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NOW: Rubio Chairs Hearing on Small Business and the American Worker
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, has convened a hearing titled “Small Business and the American Worker.”
The hearing is live streamed on the committee’s website here.
Chairman Rubio’s opening remarks as prepared can be found below:
Rubio: “Today’s hearing of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship will come to order.
“I want to thank you all for being here, and extend a welcome to our witnesses.
“I am pleased to hold today’s hearing, titled “Small Business and the American Worker” to explore the ties between the health and dynamism of small businesses and the wellbeing of American workers.
“For far too long, policymakers have focused almost exclusively on consumer welfare while paying very little attention to the welfare of American workers.
“The idea that any type of economic efficiency is beneficial so long as those left behind can rely on some sort of government safety net overlooks the fundamental role of the dignity of work.
“It is through dignified labor, and dignified pay for that labor, that American workers create the stability and vitality of families, communities, and country.
“Yes, we want to see strong economic growth. But we want strong economic growth that creates good jobs, not just good economic statistics.
“It is instructive to note that as GDP has risen from roughly 2.6 trillion dollars in 1979 to almost 21 trillion in the last quarter of 2018, the percentage of means-tested government transfers to middle income recipients has more than doubled, according to a study by the Brookings Institution.
“A broad swath of Americans are being left behind.
“This is evident in our stagnant labor force participation rates and falling annual incomes for high-school educated workers.
“It is evident in the precipitous decline in community life and engagement with the institutions critical to a thriving society.
“Americans now find themselves feeling more disconnected and alone than ever before.
“However, we are not powerless to act.
“It is incumbent upon us to find innovative policy solutions that empower a broad range of American workers and place the vitality of the labor market at the forefront of our decision-making.
“In doing so, we must not disregard the power of free markets and competition as an engine of economic growth.
“As this committee heard from a panel of witnesses last week, our failure to respond to Made in China 2025 and other foreign industrial policies diminishes our core productive capabilities and eliminated the livelihoods of thousands of small business manufacturers and millions of American workers.
“There was once a notion in this country that if you work hard and you put your mind to it, you could support a family, buy a car and a home, and live the American dream.
“It is unrealistic to believe that this social contract can be replaced by a check from the government.
“Our country cannot have the sustained benefits of economic growth without a strong productive sector which increases social mobility, advances small business dynamism, and strengthens our nation’s overall productive capacity.
“At the core of this reorientation must be a policy framework that encourages business to invest in physical capital, as well as their workers’ skills and productivity.
“Long term growth also requires investment from government in infrastructure, education, and research and development, as well as a commitment to aligning regulation with labor market needs.
“Such investment should take the form of a national innovation strategy, which will enable small businesses to modernize and compete on a global scale, as the committee discussed last week.
“In working towards this strategy, this committee will focus on orienting the programs within the Small Business Administration to foster greater innovation and small business growth.
“Strengthening America’s labor markets also entails a focused effort to improve the conditions under which this market operates.
“Harmful artificial restrictions, such as burdensome occupational licensing and one-sided non-compete agreements for low-skill and entry-level employment impede worker mobility and choice.
“These obstructions to work are most acutely felt by Americans with fewer job opportunities and they must be removed.
“In addition, policymakers have often overlooked the fundamental role of the family and non-governmental social institutions in the vitality of our labor market and country as whole.
“I have fought to reduce the tax burden on middle income families and foster an economic environment conducive to family formation and prosperity through efforts such as increasing the Child Tax Credit.
“We need to consider policies which allow for flexibility in training and work.
“One such idea is a federal program to enable parental leave, such as the one I introduced last Congress.
“Under this plan, workers would be empowered to engage in family life without sacrificing their ability to make ends meet, in a way that balances fiscal priorities and the needs of employers.
“Ultimately, for the sake of our nation’s long term success, it is the responsibility of our government to emphasize dignified work in a production-focused economy.
“I look forward to today’s discussion that will explore policy solutions to America’s labor market challenges.”