Opinion: Bipartisan policy proposals can grow the middle class
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wrote an op-ed calling for bipartisanship just a week after Democrats took control of the House. With a Democratic House and Republican Senate, a stagnant Congress seems likely for the next two years.
Over the past few weeks, I have researched three bipartisan proposals. It’s my belief that these proposals could and would help everyday families for years to come and could plausibly be voted on within the next two years.
My first proposal is to provide a worker tax credit, which I would pay for by implementing a carbon tax. My second is to create child savings accounts paid for by the estate tax just as Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) has announced, called the American Opportunity Accounts Act. My third is to provide paid family leave paid for by the payroll tax.
We need deficit neutral policies to help grow the middle class. Not only is the federal deficit growing exponentially, but household incomes are rising slowly, wages remain stagnant and Americans are working longer.
A worker tax credit funded by implementing a carbon tax is the first step to providing relief to workers who need it most. The worker tax credit would be similar to the earned income tax credit, but would include childless workers. With household incomes and wages stagnant, a tax credit to help middle class families is needed and something that Republicans and Democrats alike can agree on. Implementing a carbon tax would encourage reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, while funding a progressive benefit to the American people.
Economic mobility begins at birth, which is why every child needs to be given the opportunity to be successful. The American Opportunity Accounts Act that was just announced by Booker would create a seed savings account for every American child. The accounts would be managed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and have an interest rate of around 3 percent. Every child would receive $1000 at birth. Every year, each child would receive up to an additional $2,000 into their account, depending on family income. A wealthy child would have close to $1,800 and a poor child would have close to $50,000. This policy is a bold proposal to help mitigate the growing wealth gap. If the child chooses to not go to college, the account could go toward home ownership. This policy would be paid for by changes to the estate and inheritance taxes.
The United States remains one of the only industrialized nations without paid family leave. While I believe that paid family leave is a must, compromise might be the only way to get such a policy proposal implemented. A 2017 report by the AEI-Brookings Working Group on Paid Family Leave includes a compromise proposal that would provide mothers and fathers with eight weeks of paid parental leave. Other key elements include a replacement rate of seven percent up to a cap of $600 per week for eight weeks and job protections. This would be paid for by changes in the payroll tax.
Workers need a helping hand, and I believe that each proposal can give assistance in providing relief to American workers. Bipartisanship is still alive — or, at least, it can be, when it comes to policy-making.