By Jon Decker
If you were surprised by the incompetence of Democratic Party leadership during last night’s still-undecided Iowa caucus, wait until you hear what’s coming next. This Thursday, House Democrats, on their own volition, have teed up a vote on one of the most politically toxic pieces of legislation in the country which – until now – was only a California problem. In an apparent fit of masochism, Democrats are taking their California AB5 debacle national and will likely force nearly every House Democrat to walk the plank.
The bill is H.R.2474, known as the PRO Act. The bill is basically a wish list of bad ideas from union bosses, but one especially noteworthy aspect is the legislation’s debilitating new regulations on the gig economy. The PRO Act borrows language directly from a California state bill, known as AB 5, that undermines the freedom of workers (especially freelance writers and ride-share drivers) to choose their own hours by reclassifying them as employees rather than independent contractors. This poses an extreme threat to the gig economy, and some companies have already sued California over the new law.
It is the ultimate irony that Nancy Pelosi – who was elected to represent California’s bay area – is putting legislation on the floor that would crush the business model of Uber, Lyft, Postmates, and surely more than a few other successful San Francisco-based companies. I can’t recall the last time a member of Congress worked so hard to stomp out businesses in her own district.
In addition, the PRO Act would also be terrible for consumers. Users of ride-sharing apps can expect higher costs and fewer drivers on the road due to the decrease in freelance workers. This is especially interesting because Democrats have traditionally relied on young Americans as a critical support base – now they are pushing for national legislation to ban services used by more than half of young adults in urban locations. Young Americans love these products and services offered by freelancers – expect backlash once they are taken away.
It’s not often you see politicians attacking industries in their district and attacking a critical support block, but that is exactly what Pelosi will do by bringing the PRO Act to the floor. Pelosi is now making even the most moderate members of her caucus take a stance on radical legislation that is bad politics and bad policy.
Perhaps rank and file Democrats should stop marching in lockstep behind self-described master legislator Nancy Pelosi.
By Jon Decker