Senator Amy Klobuchar
September marked the 55th straight month of private-sector job growth in the US. Since 2010, our businesses have added more than 10m jobs, the biggest increase over a four-and-a-half year period since 1996-2001. Our economy is picking up steam, but more still needs to be done.
In my home state of Minnesota the unemployment rate is down to 4.3% and Minneapolis/St Paul has the lowest unemployment rate of any metropolitan area in the US. Our state has a history of innovation, manufacturing, and attracting creative people who invent things. We have brought the world everything from the pacemaker to the Post-it note.
Americans need to work together on commonsense policies that will give our economy the boost it needs to ensure sustained, robust job growth. As Senate chair of the joint economic committee, I believe we need to embrace an innovation agenda – a competitive agenda for America. We need to be a country that thinks, that invents, that makes stuff, and that exports to the world.
What will that take?
First, we need to support US firms so they can sell their products around the globe and break down barriers for exports, including a long-term reauthorisation of the export/import bank. With 95% of the world’s customers outside the US borders, there is literally a world of opportunity for American companies and their employees. Tourism is just one example of a high-growth US export and the Senate must pass my bipartisan legislation to reauthorise Brand USA. From agricultural equipment to medical devices, American companies can seize on a growing middle class abroad to help foster growth in our own country.
Second, we need to make sure American students and workers have the skills they need to succeed. This starts in high school with a new approach which includes allowing students to complete or at least begin one- and two-year post-secondary degrees in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] fields while they are in high school. And as our economy changes, many of our workers need to be retrained for the jobs of today, not yesterday.
Third, to complement the training of our workforce, the House of Representatives should take up comprehensive immigration reform. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bipartisan Senate bill would increase our GDP by 3.3% by 2023 and decrease our deficit by $158bn over 10 years. Ninety of our Fortune 500 companies were built by immigrants; 200 were built by immigrants or kids of immigrants. Yet while we allow unlimited visas for pro hockey players, we severely limit visas for engineers, doctors and their spouses. The House of Representatives needs to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
Fourth, something must be done about income inequality in our country. With an economy that is 70% consumer-driven, if workers can’t afford to buy goods, we cannot expand. Increasing the federal minimum wage and making it easier to afford college is a good start.
Fifth, if we want to expand the American economy through exports, US goods need to get to market. Our stable domestic energy supply is a plus but we also need to improve our roads, bridges, rail and barge systems. This means a long-term transportation plan, and creative ideas like an infrastructure bank.
Finally, we need to reform our tax code and put in place a long-term stable approach to reducing our debt and updating regulations. Republicans and Democrats agree that our tax system is overly complex, out of date, and inefficient. There is bipartisan support for creating certainty, incentivising job creation at home, and lowering our corporate tax rate and paying for it by eliminating loopholes.
With our economy continuing to improve, those who have spent the last several years playing politics have a choice: they can continue their political games, or join me and other members of both parties who want to work on policies that will expand our economy and keep our country moving forward.