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Letting Employers Off the Hook

— by Rich Dunn, NVRDC 2nd Vice Chairman

H.R. 2575, the “Save American Workers Act” (which is a bill, not an act), would change the definition of “full time” under the ACA from 30 to 40 hours, allowing employers to evade the health care mandate entirely simply by lowering hours worked to 39½. Needless to say, this bill has zero chance of ever becoming law while Barack Obama is president.

H. R. 2575:  To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the 30-hour threshold for classification as a full-time employee for purposes of the employer mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and replace it with 40 hours.
1. Short title
This Act may be cited as the Save American Workers Act of 2014.
2. Repeal of 30-hour threshold for classification as full-time employee for purposes of the employer mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and replacement with 40 hours
(a) Full-Time equivalents
Paragraph (2) of section 4980H(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended—
(1) by repealing subparagraph (E), and
(2) by inserting after subparagraph (D), the following new subparagraph:
(E) Full-time equivalents treated as full-time employees
Solely for purposes of determining whether an employer is an applicable large employer under this paragraph, an employer shall, in addition to the number of full-time employees for any month otherwise determined, include for such month a number of full-time employees determined by dividing the aggregate number of hours of service of employees who are not full-time employees for the month by 174.
(b) Full-Time employees
Paragraph (4) of section 4980H(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended—
(1) by repealing subparagraph (A), and
(2) by inserting before subparagraph (B), the following new subparagraph:
(A) In general
The term full-time employee means, with respect to any month, an employee who is employed on average at least 40 hours of service per week.
(c) Effective date
The amendments made by this section shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013.
Passed the House of Representatives April 3, 2014.

It’s not clear that this bill would necessarily make a lot of difference in the real world, since 98% of large employers already provided health coverage to their full time employees before the ACA imposed the mandate, but it has become so expensive that if one company did it, others might follow to stay competitive.

But even without this change, some companies might decide to just pay the penalty and dump their employees on the exchange, where the subsidies would (like food stamps) amount to just another layer of corporate welfare. The penalty (around $2,000 per employee) is far lower than the cost of health care (around $10,000 per employee).

To keep their employees whole, companies dropping health coverage could increase wages by the amount of their subsidized exchange premiums. Or even a little more. In that scenario, both the employer and the employee would come out ahead, but exchange premiums would inevitably rise to pay for the subsidies. This is an inherent flaw in the ACA. Employer penalties are way too low.

On April 3rd, H.R. 2575 (raising the “full time” threshold to 40 hours) passed House 248 to 179, with these 17 “Republicrats” voting Aye:

Aye   D   Barber, Ron AZ 2nd
Aye   D   Sinema, Kyrsten AZ 9th
Aye   D   Bera, Ami CA 7th
Aye   D   Costa, Jim CA 16th
Aye   D   Murphy, Patrick FL 18th
Aye   D   Bishop, Sanford GA 2nd
Aye   D   Barrow, John GA 12th
Aye   D   Lipinski, Daniel IL 3rd
Aye   D   Schneider, Bradley IL 10th
Aye   D   Delaney, John MD 6th
Aye   D   Peterson, Collin MN 7th
Aye   D   McIntyre, Mike NC 7th
Aye   D   Schrader, Kurt OR 5th
Aye   D   Gallego, Pete TX 23rd
Aye   D   Cuellar, Henry TX 28th
Aye   D   Matheson, Jim UT 4th
Aye   D   Rahall, Nick WV 3rd

President Obama: “When women succeed, America succeeds.”

Kay Morrison is 90 years old. And in 1943, when she worked as a journeyman welder on the assembly line at Kaiser Shipyard #2 in Richmond, California, she earned the same wage as the man working the graveyard shift alongside her.

As Kay said, “it can be the same today.”

And yet, on average, full-time working women earn just 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Earning equal pay starts with a conversation — and that’s why, this week, President Obama signed an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against employees who choose to discuss their pay.

