Category Archives: Democratic Party

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Warren’s Plan to Transform America’s Approach to Trade

Senator Elizabeth Warren, running to be the 2020 Democratic candidate for president, released her plan to break decades of Washington consensus and transform every aspect of America’s current approach to trade.  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren details a plan to transform America’s approach to trade: “Trade can be a powerful tool to help working families but our failed pro-corporate agenda has used trade to harm American workers and the environment. My plan represents a new approach to trade — one that uses America’s leverage to boost American workers and raise the standard of living across the globe. The President has a lot of authority to remake trade policy herself. When I’m elected, I intend to use it.” Here are the details, as provided by the Warren campaign:

Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is running to be the 2020 Democratic candidate for president, released her plan to break decades of Washington consensus and transform every aspect of America’s current approach to trade. 

America enters trade negotiations with enormous leverage because it is the world’s most attractive market. A Warren Administration won’t hand that leverage to big corporations to use for their own narrow purposes. Elizabeth will use it to create and defend good American jobs, raise wages and farm income, combat climate change, lower drug prices, and raise living standards worldwide. Under Elizabeth’s plan, America will engage in international trade — but on our terms and only when it benefits American families. 

The plan is the third pillar of Elizabeth’s 
economic patriotism agenda. Read more about her plan here and below:
 

Last month, I released my economic patriotism agenda — my commitment to fundamentally changing the government’s approach to the economy so that we put the interests of American workers and families ahead of the interests of multinational corporations. I’ve already released my ideas for applying economic patriotism to manufacturing and to Wall Street. This is my plan for using economic patriotism to overhaul our approach to trade.

For decades, big multinational corporations have bought and lobbied their way into dictating America’s trade policy. Those big corporations have gotten rich but everyone else has paid the price. We’ve lost millions of jobs to outsourcing, depressed wages for American workers, accelerated climate change, and squeezed America’s family farmers. We’ve let China get away with the suppression of pay and labor rights, poor environmental protections, and years of currency manipulation. All to add some zeroes to the bottom lines of big corporations with no loyalty or allegiance to America.

We need to completely transform our approach to trade. America enters into trade negotiations with enormous leverage because America is the world’s most attractive market. As President, I won’t hand America’s leverage to big corporations to use for their own narrow purposes — I’ll use it to create and defend good American jobs, raise wages and farm income, combat climate change, lower drug prices, and raise living standards worldwide. We will engage in international trade — but on our terms and only when it benefits American families.

A New Approach to Trade

My plan is a new approach to trade — one that is different from both the Washington insider consensus that brought us decades of bad trade deals and from Donald Trump’s haphazard and ultimately corporate-friendly approach.

Unlike the insiders, I don’t think “free trade” deals that benefit big multinational corporations and international capital at the expense of American workers are good simply because they open up markets. Trade is good when it helps American workers and families — when it doesn’t, we need to change our approach. And unlike Trump, while I think tariffs are an important tool, they are not by themselves a long-term solution to our failed trade agenda and must be part of a broader strategy that this Administration clearly lacks.

To ensure that American families benefit from international trade in the decades to come, I want to invest in American workers and to use our leverage to force other countries to raise the bar on everything from labor and environmental standards to anti-corruption rules to access to medicine to tax enforcement. If we raise the world’s standards to our level and American workers have the chance to compete fairly, they will thrive — and millions of people around the world will be better off too.

Achieving this vision isn’t about tough talk or tweets. We must do the hard work of transforming every aspect of our current approach to trade: from our negotiating process to the negotiating objectives we pursue to the way we enforce agreements. That’s what I intend to do.

A Trade Negotiation Process that Reflects America’s Interests

Our current approach to negotiating trade agreements works great for the wealthy and the well-connected. The negotiating text is kept confidential from all but a small set of advisory groups comprised mostly of corporate executives and industry trade group representatives. Once those corporate interests are finished whispering in the ears of our negotiators, the completed text is released. Then, under the expedited “Fast Track” procedure Congress typically uses to approve trade agreements, our elected representatives must vote up or down on the agreement with no ability to propose and secure any changes to it. Meanwhile, the negotiators who constructed it often breeze through the revolving door to take jobs with the corporations whose interests underlie the deal.

