09/20/2011 08:18 am ET | Updated Nov 20, 2011

Now Is Our Time

The President has drawn the line in the sand on economic growth and deficit reduction.

It is clear and it is pronounced. Progressive Democrats have pushed for and now are presented with an agenda that best serves our nation. On Monday, the President articulated that agenda by calling on Congress to embrace policy that creates jobs, forces us to live within our means and make investments to grow and prosper our economy.

Now all of us must engage in the fight to win our future. We know the House Republican Caucus is being strangled by the Tea Party and we know the President cannot win passage of this landmark set of ideas on his own.

We must stand on his side of the line.

Many of us spent decades participating in social justice movements outside of the electoral arena, fighting for change. The need for a massive movement to fight for the jobs bill and crafting a balanced approach to pay for it is urgently needed.

We must take the fight to the institution, to Congress, to Speaker Boehner, and not just have our voices heard within the communities from which we come from. For if we are complacent, our future may very well be put in the hands of a few individuals who care little about your future or mine.

The stakes are that high.

When the President forcefully delivered his agenda for the American Jobs Act before Congress, he articulated a plan that addresses communities that have been the most impacted by the economic crisis -- in the African American community, a nearly 17% unemployment rate -- and the path before us was set.

The President's vision outlined at his Rose Garden speech on Monday demands Congress embrace policy that creates jobs to prosper our economy cannot be blocked by the usual suspects who do the bidding for corporate America and not the overburdened middle class.

His vision is our own. We must invest in our future by passing a jobs plan that makes long-term investments in education, innovation and infrastructure.

There is a social compact that defines the fabric of this nation. The President talked about shared responsibility and shared sacrifice; his plan is rooted in those principles.

There is a balanced approach, asking all Americans to bear part of the burden. For millionaires and billionaires, that means having to pay their fair share.

Our political opponents, who prefer to legislate through a not-so-subtle policy of embracing the strategy of 'no' at every turn, have begun their scheme of resistance. The cries of class warfare are being shouted from the highest of rooftops, but down here, where real people live on the street level, we cannot hear those screams.

Too many middle-class Americans and too many working families have shouldered an unfair burden during this Great Recession while the rich got richer and corporate America shipped our jobs overseas to cut costs.

The Obama plan demands our full attention and support.

From tax credits for employers who hire people unemployed for more than six months; to sinking real teeth into the foreclosure crisis and allowing homeowners to remain in those homes; to a vigorous summer jobs program for our youth that can be instituted on a year-round basis; to meaningful infrastructure and transportation projects in communities where the unemployment rate can be as high as 40%, this plan requires our backing.

It is a bold initiative that will result in $4.4 trillion in deficit reduction to significantly reduce the national debt as a share of the economy, while calling for comprehensive tax reform including closing of tax loopholes and special interest tax breaks.

It is meaningful and vigorous. The President has done his job to outline this plan. Now we have a duty to fight for passage of the entire package and fight against the Republican strategy that picks out the tax breaks that benefits corporations, special interests and business at the expense of the working middle class.

We can never forget how the healthcare reform debate was twisted and manipulated by the President's critics. We have the Republican playbook and we know they will continue to derail the vision of progress.

Our Republican "negotiating partners" have already told us that their strategy is to make President Obama a one-term president, and we should take them very much at their word.

The ball is in our court to do what we always do; fight for what's right and put the middle class and our working families first. Nobody else will take up that mission but us.

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) represents the 33rd Congressional District of California. She served as the 67th Speaker of the State Assembly in California.

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