When I was a kid, my family ran a small, union-organized ironworking shop. That meant I spent a lot of my weekends and summers surrounded by presses, punches, lathes and welding rigs. For a teenage boy, that was pretty cool. In a good year, we had 10 to 12 employees. In a tough year, maybe five or six.
That experience taught me how much hard work it takes to get by as a working family in America and that everyone who makes that effort ought to reap fair rewards. As my dad would always tell me, “It’s going to be the artistry of these welders that will put you kids through school, and it will be my business acumen that will put my ironworkers’ kids through school.”
It’s that same kind of shared prosperity that Hillary Clinton and I want to bring about across the nation. But it’s been tough lately in Maine.
This state’s economy depends on industries like shipbuilding and papermaking. But over the last decade, a steady stream of foundries and mills have shuttered, eliminating thousands of jobs. Earlier this year, Madison Paper Industries became the latest in a series of mills to shut down. And just recently, we learned that Bath Iron Works is projected to eliminate more than 100 positions. Aside from a budding tech and innovation startup hub in Portland, Maine has been unable to generate many good-paying jobs, and as a result more and more people have been forced to find odd jobs to make ends meet. Some are deciding they have no choice but to leave the state.
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We have to reverse this decline. That’s why Clinton and I have a five-year $275 billion infrastructure plan that will improve the lives of workers and families in Maine. And our “Make it in America” plan will invest in manufacturing communities across the country. That’s good news for employers such as Bath Iron Works and the University of Maine in Orono. Our plan would create partnerships between industries and universities to harness the strength of regions to create new, good-paying jobs. Programs such as the Target Technology Incubator at UMaine already are resulting in new supply chains for innovative products that can revitalize manufacturing communities. We need to build on that success everywhere we can.
Making some long overdue investments in infrastructure also will improve Mainers’ quality of life. Enhancing and modernizing ports will revitalize coastal cities and towns. Further investment in railways and roads will make it easier to transport products. And improving our national freight system will put more customers within reach.
Since small manufacturers and other small businesses are so crucial to Maine’s economy — our plan will provide tax relief, cut red tape, expand access to capital and open up new markets so it’s easier for companies of all sizes to bring their products to market.
We’ll support incubators and accelerators for 50,000 entrepreneurs in underserved areas. This will expand on the success of Maine’s already thriving tech and innovation hubs. With more access to capital, more young people can help restore this state’s long-term prosperity and competitiveness, while increasing their future earning potential.
And since we’ve seen that Maine’s clean energy economy created more than 4,000 jobs in the last year alone, we ought to harness that potential, too. That’s why the Clinton-Kaine Clean Energy Challenge will incentivize cities, towns and rural communities to create jobs that will contribute to a clean energy future and ensure that the natural beauty of Vacationland is preserved for future generations.
Donald Trump’s economic plans would be devastating to working families. He talks a big game about American manufacturing, but he certainly didn’t support it as a businessman. After all, Trump ties and shirts were made in places such as China and Bangladesh. Trump furniture is made in Turkey instead of right here in Auburn or Portland. If Trump really wants to make America great again, I think he should start by actually making things in America.
Clinton and I understand the value of American workers. We believe that if you work hard, do your part and treat people right, you should be able to earn a good living, support a family and give your kids a better life than you had. That’s how it’s supposed to work in the greatest country in the world.
Clinton is running for president to make that basic bargain true again. Under a Clinton-Kaine administration, small businesses and companies will be able to experience the same kind of prosperity that my dad and his workers enjoyed generations ago. And working together, we can create an economy that works for all of us.
Tim Kaine is the Democratic nominee for vice president.