This is undemocratic and obviously corrupt. In a Warren Administration, we will negotiate and approve trade agreements through a transparent process that offers the public a genuine chance to shape it:

Trade negotiators will publicly disclose negotiating drafts and provide the public with an opportunity to comment. When federal agencies write new rules, they typically must publish a proposed version of the rule and permit the public to submit comments on it. I will adopt a similar approach for our trade deals. Prior to negotiations, our negotiators will publish a draft of their proposals in the Federal Register, let the public offer comments on the draft, and take those comments into consideration during negotiations. And then as talks proceed, they will publish drafts of the negotiating texts so the public can monitor the negotiations.
 

Trade advisory committees will prioritize the views of workers and consumers. I will ensure that there are more representatives from labor, environmental, and consumer groups than from corporations and trade groups on every existing advisory committee. And I’ll expand the current list of advisory committees to create one for consumers, one for rural areas, and one for each region of the country, so that critical voices are at the table during negotiations.  

The US International Trade Commission will provide a regional analysis of the economic effects of a trade agreement. Trade agreements can hollow out communities and transform regional economies. Yet the report the ITC provides before Congress considers a trade agreement only includes a nationwide analysis of a trade deal’s economic impact. I will push for the agency to provide a region-by-region analysis so the public and Members of Congress can understand how an agreement is likely to affect the places they live and represent.  

The congressional approval process will offer more opportunities for the public and elected representatives to shape trade agreements. I will seek expedited congressional approval of trade agreements only when every regional advisory committee and the labor, consumer, and rural advisory committees unanimously certify that the agreement serves their interests. I will also expand the list of congressional committees that must review any agreement before it is eligible for expedited consideration.

Together, these changes will ensure that our negotiations reflect the views of American families, not corporate interests.

Using Our Leverage to Demand More for American Families and to Raise the Global Standard of Living

While a better process will produce better agreements, we also must fundamentally shift the goals of our trade agenda so they are aligned with the interests of America’s families.

With certain important exceptions, we live in a low-tariff world. Modern trade agreements are less about the mutual reduction of tariffs and more about establishing regulatory standards for everything from worker rights to pollution to patent protections.

My approach to trade reflects that reality. For too long, we have entered into trade deals with countries with abysmal records on laborenvironmental, and human rights issues. In exchange for concrete access to the American market, we get vague commitments to do better, which we then hardly enforce. The result is that millions of people in our trading-partner countries don’t gain the benefits of higher standards — and companies can easily pad their profits by shifting American jobs to countries where they can pay workers next to nothing and pollute the air and water freely.

That will end under my Administration. I am establishing a set of standards countries must meet as a precondition for any trade agreement with America. And I will renegotiate any agreements we have to ensure that our existing trade partners meet those standards as well.

My preconditions are that a country must:

Recognize and enforce the core labor rights of the International Labour Organization, like collective bargaining and the elimination of child labor.  

Uphold internationally recognized human rights, as reported in the Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights, including the rights of indigenous people, migrant workers, and other vulnerable groups.  

Recognize and enforce religious freedom as reported in the State Department’s Country Reports.  

Comply with minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.  

Be a party to the Paris Climate agreement and have a national plan that has been independently verified to put the country on track to reduce its emissions consistent with the long-term emissions goals in that agreement.  

Eliminate all domestic fossil fuel subsidies.  

Ratify the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.  

Comply with any tax treaty they have with the United States and participate in the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting project to combat tax evasion and avoidance.  

Not appear on the Department of Treasury monitoring list of countries that merit attention for their currency practices.

A country should only be considered an acceptable partner if it meets these basic standards. Shamefully, America itself does not meet many of these labor and environmental standards today. I am committed to fixing that as President. And to help bring other countries up to these standards, I’ll revitalize our commitment to providing technical assistance to help countries improve.

I will also go beyond these minimum standards in key areas to promote the interests of American workers and families.

LaborI will ensure trade agreements protect Buy American and other programs designed to develop local industry, contain strong rule-of-origin standards to promote domestic manufacturing, protect worker pensions, promote equal pay for equal work for women, and prohibit violence against workers. Unlike previous trade deals agreements that have put labor standards in side agreements that are difficult to enforce, I will make labor standards central to any agreement.

Climate Change and the Environment. Climate change is real, it’s man-made, and we’re running out of time to address it. America should be leading this fight, but we have turned our backs on our responsibilities — with communities of color in the U.S. and developing countries bearing a disproportionate amount of the harm.

Trump is moving us in the wrong direction — withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, renegotiating NAFTA without even a mention of climate change, and handing special carve outs to oil and gas companies.

Beyond requiring implementation of the Paris Climate accord and the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies as preconditions for any trade agreement, I have already proposed a Green Marshall Plan to dedicate $100 billion to helping other countries purchase and deploy American-made clean energy technology.

