I'm not seeing a lot of buzz about this, but there should be. The Congressional Progressive Caucus has unveiled their framework for jobs, which augments and expands upon the President's American Jobs Act.
The CPC's Rebuild The American Dream Framework has six parts to it. Specific policy proposals will be forthcoming, but here is the high level overview:
- Make it in America Again - focus on bolstering U.S. manufacturing
- Rebuild America - focus on infrastructure as a larger part of the jobs policy than the White House proposal
- Lead the Green Industrial Revolution - blending the first two elements into a focus on green industries and products
- Jobs for the Next Generation - Job training and education for young people
- Not Just Jobs – Good Jobs - Reinforcing Americans' right and access to collective bargaining, promoting jobs that provide wages, benefits and security that will preserve the middle class
- Fair Taxes – Shared Sacrifice - Pay for the program by taxing the wealthy in this country
At a time when poverty in this country has risen to one in six Americans, where joblessness among young people is at its highest level since the Great Depression, and jobs are the single biggest issue on the table, this framework is most welcome. It's the product of discussions caucus members had during the summer as they toured the country and spoke to people about what most concerned them.
While I haven't heard all of the specifics yet, I think there are some cues to be taken from progressives' budget proposal released earlier this year, which proposed a 45 percent tax rate on the wealthiest earners in this country, ending the wars, and preserving the social safety net for generations to come.
It's important to recognize that progressives are not trying to compete with the American Jobs Act, but instead have offered proposals which dovetail and augment his. I interpret that message as one of support not just for his plan, but for a larger vision of what can be done with the support of the American people.
It's that support part that's a challenge. Progressives' voices seem to be a focus in the mainstream media only when they are opposing the President, not when they're stepping up alongside and strengthening what has been proposed. I would love to see a movement to get behind every one of their proposals with full-throated force, in the hopes of widening the benefits of whatever jobs package ultimately squeaks through this crazy Congress.
Most importantly, the CPC proposal reflects what the majority of people in this country not only want, but need. It reflects a value system that doesn't applaud dead uninsured people, but seeks to put an end to a situation where people die from lack of access to health care. It reflects a value system where every citizen of this country is given the same opportunity to succeed and improve their lot in life. It reflects the greater good a government should be doing for the governed.
Reality may dictate that this Congress offers no hope for getting any of these proposals through. But we have an opportunity to rally around it anyway, and begin to change the narrative away from the right-wing cynical, selfish world view to one that's centered around real people and real struggles.
My hat is off to the CPC, and I'm looking forward to writing more about their specific bills as they emerge.