President Obama laid out a series of important steps to restore fairness by repairing the tax and regulatory system to help the middle class. The strategies are a good start, but President Obama needs more time to turn around what the past Bush Administration did to hurt the middle class and help those who lost their jobs due to companies that are profiting from paying less and by reducing the workforce.
People are doing more but are getting paid less. This has become an unjust economy where economic rewards have been consolidated and good paying jobs have been deteriorating in the name of bigger profits for CEOs and shareholders we need to re-elect President Obama in order for him to continue the fight for the middle class and to keep our American Dream alive.
We know that a lack of quality, good-paying jobs continue to become harder and harder to find. At the bottom of the labor market, 20% of adults in the U.S. today work in jobs that pay poverty wages (wages that would not raise a family of four above the poverty line, even with full-time, year-round work).
Farther up the ladder, jobs have been disassembled. Now only about half the jobs in the U.S. today provide pensions. This all started under the watchful eye on the past Bush Administration, who gave tax breaks to corporations and wealthy individuals.
Job security has also eroded. Many people who have been laid off risk falling into poverty. Moreover, even if laid-off workers are lucky enough to find new jobs, they are forced to take a 20% pay cut, according to information provided by U.S. Census reports. Being a skilled worker no longer will earn you decent pay, benefits, or security.
Any serious effort to address the erosion of the middle class must include taking on the challenges of making the job market fairer for the working class.
Today's minimum wage is more than $3 below its value in 1968 after accounting for inflation. Today too many employers avoid paying overtime to employees who have earned it, and having an effective enforcement of the law to avoid this wage theft is important. A stronger voice for workers, such as unions, can improve economic outcomes, but the anti-labor laws now popping up recently by Republican lawmakers are making it harder for unions.
In the past, when many American firms did well, they shared profits and productivity gains with their employees. Unfortunately, that is no longer the standard. In the past, CEOs were praised if they showed a commitment to their workforces and saw human capital as their key competitive asset.
But these days it would be naïve to think that purely voluntary action by a sense of fairness will turn the tide. For a real shift to fairness, we need real policy initiatives like the ones President Obama has been proposing, but the Republicans in Congress have been fighting him all the way. These include increased public support for deepening training, investments in the human capital of the workforce, which can come via the tax code and well-designed public-private economic projects.
Improving the quality of good paying jobs for all Americans is what President Obama will continue to do for a stronger economy. But trying to change the mindset of Corporate America from greed to sharing their success with their employees is going to be hard and will take more of a commitment to fairness in order to improve our economy.
That is why President Obama’s efforts to change the direction of this country are so important and crucial to saving the middle class and our American Dream.
When President Obama took over one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history, he had to take on more debt to turn things around than he had planned or anyone else had expected. But this problem didn’t happen overnight, and given what he was handed, I think he’s moving the country in the right direction. He ran on Hope and Change. The change that he was talking about was the fact that many from the working class could not realize the American Dream.
Obama’s hope and change is under way and we see signs of improvements. It has been slow, but Republicans in Congress have fought him all the way. For example, how can anyone argue against fair wages for men and women, access to healthcare for seniors, children and those with pre-existing health issues, and affordable higher education for the youth?
So to those who keep asking where is the change President Obama campaigned on, here are just a few you should take note of.
· “Change is the first bill I signed into law — a law that says you get an equal day’s work — somebody who puts in an equal day’s work should get equal day’s pay.”
· “Change is the decision we made to rescue the auto company from collapse, even when some politicians were saying we should let Detroit go bankrupt.”
· “Change is the decision we made to stop waiting for Congress to do something about our addiction to oil and finally raise fuel-efficiency standards for the first time in 30 years.”
· “Change is health care reform that we passed after a century of trying.” Obama stated in a recent speech.
But here are a few more policy changes that Obama stands behind to help the middle class.
· Infrastructure: “Project Rebuild” will aim to put people to work rehabilitating homes, businesses, and communities, leveraging private capital and scaling land banks and other public-private collaborations
· Veterans: The “Returning Heroes” hiring tax credit for veterans will provide tax credits from $5,600 to $9,600 to encourage the hiring of unemployed veterans.
· Child Care Costs: Expanding the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit for Middle Class Families: Two-thirds of families with children are headed by two working parents or a single working parent, but child care costs have grown twice as fast as the median income of families with children since 2000. Full-time care for an infant often costs more than $10,000, and monthly child care fees for two children at any age are higher than the median cost of rent. Meanwhile, the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit has only increased once in 28 years and is not indexed for inflation. The Obama-Biden Administration will nearly double the credit for middle-class families by increasing their credit rate from 20 percent to 35 percent of child care expenses. Families could claim up to $3,000 in expenses for one child or $6,000 for two children.
· Student Loans: Over the past three decades, college tuition has grown ten times faster than real median incomes for families with children. About two-thirds of graduates took out loans to pay for college and their average student debt is over $23,000. To ensure our youth can afford higher education, President Obama will ensure that payments on federal student loans are not more than 10 percent of the student borrower’s discretionary income. Moreover, President Obama will increase Pell grants, reform the student loan program, make permanent the new $2,500 American Opportunity Tax Credit for college costs, expand low-cost Perkins loans, strengthen community colleges, and increase graduation rates at both two- and four-year institutions.
· Elderly Care: An estimated 38 million Americans provide unpaid care to an aging relative. President Obama will add $52.5 million in funding to Department of Health and Human Services caregiver support programs that provide temporary respite care, counseling, training, and referrals to critical services.
· Retirement: Currently, 78 million working Americans—roughly half the workforce—lack employer-based retirement plans. Fewer than 60 percent of working heads of families were eligible to participate in any type of job-related pension or retirement plan in 2007. President Obama will promote the establishment of a system of automatic IRAs in the workplace by requiring employers who do not currently offer a retirement plan to enroll their employees in a direct-deposit IRA unless the employee opts out. The new tax credits would help pay employer administrative costs and the smallest firms would be exempt.
These are just some examples of the kind of changes President Obama is taking on to save the American Dream. This election is all about America’s future and which candidate you trust to save the middle class and working poor. Do you think we can afford more failed trickledown economics where the rich get richer and the middle class and poor get poorer? Or do you want to join me by reelecting President Barack Obama? This election is too important to sit on the sideline and hope for change to happen. Get involved because this could be the most important thing you will ever do for you, your family and your country.