A Blueprint for Long-Term Job Growth and Economic Prosperity
For years I have advocated new initiatives to promote job creation by strengthening different sectors of our economy, both nationally and right here in Central Illinois and Southwest Illinois.
My approach has never been more needed than now, as our economy slowly recovers from the brink of disaster after the massive disruption of the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Federal policy across many areas can help create millions of American new jobs.
At this critical juncture, we cannot afford a single-minded or simplistic approach that may staunch the immediate wound but could have long-term side effects in the future. We also can no longer ignore the overwhelming influence big corporations have on our politics. For too long, the interests of Wall Street, the banking industry, Big Oil and multinational corporations have been put first and middle-class families and working people have paid the price.
I'm ready to change that. That's why I'm running for Congress, to clean things up and set the right priorities to get people back to work. We've had economic policies for a generation that really only seem to help the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations. It's time to put all of our citizens back on the path to prosperity.
Below is an outline of my plan to get people back to work and create lasting economic opportunity in the 13th District of Illinois.
Rebuilding our Crumbling Infrastructure
First, we have the immediate need both for job creation and infrastructure repair, maintenance, and development. Funding these projects will boost employment, pump money into our local economy and ensure that businesses large and small in our community can safely and efficiently bring their products to market.
Our roads, bridges, rails, and navigable waterways need repair to reduce safety hazards and to bear increased passenger and freight traffic.
I've also been a long-time proponent of high-speed rail to increase access to markets and reduce dependence on foreign fossil fuels.
As we transition to more sustainable energy sources and to protect our national security, we need to upgrade our antiquated and vulnerable power grid to a secure smart grid, complete with decentralization and more sensitive meters to monitor usage. Increasing access to broadband Internet services is the 21st century's version of the Rural Electrification Project, and will have far-reaching effects, bringing the most remote areas of our nation into contact for communication, commerce, and research. We must demand that Central and Southwest Illinois are not left behind.
Getting the US Back into the Business of Making Things
Through tax breaks for hiring and "in-sourcing" jobs we can reinvigorate the small business sector that is the main engine of job creation in our economy.
I support the goals of the "Make it in America" plan introduced last year in Congress.
But my concern is that, all too often, tax incentives meant to spur job creation only seem to create bigger profits for executives in the corner office but don't translate into more high-wage jobs on the factory and plant floors.
That's why I will also push to end the worst excesses of our corporate welfare system in America--like subsidies for Big Oil and tax loopholes that allow massive corporations like GE to pay no corporate income taxes. These giveaways and handouts were bought and paid for with corporate campaign contributions and massive lobbying budgets. It's time to end the auctioning off of our government.
One critical way to spur growth is to tap the innovation potential of our region's world-renowned research universities like U of I, ISU and SEIU-E. By drawing on the expertise and creativity of the scientists and engineers in those research institutions, Central and Southwest Illinois can develop new products, bio-based fuel sources and medicines. With our talent pool, resources and infrastructure--we can take them from the research lab, to the field to the factory without ever leaving Illinois' 13th Congressional District.
Fueling our Green Energy Economy
Wind turbines have transformed the landscape of central and southwest Illinois, but we've only scratched the surface of our region's potential to be a renewable energy leader.
From wind energy to solar to bio-mass, local farmers from Piatt County to Pana can help fuel America's next generation of green jobs and sustainable energy that doesn't come from the Middle East or the Tar Sands of Canada.
But putting up turbines and solar panels isn't enough. The US--and Illinois in particular--is capable of pushing the design and engineering envelope so we set the world standard for green energy generation, build that next generation of turbines and solar cells and market those products to the rest of the world.
I also support President Obama's call to increase energy efficiency by retro-fitting old buildings and implementing energy-saving processes to provide much-needed jobs in the short-term, cut energy usage and preserve the overall health of our land, air, and water for future generations.
Giving Credit where It's Due--Helping Small Businesses Expand
The best ideas to create jobs, expand opportunities, create long-term growth and develop innovative solutions to our nation's most pressing problems will never be put into practice until the credit markets start funding business expansion again.
This is a major issue for smaller and medium-sized businesses who will continue to drive our economic recovery. Without adequate access to credit and capital to hire more workers, expand their operations and buy critical equipment, the sputtering economic recovery we have seen so far could stall out.
One way to increase access to loans and capital is to expand the amount of business lending that credit unions are allowed to do. Credit Unions have enjoyed explosive growth since the recession and they have illustrated the ability to wisely invest their members' deposits to the direct benefit of their communities. Allowing Credit Unions to extend more credit to small businesses and entrepreneurs just makes sense, especially when the big banks refuse to meet the needs of smaller companies.
The federal government also needs to level the playing field, simplify the rules and streamline the regulatory process to protect consumers while ensuring that smaller community banks and credit unions can compete with the big banks. Taxpayers bailed out the big banks after their shameful speculation of the housing market. Our government should have demanded more accountability and reinvestment in our communities. We cannot continue to allow the big banks to monopolize the business lending market.
National Health Care--Better for patients, Better for business
The recently passed Affordable Health Care Act has some good provisions, but in the end, the law delivers 36 million Americans into the clutches of the health insurance industry whose lobbyists essentially wrote the bill.
I have publicly advocated for a single-payer system based on Medicare that would provide access to quality care while drastically reducing overhead costs. We would be healthier and wealthier as a nation with a single payer system.
If we decouple health care insurance from employment, then businesses are on a level playing field and can hire more workers and pay better wages. Streamlining and modernizing record- keeping in the health care sector will provide millions of new jobs starting in the near term.
It simply makes no sense that America lags behind so many other industrialized nations in this area. Our current antiquated healthcare system makes us less competitive with some of the largest economies in the world.