But we must do more. I will push to secure a multilateral agreement to protect domestic green policies like subsidies for green products and preferential treatment for environmentally sustainable energy production from WTO challenges. And because big corporations will move their production to the countries with the weakest greenhouse gas emissions standards — undermining global efforts to address climate change and penalizing countries that are doing their part — I will impose a border carbon adjustment so imported goods that these firms make using carbon-intensive processes are charged a fee to equalize the costs borne by companies playing by the rules.

Prescription Drugs. Last year, Americans spent more than $500 billion on prescription drugs. That’s a 50% increase since 2010. Nearly 3 in 10Americans report not taking their medicine as directed because of costs. And yet, one of the core elements of America’s current trade agenda is guaranteeing pharmaceutical firms monopoly protections so they can avoid competition from generic drugs — driving up costs and reducing access to necessary medicine abroad, and undermining our efforts to reduce drug prices here at home. That’s exactly what the Trump Administration has done as part of their failed effort to renegotiate NAFTA.

While medical innovation is important, there is no link between extremely long exclusivity periods and pharmaceutical innovation. These are giveaways to drug companies, plain and simple, which allow them to maintain ludicrously high drug prices.

As President, I will fight to bring down the costs of prescription drugs here and around the world. I will never use America’s leverage to push another country to extend exclusivity periods for prescription drugs. I will support efforts to impose price controls on pharmaceuticals. And I will actively seek out opportunities to reduce exclusivity periods in our existing trade deals in exchange for securing other changes that will help America’s working families.

Agriculture. For decades, trade deals have squeezed family farmers, with Black farmers losing their land particularly quickly. Between the trade fights incited by Trump’s haphazard tariffs and a series of natural disasters, America’s farmers are now facing the worst crisis in almost 40 years. They are also facing unprecedented levels of uncertainty and instability. Trump’s tariffs have reduced crop prices, threatened farmers already operating on razor-thin margins, and opened up new non-American markets against which our farmers are now forced to compete. Like trade deals of the past, Trump’s NAFTA 2.0 is written to help giant multinational agribusinesses at the expense of family farms, and it will do nothing to solve the newly created market insecurity Trump’s tariffs have caused.

As President, I will fight for trade agreements that reward American farmers for their hard work by negotiating for fair prices for goods, breaking up the monopolies in grain trading and meat packing, and protecting domestic markets to create stability for America’s family farms. And I will impose Country-of-Origin Labeling rules to protect American producers and provide transparency to consumers.

Consumer protection. We must ensure that the food we eat is high-quality and safe. But our trade agreements have limited safety standards and the inspection of imported foods, while simultaneously enabling a new flood of food imports that overwhelm food safety inspectors. In my Administration, our trade pacts will require imported food to meet domestic food safety standards, including enhanced border inspection requirements.

As with imported food, our current trade deals require us to allow imports of other products and services that do not meet domestic safety and environmental standards. My trade agreements will ensure that imported products and services must meet the same standards as domestic products and services.

Antitrust. We are in an era of massive consolidation across many sectors of the economy. One of the reasons why is that we have a narrow, permissive approach to mergers that looks only at economic efficiency and consumer welfare instead of assessing the impact that a merger will have on competition itself.

In recent years, we have added this problematic standard into trade agreements and proposed it as the defining objective for competition policy in new and renegotiated agreements. Under my administration, we will not propose this standard in any new agreement, and we will work to renegotiate agreements to remove it.

Delivering for American Families with Stronger Enforcement

Our approach to enforcing trade agreements drives down standards worldwide and undermines American families. We offer big corporations fast and powerful methods to enforce the provisions that benefit them but make it nearly impossible for Americans to enforce labor and environmental protections. Foreign governments only fear a challenge to strong rules that might hurt corporate bottom lines, not to weak rules that might not adequately protect workers, the environment, or public health.

I will entirely reorient our approach to enforcement so we drive standards up, not down. I’ll start by ending “Investor-State Dispute Settlement,” or ISDS, the favorable enforcement approach we offer corporations. Under ISDS, a company that believes that a new law violates some aspect of a trade agreement can skip the courts and challenge the law before an international panel of arbitrators. If the company wins, the panel can order that country’s taxpayers to pay out billions in damages — with no review by an actual court. What’s worse, the arbitration panels handing out these binding rulings are often made up of corporate lawyers whose day jobs are representing the very same companies that seek judgments before them.

