An Economy That Works for the Middle Class

By Taylor Garland
Politico reporter Ben White and NEC Director Jeffrey Zients discuss the economy. | Photo via C-SPAN

Will 2015 be the year Washington passes legislation to support the middle class?

Jeffrey Zients, director of the National Economic Council (NEC), has a few ideas  to get the economy moving for American workers and the middle class in 2015. Zients sat down on Thursday morning with Politico’s Ben White to talk about the Obama administration’s goals for the new year:

“If you look at that intersection for what could potentially get done and what moves the dial in a meaningful for the economy and the middle class, I think there are three things that come to the top of the list: [one] a good trade agreement or a good set of trade agreements. Second, business tax reform. But third, business tax reform linked to funding infrastructure.”

Mr. Zients, the Alliance for American Manufacturing couldn’t agree more. We need to make policy work for the middle class in 2015. This is how we do it.

First, a good trade agreement.

A good trade agreement for the middle class means addressing currency manipulation. The Obama administration has a lot of work to do on this. Business, labor, economists and Members of Congress from both parties have urged the administration to include currency provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. To date, currency practices have not been addressed, according the head trade negotiator.

Second, business tax reform.

It is critical that domestic manufacturing benefit from any changes to the tax code. However, proposals currently on the table would give a massive tax cut to Wall Street and Walmart, paid for on the backs of America’s manufacturing workers. A strong economy needs more middle-income opportunities for Americans and a robust manufacturing sector, which accounts for the lion’s share of America’s exports.

Third, and arguably most important, funding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

When we invest in our nation’s infrastructure we create well-paying American jobs and make the U.S. more competitive. It’s been almost 10 years since Congress passed a long-term infrastructure spending bill. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said it best: “There is simply no good reason to wait another year to put in place the long-term plan that our cities, states and businesses need.”

Let's get to work, Washington.