Jobs and the Economy
Our Commonwealth and country are experiencing tremendous economic challenges, but Senator Casey is confident that we are taking the steps necessary to rebuild and recover.
The people of Pennsylvania have always been resilient, and Senator Casey is optimistic that working together we will rejuvenate our economy, create stable 21st century jobs and foster financial security for Pennsylvania families.
In the 112th Congress, Senator Casey will work to ensure that we are making the critical investments – especially in our children – necessary for generating long term job growth and economic stability, especially for the middle class.
In these challenging times, many Pennsylvania families are wondering how newly passed legislation will affect them and their loved ones. Below you will find several links to resources which can provide you with information on protecting your finances, securing employment or assistance, understanding the details of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and communicating with Senator Casey about the current state of our economy or any other issue of importance to you.
Tax Cut and Unemployment Insurance Compromise
Senator Casey voted for the compromise because in this time of economic uncertainty, we can’t risk additional turmoil for Pennsylvania families and the economy by further delaying passage of the tax cut and unemployment insurance extension package. He did not think the proposal was perfect. However, it did address his top priorities of economic growth, job creation and providing tax relief to millions of Americans in a fragile economy.
In November, Senator Casey organized an effort joined by 28 senators to call for a vote to preserve unemployment insurance for another year. The letter sent to Senate leadership urges a continuation of the unemployment benefits program through December 31, 2011. He also made a request, blocked by Senate Republicans, to pass a stand-alone bill to preserve unemployment insurance benefits. An estimated 140,000 Pennsylvanians would have lost their benefits in December alone and 413,000 would have lost benefits by April 2011 if these benefits were not continued.
Senator Casey had also called for an extension of the expanded Child Tax Credit and the reduction in the EITC marriage penalty that help working families and 18 million children including over 500,000 in Pennsylvania.
Creating Jobs, Growing the Economy and Helping Laid Off Workers
Hiring Tax Credit: Senator Casey was one of the first senators to propose a tax credit to encourage employers to hire workers. A similar proposal, the HIRE Act tax credit, was eventually signed into law. From February to August 2010, an estimated 8.1 million workers who had been out of work eight weeks or longer were hired by employers who are eligible for the HIRE Act payroll tax exemption. Pennsylvania is one of the 10 states with the largest number of hires—333,255. The full impact of the program will not be known until employers file tax returns.
Small Business Tax Cuts and Lending Fund: Senator Casey was a strong supporter of legislation the Senate enacted into law to give small businesses $12 billion in tax cuts, provide $30 billion to community banks to help provide access to capital for small businesses and increase SBA loan limits.
Protecting American Jobs from Unfair Trade Practices: He has been a strong critic of unfair trade policies that put American manufacturing at a disadvantage. He has repeatedly pushed for the U.S. government to take stronger action against China in response to the undervaluing of its currency and other policies that result in American job loss.
Aid to the States: Senator Casey was an advocate for aid to the states that provided $16.1 billion in increased federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) funding to prevent state budget cuts and $10 billion in education funding to prevent teacher layoffs. He had voted for and preferred the larger FMAP package before it was trimmed in order to gain the votes necessary to pass any sort of relief for the states. Enactment of this aid decreased Pennsylvania budget cuts. Because the larger package was blocked by Senate Republicans, some budget cuts were necessary.
Unemployment Insurance: To help laid off workers provide for their families and to stimulate local economies, Senator Casey has been a strong supporter of extending unemployment insurance benefits. He is also a cosponsor of legislation to create a new tier of benefits to prevent the long-term unemployed from losing benefits.
Life Sciences Jobs: To spur growth in Pennsylvania’s life sciences industry, Senator Casey introduced the Life Sciences Jobs and Investment Act of 2010 to promote innovation and job creation by providing targeted tax incentives for small and mid-sized businesses to invest in life sciences research and development.
Women- and Minority-Owned Businesses: To help women and minority-owned businesses, Senator Casey introduced two bills to provide technical and procurement assistance and prevent contractors from fraudulently adding minority and women-owned businesses to bids without the intention of following through to deliver work to listed sub-contractors.
Flexibility for Working Families: Senator Casey in September introduced the Working Families Flexibility Act to give workers the right to request flexible work options to allow workers to balance responsibilities at work and at home. This legislation would encourage workers and employers to work out mutually beneficial arrangements without fear of retaliation.
COBRA Health Care Premium Assistance: Senator Casey in June introduced an amendment to the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010 that would reinstate the expired COBRA health care premium assistance for laid off workers. This program expired at the end of May. The average cost of COBRA family coverage is three-quarters of monthly unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania and 40 other states. In some states, health premiums actually cost more than monthly unemployment benefits, slowly driving families further into debt.
Changing the Rules on Wall Street
Wall Street Reform: Senator Casey supported the Wall Street Reform legislation that was enacted into law to bring more transparency and accountability to Wall Street. The bill included provisions authored by Senator Casey to increase funding for foreclosure mitigation, protect pension funds and provide more oversight for property appraisals.
In April, Senator Casey chaired a field hearing in Philadelphia entitled “Bringing Accountability and Transparency to Wall Street.” At the hearing, Senator Casey heard from witnesses testifying on the immediate need for strong reform to our financial markets.
Cracking Down on Unfair Trade Practices and Sending Jobs Overseas
Removing Incentives to Send Jobs Overseas: Senator Casey voted for legislation to eliminate tax incentives corporations receive to send U.S. jobs overseas.
Compromise Extension of Omnibus Trade Act: In December, Senator Casey was instrumental in negotiations to secure a temporary extension of the Omnibus Trade Act to prevent the expiration of bipartisan trade provisions and of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) that provides critical services to American workers who have been displaced from their jobs as a result of international trade. The trade preferences programs extended by the bill provide assistance to developing countries and also help American businesses and workers. The Omnibus Trade Act is supported by the AFL-CIO, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Retail Federation among other organizations.
Legislation for New Tools to Fight Currency Manipulation: Senator Casey is a supporter of bipartisan legislation that would vigorously address currency misalignments that unfairly and negatively impact U.S. trade.If passed, the legislation would provide less flexibility to the Treasury Department when it comes to citing countries for currency manipulation. It would also impose stiff new penalties on designated countries, including tariffs on the countries’ exports and a ban on any companies from those countries receiving U.S. government contracts.
Pressing Commerce on Currency Manipulation: Following a preliminary decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce suggesting that it would not investigate currency manipulation by China, Senator Casey called on the Commerce Department to reconsider and to protect American manufacturing from China’s unfair trade practices.
Pressing President Obama on Chinese Currency: In August, Senator Casey joined a bipartisan group of senators in sending a letter to President Obama calling for stronger action on behalf of U.S. businesses and workers competing against unfair trade practices conducted abroad, particularly the manipulation of currency by the Chinese government to unfairly boost exports.
Pressing the Treasury Department on Chinese Currency: Earlier this year, Senator Casey spearheaded a bipartisan letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner calling on him to list China as a currency manipulator.
Remedies Against Unfair Clean Energy Subsidies: Senator Casey applauded the decision in October by the U.S. Trade Representative to investigate unfair trade practices by China involving manufacturing in the clean energy sector. Senator Casey had previously voiced support for this petition when it was filed last month under Section 301 of the Trade Act to seek remedies against Chinese subsidies and other policies that have unfairly put U.S. workers at a disadvantage.