All blog posts created by Communications Office
  • Wyden Offers 10 Reasons Why the GOP Budget Hurts Oregonians

    Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today listed ten reasons why the Republican joint budget resolution, which cleared the Senate earlier this week, would shortchange Oregonians and hurt the state’s economy in a variety of ways.

    “This partisan budget plan fundamentally ignores the economics of this country in 2015,” Wyden said.  “Oregonians and Americans across the country are walking on an economic tightrope, trying to climb the ladder of opportunity and give their kids a brighter future. The climb isn’t always easy, and the budget before Congress fails to help make it easier in a number of alarming ways.”

    1. Costs Oregon jobs. By pulling billions of dollars out of Oregon’s economy, the Republican budget could cost Oregon 28,600 jobs by 2017 due to cuts in infrastructure, education, and scientific research.
    2. Bad for rural communities. The Republican budget risks ending the safety net for rural Oregon law-enforcement, schools and roads – even though Sen. Wyden’s Secure Rural Schools program to support rural communities has bipartisan support, the Republican budget links that critical funding to an unsustainable increase in federal logging.
    3.  Hurts middle-class taxpayers. The Republican budget once again leaves middle-class taxpayers in the lurch. In fact, Sen. Wyden’s amendment to preserve and expand tax credits that support work, family, and obtaining a higher education – and passed the Senate by a 73-27 margin – was dropped from the final budget agreement by Republicans. That would mean higher taxes for millions of middle-class families.
    4.  Revokes health insurance protections for women. Under the Republican budget, American health insurance would revert to a time when pregnancy was a pre-existing condition, women faced higher premiums simply because of their gender, and birth control often wasn’t included in health insurance. 
    5. Cuts Medicaid to the bone. The Republican budget includes painful, arbitrary cuts to health programs that protect the most vulnerable in Oregon, including seniors who rely on long-term nursing care.
    6. Fails to Protect Social Security.  The Republican budget does not include Sen. Wyden’s amendment to protect Social Security by stopping legislation that would cut benefits, raise the retirement age, or privatize Social Security that won majority support in the Senate.
    7. Pulls back support for local schools. Assistance for schools in need would be cut off or limited by $11.3 million in Oregon over the next 10 years, which means fewer school and students served, and job losses for educators.
    8. Stops investment in critical research. Oregon loses roughly $5.7 million in funding from the National Science Foundation under the Republican budget, resulting in fewer awards to support research that boosts the economy.
    9. Limits workforce training and job resources. The Republican budget puts nearly 27,500 workers in Oregon at risk of losing access job training or search services that are needed to help them stay competitive in tough global markets.
    10. Places higher education further out of reach. By cutting Pell Grants by $90 billion nationwide over the next decade, the Republican budget will make earning a college degree harder for many of the 114,000 students pursuing a higher education in Oregon by making them borrow more or forcing them to forgo going to school at all.
  • Ron supports Oregon’s export economy as a jobs creator

    In between town halls last weekend in Linn and Douglas counties that focused largely on the economy and jobs, Ron had several media interviews that covered exports, oil train safety and health care for veterans.

    Ron sat down on Friday in Portland for an extended interview with KGW’s “Straight Talk” and then in Salem with the editorial board of the Statesman Journal.

    In both settings, many of the questions centered on Ron’s work with President Obama to boost U.S. exports in the Pacific Rim, a key priority given Oregon’s location.

    “There are going to be a billion middle-class households in the developing world by 2025,” Ron said on Straight Talk. “That means they’re going to have a lot of money to spend. And one of the things we know about exports in our state is often they pay better wages than do the non-trade jobs.

    “So if you’ve got middle-class people around the world who are going to spend money, let’s have them buy the Oregon brand,’’ Ron said. “Let’s make things here, Let’s grow things here. Let’s add value to them here. And let’s ship them somewhere.”

