Getting Americans back to work is a top concern of many voters and they will be listening keenly during tonight’s presidential debate to what each candidate proposes.

Recently, conservatives in Congress released a slew of policy ideas for the president and other lawmakers to draw upon that could improve workforce attachment for millions of sidelined workers, increase flexible work opportunities, and move more Americans from government dependence to financial freedom.

The Republican Study Committee (RSC) unveiled its ambitious policy platform entitled Reclaiming the American Dream: Proposals to Empower Workers of Today and Tomorrow.

Their solutions are organized into three key themes: education reform to equip workers for well-paying jobs in in-demand fields; labor reform to expand opportunities that fit workers’ needs and protect their rights; and welfare reform to promote family formation, increase people’s independence, and address the root causes of poverty.

There are reportedly over 100 policy ideas in the report. We agree with and have championed many of these proposals in our work such as in the 2020 Working for Women report. Others are new and innovative.

Here are 5 proposals we think could move the needle on economic mobility, especially for women, in our nation:

  1. Expand 529 accounts to be lifelong accounts that allow parents to cover a variety of educational expenses including kindergarten, homeschooling, and short-term, non-degree programs.
  2. Make Pell grants available to students pursuing short-term, skills-based education.
  3. Allow household workers such as nannies, health aides, and gardeners, to be treated as independent contractors, if they choose.
  4. Reform burdensome and unnecessary occupational licenses and add reporting requirements about occupational licenses to states seeking federal workforce development funding.
  5. Safeguard the ability for workers to be classified as independent contractors.

There are many more proposals to consider and debate, but this agenda provides a starting point for discussion.

Most importantly, these policies reflect an effort toward good outcomes not just good intentions with wanton regard for unintended consequences.

One of the most concerning threats to economic mobility and, frankly, the livelihoods of many workers today are increasing restrictions on independent contractors. From AB5 to the PRO Act, lawmakers are forcing workers to abandon their preferred flexible opportunities to take traditional jobs. 

57 million workers–as much as a third of the labor force–are freelancers. Whether part-time or full-time, these workers choose whom to work for, when and how. Making it more difficult to do independent contract work is robbing them of autonomy and control over their labor. They can’t  carve out a career that works for their unique situations.

At a time when unemployment is high due to the coronavirus, it is also unrealistic to assume that freelancers will simply find traditional jobs.

Getting Americans back to work will require common-sense policies that remove hurdles to secure employment, not those that create them.