Losing our Benefits

For many Americans whose jobs have NOT gone overseas, the weekly paycheck is sometimes helped with overtime. Through the hundreds of thousands of layoffs, corporations have more work for fewer employees. Overtime pay is basically a given. But not if George Bush has his way.

Right now, there’s a tax bill that is bogged down in the Senate, because Democrats are trying to prevent people from losing their overtime pay (click for story). Republicans who have corporate America in their back pocket, hate it. They want to prevent US workers from making an honest buck for an honest day’s work. It’s bad enough that they put out a set of guidelines to corporations telling them how to avoid paying overtime pay to their employees (click for link). But it’s disgusting that they would screw the American worker this way.U.S. Senate tax bill bogs down on overtime rules
Reuters, 03.23.04, 7:57 PM ET

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By Jackie Frank

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senate debate legislation designed to end costly European Union tariffs on many U.S. exports stalled Tuesday, entangled in controversy over a Democratic attempt to bar Bush administration changes in federal overtime rules.

Senate Republicans warned that the legislation, which also provides about $130 billion in tax breaks for businesses over 10 years, could not go forward if it included the Democratic overtime amendment.

They set a vote for Wednesday to cut off debate on the overtime measure.

Lawmakers of both parties support the underlying legislation that would end a tax break for U.S. companies ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization. Failure to end the practice, deemed an effective export subsidy, by March 1 has triggered retaliation by the European Union against U.S. goods ranging from jewelry to textiles.

The proposed legislation would replace the export subsidy with a lower tax rate to try to stimulate business expansion and hiring and stop the shift of U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas.

“If this bill doesn’t move along, actually the situation is going to get worse, and we will lose jobs in manufacturing,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican.

Democrats, however, see the debate as a chance to attack President Bush’s economic policies on one of the hot political issues this election year: the nearly three million jobs lost since 2000. Many of those jobs were manufacturing jobs that were moved overseas.

Republicans, with a 51-vote majority, are unlikely to get Democratic support to reach the 60 votes needed to cut off debate on the overtime measure and allow action on the tax bill.

Harkin’s spokeswoman said the Senate had already voted in September to block implementation of the administration’s overtime rules, only to see their provision later dropped.

“It is very important to the 8 million workers whose overtime is in jeopardy,” she said.

The administration contends its proposed regulations, now undergoing a final review, would clarify and update often confusing and antiquated work rules.

But foes warn that the regulations would cost million of Americans overtime pay and result in companies forcing employees to work longer hours without compensation.

In an effort to win more Democratic support for the bill, Grassley offered an amendment making several changes to sweeten the tax package.

One provision aimed to help new homebuyers would allow deductions from income taxes of the cost of private mortgage insurance, a fee charged by lenders when a buyer has a low down payment.

The bill also extends through 2005 the tax credit for business research and development, which is set to expire at the end of June. And, it extends tax credits for employers who hire low-income people and provides a tax credit for employers who page wages to military reservists called up for duty.

Copyright 2004, Reuters News Service

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