Increase Opportunity in America

18% of children living in the U.S. live in poverty.

The Pew Research Center, in a 2018 report, showed the share of adults with a middle-class income was 61 percent in 1971. By 2016, that number had fallen to 52 percent. Nearly 12 percent of Americans – or one of every eight – live in poverty or is low income, according to U.S. Census data. What’s worse is: In this country, there are nearly 13 million children who are living in poverty, and about half of their families are below 50 percent of the poverty line.

Why do we have such a large wealth gap in the United States? And why is it getting larger? This is a complicated issue, but there are three major factors. First, globalization allows talented companies and individuals to become multinational. The second major factor is technology. Digitalization and automation have increased the quality of life, but they have also wiped out millions of jobs. The third major factor is the U.S tax policy. Around 1980, the tax code started to become much more favorable for those at the top of the ladder. These issues must be addressed. Our society should reward hard work and provide the opportunity for everyone who wants to climb the economic ladder.

The Solutions

  1. Increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour—now.

  2. Create the Every Kid Has a Chance Program with the goal of reducing childhood poverty by 50 percent in the next 10 years.

  3. Have the Department of Education offer to take over the poorest performing 1% of public schools in the country.

  4. Pay for these initiatives by scrapping the cap on Social Security taxes.

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Saving our democracy starts with an educated citizenry that isn't afraid to break from party lines. In this Playbook, Trek Bicycle President John Burke proposes 16 detailed solutions to our country's biggest challenges that are rooted in fact not ideology.