Background on Jobs
2012 Election Jobs Issues
- Card Check: refers to a unionization process where potential union members sign (or check off) a card indicating they would join the union. When a majority of workers have checked their cards, the union forms. Most Republicans argue that Card Check inappropriately replaces a secret ballot process, and is inherently coercive. Most Democrats argue that Card Check protects workers from corporate anti-union tactics during unionization efforts.
- Right-to-Work: refers to a state law against requiring union membership. The opposite is a "union shop" (or "closed shop"), where employees are required to pay union dues as a condition for working. 22 states are "right-to-work" states (mostly in the South and West) and 28 are not. A "national right-to-work law" would abolish union shops, and convert them all to "open shops," where employees may join the union voluntarily but are not required.
- American Jobs Act: refers to a series of legislative proposals made by President Obama beginning in Sept. 2011. Initially, the legislation was proposed as one large bill (S. 1549 and H.R. 12), but the bill stalled in Congress. Hence Obama broke up the bill into numerous smaller pieces. The key components are:
- $245 billion for Payroll tax cut extension (maintaining a reduction in the Social Security FICA deduction).
- $57 billion for extending unemployment benefits
- $65 billion for direct hiring of municipal employees, focusing on teachers, police, and firefighters
- $65 billion for infrastructure construction.
- The term "shovel ready" refers to the previous round of stimulus bills, which focused on projects which could start immediately.
- “Job Creators” is the 2012 campaign’s term for business owners and other wealthy people who “create jobs.” Generally, conservatives refer to “job creators” as a euphemism for cutting taxes for the wealthy, based on the “trickle-down” theory that doing so will create jobs. Liberals use the term “the Top 1%” as an opposing euphemism, implying that the wealthiest top 1% should pay more taxes than the rest of the 99%.
- Unemployment insurance is paid by all employees as "state UI taxes", at a rate of 0.8% of income for the first $7,000 of annual income.
- As a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed by Congress in February 2009 (known as "The Stimulus Bill"), many unemployed people can receive up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits.
- Normally, unemployment payments are taxable income; but the Stimulus Bill exempted the first $2,400 worth of unemployment income received during the 'tax year' of 2009 will be exempted from being considered as taxable income on the Federal level, when American taxpayers file their 2009 IRS tax return paperwork in early 2010.
- Many candidates in 2011 push for extending unemployment benefits beyond 99 weeks, since 7 million people have maxed out (known as "99ers").
- Total union membership stands at about 16 million workers, or 14% of the workforce.
- Union membership has been falling steadily since 1958, when it stood at 35% of the workforce.
22 states in the US are right-to-work states.
In the other 28, if a business is a union shop, you have to join the union if you want to work there.
There is no federal right-to-work law; it's determined by each state.
- The minimum wage is currently $7.25, increased from $5.15 in 2009, by an act of Congress.
- The last increase took place in three stages over a period of years; another increase will require another act of Congress.
- Some candidates want to increase it again now, and automatically increase it to keep up with inflation (known as "indexing").
- The U.S. agricultural sector has faced strong foreign competition in a weakened global trade setting.
- The value of U.S. agricultural exports has been reduced, falling from a record of almost $60 billion in fiscal 1996 to $49 billion currently being estimated for fiscal years 1999 and 2000. Export volumes for 1999 and 2000 are higher than in 1998, but low commodity prices have held the total value down.
- Farm income has fallen: Although somewhat buffered from further declines by increases in government payments (counter cyclical marketing loan benefits and emergency/disaster assistance payments), net farm income has fallen from nearly $55 billion in 1996 to $40.4 billion currently being forecast for 2000.
- Stronger demand: Continuing improvement in global macro economy underpins strengthening demand. Structural reform in crisis countries leads to strengthening global economic growth, particularly in developing countries, providing a foundation for further gains in trade and U.S. agricultural exports.
- The annual Farm Bill provides for numerous subsidies to numerous classes of farmers. The Farm Bill is heavily supported by Senators from farm states.
Foreign trade and import regulations are covered on the Free Trade page.
Corporate welfare issues are covered on the Government Reform page.
Earned-income Tax Credits are covered on the Tax Reform page.