Let’s raise the minimum wage, give equal pay for equal work, and provide a fair tax system. It’s time to invest in the American people.
I’ve been fortunate in my life to start and grow a successful business. But I didn’t start out with much. I grew up on my family’s struggling farm, working 12 hour shifts, cleaning hog and chicken pens, and went to college and graduate school on student loans. I know the struggles that hard working Americans face trying to make ends meet.
Some argue that businesses have to choose between paying fair wages and remaining competitive. I know that’s a false choice. Paying our employees more is an investment in our people. And when you invest in people, you get great returns on that investment.
It’s time that Congress took the same approach by investing in the American people. Here’s what I propose.
A Fair Tax System
Donald Trump’s tax cuts will strangle our children and grandchildren with $1.9 trillion in debt. It’s fiscally irresponsible to be giving giant tax breaks to corporations that do not need them. The effective tax rate that the wealthiest corporations paid before tax reform was about 24%, which is comparable to other developed nations. There was no need to lower it.
We need to ensure that the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share. Many wealthy people make most of their money on capital gains, which are taxed at a lower rate than income. I support the Buffett Rule that people making over 1 million a year should pay no less than 30% in taxes. I also support removing the carried interest loophole that allows hedge fund managers to pay lower tax rates on their profits than working Americans. Removing the loophole would raise $180 billion of revenue over 10 years. $100 billion of this could be used to pay for a fully funded response to the opioid crisis and $60 billion could be used for tuition-free community college for all Americans.
Sound Trade Policies
We need trade for the economy to grow. The questions are whether the trade agreements will be fair and whether we will help families and communities that are hurt by trade. We have not done either of those in recent deals.
Trump’s trade war will only make matters worse, though. The number one industry in Maryland has always been and continues to be agriculture. That along with the port of Baltimore means that a trade war will is not only bad for the country but will disproportionately hurt farmers and businesses in Maryland.
Western Maryland will be especially harmed by the tariffs. Washington County has 129,600 Acres of farmland and it sells $107,688,000 per year of Agricultural products. Grains ($32,682,000) and cattle ($10,948,000) are 2 of Washington County’s top 3 agricultural products, and China has already announced retaliatory tariffs on these goods.
We should raise the minimum wage immediately
Raise the Minimum Wage and Tie it to Inflation
First, we should raise the minimum wage immediately. Increasing the minimum wage is the best way to reduce poverty and increase worker productivity. With that, we also need to pass a law tying the minimum wage to inflation. The federal minimum wage has not gone up since 2009, and it hasn’t kept pace with the rising cost of living. It would be almost $11 today if it had kept up with inflation. 35 million Americans would directly benefit from a minimum wage increase. 89% of them are 20 years or older and 30% of them are women. It’s one of the best things we can do to reduce poverty. As a business owner, I know firsthand that higher wages pay off in the long run by reducing turnover rates and training costs by making employees more productive. That’s why I helped lead the charge for the Raise the Wage Act, which passed the House in 2019.
Protect Workers from Misclassification
I support cracking down on companies that violate workers’ rights by misclassifying them as supervisors and independent contractors. Predatory companies often engage in these practices to avoid paying unemployment and other taxes. Employees who have been misclassified also do not receive protections and benefits like wage and hour laws, workers compensation and unemployment benefits. This is wrong, and we need to enact stiff penalties on unethical companies who try to game the system.
Misclassification not only hurts workers and their families, it hurts responsible businesses who play by the rules. Companies that provide benefits like health insurance, paid time off, and medical leave shouldn’t be put at a disadvantage. That’s why I’m committed to leveling the playing field for all employers. Through tougher enforcement and better education, we can make sure that companies follow the law and workers get the pay and benefits they deserve.
Make Banking Easier
We should make banking more accessible to people in every community by having basic banking services at our post offices. This keeps people from falling victim to outrageous interest rates at payday lenders and high banking fees they can’t afford. This will be particularly important as market forces push banks to close branches and move their services online. Wal-Mart has already capitalized on this trend by offering check cashing services at their stores, with fees of $3-$6 per check. That may not seem like a lot, but those fees can really add up for struggling families. Banking services at post offices will help those families save money and help the USPS retain its important position serving our country.
Women are paid 82 cents for every dollar that a man earns and it’s even worse for women of color.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
I have three daughters who are young adults. For all of the progress we’ve made, they’re still entering a workforce where women are only paid 82 cents for every dollar that a man earns for the same work. The picture is even worse for black and Hispanic women, who earn 68 and 62 cents respectively for every dollar white men earn.
Studies show that closing the pay gap for women, who make up 46% of the workforce, would be a great boon to the economy. President Trump likes to talk about economic growth, but he’s rolled back Obama-era equal pay protections. This is bad for women and bad for the economy.
Congress needs to get us back on the right track by codifying former President Obama’s equal pay protections into law and by finally passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would close loopholes that employers use to pay women less than men. I was proud to help pass this important bill through the House of Representatives in 2019.
Creating good-paying jobs in the Sixth District will be a top priority of mine and our district is a great place to start and grow a business – we just need government to make the right investments.