The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

In-Depth Summary of May 11-12 Economic Equality Coalition Event in Washington, DC

Posted on May 21, 2016 at 12:06 PM

We would like to express our great appreciation to all participants at the May 11-12 Economic Equality Coalition Conference in Washington, DC. Ten Members of Congress from both parties took part, President Bill Clinton spoke by live call-in, and economic, racial and gender equality advocates participated.

The Economic Equality Coalition (EEC) advocates for economic equality for those people across the country who have not shared equally in America’s prosperity, such as the 8-state Greater Delta region, Appalachia, Southwest Border, parts of the Midwest, inner cities, and equality for women, African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans. The EEC builds upon the Clinton administration’s bipartisan New Markets Initiative, which focused on the most economically distressed regions of America.

President Clinton complimented the EEC and Delta Caucus for taking a “bipartisan and comprehensive approach” to this initiative.

The 10 Members of Congress were evenly divided among the parties with five Republicans and five Democrats.

President Clinton spoke by live call-in at the opening session-New Markets Initiative. He praised the work of Congressman Steny Hoyer, Rep. Clyburn, Rep. Ruben Hinjosa and other Members of Congress.

In addition to Representatives Hoyer and Clyburn, we included five Members from the Greater Delta/Alabama Black Belt region: Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL), of the Alabama Black Belt; Sen. John Boozman, Rep. Rick Crawford, Rep. French Hill, and Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR), Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, a senior Hispanic Member of Congress from the Southwest Border (D-TX), Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), from the key swing state of Virginia that is attracting great interest in this historic election year

The Thursday afternoon May 12 session was held outside of Congressional property at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill, to allow for discussion of two high-profile supporters of the front-running Presidential candidates to discuss their views on the Presidential race (the earlier sessions were held at the House and Senate, where political campaign activity can’t be directly discussed):

Rep. Clyburn spoke about his support for Secretary Hillary Clinton’s economic equality positions, and Rep. Tom Reed, Republican of New York, did the same for Donald Trump.

The Delta Caucus and the EEC do not make endorsements but scrutinize the positions of all the major campaigns of both parties.

Rep. Raul M. Grijalva of Arizona had confirmed to speak in favor of Sen. Bernie Sanders, but he was unavoidably detained by an important Congressional hearing that ran much longer than expected and was not able to participate.

This is a lengthy report and we would not expect people to read all of it, but rather most people will look over the Table of Contents and scroll down to a few of the sections of the conference that they find most interesting and important.












The discussion was broad and wide-ranging and we will discuss the large-scale issues in depth below, but we would like to single out two plans that are gaining bipartisan support right now in Congress and urge all our partners to support them and ask your Members of Congress to endorse them in this Congressional session. These are Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC, and the third ranking national leader in the House) “10-20-30” plan for federal investments in the most economically distressed areas, and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD, the second ranking leader as Whip) “Make It in America” job creation plan. These two innovative plans are discussed below.

Short list of key initiatives: With such a huge range of issues to choose from, it’s always a challenge to decide which initiatives to highlight. Based on feedback received for months ahead of the conference and during the two days of a jam-packed agenda, several issues came to the forefront:

–job creation at good wages, with higher minimum wages and policies for promoting small business as a dynamic and broad-based engine for economic progress;

–investments in housing, transportation, broadband and other infrastructure to create jobs and improve our deteriorating infrastructure;

–expanded investments in education and workforce development, including relief for college students to avoid huge student loan debts and expanded investment in dislocated worker programs;

–a strong childhood nutrition bill (nutrition experts criticized the flawed version passed by the House as opposed to the more constructive Senate version) and strong support for SNAP funding and opposition to draconian application of work requirements that deny nutrition to many deserving people,

–health care for underserved areas, and improvements in the Affordable Care Act,

–Renewable energy, energy efficiency and green jobs; Equal pay for women, and action to end the disturbing economic inequality for women, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and others left behind economically;

