Like many of the bills that will be introduced in Congress in 2009, the Middle Class Opportunity Act was introduced before but never became law. Why? Because Republicans had the ability to filibuster extreme leftist legislation and Bush held veto power should the Republicans be caught napping. Without that ability anymore, Democrats are trying their luck at the same legislation again and it appears that they will be able to enact whatever they want to. One such bill is the Middle Class Opportunity Act which did not receive much attention in 2007 and hasn’t, yet in 2009, but it will.
The Middle Class Opportunity Act of 2009 has a variety of tax reform goals along with pro-EFCA flavoring (“ensuring workers can exercise their rights to freely choose to form a union without employer interference”).
The one great period of broadly shared prosperity in U.S. history remains the three decades following World War II, which, anything but coincidentally, is the one period in which America had high levels of unionization. The business lobby is throwing big money into ads opposing the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would make it easier for workers to join unions, but one concern it has neglected to address is how the United States can again become a land of broad-based affluence with private-sector unionization at is current 7 percent level. There is no historic precedent for mass prosperity absent mass collective bargaining. The model cannot be constructed.
Happily, Barack Obama seems to have learned the right lessons from America’s economic history. He knows that the stimulus package needs to be big enough to compensate for the collapse of bank lending. He knows that unemployment insurance and food stamps cannot be allowed to run out. He supports the EFCA as a way to boost Americans’ income.
I digressed. Today is supposed to be about the Middle Class Opportunity Act. EFCA discussion is reserved for Tuesdays – but just to set the record staight, just like how business is trying to thwart EFCA’s passage, labor is spending tremdous sums of money lobbying for EFCA’s passage.
The 2009 Act is almost identical to the 2007 Act, and since there isn’t much coverage about either of the Acts, I turn to commentary about the 2007 Act. In 2007, the Act was touted as providing tax relief for middle class families to help them manage the crunch in balancing work and family, save for their retirements, and achieve their aspirations. The text of the bill is short, but clear:
To improve the lives of middle class families and provide them with greater opportunity to achieve the American dream.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Middle Class Opportunity Act of 2009′.
SEC. 2. SENSE OF CONGRESS.
It is the sense of Congress that Congress should enact, and the President should sign, legislation to improve the lives of middle class families and provide them with greater opportunity to achieve the American dream by—
(1) providing middle class tax relief while making the tax laws simpler and more reliable;
(2) promoting investments in the new economy and enacting policies that create good, well-paying jobs in the United States;
(3) enhancing the incentives and protections to help middle class families adequately meet their needs in retirement;
(4) improving programs to help families acquire the education and training to be productive participants in the modern economy;
(5) promoting families by improving the access and affordability of child and elder care;
(6) restoring fairness, prosperity, and economic security for working families by ensuring workers can exercise their rights to freely choose to form a union without employer interference; and
(7) removing barriers to fair pay for all workers.
It’s interesting that this is perhaps the first bill I’ve written about that is not directed at employers. But Democrats still infused this tax bill with EFCA and easing the ability to form and join unions. I cannot say it enough: the Union are coming. EFCA is going to pass. You must educate your employees about the perils of unionization before it’s too late.
Thanks to Russ Brown for putting this legislation on my radar. Let me know what you think about this and Mr. Meyerson’s comments. I don’t claim to be a historian of periods of prosperity in this country and would like to hear any counterarguments to his allegations.