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Think tank with ties to Clinton releases economic plan

January 15, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — A prominent Democratic think tank with longstanding ties to Hillary Rodham Clinton offered an array of policy ideas to address stagnating wages on Thursday, arguing the nation’s economic problems are not inevitable and can be addressed by a sweeping economic agenda.

The Center for American Progress released a 165-page report from a commission aimed at developing ideas to promote shared prosperity among all income levels. The proposals aim to tackle the growing gap between the wealthy and the poor and include raising the minimum wage, boosting infrastructure spending, offering middle class tax credits and helping students pay for college.

“We are united in the conviction that stagnation in middle class incomes is a choice, not a necessity — that a different choice is possible,” said former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, the commission’s co-chair.

Boosting wages and household income remains a leading issue for Democrats, who note that many families have yet to benefit from an improving labor market and economic conditions. The report is broad in its scope and points to the need to modernize employment laws regarding overtime pay and workers’ compensation; profit-sharing for employees in their companies; expanding national service as a way to help young people gain job skills and more family-friendly policies such as paid leave for new parents and caregivers.

The policy ideas could preview Clinton’s economic agenda if she runs for president. Many of the ideas have been raised by Clinton in the past and the commission has as members several longtime Clinton allies, including Summers, who served as Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton; Neera Tanden, the center’s president and CEO and a former Hillary Clinton policy adviser; and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Hillary Clinton has pointed to the broad-based economic growth of the 1990s during her husband’s administration as a model but she has remained largely out of the public eye in recent weeks as she prepares for a likely presidential race. She has voiced support for raising the minimum wage, promoting paid family leave policies and accessing job training and higher education.

But some liberals remain skeptical that she would not do enough to rein in the Wall Street banks they blame for the economic crisis of 2008 and 2009. The report includes recommendations for financial stability, including tougher oversight on the less-regulated shadow financial systems and a review of capital requirements for large banks to prevent failures.

Some liberal Democrats, led by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, contend the party is too aligned with Wall Street and has not done enough to help the fortunes of middle class families. Democrats suffered massive losses during the midterm elections and ceded control of Congress to Republicans in an election that many Democrats said lacked a strong economic pitch to voters.


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