Skip to main content

Sen. Tim Scott: I have lived the power of the American Dream

By Sen. Tim Scott
updated 9:31 AM EST, Sun February 23, 2014
A skills gap in the work force leads to unfilled jobs, says Sen. Tim Scott, despite an abundance of federal programs.
A skills gap in the work force leads to unfilled jobs, says Sen. Tim Scott, despite an abundance of federal programs.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sen. Tim Scott: The War on Poverty has struggled to fulfill its mission
  • Scott is working on a proposal to create opportunity zones across America
  • Scott: Instead of overregulating, government should cut out waste, duplication
  • Scott: It isn't the federal government's responsibility to guarantee outcomes

Editor's note: CNN invited the two African Americans in the U.S. Senate -- Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, and Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey -- to write companion pieces in conjunction with Black History Month. Scott is a former U.S. congressman and has been in the Senate since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter @SenatorTimScott

(CNN) -- America's economy has the potential to transform lives like no other force on Earth, but too often in recent years we have seen Washington act as an anchor. And while CEOs and presidents may generate the business headlines, an over-involved federal government hurts employees and those looking for jobs across the entire spectrum.

As someone who grew up in poverty, watching his single mother work 16-hour days to provide as much as she possibly could for us, I have lived the power of the American Dream.

With help from my mom and my mentor, I learned that I didn't have to be an entertainer or an athlete to achieve my goals; I could think my way out of poverty. I realized the power of education, and the incredible opportunities provided by free markets.

Sen. Cory Booker: Finishing our nation's unfinished business

My fear is that too many folks these days aren't given the chance to see the greatness that resides within them. Over the past 50 years, we've seen the War on Poverty struggle in its core mission -- to help lift folks up. It's time for a change, so I have introduced my Opportunity Agenda.

Sen. Tim Scott
Sen. Tim Scott

A significant part of my Opportunity Agenda is focused on job-training efforts. There are 4 million open jobs across the country right now -- jobs that are unfilled because of a skills gap in the work force. This in spite of the fact there are 35 federal work-force development programs.

My SKILLS Act, which the House has already passed thanks to the efforts of Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina, would cut through the bureaucratic maze and mountains of red tape that hinder these programs. We'll create one Workforce Investment Fund, cutting waste and duplication out while ensuring more dollars are used for their actual purpose -- job training. President Barack Obama signaled that Vice President Joe Biden would be looking at job-training programs this year -- I eagerly await their call to discuss my proposal.

I am also working on a proposal to create opportunity zones across America to tie some of the tax dollars coming out of our low-income communities to the community itself in order to rebuild infrastructure and lift those areas up. In my time on county council in Charleston County, this concept was referred to as Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts, and I see great potential in this concept at the federal level.

50 years later, War on Poverty rages on
Fight on extending unemployment continues
Obama: Raising wage is good for business

It is not enough to simply rebuild, or as some would call it gentrify, our tougher neighborhoods -- we have to provide the opportunity to the folks living there already to take part in a brighter future. Population shifting isn't fixing the problem, it is simply moving it somewhere else.

So instead of overtaxing and overregulating, I see a future where the government cuts out waste and duplication, and gives all Americans the chance to realize their full potential. As I travel throughout South Carolina, be it speaking with a local chamber of commerce, or a group of pastors, or working at a burrito store for a morning (verdict: my own skills with a broom could stand some polishing), my constituents are very clear: They don't want a handout, just a hand up.

It isn't the federal government's responsibility to guarantee outcomes. It is, however, our responsibility to make sure that a better future is possible if people want it. Opportunity knocks for all of us at some point. My hope is that Washington doesn't get in the way of folks answering.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Sen. Tim Scott.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:25 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Pilot Robert Mark says it's been tough for the airline industry after the plane crashes in Ukraine and Taiwan.
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Jennifer DeVoe laments efforts to end subsidies that allow working Americans to finally afford health insurance.
updated 8:45 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
John Sutter responds to criticism of his column on the ethics of eating dog.
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Frida Ghitis says it's tempting to ignore North Korea's antics as bluster but the cruel regime is dangerous.
updated 2:50 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
To the question "Is Putin evil?" Alexander Motyl says he is evil enough for condemnation by people of good will.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Laurie Garrett: Poor governance, ignorance, hysteria worsen the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia.
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
updated 6:05 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 2:53 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 12:37 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
updated 12:30 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT