Middle class deserves a Congress that’s working for it

8/27/2014, 2:19 p.m.
Georgians are tired of the distraction and inaction in Washington, and rightly so.

By Hank Johnson

Georgians are tired of the distraction and inaction in Washington, and rightly so.

Hard-working American families deserve a Congress that is working hard for them, committed to creating jobs, expanding opportunity, and strengthening the middle class.

Unfortunately, it seems like the House Republican majority is too busy fighting for the special interests to fight for middle-class families. Republicans want to put the special interests before everyone else – advancing an agenda of obstruction and dysfunction that is stalling the middle class, stacking the deck for the wealthy and well-connected, and costing our country jobs.

Instead of tax incentives to create good-paying jobs to “Make It in America,” Republicans give tax favors to corporations that ship jobs overseas. Instead of allowing college students to refinance staggering student debts, they protect bank profits. Instead of passing legislation to ensure women receive equal pay for equal work, they support putting bosses in charge of women’s health freedoms. They even threatened to shut down the government to stop women from accessing Planned Parenthood.

Democrats have a better way. Last month, while Republicans discussed their plan to sue the president, House Democrats gathered on the steps of the Capitol to lay out a bold, concrete agenda of 100 days of action for the middle class: the Middle Class Jumpstart.

Our three-pronged plan will grow the middle class with good-paying jobs, with support for education that is more affordable and accessible for working families, and by unleashing the full potential of America’s women.

Under our plan, we’ll act to create jobs here in America, raising the minimum wage and modernizing America’s infrastructure by building roads, bridges and broadband technology while investing in clean energy initiatives – paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes. We’ll also pass the CEO/Employee Pay Fairness Act to deny CEOs the ability to claim tax deductions for pay over $1 million unless they give their employees a raise.

We’ll empower women and families with the tools they need to thrive because we know when women succeed, America succeeds. We’ll pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to guarantee men and women get equal pay for equal work, ensure paid sick leave for men and women, and increase access to affordable child care. We’ll strengthen the Violence Against Women Act and expand women’s access to comprehensive health care and family planning.

We’ll stand for affordable education to keep America No. 1. We’ll increase access to effective early childhood learning, expand Pell Grants for higher education, and address the crushing burden of student loan debt that is holding back a generation of young people. With the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, we’ll empower Americans to refinance their college loans to new, lower rates.

Our Middle Class Jumpstart is our pledge to America – to fight for the middle class, put families before special interests, and build an economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.

For more, visit http://www.democraticleader.gov/middle-class-jumpstart.

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) is a member of the House Armed Services and Judiciary committees and is a ranking member of the Judiciary subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law. He has introduced, co-sponsored and passed legislation to level the playing field and create opportunity for working American families.