Iowa Senator Tom Harkin is introducing what he calls “sweeping” legislation today which he says will focus on boosting the economic security of the middle class while revitalizing the nation’s industries. Harkin, a Democrat, calls it the Rebuild America Act. He says it will modernize the country’s infrastructure, expand the manufacturing base and prepare workers for jobs of the future.
“In recent years, many in Washington have been pushing not just misguided budgets, but what I say is a dangerously misguided premise,” Harkin says, “that America is poor and broke and we can no longer afford the investments that make possible a strong middle class and a growing economy.”
Harkin disagrees and says the U.S. remains the wealthiest country in the world. He says the “most dangerous deficit we face is not a deficit of dollars, but a deficit of vision and purpose.” Harkin says his bill will address the “crisis of the middle class” in several comprehensive ways.
“To create the good jobs families need now, the bill provides for robust new investments in America, everything from modernizing transportation and energy infrastructures to bringing our schools and community colleges into the 21st century and preparing our workers for the future.”
The bill would expand the country’s industrial sector by directing the creation a national manufacturing strategy, he says. As chair of the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Harkin says he’s held five hearings in the past year which have zeroed in on how to reverse the decline of America’s middle class.
Harkin says, “This section of the bill will increase access to quality child care, expand time-and-a-half overtime pay, establish a fair minimum wage, allow all Americans to earn paid sick leave, insure that Americans have the right to join a union, open new paths to the middle class for people with disabilities and strengthen Social Security.”
Harkin says the country’s recent “great recession” was caused in large part by an economic system that “shoveled money into the top 1% and choked the middle class.” He calls the legislation “ambitious” and America’s “best bet” for keeping pace with countries like China and other emerging economic giants.