American Cars, American Jobs


Sen. Sherrod Brown - Guest Columnist

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Earlier this summer, on the very same day GM laid off workers at its historic plant in Lordstown, we got word that GM plans to build its new Chevy Blazer in Mexico – the company is bypassing American workers and sending more jobs to Mexico.

In 2010, we worked hard to save the American auto industry, including GM, because we knew what these plants and this industry means to communities in Ohio and across the country.

But announcements like this one are proof that we need to do more to keep auto jobs in the U.S. and stop rewarding companies that send jobs overseas.

That’s why I introduced legislation to help us level the playing field with foreign competition, by making it more affordable for Americans to buy American-made cars and trucks, and revoking a special GOP tax cut for auto companies that send jobs overseas.

My bill, the American Cars, American Jobs Act, has two simple parts:

  • First, customers who buy cars that are made in the U.S. get $3,500 off. The discount would apply to nearly 100 cars, trucks, and SUVs, including all passenger vehicles assembled in Ohio.
  • Second, auto companies that cut the number of American jobs they had on the day the GOP tax bill passed and add those jobs overseas, lose a special tax break they get on their overseas profits.

In their tax giveaway to corporations last year, Republicans in Congress gave companies new tax incentives to close auto plants here in the U.S. and ship those jobs to Mexico or other foreign countries. This happened because their tax bill allowed companies to pay just 10.5 percent in taxes on some of their overseas profits, instead of the full 21 percent corporate rate. That’s like handing out 50 percent off coupons to companies that send jobs overseas.

This bill puts a stop to that. It says that if you choose to send jobs overseas, you lose that coupon and pay the full 21 percent. On the other hand, if you keep jobs in the U.S., you keep your discount.

The world was reminded eight years ago to never bet against the American auto industry and the workers who are the engine behind it.

We invested in saving this industry, yet we have a trade and tax policy set up to undermine it.

This legislation will work to change that, leveling the playing field for American cars and American workers.

Cracking Down on Overdraft Fees

Bank executives shouldn’t be allowed to scam hardworking families to pay for a CEO’s yacht. But that’s what’s happening as expensive, unexpected overdraft fees are costing too many Americans.

Overdraft protection used to be a free perk, understanding that sometimes mistakes happen – a bank transfer takes longer than someone expects, or a paycheck is delayed because of a holiday. Allowing customers to make purchases anyway, by temporarily overdrawing their account, helped many families.

But the same big banks that have gotten rid of free checking accounts have turned overdraft protection into huge profits – on the backs of hardworking Ohioans.

Rather than overdraft protection helping families avoid a bounced check, like it used to, banks now charge automatic fees whenever someone overdraws their account – and those fees are getting higher and higher.

Banks also regularly reorder transactions to generate the highest possible fees for the bank – and the highest possible cost to the customer. That’s right – banks are exploiting Ohio customers by going in and manipulating their accounts, ripping them off with higher fees than they should be charged.

And often banks bury the possibility of these charges in the fine print of account agreements.

TCF Bank recently agreed to pay back $25 million to consumers it tricked into signing up for expensive overdraft products by misleading customers into believing they had to sign up for it in order to open an account. TCF’s CEO was so proud of his scam, he named his yacht “Overdraft.”

That’s why this month, I introduced the Stop Overdraft Profiteering Act, to protect Ohioans’ hard earned paychecks.

My bill requires banks to process transactions in a way that minimizes overdraft fees, requires those fees be reasonable, and limits the number of fees that can be charged. It would ban overdraft fees on debit card transactions and ATM withdrawals altogether, and ensure that overdraft fees on rent and utility payments are fair and affordable.

These fees are a tax on paychecks that are already stretched thin.

Banks should be set up to serve customers – not scam them to pad their CEOs’ bottom-lines. Our bill will work to change that.

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Sen. Sherrod Brown

Guest Columnist