WASHINGTON—Two influential Senate Democrats, in the wake of General Motors' plans to potentially idle four U.S. plants, want to offer incentives to U.S. corporations that invest in American workers and resist moving factories overseas.
On Friday, Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Richard Durbin of Illinois introduced legislation that would give tax credits to companies that provide higher wages and deeper benefit plans. Big companies that don't pay well would get hit with a levy.
Democrats contend there has been a deterioration of the working class, while corporations and high-income households have prospered. The issue has influenced debates about trade, immigration, technology, health care and taxes.
President Trump struck a chord with many voters in the 2016 election by saying he planned to look out for average Americans, but his trade policies so far have caused more pain for farmers and consumers, while tax and deregulatory efforts have mostly favored big business.
Democrats such as Brown, who is mulling a presidential bid, are demanding that corporations be more accountable to communities, especially after GM announced its restructuring plans in November.
"The President's tax law rewards Wall Street and corporations that ship jobs overseas at the expense of American workers. These bills will put workers first and encourage companies to invest in good-paying American jobs," Brown said in a statement.
How it works
Under the Patriot Employer Tax Credit Act, employers would receive a tax credit up to $1,500 per worker if they pay at least 90 percent of their work force about $15 per hour (slightly more than double the federal poverty rate), provide health care equivalent to the Affordable Care Act, maintain U.S. headquarters and maintain or increase the number of workers in the U.S. compared with overseas workers and independent contractors. Companies must also:
- Provide 90 percent of nonhighly compensated U.S. employees a defined benefit plan or a defined contribution plan and contribute at least 5 percent of worker compensation.
- Pay the difference between regular salary and military compensation for all National Guard and Reserve employees called for active duty and have a plan in place to recruit veterans.
- Have a plan in place to recruit employees with disabilities.
- Provide paid sick or family and medical leave to full-time employees.