Companies have used ISDS to undermine laws intended to benefit the public interest. A French company challenged Egypt when it increased the minimum wage. A Swedish company challenged Germany when it decided to cut back on nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster. These cases have real effects across the globe: an ISDS panel’s decision to hear a challenge that Philip Morris brought against Uruguay’s anti-smoking campaign prompted several other countries to abandon similar public health efforts.

As President, I will not include ISDS in any new agreement and will renegotiate existing agreements to remove ISDS from them.

And I’ll strengthen our approach to enforcing labor and environmental standards. Unlike a corporation under ISDS, a labor union seeking to enforce labor standards can’t bring a claim on its own — it must convince the federal government to bring a claim on its behalf. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence, our government can refuse to act for diplomatic or other unrelated reasons.

As a result, the federal government has only pursued one such claim in the last 25 years. In that one case, the American government, AFL-CIO, and Guatemalan unions spent nine years trying to challenge the Guatemalan government for violating the labor chapter of one of our trade deals because Guatemalan workers were being murdered for trying to join a union. In the end, we lost because the trade agreement required a showing that the violations had affected trade.

I will replace this broken process by creating independent commissions — made up of experts in the area — to monitor potential violations, respond to complaints, and investigate claims. The commissions must review and investigate claims promptly so that claims don’t languish for years. If one of these commissions recommends that the United States bring a claim against another country, the United States will be required to do so, without exception.

I will also fix the problem that arose in the Guatemala case by pushing to remove language from our deals that require us to show that a violation of rights was “sustained or recurring” and “affecting trade or investment.” A violation is a violation, and I won’t let another case like Guatemala happen ever again.

I will strengthen our enforcement approach in other ways as well:

Under WTO rules, a country designated as a “non-market economy” can face more serious trade penalties. I will push for a new “non-sustainable economy” designation that would allow us to impose tougher penalties on countries with systematically poor labor and environmental practices. We cannot allow countries that treat their workers and the environment poorly to undercut American producers that do things the right way.  

I already have a plan to move the lead American trade negotiator — the Office of the United States Trade Representative — within my new Department of Economic Development. That will ensure that America’s trade policy supports our broader economic agenda of defending and creating good American jobs. I will also create a new labor and environment enforcement division at the USTR to more effectively enforce obligations, and embed a labor attache at U.S. embassies to monitor compliance with our labor standards.  

Unlike the current approach that lets our government ignore unfair trade practices, my administration will create automatic triggers to initiate investigations into unfair trade practices. If those investigations produce compelling evidence of a violation, the Department will impose trade remedies immediately until the offenders show they are no longer engaging in an unfair trade practice. These automatic triggers will also apply to violations of labor and environmental standards.  

Finally, when we impose duties to support particular domestic industries, I want to ensure that the money we collect actually goes to American workers, instead of being sucked up by executives and shareholders. I will fight to change our trade laws so that we review duties every six months and lift the duties if companies can’t demonstrate the benefits of the duties are going to their workers.

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Warren Releases Plan to Invest in Rural America, Build New Farm Economy

Senator Elizabeth Warren details a plan for Rural America that “will help create a new farm economy where family farmers have financial security and the freedom to do what they do best.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren details a plan for Rural America that “will help create a new farm economy where family farmers have financial security and the freedom to do what they do best. Farmers of all backgrounds will finally have the economic freedom to pursue diverse, sustainable farming — and get paid up front for doing so. Americans will have a steady and affordable supply of food. Kids in rural communities will have healthy lunches grown in their backyards and packaged at local food hubs run by small town entrepreneurs. Taxpayers won’t pay twice — once at the grocery store and once through their taxes — for overproduced commodities. We will replenish our soil and our water to chart a path towards a climate solution and achieve the goals of the Green New Deal.”Here are the details, as provided by the Warren campaign:

Charlestown, MA – Elizabeth Warren released her plan to invest in rural America and build a new farm economy. Her plan includes creating a public option for broadband and ending government giveaways for private internet service providers, investing in rural health care, and taking strong anti-trust action against hospital mergers that threaten access to basic services. She outlines how her plans for universal child care and high-quality early education, student debt cancellation, building and rehabilitating affordable housing, and tackling the opioid crisis will restore opportunity in rural America. 

Warren also lays out how she will replace the government’s failed approach to the farm economy and address our climate crisis head-on by paying farmers for sustainable farming practices that can help us fight climate change. 

