Building a stronger America starts with a stronger middle class
BY REPS. MIKE GALLAGHER (R-WIS.) AND RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-ILL.), OPINION CONTRIBUTORS — 01/26/18 12:30 PM EST
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL
As 2018 begins, it is important to reflect on what matters to American families. While the level of vitriol and hostility in Washington, D.C. continues to rise, we in Congress must not forget about the need for common-sense solutions to the key issues facing the millions of working and middle-class Americans.
For over three decades, the share of adults living in middle-income households fell from 61 to 50 percent. As this trend continues, we need to do more to strengthen and support workers and families who are doing their very best to work, raise a family and pursue their own American dream.
With most Americans feeling that the federal government does not do enough for the middle class, it is clear that policies that were meant to help the middle class are now holding it back. It’s also become increasingly clear to us that the partisan gridlock in D.C. has gotten us nowhere. If we are going to effect real change for the middle class, then both sides of the aisle must set aside their political differences, work together, and find solutions to these problems. This is why together we launched the Middle Class Jobs Caucus.
Over the past year we have sat down with local business owners, researchers and academics to discuss some of the ways in which Congress can create meaningful policy that strengthens the middle class. We found that when it comes to addressing the needs of working families in our districts, common ground is not hard to find if you are willing to work together.
One issue we both agree on is that the rising cost of health care is placing a heavy burden on the middle class. While the health care system cannot be fixed overnight, there are areas we can work together on including providing greater price transparency. We believe that changing how we disclose health care costs is one solution to improving our health care system. Legislation like the Transparency in All Health Care Pricing Act of 2017 is an important step in creating meaningful reform and improving accountability in the marketplace.
Our districts are home to some of the hardest working people in the country. As technology continues to advance and automation replaces workers, our workforce must have the resources it needs to adapt. When we travel around our districts, we routinely hear this concern from local business owners and their employees. Policies like the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act are vital to ensuring our technical schools can provide students with the training they need for the high-skilled jobs in our local economies.
Our labor force participation rate has remained stagnant at around 63 percent since 2014. To combat this troubling trend, we must reexamine and improve our workforce training and reemployment programs to ensure that they’re equipped to retrain workers whose jobs have been impacted by trade or technology. Modernizing our workforce for the 21st century will not only strengthen our economy, but empower workers across the country.
Our hope is that the Middle Class Jobs Caucus will continue to explore bipartisan solutions to the many issues facing hardworking families in Illinois and Wisconsin. A strong middle class means a strong America. As we begin a new session of Congress, we call on our colleagues to retreat from their partisan corners and focus on the ways in which we can help the middle class succeed.
Gallagher represents Wisconsin’s 8th District and Krishnamoorthi represents Illinois’ 8th District. They formed the Middle Class Jobs Caucus.