Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) waged battle on the Senate floor today, calling for increasing the minimum wage, extending long-term unemployment benefits, and strengthening the country’s manufacturing sector by closing the skills gap.
Franken has introduced legislation to bring businesses and community colleges together to fill high-skilled, open jobs in the manufacturing, information technology, and health care fields.
Sen. Franken said that we need to extend long term unemployment benefits. “65,000 workers in Minnesota and millions throughout our country may need this extended unemployment insurance in 2014—these are folks struggling to find jobs and support their families,” said Sen. Franken. “And without an extension, the Council of Economic Advisors estimates that the economy will generate 240,000 fewer jobs by the end of 2014.”
Franken said they know how to fix the problems we just need to do it. He outlined his plan to fight for an increase to the minimum wage, “The minimum wage is supposed to help guarantee that if you work hard and play by the rules, you will at least have a roof over your head and you’ll be able to put food on the table. However, today, because the minimum wage is too low, it is not doing what is supposed to do.”
The Democratic Senator continued, “We have millions of open jobs that can’t be filled because of a skills shortage. And we know that these partnerships are the most direct way to fill those jobs. So what I’m proposing is a competitive grant program in a bill called the Community College to Career Fund Act. Under this program, businesses and community colleges would apply for grants based on how many jobs their partnership would create, what the value of the jobs would be to those hired and to the community, and how much skin do the businesses have in the game.”
Franken ended with a patriotic plea that will surely go unheeded by his colleagues across the aisle, “Let’s make this coming year the year that Congress works for Americans.” Nice thought, but I’m afraid that will happen when Hell freezes over or Americans finally vote Republicans out of office.
Americans need jobs and the minimum wage needs to be raised. Raising the minimum wage would help lift millions of workers out of poverty and it would also stimulate the economy. Furthermore, contrary to the poor little rich corporation tale of woe we hear from Republicans, there’s a case to be made for why raising the minimum wage is the Capitalist thing to do. Nick Hanauer at Bloomberg explained, “In a capitalist system, rising inequality creates a death spiral of falling demand that ultimately takes everyone down.”
That’s where the GOP is taking America – DOWN. All so the miserly rich can pocket a few extra dollars. True patriots fight for the best for the whole country, and the best means a liveable minimum wage, decent jobs, and more jobs.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
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