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Occurrences in the Congressional Record

Entry Title Date
Protecting Volunteer Firefighters And Emergency Responders Act Of 2014 April 1, 2014
Jeff Sessions, R-AL
"Only about 63 percent of Americans over the age of 16 participate in the job market, meaning they either have a job or are just looking for one. That is nearly the lowest level since 1978, driven partly by baby boomers retiring but also by workers who had simply given up hope after long and fruitless job searches."
Legislative Session March 13, 2014
Ted Cruz, R-TX
"We should explore other options to assist them in economic recovery consistent with free market principles, including moving as expeditiously as possible to allow them access to U.S. energy exports and in particular liquidified natural gas. Russia uses natural gas and energy as a tool of economic blackmail. It is critical to the source of Russia’s power not just over Ukraine but over much of Europe. The United States is blessed with abundant supplies of natural gas. It is only foolhardy government policy that stands in the way of our exporting that natural gas, meeting the need and helping Ukraine be free of the economic blackmail. We should move immediately in that regard not just because it would help Ukraine, not just because it would represent a serious blow to Russia when Russia relies on the revenue from those energy exports—if the United States steps up and provides it to them instead, that would be a serious economic blow to Russia—not just that but because it makes perfect sense from the perspective of the United States of America, our economic interests at a time when we have the lowest labor rate participation since 1978. When millions of people are out of work and hurting, we should be developing and expanding our resources, and energy provides an opportunity to transform the geopolitical playing field, to use our abundant resources in a free market manner to respond and help liberate the people of Ukraine."
President Obama’S America February 5, 2014
Bill Johnson, R-OH
"Madam Speaker, welcome to President Obama’s America: where labor force participation rates are the lowest since 1978; where good-paying jobs are scarce; where many health insurance premiums are skyrocketing or being canceled; where jobs bills sent to the Senate collect dust on Harry Reid’s desk; where the State Department concluded that the job-creating Keystone XL pipeline poses little environmental risk, yet the President has not approved it; where yesterday the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report stating that ObamaCare will have substantially larger negative effects on the economy than anticipated."
Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act Of 2014—Motion To Proceed January 27, 2014
Roger Wicker, R-MS
"Let me repeat that. After 5 years of the Obama administration’s leadership, the labor force participation rate is the worst it has been since 1978. Recent estimates indicate that median household income is almost $2,400 less than it was 4 years ago, in inflation-adjusted dollars."
Providing For Consideration Of Senate Amendments To H.R. 3547, Space Launch Liability Indemnification Extension Act; Providing For Proceedings During The Period From January 17, 2014, Through… January 15, 2014
Jim McGovern, D-MA
"There is nothing good to say about the December employment report, which showed that only 74,000 jobs were added last month. But dismal as it was, the report came at an opportune political moment. The new numbers rebut the Republican arguments that jobless benefits need not be renewed, and that the current minimum wage is adequate. At the same time, they underscore the need, only recently raised to the top of the political agenda, to combat poverty and inequality. The report showed that average monthly job growth in 2013 was 182,000, basically unchanged from 2012. Even the decline in the jobless rate last month, from 7 percent in November to 6.7 percent, was a sign of weakness: It mainly reflects a shrinking labor force not new hiring as the share of workers employed or looking for work fell to the lowest level since 1978. That’s a tragic waste of human capital. It would be comforting to ascribe the dwindling labor force mainly to retirements or other longterm changes, but most of the decline is due to weak job opportunities and weak labor demand since the Great Recession. One result is that the share of jobless workers who have been unemployed for six months or longer has remained stubbornly high. In December, it was nearly 38 percent, still higher by far than at any time before the Great Recession, in records going back to 1948. And yet, nearly 1.3 million of those long-term unemployed had their federal jobless benefits abruptly cut off at the end of last year, after Republicans refused to renew the federal unemployment program in the latest budget deal. Each week the program is not reinstated, another 72,000 jobless people who otherwise would have qualified for benefits will find there is no longer a federal program to turn to. Worse, in the Senate this week, after a show of willingness to discuss renewing the benefits, Republicans objected to a bill to do just that. They had demanded that a renewal be paid for, but they didn’t like how Democrats proposed to do that— with spending cuts at the end of the budget window in 2024 in exchange for relief today. There was no need to pay for the benefits, which have such a crucial and positive effect—on families, the economy and poverty—that it would be sound to renew them even if the government borrowed to do so. But Republicans would rather criticize President Obama’s handling of the economy than help those left behind. A similar dynamic is developing around the drive for a higher minimum wage. In the December jobs report, the average hourly wage for most workers was $20.35. That means that the minimum wage, at $7.25 an hour, is only one-third of the average, rather than one-half, as was the case historically. Raising the wage to $10.10 an hour, as Democrats have proposed, would help to restore the historical relationship. But even that would fall far short of the roughly $17 an hour that workers at the bottom of the wage scale would be earning if increased labor productivity were reflected in their pay, rather than in corporate profits, executive compensation and shareholder returns. Republicans, however, are opposed to any increase, as if the numbers don’t speak for themselves. Their stance also dismisses research, and common sense, which says that raising the wages of low- and moderate-income workers is essential for lessening both poverty and inequality. Instead, in the past week, they have introduced ostensibly “antipoverty” ideas, most prominently Senator Marco Rubio’s plan to transform federal safety net programs into state block grants, another of the shopworn Republican ideas that also include privatizing federal services and slashing domestic spending. Block grants have allowed states to disregard the needs of the least fortunate. The proposal would set back the debate on wages, poverty and inequality. The December jobs report is telling Congress what it needs to do. Unfortunately, that will not lead to action anytime soon."

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