Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., called Thursday for the implementation of a taxpayer-funded “federal job guarantee” program to combat systematic inequality and aid the U.S. economy’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
In a non-binding resolution introduced in the House, Pressley argued a federal job program would “finally eliminate the moral and economic scourge of involuntary unemployment” and address instances of economic bias based on race, gender or background. Pressley, 47, is considered a member of “The Squad,” a group of progressive lawmakers pressuring President Biden to enact sweeping changes to U.S. economic policy.
“It’s time to establish a legal right to a job for all people in America. For years, we have legislated hate, harm and injustice in this country. It’s long past time to pursue bold, intentional policies that affirm equity and recognize the dignity and humanity of all people,” Pressley said in a statement. “A federal job guarantee is an important investment in the American people, our communities, and an equitable economy that works for all. It affirms the right to meaningful, dignified work and a living wage.”
“I’m proud to build upon and honor the legacy and work of generations of Black women Civil Rights leaders by introducing this historic resolution,” Pressley added.
Pressley’s plan, developed in consultation with economists, including National Economic Association President Nina Banks, would establish an “enforceable legal right to a quality job.” The congresswoman said her plan would be “funded by the federal government” through taxpayer funds.
The Democratic lawmaker suggested the program could create jobs to revamp infrastructure and transportation systems, protect the government and provide care for seniors and children. Pressley argued the program could address widespread unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic.
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“It would also set a new standard for quality jobs, pressuring low-wage employers to increase wages and benefits,” Pressley’s office said in a press release. “It would create a pathway to stable employment and begin to close the gaping income and wealth gap for Black, Latinx and Indigenous workers who continue to face discrimination and are often the ‘first ones fired, last ones hired’ during economic crises.”
Pressley introduced the resolution as Biden pushed Congress to enact his $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” to revitalize the economy. Biden’s proposal includes another round of direct payments to Americans and federal aid to state and local governments, among other measures.