Following up on speak outs it organized around the country during the summer the Congressional Progressive Caucus Sept. 13 unveiled a far-reaching Rebuild the American Dream Framework, focusing on six areas for immediate and long-term job creation.
Calling the jobs proposal President Obama presented to the country last week “comprehensive,” and “a wonderful first step,” CPC co-chair Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., told a Washington DC press conference, “We’d like to make it bigger.”Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., told reporters,“It was so important to get out of Washington DC, and to participate with people, to listen to the stories so many people have told us, and to bring back their ideas and their thoughts about what we need to do next.”
The CPC’s Framework focuses on six areas:
- Make it in America Again: Develop a national plan for manufacturing, to reopen U.S. factories.
- Rebuild America: A national investment bank to rebuild roads, bridges, locks and dams, connect and empower the country with fiber optic cable.
- Jobs for the Next Generation: Make “the guarantee of a good American job real for every young person,” through “direct employment in the public sector and incentives for hiring in the non-profit sector and private sector.” Provide stipends to workers and youth in job training programs.
- Lead the Green Industrial Revolution: Invest in research and innovation, provide investment incentives to create jobs in the U.S., “build a modern smart grid that can deliver efficiency and clean energy.”
- Not Just Jobs - Good Jobs: Make sure workers are free to organize, ensure businesses obey labor laws, reward businesses that pay well and respect labor rights. Assure help and services for long-term unemployed.
- Fair Taxes - Shared Sacrifice: Make sure corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share. End the Bush-era tax giveaways, close corporate loopholes and tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas. Crack down on offshore tax havens, curb Wall St. speculators and outrageous banker bonuses.
Calling mass unemployment “a national emergency and a human calamity that is damaging all facets of the United States economy,” the CPC pointed out that some 25 million people are unemployed, under employed or have given up looking for work. It said unemployment among African Americans - nearly 17 percent, and Latinos – over 11 percent, far outstrips the official national average of 9.1 percent.
“America should work again for people who work for a a living,” the CPC said. “Working Americans should use their strength in numbers to counter corporate dollars.”
Also on Sept. 13, Lee, Grijalva and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., introduced the Prioritize Emergency Job Creation Act, to amend the recently passed Budget Control Act to allow emergency appropriations for job creation. The Budget Control Act caps funds spent through the annual appropriations process but does not limit spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Calling the jobs crisis “a national emergency,” Lee said, “We should end the wars and cut back on bloated Pentagon spending – and invest that savings in a robust jobs plan to get our nation back to work.”
Earlier this year the CPC introduced its Peoples Budget featuring many provisions similar to those in the new jobs framework.
On Aug. 10, CPC member Rep. Jan Schakowski, D-Ill., introduced a related measure, the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act, to put over 2.2 million people to work for two years, in jobs directly created by the government.
Included would be jobs in areas including school improvement, police and firefighter services, local health care, Early Head Start and park improvement. The measure’s $227 billion cost would be funded by another bill Schakowski has introduced, to raise taxes on the very wealthy.
Photo: Marilyn Bechtel