PHOENIX – A plan to revitalize the U.S. economy put forward by liberal groups would create jobs in Arizona and help the poor move to the middle class, a Democratic state lawmaker said Wednesday.
“The American dream is for any American, no matter where they start in life, to be able to accomplish their full goals,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix.
Gallego and state Reps. Anna Tovar, D-Tolleson, and Tom Chabin, D-Flagstaff, held a news conference to endorse the Contract for the American Dream. National groups including MoveOn.org, Campaign For America’s Future, Planned Parenthood and Progressive Democrats of America developed the plan.
Its 10 points calls for, among other steps, spending on infrastructure such as roads and high-speed Internet, creating energy jobs, providing Medicare for all and improving public education. It also pushes for increasing taxes on the rich and ending the wars abroad.
Joining the lawmakers, Monica Sandschafer, executive director of the community organization Living United for Change in Arizona, called the proposal a summation of suggestions from more than 130,000 Americans online and in their communities to save the American dream.
Gallego said there has been an assault on the basic tenets of the American dream in the last two years.
“It’s now time for us to reinvest in that dream,” he said.
He said the Arizona’s eroding infrastructure and cuts in school funding hinder people from achieving the dream.
A first-generation American of Mexican decent, Gallego said he escaped from poverty to the middle class because of the opportunities this country offered him, including a good public school education.
“Everyone should have that opportunity,” he said.
But Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, called the plan a joke and a far-left wish-list.
“This is so unaffordable in terms of spending, so repressive in terms of upper-middle class taxation and so irresponsible in terms of foreign policy,” he said.
Kavanagh said the American dream has become harder to achieve because government is spending more money on pet projects.
“We have plenty of opportunities, and the best way to make good jobs available to all American children is to get government off employers’ backs,” Kavanagh said.
State Rep. Justin Olson, R-Mesa said the Contract for the American Dream is out of touch with what Arizonans want.
“Three of those steps are tax increases, and it would be a disaster to raise taxes in this fragile economy that’s struggling to recover,” he said.
However, Carol Boone, council organizer with the South Phoenix MoveOn Coalition Council, an organization that encourages grassroots involvement in politics, said the plan would benefit Arizona.
“They are thousands of Arizonans who are unemployed. They need jobs and infrastructure,” she said.
She said ending the wars and returning the troops home, as well as taxing the rich, would provide some of the funding to re-start the economy.
Elvina Nawaguna-Clemente is a reporter for Cronkite News Service