Iowa Senator Tom Harkin announced a new economic plan he’s calling the “Rebuild America Plan.” From The Nation:
The legislation is divided into three basic categories: the first is proactive federal spending an action meant to boost the flagging economy. It includes:
$300 billion for roads, bridges, energy efficiency systems and other infrastructure
$20 billion in school modernization funding
Boosting funding for agencies that regulate trade, to better enforce fair trade policies
Funding to states to hire teachers, public safety workers and other public employees.
To help workers and families:
Increased child care subsidies for working parents
Ensuring that workers, particularly white-collar workers categorized as independent contractors, earn time-and-a-half overtime pay
Raising the minimum wage
Strengthening the National Labor Relations Act, making it easier for workers to join unions and increasing penalties on employers for blocking unionization.
To pay for the increased spending:
Raising the capital gains rate and closing the carried interest loophole
A Wall Street speculators tax, of three basis points on common financial securities trades
Ending tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs.
Senator Harkin is aware that such a proposal wouldn’t fly in the current Congress. He does think that we need to stop thinking in Paul Ryan terms:
“I firmly believe that anyone running for election this year to the House or the Senate—if they take up this bill, if they take up the direction of this bill… I believe that will be a winning formula,” he said. “I think the American people are hungry, looking for some way out of this mess that we’re in and I think they’re saturated [with] these sort of quick-fix type things—that we can’t be bold, we can’t grow, we’ve got to, as the Ryan budget says, just keep shrinking and shrinking and shrinking.”
There are some options here that would create jobs by investing in fixing our broken infrastructure. There are options that would help struggling families get back on track.
We certainly need to discuss choices other than the current menu of attempting to balance the budget on the backs of the poor and middle class while continuing to shovel tax breaks at the wealthy.