10-20-30 plan for increasing federal investments to persistent poverty counties, as originated by Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) and supported by national leaders of both parties including Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, (R-Wisconsin), House Appropriations Committee Chair, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), as well as Secretary Hillary Clinton and President Clinton. The plan does not increase overall spending but requires 10% of federal discretionary spending to go to areas where 20% of the population has been impoverished for 30 years (discussed in detail below);

–Rep. Steny Hoyer’s “Make It in America” plan for job creation, which would provide tax credits to businesses that hire new employees, end tax loopholes that encourage firms to ship jobs overseas, promote clean energy firms, raise federal minimum wages, extend unemployment insurance for those looking for work, and expand investments in workforce training ;

–Opening up trade to Cuba, which would benefit rural areas like the Delta in expanding rice, poultry and other agricultural exports, as well as urban areas in the markets for auto parts, health-care related services and other trade opportunities. The embargo has existed for over a half century and failed to undermine the Cuban regime, so clearly it’s time for a change.


President Clinton praised Congressman Clyburn’s “10-20-30” plan, which requires at least 10% of federal funding to go to “persistent poverty” counties where 20% of the population has lived in poverty for 30 years. Rep. Clyburn recently worked with Republican Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky, to include 10-20-30 in the House version of the 2017 Agriculture Appropriations bill.

The Delta Caucus and Economic Equality Coalition partners support inclusion of the “10-20-30” plan not only in the final version of the Agriculture Appropriations bill, but this plan should be included in all federal discretionary spending for all agencies.

Rep. Clyburn’s plan has won support from national leaders of both parties, including Speaker Paul Ryan, Chairman Rogers in the House, Secretary Hillary Clinton and many others.

“Persistent poverty” counties are roughly equally divided into Republican and Democratic districts so this is bipartisan: these impoverished counties are much more numerous than most people would believe, amounting to a total of over 22 million people. About 8.8 million of them live in Democratic districts, a figure almost as large of 8.3 million live in Republican districts, and 5.2 million live in areas that are split between Republican and Democratic representation.

Many of these counties are concentrated in the Greater Delta Region, Appalachia, regions with high percentages of Hispanics, African Americans and Native Americans. This plan would clearly assure that more federal funding goes where it is most needed.

Rep. Clyburn emphasized that the fight against poverty includes all races and ethnic groups. He recalled speaking with President Clinton at a New Markets Initiative in Appalachia when virtually everyone in a crowd of more than 2,000 people were white had come there to address poverty in their region.

The program would not increase overall federal funding but would just make sure that the most economically distressed areas get their fair share. In some respects, such as the ability to apply for funding requiring staff with extensive expertise in writing grant applications, the most impoverished areas are at an unfair disadvantage because they don’t have the resources to hire staff and grant writers for this purpose. For other reasons, federal funding has too often not gone where it is most needed, and the “10-20-30” plan is a reform that is long overdue and should be broadly adopted across the federal government.


Rep. Steny Hoyer spoke at the opening session at the House Rayburn building about his “Make It in America” plan: which encourages job creation by giving tax credits to businesses that hire new employees, providing loans to small businesses that are the great engine of job creation, ending tax loopholes that encourage companies to ship job overseas, promote clean energy and energy efficiency, and invest in job training.

The plan also contains provisions for holding China accountable for unfair currency manipulation that costs American jobs.

The four core components of the plan are:

–Adopt and pursue a national manufacturing strategy;

–Promote the export of US goods;

–Encourage businesses to bring jobs and innovation back to the US;

–Train and secure a twenty-first century workforce.

The plan also calls for higher state and federal wages and extending unemployment insurance to people seeking work. These provisions have been included in a number of bills recently and we’d like to see them included in many more.


Congressman James Clyburn, third ranking leader in the House, explained his longstanding relationship with Secretary Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton and support for a wide range of constructive policies for economic, racial and gender equality in America. He explained his “10-20-30” plan discussed above, which has been endorsed by Secretary Clinton.

Rep. Clyburn’s support for statehood for DC and other economic policies are discussed in several other sections of this report.

Rep. Clyburn is famous as an eloquent orator and received a rousing round of applause.

In response to a question. Congressman Clyburn said he believes that prospects for eventually unifying the Democratic party behind the nominee are very good, since Secretary Clinton and Sen. Sanders share many goals and positions in contrast to the Republican front-runner.

