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The 0.5% Economy

President Obama spent the past few months taking a victory lap on the economy and trying to convince the American people that the country is on the right track. In fact, the president recently declared the economy is "pretty darn great” and any arguments to the contrary are just “fantasy.” But then came word that the economy is growing at its slowest rate in two years—an abysmal 0.5 percent—a troubling dose of reality that has even the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute concerned

Every day, working families are living with the consequences of an economy that is far from “pretty darn great”—from stagnant wages to higher health care costs and a lack of full-time jobs. Yet, the White House continues to double down on a failed agenda that promises to make these problems worse and prolong the pain for working families and small businesses. Here are just a few recent examples:

  • New rules restricting access to affordable retirement advice for low- and middle-income families. For many working families, it’s not easy to put money aside in today’s “0.5 percent” economy and build a nest egg for retirement. The last thing they need is a new regulation consisting of over 1,000 pages of bureaucratic red tape that will make saving even harder. But the Department of Labor’s new “fiduciary” rule does exactly that. This fundamentally flawed rule will restrict access to affordable retirement advice and create new hurdles for small businesses wanting to offer workers savings options—putting retirement security further out of reach for millions of families.

  • “Persuader” ploy stifling employer free speech and worker free choice. For seven years, the administration has pulled out all the stops to advance the interests of Big Labor at the expense of hardworking Americans. The latest example is the “persuader” rule, which attacks employer free speech and deprives workers of the information they need to decide whether joining a union is best for them and their families. This rule might boost union dues, but it will do nothing to boost the paychecks of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet in the sluggish Obama economy.

  • New overtime rules limiting flexibility and opportunity for workers. The Department of Labor will soon unveil new changes to federal overtime rules, and if the changes resemble anything close to what was first proposed, they will stifle flexibility and opportunity for workers. Concerns have been raised across the country—from non-profits and small businesses to colleges and universities—that the rule will dramatically increase costs and make it harder for workers to advance up the economic ladder. Federal overtime rules are in need of modernization. The question is whether the administration will pursue a responsible, balanced approach that encourages growth and prosperity or, as many fear, something entirely different.

  • Partisan ruling redefining “employer,” threatening to upend countless small businesses. Last year, the National Labor Relations Board redefined what it means to be an employer by rewriting labor policies that franchise owners, small businesses, and workers have operated under for decades. This partisan scheme threatens to steal the American Dream from countless entrepreneurs across the country and destroy opportunities for others working hard to start their own businesses and achieve the same success.

These are just a few of the administration's misplaced priorities that will exacerbate the problems facing families and small businesses in this anemic economy. President Obama and Washington Democrats may be willing to accept 0.5 percent growth as the “new normal,” but Republicans are not.

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