I live in Medford, a solidly middle-class city, and looking around my neighborhood I can see how hard it is for the majority of Americans today. Many of my neighbors are in debt and only a paycheck away from losing everything. We need progressive reform in Washington to put more money in the pockets of the middle class and prevent another recession from crippling our still-fragile economy.
First, we need strong regulations on Wall Street to make sure that 2008 does not happen again. We have to enforce and strengthen the Dodd-Frank bill so bankers can never gamble away Americans' money, and the banks and mortgage lenders themselves should be prosecuted for the damage they have caused. Those responsible should never have been allowed to go back to business as usual with only a slap on the wrist.
We must also rewrite the tax code in a way that is truly progressive: we need to reinstate the payroll tax cuts President Obama signed into law in 2011, tax Wall Street investors' capital gains income just like regular middle-class wages, cap total allowable deductions, create a higher income tax bracket for millionaires, and close corporate loopholes so that the richest and most powerful among us aren't given an even greater advantage. We should also simplify the tax code and tax filing process so that Tax Day is less of a burden for average Americans.
But Wall Street regulation and a smarter tax code will only take us so far. Right now, unemployment is at 7.6%, and that doesn't account for the millions of underemployed workers barely making it on low wages. We need to get America back to work, and that means we need to make life easier for small business owners, the real job creators in our economy, so they have a chance to succeed and grow. In Congress, I will fight to pass tax incentives for hiring new workers so businesses can reach their full potential.
Finally, we should raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation rate so younger and poorer families can make ends meet. In 1968, minimum wages were equivalent to $10.60 per hour in today's dollars, and were $9.38 in 1978. Today, the Federal minimum wage is only $7.25 per hour. It's just not enough to live on. Ten other states have already shown that an inflation-indexed minimum wage both increases workers' income and also increases demand for businesses' products. In Congress, I will stand with President Obama in fighting to increase the federal minimum wage and keep it in pace with inflation so that our youngest and poorest citizens can live with greater dignity and our small businesses can continue to grow long into the future.
In Massachusetts, I fought to get corporate tax loopholes closed to level the playing field. I sponsored the bill to increase the minimum wage, and fought against my own leadership when they refused to index the minimum wage to inflation. I've also stood up for those facing foreclosure. Income inequality and protecting those not among the richest 2% are issues central to the legislator I have been and central to why I am running for Congress.