    He also spoke about exports with television news stations in Eugene and Medford with an additional spotlight on his oil trains safety legislation and on his letter to the Veterans Administration urging better care and benefits for veterans who were on C-123 aircraft still contaminated with Agent Orange after the Vietnam War.

    “We’re trying to make sure that our vets who got exposed to Agent Orange stateside,” Ron told KOBI TV in Medford, “can get good quality health care at the VA … When the vets honor us by wearing the uniform of the United States, we have got to be there with good health care for them.”

    Ron said his oil trains bill takes a market-based approach and follows in the wake of safety concerns expressed by local first responders at a Lane County roundtable he and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) held last year.

    “The focus has got to be to get these unsafe cars off the rails,” Ron told KVAL TV in Eugene. “The reality is we’re seeing some serious accidents.”

    While in Eugene, Ron also stopped by the University of Oregon’s spring football game on Saturday. He got to catch up with many of his fellow Ducks alumni--including one very notable recent grad in Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.

  • 10 Ways the Tax System is Unfair to Middle-Class Americans

    On Tax Day, Ron calls for comprehensive tax reform that works for all Americans. Here are just ten ways the broken tax code hurts middle-class families:

    1. Unfair tax treatment of wage income vs. wealth

    Taxes on wealth, such as capital gains, are often subject to a lower tax rate than wages and salaries, which the vast majority of every day Oregonians rely on for most of their income. A fair tax system would narrow the disparity between tax rates on income from wealth and income from work

    2. The tax code is too complex. 

    Without access to expensive financial planners, many families aren’t event aware of the tax credits they could take advantage of hidden in the 74,608 page tax code.  Students from Oregon, like Eugene’s Amber Lee, miss out on tax breaks to help with the costs of higher education.

    3. It takes Americans far too much time to complete their taxes.  

    Everyone deserves their April back!  It shouldn’t take U.S. taxpayers 6.1 billion hours and $168 billion per year to file their taxes.

    4. Small, family businesses are forced to navigate confusing rules and requirements.  

    According to the National Small Business Association, 40% of small businesses reported spending more than 80 hours a year dealing with federal taxes in 2014. Businesses in Oregon and across the country should be using this time to grow their businesses, not figuring out their taxes.

    5. Upside-down retirement tax breaks. 

    Our tax code makes it harder for typical Americans to save for retirement as incentives for retirement saving benefit high-income families far more than middle- and low-income families.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, only 16% of retirement tax benefits go to the bottom 60% of U.S. households by income.

    6. Those who ask for help from the IRS often can’t even get it. 

    It’s middle and low-income Americans who cannot afford expensive accountants that rely on the IRS for tax help. Customer service has declined in recent years due to budget cuts, so much that calling the IRS is like shouting into a void. Only 4 in 10 U.S. taxpayers calling into the IRS for help can get through to a real person. IRS budget cuts have led to inadequate service meaning billions in taxpayer dollars go uncollected every year. Many well-off taxpayers know this and have little fear of getting audited.

    7. Scams, fraud and identity theft are on the rise

    According to the Federal Trade Commission the #1 complaint they receive is tax-related identity theft.   In 2013 43% of all identify theft complaints to the FCC were tax related, up from 15% in 2010.  

    8. The well-off are gaming the system through offshore tax avoidance. 

    Billions of dollars are being hidden in undisclosed off-shore accounts, leaving taxpayers and small business to foot the bill Last year alone the Treasury and state governments lost nearly $110 billion in tax revenues through offshore tax havens. 

    9. No basic standards for tax-return preparers. 

    Without basic standards, too many unaffiliated tax-return preparers are incompetent or even unethical, giving taxpayers incorrect advice and potentially depriving them of their refund – something that many Oregon families depend on. Senators Wyden and Cardin are fighting to set basic standards that tax-preparers must meetLearn more here.

    10. The tax code is filled with loopholes that encourage the use of complicated financial products to lower the tax burden on investments. 

    Earlier this year Senator Wyden released a report detailing a number of these strategies. Once identified, these loopholes must be sealed shut.