Our American Dream is built BY the people, BY American workers. But we live in a time when fewer than 1 in 5 of us feel like we are living the American Dream. We can change this.
I asked thousands of people across New Jersey to tell me what kept them up at night, and I heard one phrase over and over again — Paycheck to Paycheck. I heard:
A young father’s concern that he doesn’t know how he can cover his children’s health care and education costs when he can barely keep up with mortgage payments and utilities.
A small group of recent college graduates talk about how their student loan debt was shrinking their opportunities, not expanding them.
A woman choke up when she admitted to me that she wasn’t able to save a dime for retirement as she approached the end of her career.
This isn’t the American Dream we hoped for. Three out of four of us who work full-time are living Paycheck to Paycheck, and most are saddled with debt. There is no wonder that fewer than 1 in 5 Americans feel like they are living the American Dream.
When I was a child, my parents explained to me that the American Dream was earning enough to support your family and build a secure future if you do an honest day’s work and play by the rules. Those that work hard should be able to retire with peace of mind. We need to get back to this American Dream. It’s going to take a lot of work, but here are some important ways I want to work with you to get there:
Prioritize the American Worker. When workers win, America wins. As we invest to lead the future, we must remember that the foundation of our economy is the American worker. As our economy changes, we must provide workers at all levels and ages access to job training to help them get ahead and ensure that they stay competitive. This means supporting unions, project labor agreements, a livable wage, safe work environments, and other critical initiatives that help American workers navigate the uncertainty. Our workers deserve to thrive, not just survive.
Support Small Businesses. We need a government that is focused on small businesses, unfortunately Tom MacArthur sided with big corporations instead of small business when he strongly supported repealing Net Neutrality. I will champion legislation to reinstate net neutrality, simplify complicated accounting standards, ease rules that reduce access to capital, and remove other barriers that are making it harder for small businesses to compete with big corporations.
End Gender and Workplace Discrimination. The gender pay gap is unfair and must end. Everyone must get equal pay for equal work. Discrimination and harassment in the workplace are unacceptable. There needs to be dignity in our work and fairness and equality in our paychecks.
Invest in the Industries of the Future. We won’t have better-paying jobs unless America remains a leader in global innovation and business. But our country is falling behind in key sectors. Our government’s policies and investments must be focused on ensuring U.S. technology powers the global economy of the future. We need greater support for STEM education and investments in renewable energy, high-tech manufacturing, biotech, and other fast-growing sectors. Perhaps nowhere in the country is better suited for this type of high tech growth than New Jersey.
Support Veterans. Veterans have served our country and we must do everything we can to help them succeed. That means ensuring a strong and efficient VA and recognizing their military credentials in the civilian workforce. There are no more reliable and trustworthy worker than our veterans.
Fix Our Taxes by Creating Permanent Tax Cuts for Middle Class Families Instead of Corporations. I will work from Day One to get a tax reform that will focus on permanent cuts for the middle class. Tom MacArthur was the only Member of Congress from NJ to vote YES on a tax bill that gave permanent tax cuts to corporations while creating temporary tax relief to Americans that will expire in a few years. Because MacArthur supported restrictions on State and Local Tax deductions, New Jersey home values are estimated to drop by 7.5 percent. Meanwhile, Tom MacArthur supported giving wealthy Americans like himself a $22.5 million tax exemption on their estates. Saddling our nation and future generations with over a trillion dollars to pay for tax breaks that overwhelming go to corporations and the wealthiest Americans is unfair and must be fixed.
Rebuild American Infrastructure. We can rebuild America and create a new generation of jobs if we make the right investments. Our economy won’t succeed without the right infrastructure. Roads, bridges, tunnels, power grids, and ports across New Jersey and the country are crumbling and need to be rebuilt and maintained in a smart way. We must also invest in our technology infrastructure to make sure that every community has affordable access to the high speed internet connection that is vital to growing local economies.
Getting You the Education to Stay Competitive. This means investing in teachers, schools and students; making college more affordable so we don’t saddle our next generation with enormous debt; and supporting trade schools and apprenticeships.
Helping You Retire with Peace of Mind
My mother is retiring this year and she has many sleepless nights worrying about how she will cover her bills. She, like many others, will depend on Social Security for nearly all of her income. She will depend on Medicare for her healthcare. Now Paul Ryan is saying “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit.” Americans need more support and security, not Congress uprooting years of careful financial planning at the last minute to help finance a tax cut for millionaires and corporations.
➜ Stop Tom MacArthur’s “Age Tax.” AARP strongly condemned MacArthur for his health care amendment that would have allowed “insurance companies to charge older Americans and people with preexisting health conditions higher premiums and weaken critical consumer protections…The MacArthur amendment, simply put, makes a bad bill even worse.”
➜ Protect and Expand Social Security. A third of elderly Americans rely on Social Security for all of their income. We need to ensure that they get what they need and explore ways to provide additional security.
➜ Expand Retirement Accounts. Nearly half of all private sector employees in America, 55 million workers, don’t have a retirement savings plan through their employers. Let’s create more options to make retirement saving possible for these workers as well as people that are self-employed, caregivers, and others that do not currently have access to a 401k or pension program. Everyone should have an easy way to save for retirement.
➜ Lower Prescription Drug Costs for Medicare. On fixed incomes, rising drug costs are a major threat to security. We must find ways to keep costs down by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices for drugs and medical equipment and by requiring price justifications by pharmaceutical companies.
➜ Support Community Living and Caregivers. Our elderly deserve to live with dignity and security. Let’s work together to ensure that they have the access, mobility, and support they need to thrive in vibrant communities.