House Committee on Education and Labor
U.S. House of Representatives

Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon
Ranking Member

Fiscally responsible reforms for students, workers and retirees.


Fact Sheet

December 16, 2009

American Enterprise in a Struggling Economy
Contrasting Democrats’ Job-Killing Policies with the GOP Pro-Growth Agenda

On December 4, 2009, the U.S. Department of Labor issued an employment report that underscores the deep-seated economic challenges America faces. The national unemployment rate stands at 10 percent, representing approximately 15.4 million Americans seeking but unable to find work. Millions more are not counted in the unemployment rate because they have grown discouraged and simply given up looking for employment. This compares to an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent, or 7.5 million unemployed Americans, in December of 2007. 

The Democrat Agenda: Economic Uncertainty, Bigger Government 

With Democrats in control of all the levers of power in Washington, the harsh realities of their job-killing agenda have come into stark relief. From new red tape and mandates on small businesses to vast new powers for federal bureaucrats, Democrats are pursuing policies that hamper job creation at a time when it is desperately needed. Below is just a sampling of the education and labor policies Democrats have pursued that stifle job creation: 

  • Plotting a government takeover of health care: Democrats have proposed a radical reshaping of our nation’s health care system (H.R. 3200/H.R. 3962), creating a massive new bureaucracy, costly new entitlements, and vast new taxes on individuals and businesses. The bill wedges government between patients and their doctors and fails to address runaway costs, the number one problem facing our health care system.

  • Breeding a culture of union favoritism: Democrats have proposed a series of legislative and regulatory changes that put the interests of politically powerful union bosses ahead of rank-and-file workers and job-creating small businesses. The most infamous of these is the job-killing card check scheme, misleadingly dubbed the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 1409) by its supporters. Other examples include regulatory changes to limit financial disclosure by union leadership; require union-style contracts on federal projects; and make it easier for unions to gain new, dues-paying members.

  • Kicking the private sector out of student lending: Democrats proposed legislation to dissolve the largest single source of college financial aid, the Federal Family Education Loan program, in favor of yet another government takeover (H.R. 3221). Their bill would force every college and university – and every student and parent – into the one-size-fits-all government-run Direct Loan program. The bill is projected to eliminate roughly 30,000 private sector jobs.

  • Imposing onerous new mandates and taxes on employers: Democrats have developed a broad range of government-expansion measures that would be paid for on the backs of job-creating businesses. From federally dictated sick leave policies to a massive new national energy tax, the costly proposals championed by the left are leaving businesses too uncertain about the future to add jobs and expand. 

The Republican Agenda: Fostering Job Creation 

Despite Democrats’ insistence on big government policies rooted in taxing, borrowing, and spending, Republicans have staked out a series of pro-growth alternatives that will help put Americans back to work and restore the promise of American enterprise.  

  • Pursuing sensible health care solutions: Republicans are committed to health care reform. Rather than taking away the coverage and benefits Americans currently enjoy, Republicans are focused on reducing health care costs through meaningful, targeted reforms. Policies such as association health plans for small businesses, flexibility for individuals to buy insurance across state lines, and true medical liability reform will reduce costs, thereby expanding access to quality care.

  • Protecting workers’ right to a secret ballot: Republicans have developed a plan to permanently protect workers from the threats of card check. Known as the Secret Ballot Protection Act (H.R. 1176), the GOP plan ensures that future workplace organizing elections will always be conducted with the privacy and protection of a secret ballot. Republicans are committed to defeating the other aspects of the so-called Employee Free Choice Act as well, including its harmful imposition of forced government contracts through binding arbitration.

  • Stabilizing student lending, protecting choice and competition: Republicans want to maintain the choice, innovation, and competition of the private sector in the federal student loan program in order to better serve both students and schools. To maintain stability and liquidity – at no cost to taxpayers – at a time when the global credit markets remain in turmoil, Republicans have called for extending bipartisan reforms enacted in 2008 to provide a federal backstop for the student loan market (H.R. 4103). Republicans have also called for a nonpartisan commission to develop long-term solutions for a student loan model that combines the value of private sector capital and innovation with stability in times of economic instability in the future.

  • Building a 21st century workplace: Republicans are seeking modern solutions for a modern workplace. Rather than insisting on rigid, one-size-fits-all policies conceived in the early 20th century, Republicans are developing new strategies for a nimble, flexible workplace that responds to the needs of today’s working families. For instance, the Family-Friendly Workplace Act (H.R. 933) would give workers and employers the freedom to forge compensatory time arrangements that give workers paid time off in exchange for overtime hours worked. It’s a benefit that has been enjoyed by government workers for years, but that has been denied to private sector workers because of rigid federal work rules.