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Issue Position: Economic Improvement

Issue Position

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Economic Improvement

The health of our economy is something that affects everyone. Luckily, economic improvement is something that a Congressman can directly impact. I understand the problems and areas of opportunity all across the district, having worked as a Community Economic Development lawyer in Lowell and Lawrence. I have also worked to create jobs and growth in the southern and western towns. My focus on local issues, combined with a national strategy for overall economic opportunity will have a positive impact in Congress, as it has in the Statehouse. My record speaks for itself:

* Lead sponsor and advocate of Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). These accounts allow matching funds for personal savings in low-income communities, and give hard-working citizens a chance at economic stability.
* Lead sponsor of legislation to create the Mass Asset Development Commission - a collection of state and nonprofit officials who develop strategies to help low income people develop assets.
* Lead sponsor of legislation that restructures the sale of surplus land, offering municipalities and non-profits the opportunity to purchase the land at a discount, thus providing incentives for job growth and job creation on state-owned properties.
* Co-sponsor of legislation for a new $660 million Bristol-Meyers Squibb drug plant in Fort. Devens, creating 550 new jobs.
* Major supporter of an expanded Investment Tax Credit (ITC).
* Major supporter of a $345 million economic stimulus package in the 2006 budget designed to make smart, bold investments in workforce training, infrastructure, technology and cultural facilities.
* Major supporter of a $2.5 Million Sewer Grant for Lancaster and Lunenburg to expand businesses by allowing them to go where they couldn't go before because insufficient septic connections.
* Voted for unemployment insurance reform to ease business burdens while providing continued unemployment benefits to residents.
* Member of the Statehouse Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses.

-Jamie

The Jamie Eldridge Plan:

Improve Economic Opportunity on a National Level

Take Action on a Local Level

Correct the Major Problems Washington Hides From

Renew Our Commitment to a Strong Middle Class and Strong Unions


Improve Economic Opportunity on a National Level

Problem:
The first step to improving the economy is turning away from the irresponsible course of the Bush administration. The tax cuts Republicans often support are unfair to those without high wages, because these tax cuts only apply to income taxes, not payroll taxes. In the past 7 years, these tax cuts have caused our debt to soar - so much that now each American has about a $30,000 share in the debt. This is irresponsible and immoral to pass onto the next generation, because they will end up sacrificing more of what they earn simply to meet interest payments. In addition, politicians have been playing games with the Estate tax. They have eliminated this tax on large inheritances, but then it will return all of a sudden in 2011. This helps neither small farms, nor businesses that may be shut down, nor does it prevent against America becoming less democratic by allowing a class of super-rich to simply pass down wealth from generation to generation and increase the burden on those struggling to assume their share of the American dream.

Solutions:
* Reverse tax giveaways that only benefit the super-rich
* Fight any tax plan that threatens Social Security or Medicare
* I will support permanently ending the estate tax on all small farms and small businesses, but I will support an estate tax on the super-rich as a matter of fundamental fairness. I will support earmarking this revenue directly toward educational improvements, so that this revenue becomes a vehicle for Democratization and opportunity for all.

Take Action on a Local Level

Problem:
U.S. tax policies encourage companies to move abroad. When corporations close a plant to move it overseas, they can deduct the cost of the plant closing from their taxes. They also receive a benefit worth as much as 35 percent of the plant closing costs. And on top of all those benefits, corporation can then borrow money from the federal government to fund foreign operations and deduct the interest from their taxes. Lowell is one of 5 cities that will lose 3.1-4.3% of its workforce due to service, tech and computer jobs moving overseas over the next decade. Both Boston and Lowell could lose up to 15% of computer programming jobs in this anticipated shift. Learn more about why our district is vulnerable at http://media.brookings.edu/mediaarchive/pubs/metro/pubs/20070131_offshoring.pdf. Other areas across the district have similar problems that we cannot ignore.

Solutions:
* I support a "knowledge tax credit" for companies that increase expenditures on research and experimentation in at-risk areas like our district.
* I support Congressional spending to support state and local technology initiatives, especially university partnerships.
* Congress has a program called "trade adjustment assistance" which provides benefits to manufacturing employees who are laid off due to trade. We need to extend these benefits to workers laid off due to any form of trade.
* Displaced workers can be helped with "wage insurance" to temporarily offset salary decreases when taking a new job, and extended unemployment insurance while in a job training program.

Correct the Major Problems Washington Hides From

Problem:
Our federal government is less-than-honest and unwilling to tackle most of the tough economic problems facing the nation. Our trade agreements are lacking and haven't helped workers, and meanwhile our trade deficit has skyrocketed. Last year, the nation imported a record $725 billion more in products than it exported. That's $2 billion worth of goods and products that Americans didn't make every day of the year.

We've lost a net of 24,000 private sector jobs since George W. Bush took office, including nearly 3 million manufacturing jobs, and shockingly little has been done. Median household incomes have dropped five years in a row. More and more middle class workers struggle to pay their mortgage and send their kids to college as jobs move overseas and prices continue to rise.

Solutions:
* Support "Fair Trade," that would establish international standards of environmental protection and regulation and workers' protections.
* Instead of large-scale trade agreements, negotiate specifically tailored agreements between each nation.
* Change tax policies to better encourage domestic investment in production. We need a national manufacturing policy that incorporates the maintenance of steel, automotive, aerospace, and shipping


Renew Our Commitment to a Strong Middle Class and Strong Unions

Problem:
Shamefully, Congress has increased its pay by tens of thousands of dollars through a cost of living escalator while the minimum wage stagnated for ten years. Our middle class is dwindling, and here in Massachusetts it is physically leaving. In 2004, Bush enacted the biggest rollback of overtime pay rights since passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in 1938, with regulatory changes that robbed some 6 million workers of the right to overtime pay. Congress repeatedly tried to block Bush's overtime take-way with six bipartisan votes and millions of workers wrote their lawmakers in opposition to Bush's overtime take-away--but the Bush administration implemented it anyway.

Compounding the problem is serious credit card debt growth and predatory lending practices. This administration has also been harmful to unions - the foundation and creators of our nation's middle class and the best force to ensure that economic gains are shared with the workers who make them possible.

Solutions:
* Raise the minimum wage to $8 per hour and tie it to CPI or inflation so that it automatically keeps pace toward a living wage.
* Support unions' ability to organize and fight employer intimidation with the Employee Free Choice Act, which would strengthen workers' freedom to choose union representation through a majority sign-up process.
* Increase workforce trainings programs to give workers more opportunity and augment the skills of our workers.
* Oppose legislation allowing employers to substitute compensatory time off for time-and-a-half overtime pay.
* Fight credit care usury and predatory lending practices on a national level, just like I have on a state level (see http://bluemassgroup.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=6681).


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