Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)
As many Americans packed it in for a long July 4 weekend, the Democratic Party released a draft of its official 2016 platform—and it has Bernie Sanders's fingerprints all over it.
The 35-page document, which details the Democrats' position on the full gamut of issues facing America today, marks a leftward shift for a party that remains divided between presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton's more centrist positions and the stalwart progressive stances championed by Sanders and his legion of passionate supporters.
An independent Vermont senator and self-described democratic-socialist, Sanders has refused to concede the primary race to Clinton, who has the support of the number of delegates needed to secure the party's nomination, in an effort to ensure the party platform reflected his stance on key issues.
“As we head toward the Democratic National Convention, I often hear the question, ‘What does Bernie want?’ Wrong question. The right question is what the 12 million Americans who voted for a political revolution want,” Sanders wrote in an op-ed published by the Washington Post earlier this month that outlines his “revolution's” demands.
“And the answer is: They want real change in this country, they want it now and they are prepared to take on the political cowardice and powerful special interests which have prevented that change from happening.”
Portions of the Democratic Party platform, which will be finalized at the Democratic National Convention in late July, read like a Sanders stump speech. “The system isn’t working when we have a rigged economy in which ordinary Americans work longer hours for lower wages, while most new income and wealth goes to the top one percent,” the draft says.
Not all of the Sanders' talking points made it into the draft, but his influence is hard to miss. It also mentions presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump on every single page.
- Campaign finance reform: Overturn the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, which opened the door to unlimited political spending by outside groups.
- Minimum wage: Impose a nationwide $15 per hour minimum wage indexed to inflation and eliminate exemptions for tipped workers and people with disabilities.
- Model employer: Create a “model employer” executive order that provides federal support to companies that give their employees a living wage, good benefits, and the ability to join a union.
- Unions: Pass rules allowing for workers to unionize when a simple majority of workers indicate they wish to do so.
- Right to work: Fight against “right to work” laws prohibiting union contracts from requiring all employees at a company, even non-union members, to have to pay union dues.
- Forced arbitration: Limit the use of forced arbitration clauses in employment contracts, which prevent workers from suing their employers when they feel they've been wronged.
- Equal rights: Pass the Equal Rights Amendment.
- Paid leave: Mandate at least 12 weeks of paid leave for workers caring for a new child or the serious illness of a family member.
- Low-income housing: Increase funding for the National Housing Trust Fund, which goes toward building and maintaining public housing for low-income Americans.
- Foreclosure relief: Expand foreclosure mitigation counseling to help homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages.
- Social Security: Raise the cap on taxable income for Social Security above its current level of $250,000 per year, which currently exempts a portion of the income of the highest earners from having to pay into the Social Security trust fund.
- Postal Service pensions: Eliminate the mandate to pre-fund U.S. Postal Service retiree health care costs, which is putting a significant strain on the agency's budget and hindering its ability to provide basic mail delivery services.
- Postal Service expansion: Allow the U.S. Postal Service to offer basic financial and banking services largely aimed at the working poor, such as low-fee paycheck cashing.
- Vote-by-mail: Promoting states to adopt a vote-by-mail system aimed at increasing voter turnout by making it easier to vote.
- Infrastructure revival: Roll out the “single largest investment in American infrastructure since President Eisenhower created the interstate highway system.” No numbers were attached to this proposal; however, by tying it to the Eisenhower administration, the figure would conceivably top the $105 billion in infrastructure investments created through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
- Infrastructure funding: Create a national infrastructure bank to provide loans for infrastructure projects like high-speed broadband internet networks to transportation projects like road and rail.
- Net neutrality: Oppose any effort to roll back the net neutrality rules imposed by the FCC.
- Data freedom: Oppose data localization requirements imposed by foreign governments, just like the law passed by Russia last year.
- Glass-Steagall Act reform: End “Too Big To Fail” for financial institutions by modernizing the Glass-Steagall Act, which mandated a separation between investment and commercial banks, as well as forcibly breaking up institutions whose failure would pose a systematic risk to the nation's economy.
