R. 627 – National Park Service 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act, as amended (Sponsored by Representative Erik Paulsen / Financial Services Committee).
The House GOP has some goals for May as outlined by Majority Leader Eric Cantor … including to “Reform our healthcare system by replacing Obamacare” but also votes on other issues … such as “the House will consider a permanent R&D tax credit bill during the month of May. This will put American companies, especially American manufacturers, on par with their international competitors whom already have permanent R&D incentives. This bill is not only about manufacturing, it is also about the pure sciences, medical research, and STEM advancements that will propel our economy forward.”
Thus, watch for the “refund the Medical Device Excise Tax” to be included in this measure (even though it is unnecessary.)
Tax credits will be the prime order of business … including allowing the credit on amended returns for research done in previous years — yes, this could create jobs … jobs for accountants who specialize in how to amend prior returns to minimize taxes. Accounting firms are helping companies obtain the credit to subsidize redesigning food packaging and other activities that most Americans would see no reason to subsidize. The uncertainty about what qualifies as eligible research also results in substantial litigation and seems to encourage companies to push the intent of the law.
Another aspect of the House tax reform initiative is to address offshore profits.
One of these provisions is the “active financing exception” which ought to be remembered as the “G.E. loophole.” In a famous story reported in the New York Times in 2011, the director of General Electric’s 1,000-person tax department literally got on his knees in the office of the House Ways and Means Committee as he begged for an extension of the “active finance exception,” which allows G.E. to defer paying any U.S. taxes on offshore profits from financing loans.
G.E. publicly acknowledges (in the information it provides to shareholders by filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission) that the company relies on the active finance exception to reduce its taxes.
Keeping General Electric is important to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-08) … after all, it was just earlier this month that GE announced that it will bring 1,400 jobs to Greater Cincinnati area for a new U.S. Global Operations Center, in offices it expects to have built by 2017. GE officials said the company’s strong ties to Ohio and especially to Greater Cincinnati played a big role in the decision to locate here and gave the region an edge in the competition with other states, including Texas, for the new shared services center. Most of the new employees will relocate from elsewhere in the United States, but about 300 new jobs also will be created … understand the math … 300 new jobs … 1100 taken from other states.
Yep, John Boehner wants to extend a Thank You Tax Credit … even if the legislation would increase the deficit by $300 billion over the coming decade.
Another issue highlighted in Majority Leader Cantor’s May plan is a favor for John Kline.
During the week of May 5th, the House will consider H.R. 10, the Success and Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act. This bipartisan bill will modernize our current charter school programs by consolidating two federal programs into one. Through conservative reforms, we will reward high-performing charter schools at the state and local level and permit states more flexibility to allocate federal funds to start charter schools. Under this legislation, states also will have the ability to expand and replicate high-performing charter schools. Every child, no matter their place in life, deserves the opportunity to advance in a school that works. I want to thank Chairman John Kline and every member of the Education and Workforce Committee for their diligent work on this vital piece of legislation and I look forward to a bipartisan vote in the House.
Hmmm … it’s an election year and John Kline now has an endorsed challenger, Mike Obermueller, so better do something … well at least imply that something is being done.
First, let’s remember that this legislation could have been done in January 2013 … why wait for sixteen months?
Second, this is a relatively small amount ($51.5 million)… and is unpaid … meaning that the Appropriations Committee can decide if it wants to actually allow the funds to be spent.
Third, this will be awarded based on State’s applying … so there is no guarantee who will get the monies.
Lastly, the other “big issue” the GOP House wants to promote is sex trafficking.
As Majority Leader Cantor writes :
Human trafficking is modern day slavery and it is happening all too frequently across this country. The federal government has an important role to play in putting an end to this practice which is why the House will take action in May to combat this horrific crime.
* Representative Eric Paulsen’s Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act provides incentives to states to adopt safe harbor laws that treat trafficked minors as victims, and provides an avenue for victims to access protective services, counseling, and skill building rather than being forced into the legal system and facing incarceration.
[Memo to Eric Cantor’s staff, Erik Paulsen spells his name with a “k”.]
Hmmm … yes, it is an election year … who would oppose Congressman Paulsen’s Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act ? (actually it has more Democrat co-sponsors than Republicans)
And once again, this could have been done over a year ago … yet some would wonder if this is the issue will get the funding that it needs ? Remember that funding and support for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is currently provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). And what about the individual states … are they stepping up their efforts as Iowa did last week ?
The President has already spoken out on human trafficking including proclaiming January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and the federal education department is working with the Polaris Project to educate students about the billion-dollar industry. The Obama Administration has requested budget authority for a number of programs … which are at the whims of Congress.
Yet, here’s a question : Would paying a higher minimum wage have an effect on human trafficking ?
How do people become part of sex trade — through force, fraud or coercion.
Runaway, homeless, and disconnected youth are easy targets. Sad to say but more and more children are vulnerable to trafficking due to the economic recession, as well as women and girls in post-conflict and post-disaster settings.
The Polaris Project’s website says, “Sex traffickers frequently target vulnerable people with histories of abuse and then use violence, threats, lies, false promises, debt bondage or other forms of control and manipulation to keep victims involved in the sex industry.”
Take the story of Kylie who contacted the National Human Trafficking Hotline to report information about an individual who had been attempting to recruit students in her massage therapy program. Kylie reported that this individual was offering very high paying jobs in massage businesses to young, inexperienced females and was purposefully not approaching males or older females. After visiting one of the massage businesses, Kylie noticed that several of the females who worked there also appeared to live on the premises and there were security cameras outside and throughout the establishment.
What if there were better paying jobs … would they less likely to be coerced ?
But it isn’t just students. The 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report, which ranked U.S. efforts to combat trafficking in our own country for the first time, highlighted:
“Trafficking occurs primarily for labor and most commonly in domestic servitude, agriculture, manufacturing, janitorial services, hotel services, construction, health and elder care, hair and nail salons, and strip club dancing.”
At present John Kline is protesting the Obama Administration decision to require health / elder care aides to be paid a minimum wage or overtime. (That’s right currently, these home health aides -which are the fastest- growing job classification in our country- are currently exempt even though companies charge consumers approximately twice the hourly rate paid to caregivers thus allowing them to earn 30-40% profit. In addtion, approximately 50 percent of home care workers rely on some form of public assistance to supplement their low wages.)
Should paying a higher minimum wage be part of the solution ?
But in an election year, the key is control the dialogue … focus on tax cuts, funding for schools and opposing sex trafficking … that will motivate the base … meanwhile that means that the Long Term Unemployed still are ignored.
Immigration reform can be ignored.
Background checks on gun purchases can be ignored.
School violence and safety can be ignored.
Fair pay can be ignored.
Voting rights reform can be ignored.
ENDA (employment non-discrimination) can be ignored.
The cost of higher education and the need for early education can be ignored.
And, lastly, the minimum wage can be ignored.
Yes, it is an election year … expect the House to quickly pass their measures so they can enjoy an extended Memorial Day week.