This week, three House committees will each take up portions of a reconciliation bill that repeal elements of the Affordable Care Act that are in their respective jurisdictions. Components the House Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Workforce Committees are including in the package would repeal the Employee Benefits Tax, the Medical Device Tax, Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), automatic enrollment, and the Employer Mandate. The bills are expected to pass out of the three committees primarily on party-line votes, but there may be a smattering of Democratic support for individual components such as IPAB repeal which was supported by Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-CA) in the Ways and Means Committee, but that will not translate into support for the broader package expected to be on the floor of the House. (continue reading…)
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is as partisan an issue as any has ever been. After barely passing Congress in 2010, it has since garnered almost 50 repeal votes of one kind or another from Congress and two major court challenges, nearly all failed. With the very rare exception, the past five years have seen very few changes to a law that desperately needs to be improved, even though there are issues that both sides of the aisle agree should be changed, such as the medical device tax and the so-called Cadillac Tax. At the NAM, we call it the Employee Benefits Tax (EBT), because that’s what it is – a tax on worker’s benefits. (continue reading…)
By Joe Trauger and Amanda Woods
President Obama used the Labor Day holiday this year as an opportunity to announce yet another initiative he cannot get through Congress by placing the burden and impact of bad policy on the backs of businesses wishing to contract with the federal government. While the announcement was not a surprise, after all this is something he’s done more of than any previous president in history – use the federal contracting process as a laboratory of bad ideas in labor policy – it demonstrates the ineptitude of an administration so driven to do what sounds good to the heart rather than what is actually good practice.
The President’s latest Executive Order would require all federal contractors to provide at least 7 days of paid leave under similar conditions as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Unfortunately, we have seen this pattern with the President, time and time again. When a policy proposal cannot move through Congress, with a stroke of a pen the President exercises the wide, and some may say abusive, discretion over federal contractors and forces upon them what otherwise cannot be achieved. This appears to be done with little thought about whether it may be burdensome or even necessary. For instance, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for federal contractors. While there has been much talk about whether there should be an increase, the bills in both the House and Senate have failed. Rather than accept the will of Congress, the Administration thrusts the issue upon federal contractors, some of which will not be able to absorb or adjust accordingly due to market constraints.
It is not just minimum wage, blacklisting, or this latest policy on paid sick leave. President Obama has issued no less than 11 Executive Orders placing additional requirements on businesses who wish to contract with the federal government. These new requirements cover many aspects of the day-to-day operations of a business and have no bearing on whether the federal contracting process is fair, efficient, or yields the best results for the American taxpayer. In the end, this latest action will have little impact on larger federal contractors who are extremely likely to offer paid leave already. No, the greatest impact will be felt by the small businesses who are trying to offer their products and services to a government that more and more often refuses to see that bad ideas have consequences – or worse, a government that doesn’t care whether there are consequences at all.
On July 6, the Department of Labor proposed a new income threshold to determine who would be eligible to receive overtime pay. The current threshold of $23,660 a year, or $455 per week, has been in place since 2004 and we have to go back to 1975 in order to look at the time before that. In total, the income threshold for overtime has been increased seven times since it was first implemented in 1938. It has never been indexed to inflation, wage rates, or any measure. The threshold being proposed would increase to $50,440 a year, or $970 per week, and then indexed to either the 40th percentile of all salaried employees, or to the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U). If the $50,440 figure strikes you as a bit high and wide of the strike-zone, you would be right. In the chart below, you can see why. (continue reading…)
On May 21st USCIS released guidance detailing new requirements for changes in H-1B employment as a result of an Administrative Appeals Office decision regarding Simeio Solutions. That decision held that employers must file amended H-1B petitions when a new Labor Condition Application (LCA) for nonimmigrant workers is required due to a change in the H-1B worker’s worksite location.
The May 21 guidance made the new LCA process retroactive, mandating that LCAs would need to be issued for all H-1B workers whose location had changed prior to the decision, and all of those new petitions would need to be filed before August 19, 2015. The NAM filed joint comments on the guidance stating that the retroactivity associated with the proposed guidance posed significant costs and burdens on employers, especially given the short August 19, 2015 deadline and that these significant changes should be made through formal notice and comment. (continue reading…)
Donald Trump turned one of the most feared phrases in the workplace into a punchline. As the star of The Apprentice, Trump famously critiqued contestants in a board room and concluded by telling one of them, “You’re fired.” With the release of a new proposed regulation on overtime, it seems President Obama is rebranding the show’s tagline to “You’re demoted!” (continue reading…)
Today, Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced the “Protecting Orderly and Responsible Transit of Shipments” (PORTS) Act, which creates an option to avoid economic disruption demonstrated by recent events on the West Coast. The NAM applauds Senator Gardner for introducing this bill which give state governors the option to intervene in labor disputes at seaports to prevent disruptions. (continue reading…)
Today the House Ways and Means Committee will be considering legislation to eliminate the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) created as part of the Affordable Care Act. The intention behind IPAB was to form an independent body appointed by the Administration to recommend spending reductions in the Medicare program if expenditures reach a level determined to be too high as defined by the ACA. If for some reason the IPAB has not been convened or its members not appointed, the Secretary of Health and Human Services steps in to serve the role of making recommendations to Congress for an up or down vote – without amendment. (continue reading…)
In a statement released by the NAM in response to the recent announcement of proposed regulations and guidance to implement the so-called Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, I said they were a solution in search of a problem. There has been scant justification for the recent efforts of the administration and their allies to inject political subjectivity into what should be a clinical judgment about the ability of a contractor to fill an order on-time and on-budget. In what appears to be the best argument for creating an entirely new process and giving authority to political appointees to exclude businesses from federal contracting for political reasons, a blog post was put out Wednesday by the White House. (continue reading…)
Today, the Department of Labor and the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council announced the proposed regulations to implement President Obama’s “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Order.” The proposed regulations are the culmination of nearly a year’s work by the agencies in drafting what are perhaps the most politically motivated changes to the federal procurement process in decades. The last attempt to inject such partisan politics into procurement happened at the end of the Clinton Administration in 1999 and 2000. Those regulations were rolled back in 2001. Back then it was called “High-Road Contracting,” but the intent was the same. (continue reading…)