Rebuild America Act builds an economy for the 99 percent

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The AFT is lauding Sen. Tom Harkin's (D-Iowa) Rebuild America Act (S. 2252), which the union describes as "a comprehensive proposal that offers the right prescriptions to help solve many of our nation's persistent economic problems."

The proposal, which was introduced March 29, would, among other things:

  • Change the tax code in an effort to address income inequality and restore fairness. These changes include: instituting the "Buffett Rule" to ensure the wealthiest Americans pay at least as much as middle-class families; eliminating tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas; closing the carried-interest loophole commonly used by hedge fund managers in order to pay a lower rate on their earnings; and raising the capital gains tax rate, which is currently 15 percent.
  • Create a Commission on Retirement Security that will review the current state of private retirement systems, identify problems and offer solutions.
  • Provide $300 billion for investments in roads, bridges and other infrastructure, and $20 billion to help repair and modernize public schools, early learning centers and community colleges.

Other provisions of the bill would improve Social Security, train workers with skills for 21st-century jobs, reduce the cost of child care, protect overtime pay for workers, establish a fair minimum wage and increase job opportunities for American with disabilities.

"This legislation rejects the harmful, cuts-only approach of the [Rep. Paul] Ryan Republican budget," says AFT president Randi Weingarten.

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka describes the proposal as an "inspirational vision of how we can rebuild our economy on stronger foundations." He says, "Sen. Harkin recognizes that we can't achieve fairness if workers lose overtime protections to inflation, if we do not clamp down on rampant speculation on Wall Street, alleviate the cost of child care for working families and enact other overdue reforms."

The Rebuild America Act "focuses on making our economy work for the 99 percent who have so far picked up the tab for the crash of 2008 and the Great Recession," say Trumka. [Kathy Nicholson]

April 11, 2012