KENNEDY: We Need To Rebuild The Middle Class

It doesn’t take an expert to see that something is stalling the American economy.

Last year, for the 11th year in a row, America failed to achieve 3% annual growth.  We’re not achieving that average benchmark much less the growth that Americans truly deserve.

Times are especially hard in Louisiana.  Good-paying jobs are too scarce.  They were scarce before the energy market downturn and the BP oil spill.

If you’re a middle-aged man with a wife and two kids in Louisiana, you’re probably wondering how your parents were able to raise four kids on a single salary.  Sure, they didn’t drive a Cadillac and they ate a lot of tuna casserole, but they sent those kids to college and retired at a decent age.

The sobering truth is that government is regulating and taxing people half to death.  We’re chasing our ideas, our jobs and our investors into the open, waiting arms of foreign countries.  In the process, we’re killing our middle class, which is the primary vehicle for economic growth.

I like to speak my mind so I’ll be blunt.  Ordinary people need a tax cut.  Too many undeserving people at the top are getting bailouts.  Too many undeserving people at the bottom are getting handouts.  Ordinary people – the middle-class families who just want to work hard every day, buy a decent home and send their kids to college – are paying the bill, and they can’t afford it any more.  Their kids’ tuition has gone up, their health insurance has gone up and their taxes have gone up to pay other peoples’ bills.  They’re at the breaking point.

I’m going to work to cut taxes.  I’m going to be deliberative about how I do it so that the deficit doesn’t skyrocket, but I’m going to work to cut taxes.

I have two plans for helping middle-class families.

First, Congress needs to double the standard deduction across the board.   That simple step will inject more than $600 billion back into the economy over 10 years, according to a 2014 CRS report. That’s an immediate shot in the arm for the American economy.  An average family of four in Alexandria will have its tax bill reduced to $1,700, freeing up almost $2,000 of hard-earned income.

Second, I want to help middle-class retirees by eliminating the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset.  Nearly 38,000 hard-working Louisianans have been impacted by these unfair regulations.  If you become a teacher after working at a job in which you paid into Social Security, then your future Social Security benefit may be reduced or eliminated because of your teacher pension.  That’s ridiculous.  The government shouldn’t be taking away money that you paid into the system.

We need to liberate middle-class families by giving them meaningful financial relief. The American dream is in tatters.  We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make changes that will improve the lives of every middle-class family in Louisiana.  We have an opportunity to ensure that hard-working parents have the same opportunities that their parents did.  We can’t put a Cadillac in their driveways, but we can ensure that they can afford tuna casserole and college funds.

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