PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A bill sponsored by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley that would offer tax incentives to companies for keeping jobs in the United States stalled on the Senate floor after more than two years of debate.
Wednesday, a Senate minority voted to filibuster Bill S. 3364, commonly referred to as the “Bring Jobs Home Act.” The move, according to reports by economists Alan Blinder and Alan Krueger, puts many as 256,100 Oregon jobs at risk of being outsourced.
“We’ve been bleeding and hemorrhaging for so long, cumulatively over time there’ s been a substantial impact,” said University of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center director Bob Bussell.
Those jobs might come from areas ranging from manufacturing, management, business and financial services, computer and mathematical services, sales and related, office and administrative support.
Bill S. 3364 would have discontinued tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs, and in turn offered tax breaks of 20 percent to employers bringing jobs to the United States. Bussell said as some companies are moving back to the U.S., symbolically, the bill would encourage jobs to come home.
Job growth through competition
The filibuster comes in the midst of job-focussed campaigning from both sides of the Oregon Senate race.
Senate hopeful Dr. Monica Wehby, coming off of a “100 businesses in 100 days” tour of Oregon’s small businesses, publicly said in a statement she would have voted against the Bring Jobs Home Act (were she a senator) because the act does not directly incentivize keeping jobs in America.
“No one is a stronger advocate for domestic job creation than I am, the problem is this bill won’t do that,” she said. Rather, she said reforming the tax code to protect businesses — a focus of her campaign thus far — would better serve American workers.
Instead, Wehby advocates an emphasis on promoting a business environment, over what she calls “policies like Obamacare, excessive regulation and prohibitive taxes, which have resulted in high unemployment, [and] a weak labor force.”
Bussell said Wehby’s stance on the bill reflects an ideological divide, rather than an attack on Oregon’s industry.
Still, last week, an organization linked to the owners of the multinational firm Koch Industries, America’s second-largest privately owned company, bought $3.6 million in Oregon Senate advertisements.
“As part of her plan to give big new tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires like the Koch brothers, Monica Wehby wants to shift us to a tax system that rewards corporations for shipping jobs overseas,” said Jeff Merkley for Oregon Press Secretary Lindsey O’Brien.
“Now we know Wehby opposes legislation that would protect Oregon’s middle class and help bring those jobs back home.”
Merkley, a native of Roseburg, Ore., a mill town with a 16.5% unemployment rate following the 2009 recession, voiced his frustration about the bill’s demise Wednesday.
“This bill is a no-brainer: When so many Americans are seeking good-paying jobs, why would we subsidize the export of our jobs overseas,” he said.
“A good job can make or break a family’s success. That’s exactly why we need to do everything we can to keep and create good, living-wage jobs here in America.”
Merkley said he will continue to push for the Bring Jobs Home Act. In the last 10 years, more than 2.4 million American jobs have moved overseas.