The New Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Training Act: Robin Hood To The Rescue?

Reference: Down With Tyranny blog

May 20, 2013

Jimmy Carter signed the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act into law on October 27, 1978. It had passed the House on March 16… 257-152. 81% of the House Democrats (233 Members) were joined by 16% of the House Republicans (24) — there were still that many mainstream Republicans back then — to pass one of the era’s most significant pieces of legislation. It’s worth noting that the Democratic Party was so infested with racists and corporate whores even that recently that 41 Democrats joined with 111 Republicans to oppose it. The Keynesian bill, which was proposed to tackle rampant unemployment, created the largest public service jobs program and the largest training program since the Great Depression and it helped create 6.5 million new jobs and cut unemployment by 25%. During the debate, During the debate, Majority Leader Jim Wright (D-TX) said, “What this bill says is not that America owes everybody a living. No, But America owes every American an opportunity to earn a living. This bill is an embodiment of what American stands for.”

H.R. 1000, the new Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Training Act, was introduced by John Conyers on March 6 of this year, and shut up by Boehner and Cantor in John Kline’s Education and Workforce Committee, where they knew it would never see the light of day. Conyers is one of the few Members of Congress who voted for the original Humphrey-Hawkins bill. This one, has many similarities — it is primarily a jobs bill — but, of course includes provisions to cover things that weren’t concerns in the 1970s. Here’s how Conyers describes it on his website:

The Act aims to provide a job to any American that seeks work and to, ultimately, create a full employment society.

The Act establishes a “Full Employment and Training Trust Fund” with two separate accounts. These two accounts will direct funding to job creation and training programs.

Dual Job Creation Focus: Direct Jobs Grants and WIA Training Programs

The first trust fund account will direct funds to a new innovative direct jobs program. Funds will be distributed by formula through the Department of Labor to larger cities and states, and then be passed to localities and rural areas.

* The program will allocate funds based on the Community Development Block Grant formula modified to consider unemployment data. Local elected officials, who are closest to our communities and needs on the ground, would work with community groups and labor leaders to identify critical projects and connect workers to projects right away.

* Jobs could be in the public sector, community-based not-for-profit organizations, and small businesses that provide community benefits.

* The Program will adopt a two stage approach to ensure immediate job creation, and allow for a longer term planning process that involves community input and a focus on education and career development.

* Positions will be for up to 45 hours per week, for at least 12 months. They will pay comparable or prevailing wages, as well as benefits. Appropriate safeguards and strong anti-displacement protections will help to prevent substitution and ensure that workers are placed in new positions.

The second trust fund will distribute funds to job training programs covered under the Workforce Investment Act.

* These funds will fund innovative job training initiatives including One Stop Job Training Programs and the Job Corps.

Revenue: Taxing Wall Street Transactions to Pay for Main Street Jobs

Revenue for the trust fund will come from a small levy on covered trading transactions

* 0.25% on stocks = 25¢ on every $100 traded in stocks

* 0.02% on futures, swaps, and credit default swaps = 2¢ on every $100 traded on these types of transactions

* The rate for options contracts would be imposed on the underlying transaction multiplied by the premium paid for the option (still very small)

Boehner has vowed there will never be a vote on this bill on the House floor. There is a way to get a vote on it though — defeating a couple dozen Republicans in 2014, particularly John Boehner. Andrew Hounshell, an Ohio steelworker and vice-president of the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Local Lodge 1943, is running for the seat in western Ohio that Boehner currently holds. Bread and butter issues — like jobs — are exactly why he’s running. “A bill like the H.R. 1000 is exactly what the citizens of this great country expect from their elected Representatives,” he told us this morning. “Instead they get the 37th vote to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act from our Speaker. His excuse was that it is all about jobs. How will a vote that everyone knows will never pass the Senate be about jobs? Who’s job is he referring to? His own? This bill would create real jobs, and put tax paying Americans back to work. The goal of a bill like this is to provide full employment. The problem is, the Speaker isn’t interested in full employment because the corporations that support him aren’t interested in it. Full employment raises the cost of labor which cuts into corporate profits. It is much more profitable for them to have the labor force in this country unemployed and underemployed. It’s time our elected Congress represents the people and not the corporations.”

Down With Tyranny is a group blog run by California netroots activist Howie Klein.