Voting is the essence of a democracy. Our country was founded on the principles of democratic participation that guaranteed the right of all citizens to have a role in shaping their government. Though for most our country’s existence, it failed to deliver on those guarantees, especially for women and minorities. That said, our imperfect union can only function at its best when its citizens are active participants.
As we continue to think about how best to prepare our current and future workforce for the opportunities that will present themselves, we have to look at how we can and should synergize the offerings at our institutions of higher education and our workforce development goals.
One of the most gut-wrenching and sobering moments of my time as a legislator happened to me a few months ago when I visited one of our district’s senior day programs. I sat in with some of my bosses and listened as many talked about how the escalating price of prescription drugs was forcing them to make a Hobson’s choice between paying for their medicines or going without. Now, we all know that prescription drug prices in our country are rising at an unprecedented and unsustainable rate. And, the numbers as to how bad it’s gotten are staggering.
You can count the numbers, and they are staggering. And the pain is immeasurable.
Currently, one in four women experience domestic violence at the hands of an intimate partner in our country. That’s two times higher than the incidence of breast cancer. Of those affected women, three are murdered every single day in a domestic violence homicide. Because batterers tend to isolate their female partners from family, friends and services, a visit to the doctor’s office, health clinic or emergency department may be one of the few times a woman meets professionals in a confidential setting. Guidelines created under the Affordable Care Act provided an opportunity to integrate domestic violence into our health care system by requiring health plans to fully cover screening and counseling as a standard element of women’s preventative services.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This issue has touched the lives of so many that I know personally. And, as an elected official, I am well aware that the decisions we make in public policy influences every aspect of how we combat this disease. From increasing the amount of breast cancer research funding to ensuring better access to treatment, federal and state officials play a key role in eradicating breast cancer.
Manufacturing matters because it is a vital contributor to the economic health and wealth of our nation. It matters because it provides high-wage jobs, commercial innovation (the nation’s largest source), a key to trade deficit reduction, and a disproportionately large contribution to environmental sustainability. The manufacturing industries and firms that make the greatest contribution to these four objectives are also those that have the greatest potential to maintain or expand employment. These areas include: Computers and electronics, chemicals (including pharmaceuticals), transportation equipment (including aerospace and motor vehicles and parts), and machinery are especially important.
It’s true. Sometimes imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Let me take a step back and explain.
Recently, Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Scott Peters (D-Calif.) introduced a bipartisan bill that would provide companies with a tax break if they contributed money to employees for the repayment of college debt. The cap for the tax break is $5,250.
Our country's middle class continues to struggle due to an uncertain economic environment. Furthermore, there is widespread agreement across various hues of the political landscape that wage stagnation is our country's largest economic challenge. Therefore, strengthening America's middle class should be a top priority for our nation's elected officials at every level of government. While a slow and steady advance of the economy has been ongoing in recent years, it is becoming increasingly clear that hard work alone is not enough to move working families up the economic ladder.
Famed labor leader A. Phillip Randolph once opined that “the essence of trade unionism is social uplift.” That sentiment embodies what the mission of trade unionism was at its inception. A foundation built upon protecting workers from an abusive system and ensuring that those individuals received a livable wage and reasonable benefits. As a member of the Carpenters Union and raised in a union household, I readily admit that I am biased towards seeing the benefits of unions and recognizing their important role in our economic and political structures. However, the question that we should more broadly ask ourselves today, coming out of the shadow of another Labor Day holiday, is whether or not unions still matter in our country.
As we approach Labor Day, we are reminded that the current state of the American worker and the job market is in a turbulent period. Newspaper headlines and political leaders like to tout reduced unemployment figures, but hidden within those flashy headlines is the fact that too many people are still under employed, having to work multiple jobs to make ends meet or simply only able to find part-time employment if at all. Also, with the participation in the job force, as measured by the U.S. Department of Labor, at the lowest numbers in decades we are given a false sense that our nation’s employment situation isn’t that bad. Unfortunately, it is.