Warren released her plan before kicking of a 4-day tour across Iowa. Read more about her plan to invest in rural America here. Read more about her plan to build a new farm economy here.   

My Plan to Invest in Rural America

A strong America requires a strong rural America. Rural communities are home to 60 million people, hundreds of tribal nations, and a growing number of new immigrants who account for 37% of rural population growth. These communities feed our nation. And they are leading the country in sustainable energy, generating 99% of America’s wind energy and pioneering efforts to harness solar energy. 

But both corporate America and leaders in Washington have turned their backs on the people living in our rural communities and prioritized the interests of giant companies and Wall Street instead. Burdened by student debt, young people are leaving rural communities to find jobs elsewhere. Big broadband companies exclude entire communities – especially tribal communities and rural communities of color – from access to high-speed Internet. Rural communities are losing access to quality health care. Climate change – from more severe floods to extreme heat – is changing the rural way of life. And farmers are forced to compete with giant agribusinesses on an uneven playing field.

Our failure to invest in rural areas is holding back millions of families, weakening our economy, and undermining our efforts to combat climate change. It’s time to fix this. 

Protecting Access to Health Care in Rural Communities

Health care is a human right. But people can’t fully exercise that right in communities lacking access to basic services like primary, emergency, and maternity care. That is what’s happening across rural America, where the prevalence of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes is  higher, as is the risk of dying from the leading causes of death in the country compared to urban areas. Barriers to coverage, disappearing health facilities, and a shortage of health professionals are denying rural communities the high-quality health care they deserve. 

Insurance coverage continues to remain out of reach for many people living in rural communities – and even for those with coverage, rural America is quickly becoming a medical desert. In less than a decade, 112 rural hospitals have closed, with hundreds more teetering on the edge. Those that do remain open operate on razor-thin margins from uncompensated care, lower patient volume, and insufficient reimbursement.

That’s why I support Medicare for All, so that every person will have access to affordable care no matter where they live. That means access to primary care and lower health care costs for patients – and less uncompensated care for hospitals, helping hospitals stay afloat. We also need to increase reimbursement rates for rural hospitals and alleviate unnecessary restrictions that make it difficult for them to serve their communities. Medicare already has special designations available to rural hospitals, but they must be updated to match the reality of rural areas. I will create a new designation that reimburses rural hospitals at a higher rate, relieves distance requirements, and offers flexibility of services by assessing the needs of their communities.

But we can’t stop there. Higher rates of consolidation for both for-profit and non-profit hospitals are making it harder to access care. And yet, many hospitals can evade federal antitrust enforcement either because the value of the merger is too small to trigger mandatory review or because the Federal Trade Commission’s purview over non-profit hospitals is constrained. Vertical integration is also increasing as more hospitals acquire physician practices, and some states have deliberately sheltered hospitals from federal antitrust action. I will boost the federal government’s oversight of mergers and anti-competitive behavior to make sure that health care companies play by the rules and put the needs of patients first. 

As President, I will direct the FTC to block all future mergers between hospitals unless the merging companies can show that the newly-merged entity will maintain or improve access to care. If a proposed merger helps maintain or improve access to health care, that’s fine. But when it is a first step to closing hospitals or slashing basic services, then a Warren administration will block it.

I’ll also put forward a set of reforms to strengthen FTC oversight over health care organizations, including establishing new federal regulations and guidance to require that all mergers involving health care centers be reported to the FTC. I’ll authorize the FTC to conduct reviews of non-profit hospitals for anti-competitive behavior, update Department of Justice guidance on vertical mergers, and crack down on vertically integrated health care companies that are raising costs without improving the quality of care. And I’ll work with states to repeal Certificate of Public Advantage, or COPA, statutes that shield health care organizations from federal antitrust review and can leadto the creation of large monopolies with little to no oversight.

We also have a responsibility to make sure that places that have experienced a loss in services or are otherwise medically underserved can better meet the needs of their communities. That’s why I will increase funding for Community Health Centers by 15 percent per year over the next five years. I will also establish a $25 billion dollar capital fund to support a menu of options for improving access to care in health professional shortage areas, including: constructing a new facility like a Community Health Center, Rural Health Clinic, School-Based Health Center, or birthing center; expanding capacity or services at an existing clinic; establishing pharmacy services or a telemedicine program; supporting a diabetes self-management education program; improving transportation to the nearest hospital; or piloting models like mobile clinics and community paramedicine programs. 

