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|Articles - April 2014|
|Thursday, March 27, 2014|
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BY LINDA BAKER
It’s a Friday afternoon in late February, and Sen. Ron Wyden, a week into his new job as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has just flown into Portland from Washington, poised for a weekend of town halls around the state. “I’m kind of curious about how people will respond to the news,” he says, offering up a hypothetical question from the people. “‘So Ron’s chairman of the Senate Finance Committee; can he get me a 3% home loan?’ A big part of my job now is walking people through how this really works.”
With jurisdiction over taxes, trade and federal entitlement programs like Medicare, the Senate Finance Committee is widely considered one of the most powerful in Congress: a gatekeeper for legislation affecting every American. Known for his wonky enthusiasm on all manner of issues, Wyden, 64, has toiled for years on complex big-picture regulations and reforms that often seemed impossible to implement. Now Oregon’s senior senator has the bully pulpit and the resources to help turn grand ideas into action. “It’s going to be a very activist operation,” Wyden says. “The key is going to be strong bipartisan support.”
In a phone interview with Oregon Business, Wyden offered a glimpse of his plans for the committee. Tax reform is a priority, but with the Republican leadership focused on Obamacare, Wyden says, “we have to make this a two step approach.” Step one is renewing about 50 tax credits that expired in 2013, including deductions for state and local sales taxes, research and development, and renewable energy. “We then have to use the extenders as a springboard to comprehensive reform,” Wyden says.
It’s a project, he likes to say, in which he has invested “a lot of sweat equity.” In 2010, Wyden introduced the Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act, a bill co-sponsored by Judd Gregg, the former Republican senator from New Hampshire. (“He and I sat on the sofa almost every week for two years. Both of us felt we were going to walk out 15 times. We stayed put.”) That hard-fought legislation languished, but Wyden’s comprehensive tax-reform package uses the 2010 bill as a model. In broad parameters, the plan would simplify the tax code, reduce individual and corporate tax rates, and narrow the gap on taxation between investment and earned income by boosting capital gains and dividends rates.
Support for the middle class is a recurring theme in Wyden’s rhetoric about taxes — and trade policy. A liberal Democrat known for partnering with GOP colleagues, Oregon’s senior senator has been a consistent supporter of free-trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico (NAFTA). He also has close ties to outdoor-apparel manufacturers — Nike, Columbia Sportswear — and has sponsored bills eliminating tariffs on recreational clothing. But instead of green-lighting the latest plans to speed trade deals — including a fast track plan known as the Trade Promotion Authority, and a 12-nation trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership — Wyden now urges caution.
“We have a lot of issues to work though,” he says, namely, ensuring such deals don’t lead to a loss of manufacturing jobs at home. “Many folks hear the words ‘trade agreement’ and say it means more jobs in the front office, but what does it mean for the middle class that is hurting — the people who take a shower in the office?” asks Wyden. “Trade done right is very significant to the Oregon economy. But we need to expand the winner’s circle on these agreements.”
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER
Most of the food Americans consume is trucked in from hundreds of miles away. Eric Wilson, co-founder and CEO of Gro-volution, wants to change that. So this past spring, the Air Force veteran and former greenhouse manager started work on an alternative farming system he claims is more efficient than conventional agriculture, and also shortens the distance between the consumer and the farm.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
BY JASON NORRIS
Uncertainty in Greece and China, along with potential interest rate hikes mean investors are looking at the market and nervously questioning where they should be invested.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER
A Power Lunch at Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Store and Restaurant.
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY DAN COOK
The Affordable Care Act has triggered a rush on health care plan redesign, a process fraught with hidden costs and consequences.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY BRIAN LIBBY
Ben Kaiser holds his ground.
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
Telemedicine, new partnerships and real estate diversification make health care more accessible in rural Oregon.
Monday, August 03, 2015
BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
You may have noticed the photos of our rural health innovators departed from the typical Oregon Business aesthetic.
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Yesterday, a divided National Labor Relations Board dropped another hammer on the employer community. In a long-awaited and much debated move, the Board jettisoned the decades old standard for determining when two independent businesses should be considered joint employers of an individual worker for collective bargaining purposes.
Transforming the culture of Oregon’s educational leadership.
The Board dismissed a petition related to efforts to unionize the Northwestern University football team.
Oregon Sick Leave is here, and changes to the federal white-collar worker regulations are on the way. This workshop will prepare you for both. We invite you to participate in an interactive discussion on how to start planning now for the future impact on your operations and finances.
Presented by OEN + CENTRL + YESpdx.
This Roundtable will cover numerous issues under the employer "shared responsibility" rules of the Affordable Care Act, including how to track the "full-time" status of variable-hour employees, temporary or seasonal employees, and employees who experience a change in status or a break in service. Additionally, we will provide a brief overview of Code sections 6055 and 6056, which require most mid-sized and large employers to submit their first information reports to the IRS in early 2016 regarding the health insurance coverage being offered to employees. We invite you to participate in an interactive discussion on how to prepare for the future impact of the shared responsibility rules on your operations and finances.