Speaking at a rally for the middle class


Greetings,

   As I discuss below, the middle class is going through some incredibly difficult times, and we are seeing a growing gap in income inequality.

     I would strongly encourage you to click here, and watch a new video called "Wealth in America".  The video has recently gone viral, and has spurred a new conversation about the growing gap between the wealthy and everyone else. 

   This is an important issue that the Legislature is working on.  We must find a way to make the economy work for all Oregonians, and ensure that every child, no matter his or her background, has a chance to succeed.

Stay tuned!

Phil

Town Hall Schedule

Please join me at one of these following times/dates, as we discuss the issues facing Oregon's 77th Legislature.

We had a great town hall in Halsey on March 19th.  I am so glad to have had the chance to discuss Oregon's future with the community of Halsey.

Here are the next town halls:

City: Springfield
Topic: Joint Town Hall with Rep. Lively and Sen. Beyer
Date: Tuesday, April 9th
Time: 6:30 pm-7:30 pm
Location: Springfield City Hall-225 North 5th Street

Click Here to RSVP

City: Creswell
Topic: General Information
Date: Tuesday, April 23rd
Time: 5:30 pm-6:30 pm
Location: Creswell Coffee-116 Melton Rd

Click Here to RSVP

City: Eugene
Topic: Higher Education
Date: Tuesday, May 7th
Time: 6:00 pm-7:00 pm
Location: University of Oregon Campus-Erb Memorial Union (1228 University St)

Click Here to RSVP

City: Marcola
Topic: General Information
Date: Tuesday, May 14th
Time: 6:00 pm-7:00 pm
Location: Mohawk Valley Rural Fire District-92068 Marcola Rd

Click Here to RSVP

City: Eugene
Topic: Overview of the Budget
Date: Tuesday, May 28th
Time: 6:00 pm-8:00 pm
Location: LCC Downtown Campus-101 West 10th Ave

Click Here to RSVP

City: Coburg
Topic: General Information
Date: Tuesday, June 11th
Time: 6:00 pm-7:00 pm
Location: Coburg City Hall-91069 N Willamette St

Click Here to RSVP


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Last Wednesday, House Bill 2689, passed in the Oregon State Legislature. 

HB 2689 allows cities and counties to work with youth job development organizations on public projects.  This would mean that a groups such as the Northwest Youth Corps can partner with Lane County on projects.  I sponsored this bill because it is crucial that young people have the opportunity to get job training.  Allowing young people to gain job experience helps them to learn a skill or trade, find employment, and contribute to the economy.  I was proud to see this bill pass with almost unanimous support.

Working for the Middle Class

The middle class is struggling. The average American is getting squeezed.  Local economies are suffering.  And finding a good-paying, stable job is harder and harder.
     In the past decade, median incomes for middle class families have fallen by $3,700.  And not just because of the recession.  The wealthiest Americans have actually seen their incomes and net worth grow, while the middle class has seen their share of the pie shrink.  The wealth gap between the rich and a typical family has skyrocketed, so that the net worth of the wealthy is an astonishing 288 times greater than that of a middle-class family.
     The middle class is not only struggling, it is also seeing its influence shrink.  In 1976, the top one percent owned 19% of America’s net worth.  Three decades later, wealthiest one-percent of Americans now control a staggering one-third of this country’s total net worth.  The top 20% own an incredible 89% of all privately-held wealth in America, mostly at the expense of the middle class.
     There may be a lot of numbers here, but they all point to one conclusion: the rich are getting richer, while the middle class is falling behind.
     In most of the last half of the 20th century, a time the middle class thrived, society invested significantly in family health care as a benefit of almost every good job.  We also invested in good public schools.  As job benefits eroded and education quality declined, middle class incomes declined.  We must turn that around now.
     We need a universal healthcare system.  Our healthcare costs are rising rapidly, and are among of the leading causes for middle class debt.  Fewer and fewer employers provide health insurance for workers and their families.  Reducing costs and ensuring that every person has high-quality healthcare will be a big step to restoring the middle class.  Universal high quality healthcare is a solution.  Oregon’s health care reform initiatives are moving us closer to that goal. 
     We need to improve our schools.  Our children are losing classes they need, teachers are being laid off, and class sizes are growing.  The quality of Oregon’s education is suffering.  Good schools are crucial to economic mobility.  Better schools lead to better educated adults, stronger incomes, attract businesses, and create jobs.  Investing in schools will help the middle class.
      We need to make higher education more affordable.  Colleges and universities are the gateway to prosperity.  The average college graduate makes 51% more than the average high school graduate.  But with our current system, college is simply unaffordable.  People who graduate from colleges and universities are often saddled with massive debt which follows them for a lifetime.  And how does one become an active contributor to an economy (starting a career, buying a home, starting a family) if he or she is crushed under a mountain of debt?  Making higher education affordable will help the middle class.
      We need to reform our tax code.   An important part in improving our schools and making healthcare and college more affordable is bringing in revenue from those who have done well in the last two or three decades.  Closing tax loopholes which benefit the wealthy will mean that we can channel that revenue to services that support the middle class.  A good tax code directs expenditures to those who can most benefit from them, for the good of our children and our society.
       What we really need to do, which touches on all of these proposals, is to restore resources to the middle class.  And we need to do this because the services the middle class depend on are vital not only to our economy, but to our people.  We used to recognize that every child should have the best education possible, and so we invested in it.  Regardless of economic background, all children deserve opportunity to succeed.   We used to recognize that every person had the right to be healthy, and so we invested by attaching it to a job.  No Oregonian, young or old, should have to choose between a visit to the doctor’s office or a visit to the grocery store.  We used to recognize that if young peop
le worked hard they could get a college degree, and so we invested in them.  Every person should be able to start their career free of debt, to pursue their dreams.
      We used to recognize that the middle class was worth the investment.  The period of greatest sustained growth in our history started with things like investing in returning GIs at the end of World War II. With the right efforts, and the right policies, we can invest and grow our middle class again.  Stay tuned.



Alumni from the Northwest Youth Corps came to Salem in March.  I was thrilled to spend time with them, as they learned more about the Legislative proces


 

April 1, 2013