Rep. Tom Reed of New York is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and a high-profile supporter of Donald Trump. He emphasized Mr. Trump’s successful record in business as a key part of his credentials to lead American job growth if elected President.

The EEC partners believe it is very important to have cordial, civil discourse in our political debates. Congressman Clyburn and Congressman Reed were both entirely civil and positive and we commend both of them for the constructive tone of their remarks and for refraining from personal negative comments.

As a factual matter, the audience included a substantial number of Hispanics, African Americans and women, and it is well known that Mr. Trump had made very controversial remarks regarding those sections of the population.

Congressman Reed acknowledged that even though he is an enthusiastic supporter of Mr. Trump, he did have concerns about his “rhetoric” about Hispanics, women, African Americans and other minorities and has discussed these concerns with Mr. Trump. But he said he believes Mr. Trump will set a different tone in the general election.

A Hispanic woman in the audience said she and the Congressman would have to agree to disagree about his comments, because she said that Trump’s comments were not “rhetoric” but were racist. Another woman leader from California expressed disagreement with Mr. Trump’s comments about women.

Rep. Reed fielded the questions respectfully and calmly, said he appreciated their concerns, but added that he believed that what unites people as Americans greatly exceeds what divides us. We know this was a challenging group of people in some ways for Rep. Reed to deal with, but we appreciated his professional, respectful demeanor and the fact that he came to address our coalition. He received a round of applause for his remarks.

Again, the EEC does not endorse candidates but scrutinizes the policy positions of all of them.

We would also express our appreciation to Congressman Raul M. Grijalva for confirming to speak and doing his best to be there, but he was detained in a Congressional meeting that he just could not break away from in time. He is Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and one of Bernie Sanders’ most prominent supporters.


Sen. John Boozman won praise from both Democrats and Republicans for his bipartisan work on childhood nutrition. Sen. Boozman is Co-Chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus and sponsored legislation to increase access to the Summer Meals program for children in rural areas in the Delta and across the country.

Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, Executive Director of the Ohio Association of Food Banks, complimented Sen. Boozman for his constructive work for summer meals and other childhood nutrition progams. She and other hunger and nutrition experts at the conference said the House version of the Childhood Nutrition Re-Authorization bill is deeply flawed and will kick children off school meals programs. The Senate version is much better and should prevail in the final bill.

Sen. Boozman and Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) both received support for their leadership in opening up trade to Cuba, which would lead to major expansion of rice, poultry and other agricultural products, as well as other products benefiting urban areas. Sen. Boozman recalled that his former colleague in the House, Rep. Tom Osborne-the famous Nebraska football coach-was deeply supportive of this initiative and often said that he learned as a coach if you try the same play over and over again it won’t work. The embargo has failed for a half century and it’s time for a new play.

Rep. Rick Crawford also found a responsive chord when he emphasized his work in expanding broadband access for the Delta region. In today’s economy it’s crucial that people have access to the information superhighway. One of the participants was Millie Atkins, manager of CenturyLink’s program for expanding broadband access to Delta areas in Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana; their exchange is likely to lead to increased public and private sector collaboration on expanding broadband access in the Delta.

Congressman French Hill represents the central Arkansas district. He has a lengthy and successful record as a businessman and banker, and was founder and CEO of Delta Trust & Banking Corp. Earlier he was a high-level Presidential appointee on economic policy at the US Dept. of Treasury and then the White House for the elder President George H. W. Bush.

He’s a champion on education and workforce development issues, and in particular is a stalwart supporter of the Fulbright Scholarship Program, founded by a famous Arkansan-Sen. J. William Fulbright 70 years ago and signed into law by President Truman, and since then the program has educated over 360,000 students in 165 countries. The Congressman wrote a very thoughtful article recently complimenting a Fulbright Scholar from Afghanistan who is studying at the University of Arkansas. There have been periodic efforts to cut funding for the Fulbright Program, although we have been able to defeat those. With the support of leaders like Congressman French Hill we will continue to do so.

