Issue Position: Jobs and the Economy
America is the richest country in the world, yet we continue to face a widening income gap where millions of Americans are working harder than ever, but they haven't seen it reflected in their paychecks. Michiganders are working harder than ever, but their incomes are not keeping up with the cost of living, making staying in the middle class more difficult. As income inequality has increased, the rungs on the ladder of opportunity have grown further apart.
Congress can -- and should -- work together to create opportunity and increase economic opportunity so that all Michiganders and Americans have a chance to succeed. This includes raising the federal minimum wage so millions of workers get a much deserved raise. In Congress, I have co-sponsored H.R. 1010, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10. Raising the federal minimum wage, which is widely supported by the American people, is good for workers, good for businesses and good for our overall economy.
I'm also a strong advocate for the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would provide equal pay for equal work for women. Right now in Michigan, a woman earns less for doing the same exact job and work a man does. That's wrong. We should pass the Paycheck Fairness Act right away to close this discriminatory wage gap that costs women and their families thousands of dollars in lost wages each year.
The Fifth District -- the birthplace of General Motors -- put the world on wheels. Our communities have a proud legacy of manufacturing, and it is vital that we build upon this rich history to create an economy that works for everyone.
It's in this spirit that I've been a champion of the "Make It in America' agenda, a package of bipartisan bills to revitalize our nation's manufacturing base and help create high-skill, high-wage jobs for Michigan and America.
This package of bills would help to rebuild our manufacturing base and invest in companies that locate here, in Michigan -- not overseas. The legislative package has four key components, including developing a national manufacturing strategy; increasing manufacturing exports to other countries; encouraging businesses to innovate and bring jobs back to the U.S.; and investing in workforce and job training programs to support a workforce necessary for the twenty-first century economy.
One key piece of legislation alongside this package is the 21st Century Jobs and Manufacturing Act, which would expand on successful collegiate partnerships and jobs-training programs that already exist in Michigan to give workers career-ready skills in the jobs of tomorrow.
Growing up in Flint, I've seen firsthand the effect so-called "free trade" deals can have on our economy. At its peak, Flint had nearly 80,000 jobs in the automotive manufacturing industry. Today, that number is down to 10,000. Too often, we've been promised that trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will grow our economy and create American jobs -- instead, they've done the opposite, contributing to the loss of tens of thousands of good-paying jobs to companies overseas while creating an uneven playing field tilted against our workers.
Unfortunately, the President's administration is currently negotiating a new so-called "free trade" deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, entirely in secret. Congress so far has been left out of the negotiating process, even though the President will be asking Congress to vote in favor of this fast-tracked deal. Nothing I've seen so far leads me to believe this new TPP deal is any different from NAFTA.
Trade policies negotiated in secret, like the TPP, are not the right course for Michigan and I will continue to oppose them being fast-tracked. My district was sold a bill of goods the last time around and is still dealing with the effect NAFTA had on our local economy. TPP would double down on these bad policies, and I simply can't support it.