The Congressional Progressive Caucus put out their jobs bill framework today, which goes much further than the President’s American Jobs Act, and which could act as a left flank for the debate if Congressional progressives ever got an ounce of the attention that, say, the Republican Study Group got when their caucus was in the minority. The Hill writes:

At a news conference, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus said Obama’s proposal was a good start, but that their own agenda would do even more to put people to work.

The CPC platform focuses on six areas for job creation and calls for a national infrastructure bank, green technology investment, new public-sector spending for job creation and closing tax loopholes and subsidies for big American businesses as well as discouraging large bonuses for CEOs of big corporations.

The framework includes a $227 billion jobs bill sponsored by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) that aims to create 2.2 million jobs through funding for school improvement, police and firefighter services, local healthcare providers, the Early Head Start program and park-improvement services.

Schakowsky’s proposal would be funded by separate legislation, also sponsored by her, that raises taxes on millionaires and billionaires. Her legislation would also cut subsidies for major oil companies and close tax loopholes for corporations that hire employees outside the United States.

The pay-fors are somewhat similar to the “tax trigger” that the American Jobs Act creates, but it actually enacts the funding rather than punting it to the Super Committee. And the pay-fors include a Wall Street speculation tax, an end to offshore tax havens, and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. With those pay-fors, as well as ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s more than enough money to fund investments.

And that’s what the “Rebuild the American Dream” framework does. It’s a comprehensive plan that came out of the Speak Out for Good Jobs Now tour that CPC members took this summer. And they seek to create a real alternative, transforming the economy over the long-term rather than just a quick fix for today. As noted above, the framework includes:

1) Make it in America Again, which calls for actually writing an industrial policy strategy to secure US manufacturing for the next several decades.

2) Rebuild America. The framework specifically cites the fact that the cost of borrowing money is near zero (it’s actually negative on a short-term basis), and that America’s infrastructure needs are massive. It includes direct funding for repairs to roads, bridges, locks, dams, as well as wiring America with broadband cable. It also creates and funds a national infrastructure bank to leverage private capital into infrastructure needs. There’s a lot of controversy about the bank, but this would be Rosa DeLauro’s conception of it, not the Kerry-Hutchison plan that is a little more questionable.

3) Jobs for the Next Generation. This is a summer jobs program for direct employment in the public sector, and there’s actually a nod to job training programs that are at least similar to the Georgia Works program. “The caucus supports a ‘Train me and pay me’ program which would give stipends to workers and young people who are enrolled in job training programs,” according to the framework.

4) Lead the Green Industrial Revolution. This is a green jobs piece, with a focus on investment in research and development, the build-out of the smart grid, and incentives to keep the manufacturing jobs that result here at home.

5) Not Just Jobs – Good Jobs. All the job measures here would create better than minimum wage jobs. Here’s this section in full:

American workers want good American jobs, not poverty level wages without benefits that make it impossible to support a family or save for the future. We can start by making sure that middle-class Americans are free to organize and have a voice and a seat at the table again. If corporations can join together to hire an army of lobbyists, working Americans must come together and use their strength in numbers to protect the rights of middle class Americans. We must ensure that businesses obey our labor laws and reward those that create good paying American jobs that protect our rights to equal opportunity and equal pay. Programs like TANF ECF have been proven to put people to work. And while we work on building these good jobs, we must ensure the long-term unemployed receive the full assistance and services they need so they can continue contributing to the economy.

That TANF ECF refers to the TANF emergency fund, which helped a quarter of a million people get work before it expired. The extension of unemployment insurance inferred by this section would be for one year.

Keith Ellison (D-MN), co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, said that he would seek mass popular support for the CPC plan. “We do expect that the American people are going to bring pressure to bear and we’re going to fight like we expect to win because that’s how we do business,” he said.

Again, having a left flank that says the offer on the table isn’t good enough can be valuable. That is, it can be valuable if the group pushing it gets attention and can use their votes as leverage. I’m not sure that’s how it will go down, since progressives have either not had this kind of leverage, or not properly used it.

David Dayen

David Dayen