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Washington Memo: Here’s my plan to jump-start the American dream

The celebrated promise of our country has always been that hard work would lead to good jobs, fair pay and a shot at the American dream. For many, though, that fundamental promise has been unraveling: a bailout for Wall Street (that I voted against), too few jobs bills for Main Street, a growing gap between the wealthy and poor, and smaller take-home pay that’s squeezing middle class families.

Our biggest challenge is to jump-start the American dream for middle- and working-class families, the foundation of every New Hampshire community. We must recommit ourselves to building an economy where all can work, where hard work merits fair pay and, as our economy grows, everyone prospers.

America has a jobs crisis, and Congress must take action. During this session of Congress, I’ve helped introduce jobs bills that would jump-start our economy by putting money back into the pockets of hardworking families, ending the job-killing policy known as sequestration, and investing in New Hampshire’s infrastructure. There are many jobs bills waiting for a vote. I’ve sponsored legislation to keep jobs in America. I’ve also written legislation that would permanently double the tax deduction for new businesses, and I authored a bill to help teachers who pay for educational supplies by expanding a tax deduction. I’ve cosponsored legislation that would allow employers to claim a $2,400 credit when they hire a recently discharged veteran. These are commonsense steps to help our small businesses grow, support middle-class families, and stand up for veterans.

Over the past couple of decades, American workers have become more productive than ever, but wages have remained mostly stagnant. A study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that the minimum wage would have reached $21.72 an hour in 2012 if it had kept up with increases in worker productivity.

The reason I, along with 63 percent of Americans, support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for hardworking men and women is that we understand that a stronger minimum wage means a stronger economy. Raising the minimum wage helps working families make ends meet, and it drives economic growth for local businesses.

Women still make only 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. This pay gap is unfair, it hurts families and it’s a drag on our economy. State Sen. Sylvia Larsen of Concord is leading the charge for paycheck fairness in New Hampshire, and in Congress I was proud to help launch the Women’s Economic Agenda. Jump-starting the American dream means supporting the millions of American women working to achieve job security and economic stability for themselves and their families.

Retirement security is another cornerstone of the American dream. Protecting the American dream means protecting the dream of a retirement without fear of financial catastrophe. Before Medicare, only half of seniors had health insurance. Today, virtually all do. Thanks to the prescription drug benefits in the Affordable Care Act, 11,962 Granite State Medicare beneficiaries saved an average of $807 each in 2013. I joined colleagues to introduce the Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013, which would improve benefits for current and future Social Security beneficiaries, protecting the American dream.

Recently, there have been a number of proposals to balance the budget on the backs of New Hampshire seniors by making dramatic changes to critical programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed federal budget would eliminate the Medicare guarantee for seniors and reopen the Medicare donut hole, costing seniors hundreds of dollars more each year. I strongly oppose this type of budget and any budget that contains cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits.

The promise of America is not that we guarantee equal outcomes; it’s that we try to provide a ladder of opportunity for all those willing to work hard. We need to increase investments in education from preschool to college, because education is the key to a nation’s prosperity.

Risk-takers and entrepreneurs should be rewarded for their visions, their discoveries and their innovations. Those who work each day to carry out that vision should be paid a fair wage. Fair play and opportunity are woven into the American dream.

As I travel throughout the 1st Congressional District, I hear my constituents say the same thing: People who work hard and play by the rules should still have a shot at success. We might live in a time of divided government, but that is no excuse for inaction. Let’s work together and jump start the American dream now.

(Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter represents New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District.)

readers only have to ask themselves this question - DO YOU BELIEVE HER?

Carol, I love your plan but there's no chance as long as the Rs hold the House (a near certainty) or retake the Senate (good bet right now). It's a travesty that we allowed so many to suffer without a job rather than do more desperately needed infrastructure building during this latest downturn. But realistically we can't count on help from congress for the foreseeable future. Is the only hope we have that Ds win in 2020 in the states so we can undo the gerrymandering ? So maybe President Clinton can get something done in her second term? I find it awful to have to wait so long for such an uncertain outcome. Is there any hope to make congress a force for good before the decade ends? I am getting nostalgic for pork barrel politics -- at least some good occasionally got done.

