Strengthening the Middle Class

"The middle class has been ignored for too long. As Delaware’s one Representative in Congress, I will fight for opportunity for all Delawareans."
- Bryan Townsend

We must build an economy of shared prosperity that works for everyone. Over the past several decades, the majority of economic gains have gone to the very wealthy.  Meanwhile, middle-class Delawareans have seen their wages remain flat even as the costs of health care and higher education have increased dramatically.

America is at its best when we have a strong and vibrant middle class. That is why we need to enact policies that will help increase wages and opportunities for hard working Delawareans.

Investing in America’s Future

Invest in infrastructure. America is the country it is today because we always saw the value in investing in our collective future. In recent years our infrastructure spending has not kept up with our needs.  Our crumbling roads and bridges are in desperate need of repair, our wastewater and drinking water systems are in need of upgrade, and we need to move beyond stop-gap solutions. A real investment in America’s infrastructure makes sense now, while borrowing costs are low, to create good-paying jobs immediately, maintain our economic competitiveness with other burgeoning nations, and keep American families safe as they travel our highways, byways, tunnels and bridges.

Invest in education. The greatest investment we can make is in our children’s education.  No school should lack the resources needed to provide every student with meaningful opportunities to grow and activities to thrive. More than one in five children are living in poverty, and we have not been able to close the achievement gap between many of these students and their counterparts in other schools. Unfortunately, our highest needs students too often have the fewest resources. We must strive to provide universal access to quality education from pre-K to college, and we must recognize that the investment we make in early-childhood education has strong returns as these students graduate from high school and college and join our economy.

Invest in clean energy. In just the past few years, we have witnessed incredible advances in renewable energy, especially solar and wind. Now is the time to transition from the energy sources of the past to a more local, clean energy of the future. We should increase our investment in renewable energy research to improve efficiency, develop energy storage, minimize foreign entanglements, and create clean energy jobs here at home.

Invest in scientific research. In order to lead the global economy in the 21st century, America needs to maintain its edge in technology and innovation. However, federal investments in scientific research have stagnated over the past decade, even though these investments more than pay for themselves. America is home to some of the world’s most brilliant minds, and we cannot allow shortsighted austerity or shortsighted private-sector decisions to slow down our country’s march towards historic scientific breakthroughs.

Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

Raise the minimum wage. Nobody should work full-time and still have to live in poverty. It is time for us to increase the federal minimum wage. In Delaware’s Senate, Bryan co-sponsored two bills to raise Delaware’s minimum wage. Bryan supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15, with cost of living adjustments to keep up with inflation and to ensure the minimum wage is a livable wage.

Promote equal pay for women. On average across all industries, women earn only $0.78 for every $1.00 earned by men. This unacceptable disparity is even greater for women of color. We must demand equal pay for equal work. Congress should pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would strengthen protections against discrimination and help close the wage gap.

Guarantee paid family leave and affordable childcare. The United States is the only developed country that does not provide paid family leave. Not only is it a disgrace that we force so many new parents to return to work right after welcoming a new child into their family, it is bad public policy. We know that the first few months after birth are critical to a child’s long-term development. Therefore, Congress should pass the FAMILY Act and ensure parents receive 12 weeks of paid time-off to spend with their newborns. Furthermore, we should prioritize investments in early childhood education and do a better job of providing quality, affordable childcare to support the needs of families.

Strengthen and improve the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act has insured millions of Americans while providing protections from insurance companies and coverage for pre-existing conditions. However, healthcare costs continue to rise, hurting middle-class families and small businesses most. The answer is not another wasted effort to repeal the law, but a real, bi-partisan effort by Congress to improve the law by continuing to expand coverage, remove barriers to business growth and expansion, make plans more affordable, and focus on preventative care and health outcomes.