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Jobs and the Economy

Jobs and the Economy

The last five years have been tough for many working families.  While the economy has begun to recover, we need to do more to get people back to work and keep families in their homes, while finally confronting our long-term challenges so that the American economy can grow and prosper in the years ahead.

Boosting Oregon’s Manufacturing

Manufacturing makes up a larger share of Oregon’s economy than almost any other state in the country. Jeff has been a champion for Oregon manufacturing and is working to ensure that Oregon’s manufacturers can succeed, expand, and keep jobs in America.

As part of his commitment to manufacturing, Jeff has visited many manufacturers across the state on his Made in Oregon tour. In addition to seeing firsthand the many great products that are made in Oregon, Jeff has used his Made in Oregon stops to talk directly with manufacturers about the challenges and opportunities they face. One of the things Jeff has heard from many manufacturers is that they have trouble finding skilled workers who know how to work with their hands. As a result of those conversations, Jeff introduced the BUILD CTE Act to increase access to hands-on learning in middle and high schools and to help connect Oregon’s students with manufacturing careers.

Jeff also knows that Oregon’s manufacturers and workers can outcompete anyone in the world, but they need a fair playing field. Jeff believes we have lost too many good jobs to foreign countries that engage in unfair trade practices. As a member of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, he has led the charge to crack down on China’s rampant subsidies and trade abuses. He authored a bipartisan bill that would require the U.S. to report a foreign country’s illegal trade subsidies to the World Trade Organization when that country fails to meet its own reporting requirements.  In addition, Jeff has introduced legislation that would level the playing field by counting other countries’ substandard environmental and labor practices as illegal subsidies – practices that not only harm U.S. workers and businesses, but also set the stage for workplace and environmental disasters in places like Bangladesh and beyond.  Jeff has also pushed hard to boost funding for our trade enforcement agencies to ensure we have enough cops on the beat to crack down when other countries cheat.  Jeff will continue to fight for Oregon’s workers and ensure that unfair trade practices do not ship our jobs overseas.

Creating Jobs, Lowering Energy Costs

Energy-saving renovations to homes and businesses can create construction jobs, support a growing clean energy sector, and put more money in the pockets of families and businesses.  To assist with the high upfront costs of these renovations, Jeff has written legislation to allow home and business owners to receive low-interest loans that can be paid back from the money they save on their energy bills. Jeff’s bill to provide these low-cost loans to families and businesses who get their power from rural cooperatives was included in the latest farm bill and signed into law.

Jeff is also the author of the Job Creation through Energy Efficient Manufacturing Act, which would help manufacturers access low-cost loans to make their facilities more energy efficient – creating immediate jobs in construction and renovation, and helping manufacturers lower their costs and create more jobs in the long run.

Investing in the Infrastructure Critical to Tomorrow’s Jobs

Our infrastructure – such as our roads and bridges, rail and airports, water systems and electricity grid – is the crucial backbone of our economy.  For years, we’ve been delaying maintenance and failing to upgrade while our competitors in Europe and Asia keep investing.  Getting smarter about investing in infrastructure is critical to our future growth and will help put Oregonians back to work now. 

For example, in virtually every county in Oregon, communities are facing immediate maintenance needs in their water supply and wastewater treatment systems. In some cases, it is a matter of repairing and replacing aging infrastructure. In others, it is about meeting modern drinking water and waste treatment standards. In yet other cases, it is about expanding capacity to provide for growing communities and industrial capacity. Yet traditional sources of assistance for local water needs fall short of communities’ needs, leaving them with little choice but to raise rates by extraordinary margins to pay for their water.

Jeff has introduced a bill, the Water Infrastructure Financing Innovation Act (WIFIA), that would help communities lower the cost of these critical water projects. The program offers a proven, modern, and effective way to help increase investment in our infrastructure and put people to work while reducing costs to local governments and ratepayers. In 2013, The Senate passed this bill as part of the Water Resources Development Act.

Boosting Start-ups and Entrepreneurship through Crowdfunding

In 2011, Jeff introduced the Capital Raising Online While Deterring Fraud and Unethical Non-Disclosure Act of 2011 (CROWDFUND Act), which would allow, for the first time, small business owners to raise investment capital from many small investors online.  The promise of crowdfunding is that small investments made through transparent online forums can allow the “wisdom of the crowd” to provide funding for small, smart companies. This bill was passed into law in 2012 and the final details are being worked out by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  Jeff has been pushing the SEC to finalize its rules soon, because until it does so, the only kind of crowdfunding that is permitted are donations.

Crowdfunding opens up exciting new opportunities for small businesses and startups across America to raise capital from investors online. Entrepreneurs, who previously had to rely on capital from family, friends, or “angel” investors, will now be able to receive small seed investments to create new companies and jobs. The new law, authored by Jeff, sets fair rules of the road for this new channel for raising capital, allowing new websites to easily connect investors to small businesses and fund the ideas of the future.  It also includes important protections to ensure that scam artists don’t abuse these new tools.

Supporting Small Businesses

Small businesses employ half the nation’s private workforce and are key to creating jobs. In 2010, President Obama signed the Small Business Jobs Act into law to help entrepreneurs jump-start their own businesses and provide small businesses with tax cuts and improved access to lending.  Jeff led efforts to include provisions in the Small Business Jobs Act to help healthy community banks lend more to small businesses and supported provisions to boost innovative small business lending programs run by the states.  When small businesses have access to capital, they can grow and create jobs.

Jeff also successfully included in the Small Business Jobs Act his Jump Start Act to help give small businesses a financial boost in their first year.  Jeff’s bill increased deductions for start-up expenses from $5,000 to $10,000 and increased the threshold for the phase-out of these deductions. The provision encourages entrepreneurs to create jobs sooner.

Rural Economic Development

If Oregon’s rural economy is to grow, there must be significant investment in rural infrastructure.  Jeff is working aggressively to bring new economic opportunities in agriculture, sustainable timber harvests, and renewable energy production to rural communities. He also supports modern transportation systems to move goods and people and improving access to government services such as good schools and health facilities.

Jeff is a son of timber country and grew up in Myrtle Creek and Roseburg where his father worked as a millwright.  He understands the economic struggles that have resulted from the decline of Oregon’s timber harvests.  Jeff believes that Oregon’s federal forest lands can support a steady and predictable timber harvest at the same time that they are restored to protect old growth and endangered species, and he is engaged with federal agencies and stakeholders to work towards that vision.  As Oregon’s Senator, Jeff has led efforts to open new opportunities to expand biomass as a renewable energy source.  He pushed the Obama administration to reform a visa program that was being abused to bring in foreign laborers when there were Oregonians able and willing to work in the woods, and he passed legislation in the Senate that would end these abuses.

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