Congressman Bruce Westerman represents southern and western Arkansas. He is the only forester in Congress and a strong supporter of preservation of our national forests. He has worked with many other federal, state and private sector partners in bringing a new paper mill into Arkadelphia, Arkansas that is expected to create 250 jobs at an average of $50,000.

Congressman Westerman emphasized that while he was delighted by the huge Arkadelphia project, those projects realistically are few and far between and the main engine of job creation should be support for many small businesses.

Rep. Westerman praised the work of one of our grassroots speakers, Annette Dove, executive director of the TOPPS nonprofit in Pine Bluff, which engages in a series of job training, education, mentoring for youth, and nutrition program in that Delta community where 32% of the children live in poverty. Among the TOPPS successes are included a track record of placing many of the students in their mentoring programs into college, and graduates are now working in the FBI, Microsoft and other productive careers. The TOPPS feeding program will feed 1,100 children in Pine Bluff this summer.

Difference of opinion over childhood nutrition standards: While some Members of Congress criticized the higher nutrition standards implemented in recent years because they felt some students did not like the food, hunger and nutrition experts and grassroots advocates expressed a very different assessment, saying that children grow to like fruit and vegetables as they grow accustomed to them, and the higher nutrition standards prevent obesity and many other health problems.

Kevin Smith, senior adviser to the Delta Caucus, said that based on his experiences and those of his wife (who is a teacher in Helena-West Helena, AR) when students are introduced to fruits, vegetables and healther foods at 4, 5 and 6, they grow to like them and those healthy eating habits stay with them permanently. They have not been “taught” that fatty foods supposedly taste better.

Hunger and nutrition advocates like Lisa Hamler-Fugitt (director of the Ohio Association of Food Banks), Joel Berg of Hunger Free American in New York and others at the conference strongly support higher nutrition standards in school meals and other nutrition programs. Sticking with these standards over the long term will reap major rewards in better nutrition and prevention of health problems related to high fat and sugar contents in children’s diets.

Concerns about draconian work requirements for SNAP program: Many hunger and nutrition experts expressed concern at the conference about the repressive nature of severe work requirements for SNAP recipients. Lisa Hamler-Fugitt said the work requirement in Ohio had thrown 172,000 SNAP recipients off of SNAP. Many have disabilities, do not have high skill or education levels and even though they diligently try to find work, it can be very difficult in many cases. When they lose SNAP benefits and have to find work when they are hungry, this causes health problems and makes their challenge even worse.

Ms. Hamler-Fugitt stated a common theme at the conference about the plight of people in the Delta, Appalachia, Southwest Border, Native Americans and other economically distressed populations when she said hunger continues to increase in Appalachia “and the least among us are not seeing any economic recovery.”

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa represents a large part of one of the regions we are highlighting at this conference, the Southwest Border along the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. He has a national reputation as a senior Member of Congress and champion of the disadvantaged, whether they are Hispanic, African American, or whatever their race or gender.

Our colleague and key supporter of this conference, Moises Loza, director of the National Housing Assistance Council, always speaks in glowing terms of the great work he has done on housing issues for lower income people not just in his district but all over the country and his many years of distinguished service in Congress.

Rep. Hinojosa pointed out his work on domestic programs in the Southwest Border region, but also gave a poignant presentation about the inter-relationship between foreign and domestic policy. He voted against President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, and recalled that when he did so many people warned him that this vote would mean he would face certain defeat for re-election.

In time, Rep. Hinojosa was proven correct, because the premise for the invastion that Saddam Hussein held “weapons of massive destruction” turned out to be false. The war devoured many billions of dollars that could have been far more wisely have been spent in developing our economy at home. That was over a decade ago and now Iraq and Syria are in chaos and the war rages on.

Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) is from Selma and represents the Alabama Black Belt where so many historic episodes of the civil rights movement. Rep. Sewell gave a dynamic and compassionate presentation about economic, racial and gender inequality in her district and across the country.

Rep. Sewell was a Harvard Law School classmate of President Barack Obama and maintains a personal and professional friendship with the President. She is one of the rising stars in Congress, and is a role model for African American women leaders.

