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August 9, 2011

Contract For The American Dream And The Emergency Jobs Bill

-- by Dave Johnson

Rebuild The Dream

As I wrote earlier in Ten Years Ago We Were Paying Off The Nation's Debt. But Then We Elected Obama., the The American Dream Movement is rolling out their Contract for the American Dream. The Tea-Party-fascinated press is largely ignoring this, but this movement represents the majority of the public, and can't be ignored for long.

Today on a call with bloggers and the press to announce the The American Dream Movement Van Jones described the movement's origins. He has been traveling around the country giving talks and talking to people, and found that it seemed that the American people had smarter solutions to our problems than our politicians seemed to. So he helped set up an "open source" process to gather ideas from regular people. 131,203 participated, held 3,600 house meeting, and came up with 29,000 ideas. These ideas have been distilled down to the ten most popular ideas, which are now the Contract for the American Dream.

No Help From FOX News

Unlike the Tea Party, they had "no help from FOX TV or the billionaire Koch brothers." And unlike the Tea Party, which began with much smaller numbers, the American Dream movement is getting almost no press attention.

The Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act

Rep. Jan Schakowsky was on the call to talk about her upcoming Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act. She said this legislation reflects the spirit of the Contract for the American Dream. She said we have a jobs crisis, a disappearing-middle-class crisis, a disparity-in-income crisis. America is not broke, the top 100 make $27 million per household. This disparity means we have a shrinking and disappearing middle class.

She said that Washington is about cuts that will make jobs situation worse, and the economy worse. We have to grow our way out, there really is no other choice, and that means put people back to work so they become taxpayers.

The Emergency Jobs To Restore The American Dream Act creates 2.2 million jobs for 2 years to put the economy back on track. These are jobs for teachers, firefighters, cops, health care providers, maintenance, construction, and jobs for youth in parks improvement and other things.

This is paid for by her Fairness in Taxation Act, with new tax brackets 45% income over 1 million, 49% over a billion. This will generate about $800 billion over 10 years. This is not punishment or revenge, it is fairness. To have a robust economy Have to have a robust middle class, and care about our elders.. We have to make sure youth can go to college.

The Same People Who Led Us Off A Cliff

Economist Dean Baker was next on the call. He said it is amazing as an economist to follow what’s going on here. He couldn’t envision that after the collapse we would have the same people determining the policy agenda who just led us off a cliff.

Our huge deficits are the result of the economy collapse, now that is turned on its head that it is government spending, by people who don’t know the facts or just are not being honest. We have a big deficit because the economy collapsed, to fix it we get the economy going again. It is simple to show and in fact that is the history. To get the deficits down, get people working. We have 25 million un- or under-employed, if we don’t get them employed they fall out of the labor force, may never work again, politicians should be taking that very seriously. This has to be front and center and all polls show it is what is on people’s minds.

Will Serious People Take The People Seriously?

Justin Ruben of MoveOn.org was next on the call. He said that serious people in DC won’t take this plan seriously.
It represents 5 million MoveOn members and majority of the American people, and a majority of economists say this plan makes sense. None of this is seriously being talked about in Washington right now and that needs to change.

We already have a Tea Party downgrade and Tea Party recession and the government is about to enact even more economy-slowing cuts on the middle class. So people are wondering what DC is thinking. This is what is fueling the rise of the American Dream movement.

This movement began with people standing up to the attacks in Wisconsin. It is about people fighting back. We will take this contract into the streets in August, to Congressional town halls, and if they won’t do town halls we’ll find them wherever they are. We are going to make sure our elected officials in Washington hear that the American people want jobs not cuts, want everyone to pay their fair share, and want to get the economy moving again.

The American people are not giving up on the American dream.

America Can Be Great Again

Jeff Parcher of the Center for Community Change said they are joining this movement to raise the voices of low income people into the policy debates that affect them. They are going to address joblessness, poverty and material deprivation and change the conversation in Washington.

We have a revenue problem, by rectifying that America can be great again.

In Every Laundromat, Barbershop, Etc, People Will Agree

Van Jones then summed up: They have organized in every congressional district. This has been growing since Madison. The network, movement, has organized in every district in record time. They can take any one of those 10 points in the Contract for the American Dream, and because of such broad participation, we can take this into every laundromat, barbershop, etc, and people will agree.

The Contract for the American Dream

The Preamble to the Contract for the American Dream

We, the American people, promise to defend and advance a simple ideal: liberty and justice . . . for all. Americans who are willing to work hard and play by the rules should be able to find a decent job, get a good home in a strong community, retire with dignity, and give their kids a better life. Every one of us – rich, poor, or in-between, regardless of skin color or birthplace, no matter their sexual orientation or gender – has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is our covenant, our compact, our contract with one another. It is a promise we can fulfill – but only by working together.

