COVID-19 has decimated Louisiana’s economy, displacing hundreds of thousands of workers and forcing small business owners to close their doors. And sadly, Washington has abandoned them in favor of special interests.
It’s wrong that Congress gave corporations billions in bailout funds with no oversight. I’ve been through tough times before, and know what it is like not to have enough food to eat. Louisiana needs a strong leader in the US Senate who will stand on our behalf. In the Senate, I will fight for relief for workers and small businesses so the economic recovery puts working people first.
To get our economy going, we need immediate relief and long term planning that puts people first. For starters, we need to extend the $600 federal unemployment benefits for working families. This will ensure that those impacted by the pandemic can support their families, but it will also inject money into our economy and help support local businesses. The Senate can support Louisiana’s long-term recovery by moving quickly to increase wages, build stronger infrastructure, and get people working immediately to respond to the economic crisis.
Crisis Response Jobs
Throughout our history, duty and service have transformed moments of crisis into American greatness. In response to the present economic crisis, I support increasing the number of national service positions from 75,000 to 250,000 immediately and up to 1 million over the next five to ten years. The program’s participants would include people of all ages who are willing to raise their hand and step forward. My campaign’s national service proposal aims to meet three key goals: reduce the spread of COVID-19 and address its consequences, recover from natural disasters and environmental destruction, and build national unity by unifying Americans of all walks in the service of a higher purpose. The road to recovery will be difficult, but as our history attests, no challenge is greater than the resolve of the American people.
Louisiana’s infrastructure is crumbling. The federal government has long promised to fix America’s failing infrastructure, but those promises have largely gone unfulfilled. Washington has spent years talking about a comprehensive infrastructure bill. We need to act. In the Senate, I will work to build a smarter, faster, cleaner infrastructure system, including new roads, bridges, subsurface infrastructure, and a renewed investment in public transit. We’ve talked long enough. It’s time for America to roll up our sleeves and start building again.
Let’s give America a raise now and every year in the future. The U.S. minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and it hasn’t been raised in more than a decade. Washington has raised the minimum wage only 7 times in my lifetime, even though it was increased 17 times in the 34 years prior. Our current national minimum wage denies hundreds of thousands of hard-working Louisianaians a livable wage, making it nearly impossible for them to feed their families and pay their bills. It’s past time to take the politics out of people’s pockets and give working families the pay raise they deserve. We know the cost of living is higher in New York than New Orleans, but it shouldn’t take DC a decade to find a solution. I propose an immediate increase in the federal minimum wage that automatically adjusts to local economic conditions every year. This will ensure hard working Louisianaians get a raise now that keeps pace with the cost of living, rather than being bogged down by politics.
Erase the Digital Divide
Unequal access to the internet limits entrepreneurship and educational opportunities for many living in rural and low-income areas, which in turn, limits our nation’s potential. As Mayor of Shreveport, I heard too many stories about the struggles low-income families face in a digital world. When schools first closed due to the pandemic and students were forced to work remotely, parents would drive to the schools after a long workday and sit in their car, so their child could use the school’s wifi to complete their homework.
Local governments know the needs of their communities better than Washington. Congress can help empower Mayors and Parish Presidents to plug the digital holes in their communities. The Federal government should expand grants to incentivise private businesses to fill existing gaps, creating competition in underserved communities. This will not only improve education and spur economic development; it will also make telehealth more accessible in rural areas.