Nurturing New Industries & Competition-Driven Innovation
The coming decades will be a time of transformation and unless Congress acts wisely to ensure that it is a time of positive change for all, many will be left behind. Increased automation threatens unprecedented upheaval in the job market. Congresswoman Speier supports legislation to provide training in the next-generation sectors so that people can more easily shift careers in response to economic shifts.
It will also be a time of change in how Americans transport themselves with a coming explosion in electric vehicle adoption and the advent of autonomous vehicles. To ensure our Nation’s continued global leadership in the automotive industry, Congresswoman Speier introduced H.R. 5393, the Affordable American-Made Automobiles Act. This comprehensive and visionary legislation will expand popular tax credits for electric vehicles, retooled so that these next-generation vehicles are accessible to the middle class, and will also provide greater incentives for U.S.-based production and adoption of electric vehicles and investments in electric charging infrastructure so that the United States is not left in the dust of other nations already focused on this important new sector.
Meanwhile, corporate consolidation has decreased competitiveness and innovation across the American economy. Congresswoman Speier supports reviving robust antitrust enforcement and merger review by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, which have turned a blind eye to unprecedented concentration. When only a few major corporations control an industry the result for consumers are higher prices and lower quality of service, not to mention the corrosive effect that concentrated money has on the political process. Also see the Elections Page.
Fighting for a Living Wage
Every person in this country deserves a living wage. The federal minimum wage remains stagnant at $7.25 per hour since July 2009, while inflation has eroded the real buying power of that wage by 15 percent. After adjusting for inflation, the minimum wage is almost 30 percent below its peak value in 1968. This especially hurts the residents of the 14th District, which has some of the highest costs of living nationwide.
That is why Congresswoman Speier supports H.R. 582, the Raise the Wage Act, which would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and phase out the subminimum wage. This legislation will give 33 million workers a desperately-needed raise, including nearly 20 million women and 16 million people of color. Not only will these workers benefit, but the economy as a whole will grow as workers spend their money and stimulate the local economy.
It is also time to abolish the tipped minimum wage, which allows employers to pay just $2.13 per hour to tipped workers making them almost entirely dependent on tips for their livelihood. Especially concerning is the fact that nearly two-thirds of tipped workers are women. In addition to being an economic security issue, this is also a safety issue. One study estimated that women who work for tips in states without a tipped minimum wage experience half the rate of sexual harassment because they are not dependent on tips for their income. For more information about Congresswoman Speier’s policies to stimulate the economy by empowering women with equal pay and equitable workplace policies, please see the Women’s Rights page.
Investing in our aging infrastructure is critical for stimulating the economy and improving quality of life. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives America’s infrastructure a dismal D+ rating and estimates that we will need to spend upwards of $3.6 trillion by 2020 in order for our infrastructure to remain safe and operational. Speier has consistently supported essential investments in transportation infrastructure through the Highway Trust Fund and continues to advocate for long-term infrastructure funding. In the 14th District of California, over 60 percent of the bridges in San Francisco County and 40 percent of the bridges in San Mateo County are in need of major repairs or reconstruction. Additionally, Congresswoman Speier believes that future improvements must address the impending threat of climate change. “Climate smart” infrastructure is better equipped to withstand extreme weather and sea level rise and will save taxpayers significant costs in the long run. Upgrading our infrastructure improves public safety, creates jobs, and grows the economy through increased efficiency and decreased waste.
For more information, please see the Transportation and Infrastructure issues page.
As the nation’s debt is snowballing, it’s important to ensure our budget is a reflection of our nation’s priorities. Congresswoman Speier is a fierce advocate for crucial domestic spending that benefits the American public by educating our children, ensuring access to quality health care, keeping our environment clean, and maintaining a robust economy full of opportunities. She believes that the arbitrary debt ceiling should be abolished, since over time it has merely become a political football leading to dangerous gamesmanship and has caused the United States to suffer through unnecessary government shutdowns and brought us to the brink of a disastrous default.
For these reasons, Congresswoman Speier voted for the compromise Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2019, which suspends the debt limit for two years, avoiding an unprecedented and disastrous default, and increases discretionary funding caps for Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021. This will allow the Federal Government to continue to make investments in education, consumer protection, affordable housing, and more.
Congress cannot kick the can down the road forever. Putting the budget on a more sustainable long-term trajectory will require some difficult decisions, though there are some places where progress can be made to close the gap. First, the government must collect more tax revenue by raising rates on corporate profits, closing loopholes, and investing in tax enforcement so that everyone pays their fair share. Second, we must decrease the belt-busting military budget. It is baffling that the United States spends nearly as much money on its defense as it does on the health and wellness of its people. In her position on the House Armed Services Committee, Congresswoman Speier is dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse in the defense budget. Also see the Armed Services page.