Biden May Outlaw Freelancing

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Brad Polumbo warns that the federal version of California's AB-5 gig work ban -- which even its own voters gutted this fall -- has been reintroduced:

The bill proposes to "help" this man by depriving him of freely-chosen work. (Modified from image by Kai Pilger, via Unsplash, license.)
[T]his legislation isn't coming out of nowhere. It's modeled after a similar but highly controversial California bill, AB 5, that likewise forced the reclassification of independent contractors.

President Biden supported AB 5 at the time, and is on the record supporting the PRO Act, too. And now that Democrats control Congress, it could pass the House and find support from the White House. The only question would be whether it could make it through the closely-divided Senate.

So, it's worth examining the sweeping impact this legislation would have on the economy.

The PRO Act would outlaw millions of existing jobs with the stroke of the president's pen.
Examining Polumbo does, with numbers and short stories, like the following:
"Transcription allowed me to stay at home, be my own boss, and control my workflow and whom I work with," 72-year-old transcriptionist Dori Lehner told the Independent Women's Forum. "I only have one direct client now, and I only get work when they have it. My income has dropped down to a quarter of what it was before AB5."
There are numerous such stories, including a well-publicized mass lay-off of California-based journalists, all ultimately caused by the fact that "reclassification" of workers -- a violation of the right to contract, to trade and make a living on one's own terms -- makes employment more expensive when it occurs.

Polumbo urges lawmakers to be mindful of the "unintended" consequences such legislation will rain down on American freelancers. But after the fiasco in California, it is hard for me to imagine that this legislation was introduced innocently.

It will be up to better Republicans, fiscally conservative Democrats, and politically active freelancers to point to the hardship AB-5 caused, and to raise such a stink about this proposal that even Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will notice -- in the form of fearing a loss of their majorities if this bill becomes law.

-- CAV

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