By Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) - 07/22/14 07:20 PM EDT
If you want a crystal clear illustration of what is at stake in this November’s elections, look no further than what the two parties were up to Wednesday.
On the steps of the Capitol, I joined House Democrats in rolling out our “Middle Class Jumpstart” — a 100-day economic action plan to jumpstart the stalled middle class and put families ahead of special interests. House Democrats stood united, offering solutions that tackle the defining challenge of our time: supporting and growing the middle class.
This stark contrast has become par for the course with this Republican Congress. The American people have been treated to years of Republicans’ hyperpartisanship and repetition of failed policies that stack the deck in favor of special interests and the
ultrawealthy, all at the expense of the middle class.
They cost the economy $24 billion when they shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to appease their base. They have wasted time and money on more than 50 votes to repeal and undermine the ACA and on endless partisan investigations. Now they are wasting potentially millions in taxpayer dollars — they refuse to reveal how much — on their partisan boondoggle of a lawsuit. House Republicans are running up a massive tab for their political stunts — and they are forcing the middle class to pay the price.
While Republicans are voting this week to move forward with their lawsuit against the president, House Democrats have a different vision: our “Middle Class Jumpstart.” Within 100 days of a new Democratic House majority taking office, we will pass bold, concrete legislation to support the middle class over corporate special interests, invest in the next generation by expanding access to affordable education, and stand up for women and their families. Our plan has three prongs:
First, we want all families to be able to make it in America, by creating better jobs here at home. While Republicans have heaped tax breaks on companies that ship jobs overseas, Democrats will create new tax incentives to create jobs here at home. While our roads and bridges languish in desperate need of repairs under this Republican Congress, House Democrats will create jobs with smart investments in our infrastructure, building roads, bridges and broadband technology. We can pay for these investments by cracking down on tax-dodging corporations that hide their money overseas. And we must finally move forward and raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour — a plan that would put more money in the pockets of hardworking families and that has been blocked by House Republicans, even as they approved maximum subsidies for special interests.
Second, we must enact policies that embody the axiom that when women succeed, America succeeds. House Democrats have already made supporting women and their families a top priority. It is because of House Democrats that we passed the Violence Against Women Act last year. By ensuring equal pay for equal work, expanding access to quality, affordable child care and guaranteeing paid family and sick leave, Democrats will empower women to support their families and fully participate in our economy. But House Republicans refuse to ensure equal pay, voted to weaken domestic violence laws and to defund Planned Parenthood. Now they want to put a woman’s boss in charge of her health needs, while we’ll require a woman’s boss to pay her the same as a man for equal work and will strengthen the Violence Against Women Act even further.
Finally, we must invest in the future of our economy by investing in education. Democrats will help students and graduates refinance their college loans at new, lower rates, and increase access to Pell Grants to expand opportunities to higher education. House Republicans have done the exact opposite, piling debt on the backs of students and families by refusing to let students refinance their loans and actually cutting Pell Grants. Democrats will also increase American’s access to effective early childhood education.
Middle class families work hard and play by the rules. They deserve a Congress that will work hard for families, not carve out special rules for themselves and their wealthy contributors. It’s time that we stop the political games and jump-start middle class families instead.
Israel has represented New York’s 3rd Congressional District since 2001. He sits on the Appropriations Committee and is the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.