While the American economy has expanded, it is painfully clear that the top one percent has enjoyed most of these gains. Meanwhile, middle class families are being squeezed and their economic circumstances are increasingly precarious. Although the overall unemployment rate is low as of mid-2019, many workers have seen little growth in their wages.
This rampant inequity has forced families to work longer hours or to take on multiple jobs. Fewer workers have guaranteed pension benefits, causing many to worry about retirement. Indeed, while the overall growth in prices is historically low, middle class families face ever-increasing costs for the longtime pillars of the American Dream: a decent education, quality health care, and plentiful, affordable energy. All remain elusive for millions.
The Republican 2017 tax bill was a terrible missed opportunity to create a fairer tax system and Bill opposed it vehemently. The law gave over 80 percent of its cuts to the top one percent, while the other ninety-nine percent saw little change in their paychecks. It only contributed to our growing inequality.
Bill knows that many American families have not come close to realizing their American Dream. As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee with broad jurisdiction over economic policies, Bill uses his post to fight for an economy that works for all Americans. Over his career, Bill has built one of the most progressively pro-worker records among his colleagues.
Bill is the leader in the House trying to restore the full State and Local Tax Deduction cherished by New Jerseyans that Republicans capped in their 2017 tax scam law. He co-sponsored legislation to increase the federal minimum wage to $15, phased in over time, while working to give tax relief for small business owners nationwide. Bill also voted to make permanent the temporary middle-income tax cuts that would have expired in 2012. Rep. Pascrell sees his job on the Ways and Means Committee as being a voice for middle-income taxpayers who have continually seen so little in the way of tax relief in recent legislation.
On trade matters, Bill knows that American workers have often been left behind. So he always demands a trade agenda that protects American workers. Bill has opposed many trade agreements precisely because he knew that they would not do enough to protect jobs here at home.
Additionally, Bill constantly has an eye on preserving the retirement options for workers. He supported the SECURE Act, a bill to expand the opportunities for small business workers to save for retirement, and has cosponsored legislation to provide relief to mulitemployer, union-sponsored pension plans to ensure they can meet their future commitments to their workers.
Championing consumer rights and putting investors back in charge of their finances is also a top priority of Rep. Pascrell. Bill co-sponsored and voted to approve into law the Credit Cardholder Bill of Rights Act. This measure limits the cycle-increasing credit card debt faced by millions of Americans and ensures consumer protections against the predatory practices of the credit card companies.
The financial collapse of 2008 was in large part the product of malfeasance by Wall Street. Bill was and remains a harsh critic of bad behavior and greed in the financial services system. He supported comprehensive financial regulatory reform, in order to hold Wall Street and Big Banks accountable, and put an end to taxpayer-funded bailouts and “too-big-too-fail.” This landmark law enabled regulation of the shadow markets and stopped casino-style gambling with your retirement and savings by Wall Street bankers.
Bill was one of Congress’s biggest supporters of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (CFPB), which was also enshrined by this legislation. The CFPB is tasked with protecting consumers from predatory lending abuses and other financial industry gimmicks and has been a critical bulwark to protecting regular Americans. He has signed congressional letters admonishing the CFBP when it has failed to do its job, but has also harshly criticized attempts by the Trump administration to destroy the CFBP through repeated cutbacks and sabotage.
Bill knows well that our economic recovery will only be complete when our economy is protecting and empowering middle- and working-class Americans, and he will continue fighting every day for those Americans.