Washington, D.C. — Today the Center for American Progress proposed nine steps that policymakers can take to immediately reduce economic inequality, get the nation’s economy back on track, and begin restoring the promise of the American Dream.
The following are nine actions Congress can take immediately to strengthen the middle-class backbone of the economy and pave the way for a brighter future for everyone:
1. Reduce student debt and hold colleges accountable.
2. Ease the crushing debt burden of mortgages.
3. Repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
4. Reign in government giveaways to corporations and the top 1 percent.
5. Require Wall Street to contribute to the middle-class recovery.
6. Regulate banks and financial firms to protect consumers.
7. Protect middle-class wages.
8. Give workers a voice.
9. Help Americans get back to work.
The promise of the American Dream has always been that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can make a good life for yourself and your family. But right now, 99 percent of Americans only see the rich getting richer and everyone else getting crushed. And they’re right. The top 1 percent of Americans own 40 percent of our country’s wealth while the bottom 80 percent owns only 7 percent. These nine ideas are not a cure-all for what ails us but they will go a long way to making the economy work again for most Americans, not just the privileged.
Listen to the press call featuring CAP President Neera Tanden, SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer discussing the growing momentum to make the economy work for everyone.
Highlights from the press call:
- Neera Tanden, President, Center for American Progress:
“Today, as Washington debates continue to focus on protecting the richest 1 percent, we wanted to focus on how the public is moving in a different direction.”
“Congress and the president can take action today to address the rising [economic] inequality in our country and the crushing burden of debt that is facing both students and middle-class families.”
- Mary Kay Henry, international president, SEIU:
“All of us have been energized and mobilized in every corner of the country by the Occupy movement because what the Occupy movement did for all of us was pricked the consciousness of the nation that knew that something was wrong but didn’t know who to hold responsible for it and what to do about it.”
“Sacrifice and dedication is required in this moment to get our elected officials and CEOs to understand that we need to get back to work in the millions and we are capable as a nation of making that happen.”
- Nick Hanauer, entrepreneur:
“Middle-class consumers are the true job creators in our economy. When the middle class thrives, business booms, and the only thing that matters to a company by at least a factor of ten is the degree to which people are buying things from them. When more people are buying things from them, they hire, and when fewer people buy things from them, they fire. … the only thing that matters is customers.”
“Our economy is struggling today because most people don’t have any money to spend on stuff anymore. And that is a consequence of systematically building an economy designed to enrich a tiny few and impoverish everyone else.”
“This ridiculous, crazy dedication to continuing to make taxes on the rich lower and to continue to impoverish ordinary working Americans isn’t just bad for ordinary Americans; ultimately it’s horrible for people who are running businesses.”
Resources related to Occupy Wall Street:
- 9 Ideas for Congress to Address the 99 Percent: Michael Ettlinger and Gadi Dechter present a plan to restore the promise of the American Dream.
- Coming Together as 99 Percent: John Craig, Joy Moses, and Katie Wright examine how the movement can help those at the lower rungs of the 99 percent.
Available for comment:
- Neera Tanden, President, Center for American Progress
- Michael Ettlinger, Vice President for Economic Policy, Center for American Progress
- Gadi Dechter, Associate Director of Government Reform, Center for American Progress
- Adam Hersh, Economist, Center for American Progress