Rep. Sewell is a champion for safety net programs against hunger and poverty. She is a particularly strong supporter of the childhood nutrition programs and SNAP, and strongly opposed any efforts to cut funding or weaken these essential programs.

Rep. Sewell developed a strong rapport with the group and was generous enough with her time to field more questions for another 10 minutes after she finished her presentation.

Rep. Don Beyer represents a relatively prosperous district in northern Virginia, which is a key swing state in this historic election year. Despite representing a district that is comparatively much better off economically than the other regions represented at the conference, Congressman Don Beyer acknowledged that even his distict has pockets of poverty, illustrating how widespread the problem of economic inequality has become across the country.

Rep. Beyer focused much of his remarks on the need for equal economic opportunity for women and bringing about equal pay for equal work. He said that white women earn 79% of what men work, but the figures are even worse for minorities: African American women earn 60% of what men make, and Latino women earn only 55% of what men earn.

Rep. Beyer called for extensive support for equal pay for women in Congress, paid sick leave, and increased diversity in the workforce.


LEAD SPONSOR–Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas,


Thomas F. McLarty III

the national Housing Assistance Council based in Washington, DC,

Heifer International,

Levin & Papantonio Family Foundation, Inc., Florida,

Covenant Hospice, Alabama and Florida


-Judson College, Marion, Alabama,

-Mississippi County Economic Opportunity Commission in Arkansas;

-First State Bank & Trust, Caruthersville, Missouri,

-Janis Kearney and Bob Nash, Little Rock, Arkansas

-Harvey Joe Sanner, President, American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas

-Mark McElroy, Southeast Arkansas Delta.

Economic Equality Coalition partners: an essential part of our budget is the large number of smaller contributions in the form of annual membership dues, registration fees, and other voluntary donations in the amounts of $150, $125, $100, $75, $50 and $25. The large number of these contributions add up each year to a substantial amount and provide us with a diversified financial base.


–Joel Berg, nationally recognized expert on hunger and poverty, Executive Director of Hunger Free America, a national organization based in New York,

–Senior executives from Feeding America, Shannon Maynard, director of the Congressional Hunger Center, and the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC),

–Perry Jones, Heifer International domestic hunger and poverty programs;

—Wilson Golden, former Clinton administration appointee, member of the board of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi, now based in Georgia;

–Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, director of the Ohio Association of Food Banks, serving the state of Ohio and a large part of the Appalachian region;

–Millie Atkins, Manager of CenturyLink program for expanding access to broadband for lower income people in the Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi Delta areas, based in Monroe, Louisiana,

–Temeka Williams, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance,

–Annette Dove, Director of TOPPS nonprofit in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, which has innovative programs for job training, education, and nutrition,

–Billy McFarland, Judson College, Marion, Alabama, Special Assistant to the President, and Alabama Coordinator for the Delta Caucus

–CEO Michael Curtin of DC Central Kitchen, a nationally recognized nonprofit based in Washington, DC,

–George A. Jones, CEO of Bread for the City, a major nonprofit serving Washington, DC on a wide range of community and economic progress initiatives;

–Deputy Mayor Courtney Snowden for Economic Opportunity of Washington, DC;

-Moises Loza, director of the National Housing Assistance Council, active across Appalachia, the Delta, Southwest Border, Native Americans, and other regions across the country, and Jeff Mosley of HAC spoke about HAC’s great work in fighting poverty and promoting housing opportunities across the country;

–Jacqueline Pata, director of the National Congress of American Indians, from Alaska, was confirmed to speak but had to speak at an event at the United Nations, so the NCAI speaker was Sherry Salway Black, a veteran leader on Native American issues serving in numerous important capacities, such as Chairperson for the First Peoples Fund, on the advisory committee of the NCAI Policy Research Center, former NCAI, Partnership for Tribal Governance, a citizen of the Oglala Lakota nation;

–Ilene Jacobs of California Rural Legal Assistance, a statewide organization that aids many low-income Californians, including many Hispanics and farm workers;

–David Adame, CEO of Chicanos por La Causa active across Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada, one of the largest Hispanic organizations in the country;