Watch the President — and Kay — speak about this issue. And if you learned something new, pass it on:

Findings That Fracking Causing Quaking Leads to Drilling Shutdown in Ohio

As most of us in Nevada know all to well, we sit atop a seismic zone with a tendency to shake, rattle and roll.  Yet, Gov. Sandoval is considering and approving a number of “Fracking” projects across Northern Nevada, despite the issues with quakes being caused by fracking activities.  And — that’s to say nothing about the amount of water used by the fracking process (the same amount as that used by a city of 60,000 people) while we’re enduring a serious drought.  Now we here this —

State regulators suspend gas drilling outside of Youngstown

— by Common Dreams staff, 4/11/2014

Responding to geologists who claim they have made direct links between fracking operations and seismic activity in the state, Ohio regulators on Friday pulled permits for at least one drilling operation.

State Oil & Gas Chief Rick Simmers told The Associated Press on Friday that the state has halted drilling indefinitely at the site near Youngstown where five minor tremors occurred in March following investigative findings of a probable link to fracking.

A deep-injection well for fracking wastewater was tied to earthquakes in the region in 2012.

Simmers says Ohio will require sensitive seismic monitoring as a condition of all new drilling permits within three miles of a known fault or existing seismic activity of 2.0 or greater. Drilling will pause for evaluation with any tremor of 1.0 magnitude and will be halted if a link is found.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Rep. Amodei and the GOP’s House of Cuts

The Road to Ruin

— by Rep. Dina Titus (NV-CD1)

Today, the Republicans in the House voted to approve the Paul Ryan budget, which Ryan calls “The Path to Prosperity.” I think it’s more like a road to ruin. In effect, he is giving the middle finger to the middle class.

Please sign our petition today and tell Paul Ryan and his Republican friends that his path to prosperity will leave most Americans in the dust.

Mr. Ryan’s budget helps Big Oil, takes away jobs here in the U.S. and hurts seniors. Instead of tackling the rising cost of health care, Ryan and his fellow Republicans want to destroy Medicare by giving seniors vouchers for a fixed amount, leaving them to make up the difference.

The Economic Policy Institute says that the Ryan budget would eliminate over 1 million jobs in the first year and 3 million jobs by 2016. As of last month, the private sector had recovered all the jobs lost during the Bush Administration. The Ryan budget will erase those gains.

Rep. Ryan also grants more tax cuts to the rich while cutting programs that help the middle class succeed, like early childhood education, college loans, and workforce training.

Paul Ryan’s budget will have dire consequences for our country. We need a budget that reflects our country’s values and helps people get back on their feet, create jobs, and prepare us for the global economy.

Please sign our petition today and tell Paul Ryan and his Republican friends that our country deserves better.

ACA Medicaid Expansion—Why did some States Opt-Out?

ObamaCare Medicaid Expansion was one of the biggest milestones in health care reform. ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion expanded Medicaid to our nations poorest in order cover nearly half of uninsured Americans. The law previously required states to cover their poorest or lose federal funding to Medicaid (federal funding covers 90-100% of state costs) until the supreme court ruling on ObamaCare.  After the ruling, states could opt-out of the ACA Medicaid Expansion, and as Republican-led states did, it left millions of poor working families without coverage.

Under the ACA (Affordable Care Act, e.g., Obamacare), a new national Medicaid income eligibility level was established at 138% of the Federal Poverty Line.  (That 138% amount is about $15,400/year for an individual; $32,000/year for a family of 4.)  States that opted out of the ACA Medicaid expansion are projected to drive up insurance costs drastically in their states, potentially drive hospitals out of business, and save relatively little, if anything at all.

The ACA Medicaid expansion attempted to bring some uniformity across the nation to how Medicaid is administered.  Prior to 2013, every State had different eligibility requirements based on income, age, gender, dependents, and other state-specific requirements.  Starting in 2014, all states that expanded Medicaid have uniform eligibility requirements.  Those that did not, still have their previous requirements, and left millions of poverty-ridden people without effective healthcare options.

Read more about the ACA Medicaid Expansion here.

On a side note:

Today in the House of Representatives,219 Republicans voted to pass Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Path to Poverty” budget that would REPEAL the Affordable Care Act and turn Medicaid into a block grant to States.  Please note that a “block grant” is a large sum of money granted by the US Government to various State Governments, with only general provisions as to the way that money is to be spent.  It’s very easy to re-task that money into a slush fund with which to pay for other pet and ideological projects at the expense of those in desperate need.

If CEOs Can Be Continually Awarded Monster Increases, It’s Definitely Time to Raise the Minimum Wage

Raising the minimum wage will help women succeed. Click here to see the full infographic.Go to WhiteHouse.gov/Shareables

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