Well, with all the lying the Repubs are doing about the ACA and Koch's money, I figure probably lose the senate in 2014. But then maybe that is a good thing because after two years the Repubs craziness will turn people off like in did in Washington and in NH when they were elected in 2010 and kicked out in 2012. Obama will still have his veto to stop any real insanity like invading Russia or getting rid of Social Security or Medicare. Then in 2016 we will be ready for Hillary and a brand new progressive house and senate. Sound good?

Let’s look at those “evil” Koch Brothers. The Charles Koch Foundation, donates millions of dollars underwriting research and teaching at Brown University, Mount Holyoke, Sarah Lawrence, University of Wisconsin and 245 other colleges. They donated $814,000 to the Kansas State University Office of Diversity to assist under represented students. David Koch has given $25M to Houston’s Anderson Cancer Center, $100M for cancer research at MIT, $100 for a new ambulatory center at NY Presbyterian Hospital. Mrs. Charles Koch donated $1.8M to artists and musicians with ties to Kansas. David Koch supports the PBS Nova series and he has donated $50M in total to the Smithsonian. He also donated $20M to the Museum of Natural History in NYC. In 2008, David Koch donated $100M to the Lincoln Center to modernize it. The Wildlife Habitat Council praises the Koch Brothers for their efforts and donations to Montana 300,000 acre Matador ranch and Ducks Unlimited protecting 36,000 acres containing ducks on 116 lakes in Minnesota. Yeah, those “evil”, selfish and greedy Koch Brothers.

Hmm, wonder if any of that could be to have undue influence as when they gave millions to PBS or maybe a tax write off? They are so good and generous I wonder what they have against every American being able to have health care? It is a quandary.

Carol, I love your plan but there's no chance as long as the Rs hold the House (a near certainty) or retake the Senate (good bet right now). It's a travesty that we allowed so many to suffer without a job rather than do more desperately needed infrastructure building during this latest downturn. But realistically we can't count on help from congress for the foreseeable future. Is the only hope we have that Ds win in 2020 in the states so we can undo the gerrymandering ? So maybe President Clinton can get something done in her second term? I find it awful to have to wait so long for such an uncertain outcome. Is there any hope to make congress a force for good before the decade ends? I am getting nostalgic for pork barrel politics -- at least some good occasionally got done.

How about a simple law that says - "tax dollars" can only be spent on products made in America. If companies want in on the tax money then produce the product in the US. That would actually create jobs. Yes it would take a 10 year phase in period because right now most products and parts are made outside the US, but the jobs would start right away. Rebuilding privately owned manufacturing plants, privately owned tooling companies and all the other privately owned support businesses would start right away. This doesn't cost the government one additional penny, the businesses will do it because they will sell the products. This would actually generate revenue with more people and businesses working. More jobs mean less people collecting from all the various benefit programs.

If you want to jump start the economy, you have to be truthful about what the issues are. Sure would be nice if a Pol would be honest instead of putting out myths. The 77 cent myth for women is based on all men and women working. It does not take into consideration what job choices women make, their education majors and their positions. A teacher makes a heck of a lot less than a civil engineer. Women gravitate toward health jobs, teaching, social work et. Those jobs pay less, period. Some take those jobs based on flexibility of work hours etc. There have been many programs to get women in the fields of engineering and sciences. They all have pretty much failed. Raising the minimum wage according to the CBO will cause a 500,000 loss in jobs. We make nothing here, we buy China goods. Those working minimum wage are in the food service and retail areas for the most part. We also have the stats of who works for minimum wage broke down by age, area they work etc. We need to drill in the Atlantic & Pacific coasts. We need pipeline projects. This President spends all his time focused on everything else but the economy. He campaigns and bashes everybody that disagrees with him.

You really fail to get it. The .77 cent issue is based on same job description different gender. We all know there are lower paying jobs such as teaching - but lo and behold, teachers are paid the same regardless of gender. Don't forget all those minimum wage. We need to drill is you answer, not much imagination with that tired old cliche. As of Oct of 2012, 72% of all oil and gas leases are not even being used in the US. Oil companies/ Investors just sit on them and let the prices rise until one day........ You are correct about the made in China bit, US companies can make greater profits by doing this. The prime example is Apple. The US problem is profits, just when is enough enough? In the US corporate CEO's make on average 354 times that of their workers. This is far higher than every other country. Companies stock prices haven't been better yet no jobs, why?

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