–Edsel Brown, NAACP Economic Chair for the state of Maryland,

–Rev. Mike Wilker, senior pastor of Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill (our host for the Thursday afternoon session),

–Rev. Roger Gench, senior pastor, New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC (Abraham Lincoln’s church),

–Rev. Dwight Webster, senior pastor of Christian Unity Baptist Church in New Orleans, survivor of Hurricane Katrina; his congregation has many survivors and victims of Hurricane Katrina;

–Melissa Cloud, founder and program director of Public Policy 4Kids, children’s issues organization based in the Washington, DC area with especially active programs in Florida;

–Suzanne Anarde of the national Rural LISC based in Colorado, and Andrea Ponsor of the LISC office in Washington, DC;

–Brad Cole, executive director of the Illinois Municipal League,

–Kay Goss, noted author, educator and Associate Director of FEMA for President Clinton, nationally recognized emergency relief services expert, originally from Arkansas and now based in northern Virginia;

-Janis Kearney (Little Rock, Arkansas) former White House aide and diarist and author of biography of the civil rights leader Daisy Bates and many other books, founding publisher of Writing Our World Press in Little Rock, Arkansas;

–Nicole Brown, CEO, Carter Enterprise Solutions; young African American leader based in Prince George’s County, Maryland who grew up in an impoverished household in southeast Washington, DC and achieved a dynamic professional career,

–Lisa Oelfke, Baltimore, Maryland; Health Policy Analyst/American Federation of Teachers Health Care union; Maryland Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene, with direct experience implementing the Affordable Care Act.

VIII. Statehood for District of Columbia:

Since we were meeting in Washington, DC, which has extremes of wealth and poverty in close proximity, we devoted the Thursday luncheon largely to issues in our nation’s capital. There is a new push underway for DC statehood.

Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, Deputy Mayor Courtney Snowden and other local leaders are very active in this effort, and DC Council Member Anita Bonds is involved in the convention that will be held next month to rejuvenate this effort. DC residents pay taxes just like everybody else so that ought to have representation in Congress just like everybody else.

Deputy Mayor Snowden focuses on promoting greater economic opportunity in DC and so she has a lot to say about economic, racial and gender inequality in the District, and she is also a leader for the LBGTQ community.

Congressman Clyburn said he supports statehood for DC, and he suggested that since states have often been admitted to the Union by twos, statehood for DC could be combined with statehood for Puerto Rico. The extensive networks supporting each of these initiatives could join forces and amplify their voices by calling for statehood of both the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

IX. Economic, Racial and Gender Recommendations from the EEC Legislative Action Committee

May, 2016

We don’t expect all our partners to agree with every one of these recommendations, but the EEC and Delta Caucus Legislative Action Committee condensed these suggestions based on extensive feedback over many months. A majority of the coalition’s partners supports most of these recommendations.

The fundamental domestic goals of the next President and Congress of the United States must be bringing economic, racial and gender equality for all working families in America. Major regions of our country lag far behind the rest of America economically, such as the Greater Delta Region, Appalachia, the Southwest Border, parts of the Midwest, and inner cities. Poverty rates for women and children across the country are far higher than for the rest of the population, and neglect of our veterans is a national shame.

It is profoundly disturbing that economic inequality has increased dramatically in our nation’s recent history. This unjust trend must be reversed in order to return America to our true mission of economic equality.

National policies are crucial to promote economic equality and must be a vital part of our priorities:

1) Job creation/retention at living wage levels:

Supporting and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, which has taken millions out of poverty;

Expanding the Community Reinvestment Act and Community Development Financial Institutions;

Invigorating small business job growth, the most dynamic engine for economic growth-especially at SBA and similar programs such as the Economic Development Administration;

Investing in transportation and other critical infrastructure including housing and broadband to create jobs and improve our deteriorating highways, bridges and access to the Internet;

Increasing the federal minimum wage. America’s largest employer, Wal-Mart, raised its wages in 2015, and many other states and local areas have done so in 2016. Data overwhelmingly shows that when many states have set their minimum wages above the federal level, there is little or no impact as far as their losing jobs to lower wage states, while paying workers better reduces turnover and generates higher productivity. Higher wages are not only just, but are sound economics.

