Last week, we were reminded once again of the persistent challenges facing the American people. The Department of Commerce reported that the economy grew a meager 2.6 percent in the last quarter of 2014. According to the Wall Street Journal, we have now experienced nine straight years of growth below three percent.
This anemic economy is hurting families across the country; it’s hurting nearly nine million workers who remain unemployed; it’s hurting more than six million workers who need full-time jobs but can only find part-time work; it’s hurting moms and dads trying to pay the bills and put food on the table with smaller paychecks.
As workplaces continue to struggle, so do the nation’s schools. One out of five students will drop out of high school before receiving a diploma. Making matters worse, far too many students graduate without the knowledge and skills they need to pursue higher education or compete in the workforce. Meanwhile, college costs continue to soar, and graduates are leaving college with too much debt and too few job prospects.
These are tough problems that have been around for years, and unfortunately, the president’s policies are making them worse. The Obama administration continues to pursue new rules and regulations that jeopardize employee rights, stymie growth, and make it harder for employers to raise wages and create new jobs. A convoluted waiver system is creating more confusion and uncertainty in K-12 schools and flawed regulatory schemes will deny students access to the college or university of their choice.
And just this week, the president put forward a budget proposal that calls for more spending, more taxes, and more borrowing to create new government programs. Middle-class families are being squeezed, and a larger federal presence in classrooms and workplaces is not the answer. The president wants us to double down on the failed policies of the last six years. The American people deserve better. We need to do better.
We must provide employers certainty and flexibility so they can grow their businesses, create new jobs, and give workers the raise they’ve earned. We must help more students pursue the dream of a college degree without living a nightmare of debt and unemployment. We must advance K-12 education reform that empowers parents and places more control in the hands of teachers and local decision-makers. We must modernize our pension system and hold the administration accountable for policies that make it harder for individuals to succeed in school and the workplace.
The American people are desperate to move the country in a new direction; they are not willing to accept slow growth and stagnant wages as the new normal; they deserve bold solutions that will lead to a strong, vibrant economy, more good paying jobs, and higher incomes for working families. These are the priorities shared by most Americans and they must be our priorities as well.
In the coming months, we intend to advance responsible reforms that will help make a difference in the lives of students, employers, teachers, and working families. We have an excellent panel of witnesses to tell us what’s working and what isn’t, and to help inform our efforts moving forward. Again, I want to thank our witnesses for joining us and look forward to our discussion.
OBAMACARE REPEAL SAVES SMALL BUSINESS WAGES
WASHINGTON – Following today’s House passage of H.R. 596 to repeal Obamacare, Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) said:
“This year, America’s small businesses will pay the price of Obamacare’s employer mandate. While they’re already paying more than $11,000 per employee just to comply with federal regulations, Obamacare is expected to lower small business employee wages by at least $22.6 billion annually. This is a law American families couldn’t afford when it passed, and in the last 5 years, it’s only gotten worse.
“Half of America’s workforce relies on small businesses to put a roof over their head, food on the table, and plan for the future. These hardworking Americans need health care solutions that will actually lower costs and improve care, and that is impossible so long as Obamacare is hanging over their heads.”
“Every child in every school deserves an excellent education,” said Chairman Kline. “Unfortunately, our nation is falling far short of that goal, and countless children are paying the price. This proposal provides an opportunity to chart a new course, one that places less faith in the Department of Education and more faith in the parents and education leaders who know best how to address the needs of their children. The Student Success Act will provide moms, dads, teachers, and administrators the support and flexibility they need to deliver students an education that prepares them for a lifetime of opportunity and success.”
“Continuing to leave students, states, and school districts tied to a failing law is unacceptable,” said Rep. Rokita. “This bill is designed to restore educational control to its proper place and reduce the federal government’s intrusion into our classrooms. By empowering families, teachers, and local school districts, we can place more students on a successful path. With more than a decade since any reforms have been enacted, I see advancing the Student Success Act as an example of why I came to Washington as part of ‘the new crew’ – to help Americans build better lives for themselves by reducing the footprint of the federal government.”
