Thursday, April 14, 2016

An Open Letter To All The Presidential Candidates From Congressional Progressives


Tuesday 7 of the most progressive members of Congress-- Barbara Lee (D-CA), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ),Mark Pocan (D-WI), Mike Honda (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), all members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus-- published an open letter to all the presidential candidates, from progressive Bernie Sanders to conservatives John Kasich, Hillary Clinton, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz and even fringe lunatic Don Trump, urging them to prioritize raising the living standards of ordinary American families, something none of the conservative candidates have been doing. "Corporations and the ultra-wealthy," pointed out Congresswoman Lee, "shouldn't be the focus of government policies. Our nation can rebuild the middle class and balance income inequality and we need our next president to lead the way. But this next election will also require that we elect a wave of progressives to Congress to support the White House and fight for our values. This is the letter:
We write to request your support for raising the wages and living standards of Americans by committing to build upon President Obama’s legacy of bold executive action on behalf of federal contract workers. In the face of an obstructionist Congress, President Obama has used his executive power to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour, crack down on federal contractors who violate federal wage and safety statutes, extend paid leave benefits, extend worker protection from discrimination and advance equal pay. Together, these actions are helping turn back the tide of rising income inequality - a phenomenon the President has called the “defining issue of our time.” Yet, we can and must do more. Specifically, we call on the next president to establish a “Model Employer Executive Order” aimed at ensuring that federal contracts go to employers who provide their workers with good wages and benefits, and the opportunity to form a union. We also call on you to establish a “White House Office of Good Jobs” that would ensure that the $1 trillion the government spends on contracts, loans, and grants each year are going to private sector corporations that treat their workers with dignity.

The federal government has a major presence in the private-sector economy. Federal contracts and grants directly support 10.5 million private-sector jobs, while private employers who receive these funds employ an additional 20 million workers. This spending gives the government leverage over the employment standards of one-in-five U.S. workers. By harnessing the purchasing power of the federal government, we can ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used to underwrite good jobs. When a worker’s take home pay covers the needs of his or her family, we see increased economic growth, increased tax receipts, and reduced spending on social safety net programs. Private sector contractors also benefit from these policies through productivity gains and reduced employee turnover.

Implementing a Model Employer Executive Order and a White House Office of Good Jobs are effective approaches to make progress on income inequality. Through a Model Employer Executive Order, the federal government would provide a contracting preference for corporations that provide their workers with good wages, good benefits, and remain neutral during union organizing campaigns. Similarly, a White House Office of Good Jobs would have a broad mandate to deliver economic benefits to working Americans by promoting good job standards wherever federal agencies impact private-sector employment through their spending or regulatory activities. The Office would work hand-in-hand with the National Economic and Domestic Policy Councils, as well as cabinet departments, to ensure that procurement, grant-making, and regulatory decisions encourage appropriately paid jobs, collective-bargaining rights, and responsible employment practices. This new office will ensure that your commitment to restoring the middle class is reflected across agencies with diverse leadership, mandates, and internal cultures. We believe that the Office for Faith Based and Community Based initiatives provides a strong model for this type of office.

Our nation has a proud history of ensuring that federal tax dollars incentivize sustainable work. In 1931, Congress passed the Davis-Bacon Act to ensure that the construction of our physical infrastructure also helped build up the middle class. In 1965, President Johnson issued Executive Order 11246 to outlaw racial discrimination in federal contracting. Now it’s your chance to make history. President Obama has made tremendous progress with his bold executive action. It’s up to the next President to finish the job.
This is what Bernie's campaign is centered around already and, in all likelihood, Hillary and her pal Trump will figure out ways to do they agree, although what Trump says doesn't predict anything at all. Cruz, of course, would oppose every sentence in the letter if he even bothered to read it.

The congressional candidates you'll find by tapping the thermometer below are the House and Senate candidates endorsed by Blue America so far this cycle. They are not garden variety DCCC/DSCC candidates; they are the kinds of progressives who will bolster the work being done by men and women like Barbara Lee, Mark Pocan and Raúl Grijalva in Congress. Please consider contributing what you can to any of these candidates who you feel will help make America a better place for all of us.

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