Key provisions of the Main Street Contract for the American People
From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
August 2011 Edition
Jobs at living wages for everyone
Economic opportunity has become a mirage for far too many Americans, especially with the sharp drop in manufacturing jobs in this economy. While corporate profits have soared, and income disparity is at the highest point since the Great Depression, wages for most working people have fallen or stagnated. The “working poor” are fast becoming the norm—one in three American families lives at twice the poverty level or less, and many people struggle to pay for housing, food, medicine and other basic needs.
Guaranteed health care for all
Enactment of a national law has not solved the health care crisis. Health care costs for American families have doubled in the past nine years. Medical bills account for more than 60 percent of personal bankruptcies. Big insurance giants deny more than one-fourth of all claims. More employers are dropping or reducing health coverage and shifting more costs to employees. Growing numbers of people delay basic medical care, waiting until they arrive in overcrowded emergency rooms. Children are showing symptoms of diseases long associated with adults. Health care should be a right, not a privilege. Nurses have long fought for a more humane health care system, based on individual patient need, not ability to pay. The only solution remains expanding and improving Medicare to cover everyone, with a single standard of care for all.
A secure retirement, with the ability to retire in dignity
Nearly half of elderly Americans face a future at or below the poverty line. For African-American seniors that number is two in three. Yet leaders in both major parties have proposed big reductions in our most significant retirement programs, Social Security and Medicare, while state and city governments and private employers alike seek to sharply cut pensions and other retirement plans. We must keep the promise made to Americans and ensure that we will never return to the days when our seniors must work far into their retirement years or face a future of poverty, homelessness, and health insecurity.
Equal access to a quality education
Mirroring other disparities in our society, slots in major universities and colleges are increasingly being taken by the wealthiest American families. Across the nation, public schools have seen budgets severely cut, and a number of governors and legislators are seeking to privatize or contract out education, limiting access for many. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to fall behind other countries in educational equality and opportunity.
Good housing and protection from hunger
One in five children in the U.S. today lives in poverty. Nearly 700,000 homes were foreclosed, just in the 10 most populous states, in the first quarter of 2011 alone. Homelessness, substandard housing, hunger, and near hunger exist in every American city and are on the rise. Some 15 percent of U.S. households, 17.4 million families or about 50 million people, were too poor to buy adequate food last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More than a third of these households, with as many as one million children, were missing meals on a regular basis, the study found. Rising food prices are fueled by Wall Street speculation in commodities, enriching the financiers and increasing hunger.
A just taxation system where corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share
Corporate profits in 2010 increased at the fastest rate in 60 years. Nearly 90 percent of the total income growth over the past 25 years has gone to the wealthiest 10 percent. CEOs now are paid as much as 344 times as much as the average worker. Yet Congress and the White House last December extended tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Many legislators continue to call for reducing corporate taxes—even though a General Accounting Office study found that 42 percent of large U.S. companies paid no U.S. income taxes for two or more years the past decade. U.S.-based corporations are rewarded for earning and reinvesting profits in foreign countries. It is long past time to restore a fair taxation system.