To find the legislation that is part of the Rebuild the American Dream Framework, click here.
Persistent mass unemployment constitutes a national emergency and a human calamity that is damaging all facets of the United States economy. Roughly 25 million Americans are in need of full time work, including underemployed Americans and those who have simply given up looking for work. The numbers are stark for everyone, but even more so for minority communities. While unemployment stands at 9.1% nationally, it’s over 11% for Hispanics and almost 17% for African Americans. More and more Americans are facing or living in poverty, desperately in need of a good job at a living wage. While the President’s plan is a good start, we want to offer a more comprehensive plan to put America back to work.
After repeated efforts by conservative Washington politicians to reenact the same failed policies that brought us the worst recession since the Great Depression, Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) took action. CPC Members traveled across the country listening to the American people, working to elevate their voices in the misguided debate in Washington. We went to Minneapolis and Detroit, Milwaukee and New York, Miami and Oakland, listening to Americans of every stripe tell their stories of struggling in today’s bleak economy with one common theme; the need for good jobs now.
We heard from young people, graduating into a market that has no place for them. A skilled carpenter without work told of struggling to pay his mortgage while watching his life savings evaporate. We heard from seniors, teachers and bookkeepers, one day confident of their place in the middle class, the next finding themselves without work, without savings and without hope.
The Americans we listened to understand that this isn’t a passing downturn. They fear that our country is in decline and that their children will have fewer opportunities than they did, if we fail to act. Americans aren’t looking for short-term, quick fix gimmicks; they are looking for a serious, long-term strategy that will revive our economy, put people to work and cement a prosperous future for all Americans.
After months of Americans speaking out across the country, Washington is finally starting to wake up to the demands of the people. They do not lack a work ethic; they lack work. They know that a nation isn't prosperous or free when big corporations sit on record profits while millions of people sit idle in their homes. They want Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid protected. They think big banks should help pay to clean up the mess they have made. They want the rich to pay their fair share, and want an end to the money politics where predatory corporate lobbies rig the rules to benefit a wealthy few. The Congressional Progressive Caucus has pledged to tell their stories in Washington – and to act by demanding policies to meet the challenges they face every day. We are presenting this strategic framework to help guide a national conversation about rebuilding America, our middle class, and the American Dream.
Our principles, endorsed by thousands of Americans on the SpeakOut! For Good Jobs Now Tour, are clear: In America, every good worker deserves a good American job. America should work again for people who work for a living. Working Americans should use their strength in numbers to counter corporate dollars. Our framework is as follows:
Make it in America Again
We must begin with a strategy to revive manufacturing in the United States. This requires developing something every other industrial nation has – a national plan for manufacturing. When people see the words “Made in America” they know that they are getting the highest quality manufactured goods money can buy. We need a policy that reopens our factories and lets Americans do what they do best: produce the highest quality products in the world.
With the cost of borrowing near zero, the construction industry flat on its back, and America’s decrepit infrastructure not only a competitive burden, but a threat to lives and safety, there is no better time to launch a major initiative to rebuild America. Create a national investment bank to leverage private capital and ensure that major projects are determined by merit, not by political muscle. Rebuild our half century old roads, bridges, locks and dams, while spurring creation of the roads of the future by connecting and empowering our country with fiber optic cable.
Jobs for the Next Generation
There is no shortage of work to be done in America and no shortage of workers to do it. One in four teenagers are officially unemployed, including nearly half of young African Americans and Latinos. We are witnessing a generation of crushed hopes, and we are squandering the talent of young Americans. Destructive cuts in public education threaten America’s economic success and we are now falling behind. While we must invest in the finest public education and job training in the world, education is no longer a guarantee of work. Let us make the guarantee of a good American job real for every young person. We should provide direct employment in the public sector and incentives for hiring in the non-profit sector and private sector. In addition, the caucus supports a “Train me and pay me” program which would give stipends to workers and young people who are enrolled in job training programs.
Lead the Green Industrial Revolution
A centerpiece of our economic strategy must be to create good jobs now by capturing the lead in the industrial revolution that is sweeping the world – starting with clean energy, electric cars, and efficient appliances. We need to invest in research and innovation so that America remains on the cutting edge of global technologies. Provide investment incentives to companies to create jobs here at home. Build a modern smart grid that can deliver efficiency and clean energy.
Not Just Jobs – Good Jobs
American workers want good American jobs, not poverty level wages without benefits that make it impossible to support a family or save for the future. We can start by making sure that middle-class Americans are free to organize and have a voice and a seat at the table again. If corporations can join together to hire an army of lobbyists, working Americans must come together and use their strength in numbers to protect the rights of middle class Americans. We must ensure that businesses obey our labor laws and reward those that create good paying American jobs that protect our rights to equal opportunity and equal pay. Programs like TANF ECF have been proven to put people to work. And while we work on building these good jobs, we must ensure the long-term unemployed receive the full assistance and services they need so they can continue contributing to the economy.
Fair Taxes - Shared Sacrifice
Let big corporations and their CEOs pay what they used to pay in taxes, and the deficit will be gone faster than you can say fairness. As we detailed in the People’s Budget, we need tax reform, in which corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share. End the Bush tax giveaways, close corporate loopholes and tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas. Crack down on offshore tax havens; curb Wall Street speculators and outrageous banker bonuses to provide the resources needed to invest in rebuilding America.