Today, the American Dream is under threat. Our veterans are coming home to few jobs and little hope on the home front. Our young people are graduating off a cliff, burdened by heavy debt, into the worst job market in half a century. The big banks that American taxpayers bailed out won’t cut homeowners a break. Our firefighters, nurses, cops, and teachers – America’s everyday heroes – are being thrown out onto the street. We believe:

AMERICA IS NOT BROKE
America is rich – still the wealthiest nation ever. But too many at the top are grabbing the gains. No person or corporation should be allowed to take from America while giving little or nothing back. The super-rich who got tax breaks and bailouts should now pay full taxes – and help create jobs here, not overseas. Those who do well in America should do well by America.

AMERICANS NEED JOBS, NOT CUTS
Many of our best workers are sitting idle while the work of rebuilding America goes undone. Together, we must rebuild our country, reinvest in our people and jump-start the industries of the future. Millions of jobless Americans would love the opportunity to become working, tax-paying members of their communities again. We have a jobs crisis, not a deficit crisis.

To produce this Contract for the American Dream, 131,203 Americans came together online and in their communities. We wrote and rated 25,904 ideas. Together, we identified the 10 most critical steps to get our economy back on track and restore the American Dream:

The Contract for the American Dream consists of 10 critical steps to get our economy back on track: (click through for details and ways to sign up and help)

I. Invest in America's Infrastructure
II. Create 21st Century Energy Jobs
III. Invest in Public Education
IV. Offer Medicare for All
V. Make Work Pay
VI. Secure Social Security
VII. Return to Fairer Tax Rates
VIII. End the Wars and Invest at Home
IX. Tax Wall Street Speculation
X. Strengthen Democracy

The Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act

Rep. Schakowsky is introducing the The Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act. This bill:


  • Creates over 2 million jobs to address the real crisis facing America: the jobs crisis.
  • Emergency jobs are created for two years, to provide time to get the economy back up and running.
  • Emergency jobs will meet critical needs to make American communities stronger.
  • Costs $221 Billion ($110.5 billion for each of fiscal years 2012 and 2013).
  • Can be fully paid for through separate legislation such as Rep. Schakowsky’s Fairness in Taxation Act, which creates higher tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires, eliminating subsidies for Big Oil, and through eliminating tax loopholes for corporations that ship American jobs overseas.

Here is a summary of what's in the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act:


  • School Improvement Corps – Creates 400,000 construction and 250,000 maintenance jobs through new funding to public school districts for needed school rehabilitation improvements ($100 billion)
  • Park Improvement Corps – Creates 100,000 jobs for youth between the ages of 16 and 25 through new funding to the Department of the Interior and the USDA Forest Service’s Public Lands Corps Act. Conservation projects on public lands include restoration and rehabilitation of natural, cultural, historic, archaeological, recreational and scenic resources. ($400 million)
  • Student Jobs Corps – Creates 250,000 more part-time, work study jobs for eligible college students through new funding for the Federal Work Study Program. ($850 million)
  • Neighborhood Heroes Corps
    a. Teachers: Direct funding to states to hire, re-hire, and prevent lay-offs of 300,000 teachers. ($40 billion)
    b. Cops: New funding to hire 40,000 police officers. ($10 billion)
    c. Firefighters: New funding to hire 12,000 firefighters. ($2.4 billion)

  • Health Corps - Grants to hire at least 40,000 health care providers, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, and health care workers to expand access in underserved rural and urban areas. ($8 billion)

  • Community Corps – Creation of a new Community Corps that will create 750,000 jobs to do needed work in our communities, including energy audits and conservation upgrades, recycling and reclamation of reusable materials, urban land reclamation and addressing blight, including foreclosure and disaster-affected areas, rural conservation work, public property maintenance and beautification, housing rehabilitation, and new housing construction modeled after Habitat for Humanity. ($60 billion)

Standards for new programs:


  • Priority for jobs given to the unemployed, particularly those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits (the “99ers”).
  • Formulas will allocate fair distribution of funding and jobs among states, with targeting based on high unemployment and need.
  • Ensures that jobs don’t undercut the rights of other workers or lower wages.
  • Ensures work is additive and doesn’t displace current workers or take business from small/local businesses.
  • Includes trigger for phase-out if unemployment drops below 5%.

Fully Paid For

The steps in the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act are paid for by Rep. Schakowsky's Fairness in Taxation Act, introduced in March.

The Fairness in Taxation Act asks enacts new tax brackets for income starting at $1 million and ends with a $1 billion bracket. The new brackets would be:

  • $1-10 million: 45%
  • $10-20 million: 46%
  • $20-100 million: 47%
  • $100 million to $1 billion: 48%
  • $1 billion and over: 49%
  • The bill would also tax capital gains and dividend income as ordinary income for those taxpayers with income over $1 million.

What To Do

Go to the Contract for the American Dream page and sign up.

Download the Contract as a PDF.

Print the Contract.

Distribute the Contract by leaving stacks of them everywhere, laundromats, barbershops, coffeeshops, etc.

Tell people to go to http://contract.rebuildthedream.com/


This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at August 9, 2011 12:56 PM


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