New Initiatives Provide Flexibility, Fairness For Families

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Congress embarked in a new direction aimed at helping working Americans when leading members of US House of Representatives announced a slate of legislation aimed at simplifying and updating arcane US health, labor and tax laws. The legislation, titled the American Families Agenda, contains policy reforms that have long been championed by the National Center for Policy Analysis' (NCPA) Family Policy Center.

"It's long past time for laws and institutions formed more than 50 years ago to become more family friendly," said NCPA Distinguished Fellow Terry Neese, who heads the Family Policy Center. "Families need 21st century public policies that provide flexibility, portability, and security. Today's economy demands it."

NCPA Family Policy Center reforms include:

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-- Assuring More Time and Money for America's Families: A policy that allows flexibility and alternatives to the 40-hour work week for parents with young children and caregivers for elderly parents. Comp time and paid time instead of wages for overtime are also proposed.

-- Growth for Small Businesses: Reducing the burden on small family-owned businesses to let them compete in the global economy by increasing the expensing allowance.

-- A Fairer Tax System for Working Families: Changing a policy so that married couples could file separately without the lower earner being taxed in the higher earner's bracket. This would make for a fairer tax system for two-earner couples.

-- Portable Health and Retirement Benefits: Americans change jobs numerous times during their lives. For this reason, benefits from healthcare to retirement need to be made more portable. Workers should not be penalized when they switch jobs.

"Outdated and outmoded 20th century policies clearly are no longer helpful, and even harmful, to 21st century working Americans," Neese said. "Congress must keep pace and today's initiative is an excellent first step."

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