Democratic Senate challenger Roxanne Conlin offered a job-creation plan Monday rooted in a big tax break for middle-class workers and will largely be paid for by toughening requirements on some businesses.
Under her proposal, middle-class families would be able to defer up to $5,000 in taxes for five years, a move she said would put money in the hands of consumers, who would use to it to begin buying and stimulate the economy. She also proposed buy-American policies throughout government.
"Whatever we do to put more money into the pockets of our citizens, it will not stimulate the United States economy if they use it to purchase products made in other countries," said Conlin. "We need a comprehensive, overarching trade policy."
Conlin is trying to unseat longtime Republican incumbent Sen. Charles Grassley. His spokesman Eric Woolson said Conlin's job plan "would devastate the U.S. economy and would be an out-and-out disaster for the Iowa economy.
"It would absolutely destroy the international market for our manufacturing and agricultural output," Woolson said.
Conlin also sought to focus on young people aged 18 to 25, a group she said is most likely to be out of work. Her plan would create up to 60,000 jobs by expanding programs like Americorps for young people.
She proposed to pay for her plan by strengthening enforcement of businesses income tax laws to collect up to $400 billion in unpaid taxes; raise $50 billion by requiring competitive bidding federal contracts; and ending energy subsidies for oil and gas companies to save another $15 billion.
"Isn't it far better to put our young people to work rebuilding America and providing support for others than leaving them on street corners or on the couch playing video games?" Conlin said.
Conlin uses her own history as a staple on the campaign trail. Though she's a prominent attorney, Conlin reminds audiences that she grew up in poverty, going to work at the age of 14 to help her family make ends meet. That history, she argues, gives her credibility when she talks about job creation.
"I'm running for the United States Senate because I've been there," Conlin said.
She said a key feature of her job creation plan is that it is paid for.
"It's important that we can pay for this rather than simply adding to the federal debt," said Conlin. "Job growth begins with American innovation, access to credit, thriving small businesses and a rebuilt manufacturing sector."