Chairman Kline continued, “Over the last four years, the committee has held more than a dozen hearings that examined the challenges facing K-12 classrooms. Americans have waited long enough for reforms that will fix a broken education system. We have a lot of work to do, and now is the time to get started. Today marks an important step toward a new law that will better serve educators, parents, and students. As the legislative process unfolds, I look forward to working with my Republican and Democrat colleagues and considering their ideas for improving the law.”
Student Success Act:
- Replaces the current national accountability scheme based on high stakes tests with state-led accountability systems, returning responsibility for measuring student and school performance to states and school districts.
- Ensures parents continue to have the information they need to hold local schools accountable.
- Consolidates more than 65 ineffective, duplicative, and unnecessary programs into a Local Academic Flexible Grant, helping schools better support students.
- Protects state and local autonomy over decisions in the classroom by preventing the Secretary of Education from coercing states into adopting Common Core or any other common standards or assessments, as well as reining in the secretary’s regulatory authority.
- Strengthens existing efforts to improve student performance among targeted student populations, including English learners and homeless children.
- Empowers parents with more school choice options by continuing support for magnet schools and expanding charter school opportunities, as well as allowing federal funds to follow low-income children to the traditional public or charter school of the parent’s choice.
To learn more about the Student Success Act, click here.
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Thune and Upton to President Obama: “Working Together to Craft Sustainable Protections Will Have Lasting Benefits for Our Country and Internet Users”
Workplaces and schools across the country face significant challenges. More than eight million workers are unemployed, while another 6.8 million individuals are working part-time hours when they need full-time jobs. Wages remain stagnant and economic growth slowed in the last quarter of 2014. Meanwhile, approximately one out of five students will drop out of high school before receiving a diploma. Those who do graduate are often unprepared to pursue a postsecondary education and compete in the workforce.
To help the country move in a new direction, Congress is advancing reforms to improve education for America’s students and expand opportunity for working families. Wednesday’s hearing will allow committee members to learn about efforts by state leaders to strengthen education and spur job creation.
For more information on Wednesday’s hearing, visit edworkforce.house.gov/hearings. To watch a live webcast of the hearing, click here.
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The Honorable Mike Pence
State of Indiana
Dr. Michael Amiridis
University of South Carolina
Mr. Drew Greenblatt
President and CEO
Testifying on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers
Dr. Lawrence Mishel
Economic Policy Institute
A budget reflects priorities, and it’s clear the president’s priorities continue to be more spending, more taxes, and more government. This budget would perpetuate what we’ve experienced in recent years: an anemic economy, sluggish job growth, and stagnant wages. Middle-class families are being squeezed, and the president wants to double-down on the same failed policies of the last six years.
The American people deserve better. We need to do better. We must provide employers certainty and flexibility so they can grow their businesses, create jobs, and give workers the raise they’ve earned. We must help more students pursue the dream of a college degree without living a nightmare of debt and unemployment. We must advance K-12 education reform that empowers parents and places more control in the hands of teachers and local decision-makers.
Far too many students are trapped in failing schools, and workers are struggling to pay the bills and provide for their families. While the president has missed another opportunity to unite us as a country and begin tackling these tough challenges, Congress will move forward with commonsense reforms that will help make a difference in the lives of students, workers, teachers, and job creators. That is what the American people expect, and that is precisely what Congress will aim to do.
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Will the High Court Permit Backdoor Regulation of Natural Gas Industry Via State-Law Antitrust Suits?
WASHINGTON, DC - The number of people injured from Takata’s exploding airbags is higher than previously thought, according to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).
And one in four of all injuries and deaths occurred in Florida, where high humidity is thought to be a contributing factor in the airbag failures.
According to docume...
Recent reports that 100 million Verizon customers may have been spied on by an advertiser has spurred several key senators to demand an immediate and full explanation from the phone industry giant.
In a letter sent today to Verizon Chief Executive Officer Lowell McAdam, U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson, of Florida, Edward Markey, of Massachusetts, and Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, and Brian Schatz, of Hawaii, all Democrats on the Commerce Committee - want to know whether the company intends to keep using “s...