Carolyn on Jobs & the Economy

Our economy here in Georgia’s 7th district should reflect our increasingly diverse and international population. To move our economy in the right direction, we need to put people first by investing in education, apprenticeships and job training programs, ensuring that health insurance is reasonably priced while providing access to quality care, giving our small businesses the tools they need to thrive, providing better public transit options, investing in our infrastructure, and ensuring a living wage. 

Providing Job Training and Educational Opportunities:

I never want to hear that a young person can’t go to college or learn a trade because he or she can’t afford it. We know education is the key to the 21st economy, and college, career training and apprenticeships are essential to upward mobility. However, the costs of higher education have skyrocketed, placing it out of reach for far too many. To combat these rising price tags, we must invest more in aid programs like Pell grants and supplemental loans. For those out of school, college loan repayments should be pegged to income so that graduates can pursue their dreams and not be dragged down by debt.  

For some, college is not the right option, and that is OK; we should invest in job training and apprenticeship programs so that everyone has a clear career pathway that leads to a job that pays a living wage. A better educated and trained workforce will also result in a stronger economy. 

Investing in Infrastructure:

Let’s be honest, most of us living here in Gwinnett and Forsyth face a “soul-sucking commute.” The time we spend stuck in traffic could be spent on so many other things, including being with family. Our district must invest in infrastructure to attract businesses and preserve our quality of life.  

In Gwinnett in particular, the lack of public transit means businesses are looking elsewhere. Workers struggle to have a reliable way to get to work. Investing in transit is both the right thing to do and will grow our economy. If we continue to ignore our traffic problems, businesses will continue to avoid the area, like two large corporations, WestRock (article) and NCR (article), both of whom left the district and took 2,450 jobs with them, to be closer to MARTA. 

Better public transit options not only make Gwinnett and Forsyth more attractive to companies and homeowners, but also provide new jobs. The Gwinnett County Commission’s latest vote on a contract with MARTA and initiating a referenda on funding for transit is a good first step, but this vote should be held in November, not in a special election next March (link).

Investing in Clean Energy:

By investing in clean energy like solar, wind, and hydroelectric power, we can not only keep our environment clean, but we can also create jobs and stay competitive in future markets. Right now, our country currently provides over $21 billion in subsidies for fossil fuel technology (link) – these subsidies need to be repealed and reinvested in tax credits for clean energy technologies. We also need to support research and development around clean energy. At the very least, clean energy technology should compete on a level playing field. 

Paying a Living Wage:

Our economy cannot continue moving forward until our workers earn a living wage.  The costs of rent, gas, and food increase every year, yet wages have not grown as they should. We need to increase the federal minimum wage to account for inflation and also pair this with the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, administered as a reverse payroll tax, to ensure that allhard-working individuals are able to achieve a living wage, without over-burdening small businesses. 

A Common-Sense Tax Policy:

The Trump Administration’s recently passed tax bill is not really a tax cut so much as a cash advance on our national credit card. The legislation increases our national debt by $2 trillion – to $21 trillion overall in 2018 (Congressional Budget Office, The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2018 to 2028. Deficit increases from the tax act are discussed on p. 106. Debt numbers in Table 4-4, p. 87 (link))

Worse, the debt-financed benefits of the tax bill largely go to the wealthiest Americans and big businesses (link). Over the next ten years, 50 percent of the benefit goes to the top 5 percent of earners (link). When the individual income tax portions of the bill expire in 2027, 83 percent of the benefits will go to the top 1 percent of households (link)!

House Speaker Paul Ryan and the current Congress are proposing to cut Social Security and Medicare, claiming we “don’t have enough money.” We cannot place the weight of paying for the tax bill on our seniors. While I do support a decrease in the corporate income tax rate, this current tax cut is simply unaffordable and should not be paid for by middle-class seniors.

We can do better. We should provide tax cuts, like the earned-income tax credit, for the middle-class and working Americans, to ensure that anyone who works hard can make enough to have a decent standard of living and support their family. We can do all of this and find a way to pay for it. We can start by rooting out the special interests and eliminating their special tax breaks.  

Rooting out the Special Interests:

To truly have an economy that works for everyone, we need to give the power back to the people and take it away from the special interests. Too many members of Congress, like my opponent, answer first to the corporate PACs that write their checks, not the people who live and work in their districts. I have taken a pledge to not accept any corporate PAC money because I know the interests of us here in the 7th district must always and will always come first.  When we cut back on the advantages special interests receive in our current economic environment, we will create a fairer and stronger economy for everyone.

Jake Best