Rebuilding America’s Middle Class with Good Paying Jobs and Bipartisan Reform
America urgently needs millions more good paying jobs with pensions and health care benefits to rebuild the middle class, grow our economy, and reverse income inequality that has rigged the system for rich and powerful special interests. We need to reinvest in America and our people.With the White House spinning its wheels, it’s time for Congress to get to work this fall and take the lead with a bipartisan, job-generating, living wage reform agenda that puts American workers first. That will be my focus as Congress returns to Washington after the August recess and the long Labor Day Weekend.
Spending reform starts by putting a stop to endless wars of choice in the Middle East and so called “nation building” abroad. With the $6 trillion we have already spent in Iraq and Afghanistan alone, we could have substantially rebuilt our transportation infrastructure, extended broadband to every citizen in Rural America, graduated every college and post-secondary student debt free and given middle class Americans a pay raise and a substantial tax cut.
Health care reform means fixing what needs fixing in the Affordable Care Act – not dismantling the system, as Republicans have proposed, to leave up to 33 million Americans without health insurance. As I’ve pointed out many times before, the ultimate solution to health care in America is a system with cost controls that takes expensive insurance bureaucracies, executive salaries and profits out of the equation - a system where everyone is covered and everyone pays. Countries that do it that way pay substantially less and have better health care outcomes.
Wage reform means a return to the progress enjoyed by previous generations - jobs with real living wages, pensions, and benefits that support families, with something left over at the end of the week to to wet a line, take in a movie, or go out for a meal. The hard cold fact is that tens of millions of today’s wage earners need two or three jobs just to make a living - with little or nothing left over. And of course we need to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour. No one who works 40 hours a week should ever be living in poverty.
Tax reform must benefit the middle class, ensure that Wall Street millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share, and stop incentivizing multi-national corporations to move their jobs overseas.
Trade reform must ensure “fair trade”, with tariffs and countervailing duties that acknowledge and compensate for differences in wages, benefits, environmental protections and health and safety standards. American workers can compete with anyone in the world on a level playing field.
Infrastructure reform requires massive new investments – between $4 and $5 trillion according to the American Society of Civil Engineers – to meet our urgent national needs, creating millions of good paying jobs in the process. That’s why I’ve reintroduced my “Buy American” legislation and amendments to ensure that all infrastructure projects are constructed with 100% American iron ore and steel.
Among many other things, our bipartisan reform agenda must also include measures to make college affordable, protect Social Security and Medicare, and put a stop to risky and unnecessary Republican privatization schemes. We must address the crisis of climate change immediately, ensure full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and the Sea Grants program, and provide more resources life saving medical research at the National Institutes of Health.
In short, we have a lot of work to do, and Americans expect their Congress to get busy fixing things and solving problems. There is no time for politics and partisanship. We will keep you posted as events proceed. Meanwhile, I want to hear your thoughts. Feel free to contact any of our offices listed below or send me an email.