By Cara Spoto
If Wisconsin and the country as a whole hope to make it through the recession, Congress must focus its energies on bolstering the middle class and ensuring American companies are not rewarded for shipping jobs overseas.
That was the key message 7th Congressional District Democratic candidate and state Sen. Julie Lassa of Stevens Point had for the Stevens Point Journal's Editorial Board on Monday.
"We need to have Washington put middle-class workers and their families at the top of (its) priorities list, and that hasn't been the case for decades," Lassa said. "We have seen where special interests have been able to receive special favors because they have the loudest voices and the deepest pockets."
Closing tax loopholes that encourage companies to build factories in other countries and enforcing provisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement that require Mexican employment and environmental regulations be comparable to those in the U.S. are just two ways Congress can help middle-class Americans get back to work, Lassa said.
She also mentioned the need to do away with fast-track passage of trade legislation, and for Congress "to get tough on China" for currency manipulation and dumping paper products in the United States.
Lassa said the federal government needs to reward companies for creating jobs here when asked how she expected Congress to reverse what have become entrenched trade and taxing policies. She also suggested payroll and capital gains tax holidays for small businesses that hire new workers, and incentives for companies doing research that leads to industry growth and job creation.
Members of Congress themselves also should be encouraged to reverse "failed policies," Lassa said. If she called the shots, Congress will take a 10 percent pay cut until unemployment is lowered and wouldn't get a raise until the budget is balanced.
On the national health care bill, the 39-year-old lawmaker said she supports provisions in the legislation that prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to sick children or dropping coverage for adults who get sick, and making health care premiums affordable.