Congressional Progressive Caucus picks up where Obama’s speech left off

In his recent speech in Osawatomie, Kan., President Obama spoke to the challenges of rebuilding the middle class, drawing a clear distinction between policies that foster shared prosperity and those that stack the deck against middle-class Americans. In a sharp rebuke of supply-side economic policies, the president stressed that the costly Bush-era tax cuts produced the “slowest job growth in half a century” while making it harder to pay for public investments as well as the economic security programs forming the backbone of the middle class. As our colleague Ross Eisenbrey wrote last week, the president flatly rejected the “failed ‘you’re on your own’ economic policies that got us into the worst recession in 75 years.” The deterioration of the middle class necessitates that economic policy focus on promoting economic opportunity and mobility rather than prioritizing those already at the top of the earnings distribution.

The first step to rebuilding the middle class is restoring full employment. Beyond the scarring effects wrought on the families of 24 million un- and underemployed workers, massive and persistent slack in the labor market will preclude employed workers from negotiating real wage increases (needed to reverse the decade-long trend of falling real median household income). Yet fiscal policy is poised to drag heavily on economic growth and employment entering 2012; Congress should be expanding efforts to accelerate growth and hiring, but a litany of meaningful job creation measures have instead been filibustered in the Senate. As Congress bickers over continuing the payroll tax holiday and Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program (set to expire at the end of the month),  a new bill has been put forth that would meaningfully address the jobs crisis and begin restoring economic security for the middle class.

The bill that does this, the Restore the American Dream for the 99% Act (H.R. 3638), was rolled out by Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) earlier today. Our analysis of the bill’s job creation measures shows that it would meaningfully boost near-term employment – to the tune of almost 2.3 million jobs in fiscal 2012 and 3.1 million jobs in fiscal 2013 – all while improving the long-term fiscal outlook.

The Act for the 99% would continue the EUC program and replace the payroll tax holiday with the more targeted Making Work Pay tax credit. But the act spans far beyond the scope of job creation measure currently being considered. The bill would also fund direct job creation programs, increase federal surface transportation investments, reinstate higher federal matching rates for Medicaid, and defuse the automatic spending cuts scheduled under the Budget Control Act (which, if triggered, will greatly amplify the fiscal headwinds impeding recovery).

The job creation elements of the bill would be more than financed by accompanying deficit-reduction proposals, which include enacting a millionaire surcharge, reducing spending by the Department of Defense, closing oil and gas loopholes, and taxing financial speculation. As President Obama said in his recent speech, “This isn’t about class warfare. This is about the nation’s welfare. It’s about making the choices that benefit not just the people who’ve done fantastically well over the last few decades, but that benefits the middle class, and those fighting to get into the middle class, and the economy as a whole.”

By focusing on boosting employment and economic growth—and by financing these measures with offsets that will have relatively little adverse impact on either the economic recovery or the economic security of the middle class—the Congressional Progressive Caucus has offered a legislative blueprint to meet President Obama’s vision for rebuilding the middle class.


  • Anonymous

    SHHHHHH  Please do not tell the Democrats.let em stay mute

    JOBS PER PRESIDENT
    per year
    Clinton–2,900,000
    Carter—-2,600,000
    LBJ——2,300,000
    Reagan–2,000,000
    Nixon—-1,700,000
    JFK——-1,200,000
    Truman—1,100,000
    Ford———745,000
    Bush I——-625,000
    IKE———-438,000
    Bush II——375,000

    Democrats = 10.100
    Republican = 5.883

    clarence swinney madmadmad at Inequality in America

  • Cmurn

    You are insane for advocating additional payroll tax cuts. Cutting taxes on the working class is a good idea, but doing it in a way that drains the Social Security system is both political suicide for Democrats and just plain stupid. Democrats have complained for years that voters vote against their economic interests. Now it seems that liberal and maybe some progressive advocates are urging Democratic representatives to vote against the economic interests of their constituents by defunding Social Security. Get your wits about you! George W. Bush was more progressive than your advocacy in that respect, in that he gave $600 rebates from income taxes to each and every working age adult. If you claim to be liberal or progressive, act like it!!!!! Give income tax cuts, not Social-Security-defunding payroll tax cuts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Artsymom5

    I wonder if any of the ideas I provided to Austan Goolesbee will be included. So often we just throw money at a problem that could be resolved with simple tweaking or enforcement of current legislation.  We spend 7k per head on job training, but nothing for our designers who need to expand from local to national distribution. They need the training and technical assistance that EVERY other country provides it’s small mfg who want access to the US marketplace.  We’ve lost jobs because we refuse to look at the successful economic strategies of other countries.  

    Wendy Rosen
    Candidate for Congress (MD-1)

  • Brent Pittman

    Both the Republican and Democrat parties are going in the wrong direction. To SAVE the US entrepreneurial ranking, credit rating, stock market, the $, Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and the police, fire, k-12 public school, library, military, defense and homeland security budgets while CUTTING government spending, debt and present tax rates without causing inflation or high interest rates; both State and Federal parties would be winners if they would compromise with the following strategies: Create good paying American jobs with good benefits for American citizens by repealing all sales taxes and replace the lost revenue with an import tax/tariff on imported labor (India) and manufactured goods (Mexico and Communist China & Vietnam). Increase the federal income tax deduction from $5700 (2010) to $15000 for American citizens. Increase the IN state income tax exemption for non-dependent adults from $1000 to $5000, up to $15,000; depending on disabilities and age. All standard deductions and exemptions should be adjusted for inflation. Collect an export tax on natural resources/commodities such as coal, oil, natural gas and grains. Repeal all wealthy individual, business and new development/construction tax incentives such as tax abatement, tax increment financing, grants, deductions, credits, tax free bonds, earmarks and loopholes that are creating poverty wage American jobs or exporting jobs. OR, require these corporate welfare kings to pay a living wage, minimum wage of $15/hour with good benefits; adjusted for inflation. Collect mandatory impact fees (IN code: 36-7-4-1300, only infrastructure today); but, expand the code to collect impact fees for schools, libraries, parks, police and fire. Search for Brent Pittman Brownsburg, IN at flyergroup.com, LinkedIN.com and google.com for more information and details.