2) Health care, nutrition and education:

Focusing on women and children’s issues: women and children have uniquely high poverty rates, which must be reduced by requiring equal pay for equal work, health and nutrition programs for women and children, greater stress on reducing domestic violence, teen pregnancy and pre-natal programs, and on policies promoting

expanded professional opportunities in business, elected office, nonprofits and the professions for women;

Supporting increased funding for Education/workforce development, including relief for the exorbitant costs of student loans for college;

Increasing funding for SNAP, school meals, WIC and other major nutrition programs that are the vital safety net against hunger and prevent health care problems,

Fully funding USDA Rural Development programs in housing, water and other infrastructure, broadband access, renewable energy, small business for rural areas;

Improving and expanding the Affordable Care Act, with leeway for the modified versions supported in Arkansas and other innovative state programs;

Greatly expanding AmeriCorps to further fight poverty and boost opportunity, aid education, help seniors, work in disaster relief, and enhance public lands. AmeriCorps participants perform this service while earning payments for job training, college, home ownership, or starting a business.

3) Economic equality for economically distressed regions: Expanding key initiatives based on the Clinton administration’s New Markets Initiative. Creating an improved version of the New Markets Tax Credit to give tax incentives for investing in economically distressed areas. Simplifying the complex application process is essential.

Eliminating or greatly reducing the local matching grant requirements for the poorest counties, which do not even have the funds for the relatively small local funding requirement and thus miss out on larger amounts of funding. A starting point for recommendation is that the poorest 100 counties pay no local matching grant, the next 100 a greatly reduced amount; the next poorest 100 counties pay a lesser reduced amount for local matching requirements;

Endorsement of Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina’s “10-20-30” plan for all federal programs related to economic development. This requires 10 percent of federal funding to persistent poverty counties where 20% of the population has lived in poverty for over 30 years. (One example is that this plan was recently included in the 2017 version in the House of the agriculture appropriation bill.

Providing Veterans with strong safety net programs for job training, physical and mental health care, substance abuse treatment, and housing for the huge number of veterans who served our country bravely in two major recent wars and many other areas across the globe.

Trade: Job training and other programs for workers losing their jobs due to changing trade patterns, as well as labor and environmental safeguards for free trade agreements.

Opening up trade in food, telecommunications and other exports to Cuba. The failed embargo has been in place for a half century. This is sound national policy in both weakening the Cuban dictatorship by exposing their people to the benefits of the free enterprise system, while opening up new markets for many American producers;

We supported the dislocated worker program to help those thrown out of work due to changing patterns of international trade. Any trade agreements must include strong labor, environmental, and intellectual property safeguards,

4) Implementing tax reform for lower to middle income working families, so that the wealthiest Americans who can easily afford to pay more taxes do so, while lower to middle income Americans have their taxes reduced.

Creating new fees on financial transactions for wealthy Wall Street speculators.

Reducing income taxes for those in the income brackets from $18,000 to $75,000, graduated for the number in each family. Removing huge tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans in the top 1 percent. Income inequality is extreme and spiraling out of control.

Reversing tax inequity: the wealthiest 8 Americans increased their wealth by $87 billion in 2014, which is more money than America spent on SNAP (food stamps) that year.

Returning the tax code to its structure of the 1970s, or at a minimum to where it stood at the end of the Clinton administration. If the tax code of the 1970s had continued, today the wealthiest 1% would have $1 trillion less and working families would have $1 trillion more.

Doubling the child care tax credit.

5) Voting rights: Economic equality is advanced if everybody has equal rights to participation in the democratic political process. We support the right to vote for all Americans regardless of income, racial or ethnic group, gender, or other status. We support statehood and Congressional Representation for the District of Columbia, because the citizens of Washington, DC pay taxes like everybody else and deserve the same representation as everybody else.

While employment and economic growth are strongly on the rebound, this expanded tax revenue will afford investments in more economic equality for hard-working families in lower to middle ranges. Sound job growth investments are self-sustaining financially due to the increases in tax revenue they generate.