When Pushing A Jobs Agenda, It’s OK To Use This F-Word

Isaiah J. Poole

At a time when polls often show a high level of skepticism and even antipathy toward government, progressive pollster Celinda Lake offered some contrarian advice Wednesday to the “Families First: Good Jobs for All” meeting sponsored by the Center for Community Change: Not only is it all right to use the “g-word” while advancing a jobs-for-all agenda, it’s even OK to use the “f-word” that is often paired with it: “federal.”

“Voters strongly value community, family, fairness and freedom. And they support a role for government in ensuring that every person who wants to work has a job and a good standard of living,” Lake wrote in a report that was issued at the conference.

In fact, 52 percent of people responding to a Lake Research poll agreed with that more activist view of government, compared to 43 percent who agreed with the conservative statement that “the best thing that government can do is get out of the way and let the free market work.”

Lake also noted that explicitly lifting up “communities of color” and other economically struggling communities in the narrative of what our jobs and economic development policies should be is not a turn-off to voters. Lake’s report said 82 percent of people agreed with the statement that we should be investing “in creating jobs, especially in places with high unemployment and low wages, including communities of color.”

Lake pointed out that there is strong majority support – among progressive “base” voters and persuadable voters – for “major government investment in rebuilding America” and “major government investment in clean energy,” when both policies are explicitly tied to “creating good jobs.” The emphasis on government intervention in these areas obviously does not win conservative voters wedded to free-market solutions, but they are by no means the majority.

Another area where government intervention ranks highly is in the area of child care. Here, the issues are both affordability for parents and fair wages for providers. There is a strong majority that wants both: 90 percent of “base” voters and 75 percent of “persuadable” voters agreed with the statement that we should “have government expand early childhood education, creating jobs, raising wages, and improv[ing] working conditions for child care providers and ensuring affordable care.”

Also, consistent with other polling, 61 percent favor phasing in an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour and subsequently increasing it as the cost of living increases. There is also overwhelming majority support for expanding tax credits for stay-at-home parents and caretakers of sick or elderly relatives.

“These policies show a clear agenda with widespread support among both base and persuadable voters,” Lake’s report said.

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