- Financial trading tax: Impose a financial transaction tax on high-frequency trading. However, the document seems to suggest there was considerable friction on the idea of a tax on all financial transactions. “We acknowledge that there is room within our party for a diversity of views on a broader financial transactions tax,” the platform reads.
- Revolving door reform: Require government regulators to recuse themselves from working on matters that directly affect their former private sector employers.
- Lobbying limits: Prohibit former bank regulators from working as lobbyists for two years after leaving government service.
- Fed conflict-of-interest reform: Ban executives at financial institutions from serving on the boards of the regional Federal Reserve banks.
- Energy tax breaks: Eliminate tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.
- Corporate tax loopholes: End the ability of U.S. corporations to defer paying taxes on revenues earned abroad until those funds are repatriated.
- Millionaire tax: Put a surtax on multimillionaires, thereby effectively creating a new top tax bracket.
- TPP: The party did not seem to be able to come to a cohesive conclusion about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a controversial trade originally supported, and now opposed, by then-Secretary of State Clinton. “On the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), there are a diversity of views in the party,” the document reads. “Many Democrats are on record stating that the agreement does not meet the standards set out in this platform; other Democrats have expressed support for the agreement. But all Democrats believe that any trade agreement must protect workers and the environment and not undermine access to critically-needed prescription drugs.”
- Police training: Increase spending on police officer training and technologies like body-worn cameras with an eye toward bettering relations between police departments and the communities they serve.
- Civil forfeiture: Reform the civil asset forfeiture system.
- Felon voting rights: Restore the voting rights to convicted felons in states where those rights have been taken away.
- Former inmate employment: Pass national “ban the box” rules to help people who were formerly in prison obtain employment.
- Marijuana: Allow states that have decriminalized or legalized marijuana to operate without federal interference.
- Death penalty: Abolish the death penalty.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: Re-impose President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was recently invalidated by the Supreme Court.
- Immigration raids: End immigration raids on children and families.
- Prison reform: Sever contracts with for-profit prisons for the purpose of immigration detention.
- LGBT protections: Pass comprehensive federal nondiscrimination protections for members of the LGBT community.
- Impoverished community relief: Direct more federal funding to communities based on the 10-20-30 model, “which directs 10 percent of program funds to communities where at least 20 percent of the population has been living below the poverty line for 30 years or more.”
- Earned Income Tax Credit: Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit to low-wage workers without children.
- Child Tax Credit: Index Child Tax Credit to match inflation.
- Puerto Rican voting rights: Allow the citizens of Puerto Rico to cast votes for President of the United States.
- D.C. statehood: Grant full statehood to Washington, D.C.
- Election Day: Make Election Day a national holiday.
- Universal voter registration: Create universal, automatic voter registration for all Americans and allow for same-day registration and voting.
- Super PACs: Ban all super PACs.
- Climate change risks: Require all companies to disclose to their shareholders the risks to their businesses imposed by the threat of climate change.
- Clean-energy tax breaks: Increase tax breaks for clean energy companies.
- Free college education: Make all community college free for all students.
- Student loan relief: Cut the interest rate for students taking government loans to pay for college.
- Bankruptcy reform: Reform bankruptcy law so people declaring bankruptcy are allowed to discharge student debt.
- Access to pharmaceuticals: Allow the the importation of cheaper generic drugs from Canada into the United States.
- Medicare reform: Let Medicare negotiate directly with prescription drug companies to obtain lower prices.
- Abortion reform: Overturn the “Hyde Amendment,” which prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion—except in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. Democrats would also repeal the Helms Amendment, which prohibits any foreign aid from funding abortions.
- Gun background checks: Expand requirements on background checks for firearm purchases.
- War on Islamic State: Obtain a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force specifically targeted at combating ISIS.
- Close Gitmo: Close the terrorist detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
- Protect Israel: Oppose any effort to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel.
- U.S.–Mexico border wall: You know that wall along the U.S-Mexico border Trump keeps talking about? Don't even think about it.