Mike Matthews is finishing up his term as President of Delaware ADA. Here’s his Op-Ed on “A Middle Class Economics Vision for Delaware” which was published in the News Journal.
Recently I have been reading many of Joe Biden’s words, and one of his statements stood out. He said he wants to see an economic future “where the middle class is dealt back into the deal, where there’s really opportunity and jobs you can raise a family on.”
As I read this, I found myself thinking this is a choice. Do I aim to just do the best I can for myself or do I push for an economic future where everyone can succeed?
To me the answer is clear. I will follow Biden’s call for “middle class economics” every time I get the chance.
I believe we all want to work to support our families, but sometimes we have a hard time finding decent paying work or enough work at all. We all want to take care of our children and elders, but have trouble keeping up with costs. We all want robust education, transportation, and energy systems, but we need to have the will to pay for them.
Now we as Citizens of Delaware have the opportunity to take ownership and push for a cohesive vision for “middle class economics.”
First, we need to focus on job creation by increasing public investment in roads/bridges, public transit, and support for small businesses. In particular we need to unlock opportunities in areas hardest hit by the slow economy. As people enter the middle class this will lead to a rise in demand for a whole host of goods and services that will in turn further boost Delaware’s economy.
Second, we need to guarantee fair wages and benefits. Right now Delaware’s trend towards low-wage workers hurts our growth. People need to be paid enough (e.g. $15 an hour) to buy goods and services, which stimulate the economy. To show our commitment to families, Delawareans also ought to have appropriate workers’ rights such as a “fair workweek” standard (i.e. adequate hours to receive benefits and a predictable, family-friendly schedule).
Third, we need to build a clean energy state. Investment in the clean energy industry (e.g. energy efficiency and renewable energy) has a much higher return in terms of producing new jobs than fossil fuel/nuclear industries. We also have to make sure future workers have chances for employment, thus we need to invest in industries where Delaware can produce the materials/energy here instead of solely relying on other states.
Fourth, we should be valuing family success by supporting caregivers. In Delaware we have many families struggling to meet care-giving needs for their families and communities. We need to make a commitment to ensure high-quality childcare available to working parents, raise the quality of jobs in the early education and care fields, transform home care, and provide financial support for family members providing unpaid care to loved ones.
Finally, we need to tax concentrated wealth. Higher tax revenue would allow Delaware to focus on key economic investments, which would in turn greatly spur our economic growth. We need to update our tax system (e.g., add tax brackets on higher-incomes, strengthen the estate tax, and increase taxes on capital gains and dividends) so we can foster growth through public investment.
These key economic principles build on each other to create a unified middle class vision for Delaware.
Joe Biden has consistently sounded the call for middle class economics at the national level. It is time Delaware followed his lead and pushed these policies here at home.