The single biggest issue that Americans are facing today is the gap between the rich and the poor. Although unemployment rates have come down dramatically in the past few years, the fact remains that many people in this country still struggle to make ends meet and are unable to achieve the American Dream. On the other hand, we are watching the rich get richer with the top one-tenth of 1 percent of Americans owning almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.
In order to address this income inequality, I propose the following four-point plan:
1) Increase the Federal Minimum Wage
The federal minimum wage needs to be raised to $15/hour across the country, and in major metropolitan areas where it’s more expensive to live, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York etc., should see an increase to $18-$20/hour in the minimum wage. Once the federal wage has been raised, we need to tie it directly to the performance of the economy and specifically to economic growth, so that the minimum wage continues to grow as the economy grows.
2) Train the Workforce
As we move into the new economy with the loss of traditional manufacturing, factory and fossil fuel jobs, we have to prepare the workforce with the skills necessary to thrive in the new economy. With the advancement of technology and Artificial Intelligence, we know that the type of jobs that will be available in the next 10-15 years will be different. For example, as the country moves toward self-driving technology, we’re going to lose jobs like taxi cab drivers, Uber drivers and truck drivers. So we need prepare the workforce for the new economy in sectors like sustainable energy – wind, solar, and water power – that will provide the high paying jobs of the future.
3) Raise Taxes on Corporations
The tax structure in this country is dramatically out of balance. The recent Republican tax overhaul gave a huge tax cut to the wealthy and to corporations, who in many instances will pay little to no tax at all. We need a fair and equitable tax system which means raising taxes on the top 1% and provides earned income tax credits for those who have incomes of less than $45,000 a year.
4) Protecting Unions
The union movement in this country was born out of necessity to give working men and women the power to negotiate for fair wages and benefits. As the union movement grew, so did prosperity in this country. The economy flourished, wages increased, buying power increased, and we saw the rise of the greatest middle class in the history of this country. Unfortunately, as corporations began to gain power, they began to fight unionization and for the most part, they have been successful. I believe we need to protect unions so they can fairly negotiate on behalf of workers and push for fair labor practices.