(Editor's note: The candidate is addressing the Week 1 topic: Jobs. What action will you take to help create and retain jobs in the Quad-Cities area? Please, be specific.)
I'm running for Congress to fix Washington's priorities and make job creation the No. 1 issue.
Like many Americans, I have been incredibly frustrated with the gridlock in Congress where bills with broad support never pass because of narrow ideological divisions. This gridlock costs American jobs. I know we have the best workers in the world, and they can compete with anyone as long as there is a level playing field. The problem is Congress has passed legislation that makes an uneven playing field.
From unfair trade policies to outrageous tax incentives for companies that ship jobs overseas, Congress has the wrong priorities. My opponent, Congressman Bobby Schilling, is part of the problem.
Congressman Schilling voted for trade deals that will result in more jobs going overseas, and he even supports tax breaks for companies that offshore. I believe, we should be shipping goods overseas not jobs. That's why I support fair trade policies that level the playing field and I will close the tax loopholes that encourage companies to leave our shores. The average wage in Vietnam is 13 cents an hour. In China, there are very few labor protection laws. We cannot afford to emulate China. And we can never engage in a race to the bottom.
The results of failed trade policies and misguided priorities can already be seen in our district.
In Freeport, a company owned by Bain Capital is shipping 170 jobs to China. In Galesburg, the community is just beginning to recover after Maytag moved to Mexico and left 1,700 people out of work. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Illinois has lost 91,000 jobs because of these policies.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, has introduced a bill called the "21st Century Trade Act." This bill corrects some of the problems with current trade policy and restores Congressional oversight of trade agreements. The act also would ensure that American trading partners play by the same rules as the U.S. This bill helps level the playing field and helps American businesses and workers alike.
On Day 1, I proposed a jobs plan that uses the manufacturing hubs of our district as anchors while incorporating transportation and education. In Peoria, Rockford and the Quad-Cities, we have a strong foundation of manufacturing, community colleges and transportation. We need investment and coordination. For example, our community colleges should offer training in needed areas to fill skills gaps. We need an advocate in Congress who can work to recruit companies to our region.
Congressman Schilling supports tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and even supported a bill to let companies hide their offshoring. It is common sense. We should not be encouraging companies to leave. That's why, I support the Bring American Jobs Home Act, a bill that ends tax breaks for companies that send jobs abroad and replaces them with tax incentives to bring jobs home.
Congress is broken, focusing on the wrong priorities and refusing to act on important legislation. I'm running for Congress to end gridlock and make job creation my No. 1 priority. While I support fair trade, I don't support the failed trade policies that send American jobs overseas. Congress must take common sense actions to foster job creation in America but first we need to realign Congress' priorities. I'm running to do just that.
Cheri Bustos of East Moline is a Democratic candidate for Congress in the 17th District.