On Tuesday, December 13th, the Congressional Progressive Caucus unveiled the RESTORE the American Dream for the 99% Act. The bill, if passed, would create more than 5 million jobs and save more than $2 trillion. This is a comprehensive plan to put America back to work by reversing the failed policies of the past, which the “Super Committee” could not achieve.
Demos has conducted research on a number of issues – from the benefits of a direct jobs program to protecting Social Security – that are addressed in the RESTORE the American Dream for the 99% Act.
Compiled below is a helpful backgrounder on why this piece of legislation is so important with excerpts of Demos research listed under relevant sections of the bill. Click on report names and graphics for more information.
Back To Work: A Public Jobs Proposal For Economic Recovery
This report makes the case that we should create jobs for the unemployed directly and immediately in public employment programs that produce useful goods and services for the public’s benefit. The public sector can directly create jobs quickly, serve vital community needs and target those hurt most in this economy. Projects would generally be undertaken by the federal government and agencies in partnership with local governments and should be guaranteed reasonable pay and benefits.
- A direct public jobs program is cost effective. $100 billion spent to directly hire American workers would create 2.6 million fulltime jobs over two years, compared to just 136,000 jobs for $100 billion in tax cuts or 714,000 jobs for $100 billion in benefit increases.
- A direct public job program puts Americans back to work now. Public jobs have “time value” because they are jobs created immediately. Tax cuts, benefits payments and other indirect stimulus approaches do not start “working” on job creation immediately.
- Direct job creation is affordable. Repealing the Bush tax cuts would provide enough revenue to fund the creation of 8.2 million jobs.
The Investment Deficit
Panic over our rising national debt receives ample attention in Congress and in the media, and deficit spending is often branded as the greatest threat to our nation's future. While ignoring our fiscal challenges could undermine our security and economic flexibility, the ongoing lack of investment in American infrastructure and workers has and continues to severely threaten our competitiveness and future economic prosperity.
Social and Physical Infrastructure Needs:
- The U.S. ranks 27th—nearly last—among developed countries when it comes to investments in education, health care and other vital social needs.
- Thirty-three percent of U.S. roads are in poor or mediocre conditions.
- About 12 percent of our nation’s bridges are structurally deficient, and about 16 percent are functionally obsolete. The day-to-day impact of faulty bridges comes in traffic delays, congestion, detours for commuters, and the routine rerouting of trucks and emergency vehicles.
- We need to invest in new sources of power. In 2007, fossil fuels made up 86 percent of the United States’ total primary energy supply, while alternative energy sources accounted for just 14 percent.
- In 2009, China invested nearly $35 billion in clean energy, close to double the $19 billion invested by the U.S. The gap is the result of low federal investment: in terms of private equity and venture capital, we lead the world in dollars devoted finding alternative energy sources. As a percentage of GDP, our public spending ranked eleventh among G-20 countries in 2009. Spain, for example, invested five times more, and China and the United Kingdom three times more.
Social Security: Built to Last for Generations to Come
Social Security remains our nation’s key source of retirement income for most Americans. The program’s overall health is sound and with relatively modest tweaks to the program’s financing, we can strengthen the system for generations to come.
- Social Security is currently in surplus and will take in more than it pays out until at least 2037, more than a quarter century from now.
- Inequality leads to the projected Social Security shortfall: as income growth has become concentrated at the top, more income has fallen above the payroll cap of $106,800. Congress could close the entire 75 year projected funding gap by raising or eliminating the cap on taxable payroll income.
- Not just an I.O.U.: Income to the Social Security trust funds must be invested in guaranteed Treasury securities, which can be redeemed at any time at face value, giving the trust funds the same flexibility as cash.
- Social Security can never add to the yearly deficit; by law it cannot draw a single dollar from general revenues, even if payroll taxes fall short of scheduled benefits.
- Social Security provides more benefits to children than any other program (more than TANF or SSI programs).