Rebuilding America and Restoring the American Dream

Everywhere you look these days, you can see that our great country’s infrastructure is crumbling.  Roads and bridges that once were the envy of the world are not being maintained adequately.  Dams and levees are failing.  Flint, Michigan’s water system is poisoning its citizens.  The Republican Party’s singular focus on tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans has led it to refuse to authorize the funds necessary to rebuild and maintain our national assets.

Who is hurt by this stinginess?  Working Americans, that’s who, those who are underpaid and overworked, trying their best to support themselves and their families.  The Republicans also have blocked increases in the minimum wage for decades, to the point where it is worth only a fraction of what it once was in terms of purchasing power.  Even a $15 minimum wage is worth less today than the $1.65 an hour a McDonald’s employee earned in the 1970s.  And remember, an increase in the minimum wage not only affects those earning the minimum today, it also affects everyone making $8, $10, $12, or $14 an hour.  That means a raise for millions of American wage-earners.

At the same time, we face an environmental crisis.  If our country is going to retain its status as the world’s leading economy, then we MUST divorce fossil fuel and nuclear technology and embrace renewable green energy. The evidence is clear.  Over 98% of climate scientists agree that not only is climate change REAL but that current human behavior is exacerbating the warming of our planet.  

The question is not when or if the world is going to move to green energy, the question is who will lead the charge.  Which nations will have the will and the ability to adapt to the new reality?  Are we willing to lead, or must we follow China and Europe as they dominate the new energy and job market? We must not allow lobbyists from the fossil fuel industry to prevent our country from embracing the way of the future.

That is why I support a responsible yet comprehensive bill that invests in rebuilding roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, schools, seaports, airports, and other basic infrastructure.  I will also push to incorporate investments in solar and wind power, high-speed rail, and other green technologies.  This rebuilding effort should be accomplished using AMERICAN products and AMERICAN workers.  And these workers should be paid a living wage.

Such a program will generate more than a million new jobs.  Paired with an increase in the minimum wage and incentives to hire from areas with high levels of unemployment, it can be a springboard to a resurgent, vital middle class.