Rural communities have been particularly impacted by the opioid epidemic, with the rate of opioid overdose deaths having been higher there than in urban areas in recent years. I’m pushing for $100 billion over 10 years to end the opioid crisis, including $2.7 billion for the hardest-hit counties and cities and $800 million in direct funding for tribal governments and organizations. Funding can be used for prevention and early intervention services at federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics and to train health professionals on treating substance use disorders in rural and other medically underserved areas. 

To ensure access to quality health services, we must also close the health care workforce gaps across rural America. Nearly 60% of Health Professional Shortage Areas – those lacking sufficient primary care physicians, physician assistantsnurses, dentists, pharmacists, EMTs, and home health aides – are in rural regions. More than 3,600 additional doctors are needed to close the rural physician workforce deficit today, but Congressionally-imposed caps on medical residencies and unstable funding of the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) have made this gap nearly impossible to close. What’s more, this shortage is rapidly increasing as rural physicians near retirement and fewerincoming medical students plan to practice in rural areas. 

As President, I will make sure we expand our health care workforce by investing more resources in building the pipeline of medical professionals in rural areas. This starts by dramatically scaling up apprenticeship programs as proposed in my Economic Patriotism plan to support partnerships between unions, high schools, community colleges, and a wide array of health care professionals to build a health care workforce that is rooted in the community. I’ll lift the cap on residency placements by 15,000 – and because residents are more likely to practice where they train, I’ll target half of new placements in medically-underserved areas such as rural residency programs, residency programs with Rural Training Track programs, and the Indian Health Service (IHS), while working with rural programs to ensure that they can take full advantage of these increases. I’ll also significantly expand the NHSC loan repayment program to $15 billion and the IHS loan repayment program to $1 billion over the next 10 years to cover full loan repayment for 5 years of service and to increase the number of health professionals serving rural and Native American communities.

Building Economic Security in Rural America

My plan doesn’t stop at health care. Every American is entitled to some basic financial security, no matter where they live. But people living in rural communities face challenges that can threaten that security. My plans are designed to address these challenges and allow people in rural communities to thrive economically. 

Take child care. Today, a majority of rural communities lack sufficient access to child care. On average, rural families spend more of their incomes on child care than families in urban areas. My plan for Universal Child Care will provide access to high-quality child care in every community that is free for millions and affordable for everyone. The federal government will also work closely with local providers and tribal governments to make sure there are high-quality child care options available in every community – including home-based child care services, which rural families are more likely to use.

Rural communities also face unique housing challenges. More than 150 rural counties have a severe-need for affordable rental housing and 38% of rural counties have moderately-severe rental housing needs. Home values in rural areas have also been slower to recover from the financial crisis. My housing plan invests $523 million to create 380,000 affordable rental homes in rural communities and provides an additional $2 billion to help homeowners with underwater mortgages still struggling to recover from the financial crisis. It also invests $2.5 billion to build or rehabilitate 200,000 homes on tribal lands, where overcrowding, homelessness, and substandard housing have reached crisis levels.

And the student debt crisis hits rural areas particularly hard. In part because of huge student debt burdens, young adults are leaving rural communities for jobs in cities. Just 52% of rural student loan borrowers remain in a rural area, compared to 66% of those who did not take out loans – and those with more debt are more likely to leave. My plan to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt will mean that recent graduates won’t need to flock to urban centers to find jobs that will help them pay down these loans. And my plan to provide universal free technical, two-year, and four-year public college will make sure that no student is ever put in this situation again. We need to make it possible for students to see rural communities as places of opportunity where they can live, work, and build a future for themselves. 

A Public Option for Broadband

One of the best tools for unlocking economic opportunity and advances in health care, like telemedicine, is access to reliable, high-speed Internet. In the twenty-first century, every home should have access to this technology – but we’re not even close to that today. According to the FCC, in 2017 26.4% of people living in rural areas and 32.1% of people living on tribal lands did not have access to minimum speed broadband (25 Mbps/ 3 Mbps), compared to 1.7% in urban areas. And given the notorious loopholes in FCC reporting requirements, these figures underestimate the gap. 

At the same time, while urban areas may be more likely to have access to fiber broadband, many residents can’t afford to connect to it. Nearly 27% of households in Detroit and Cleveland had no Internet access in 2017, and households with incomes below $35,000 comprise 60% of households without broadband access, despite making up just 31% of the national population. 

We’ve faced this kind of problem before. Prior to the late 1930s, private electric companies passed over rural communities they felt offered minimal profit opportunities, leaving the families living there literally in the dark. Just like the electric companies eighty years ago, today’s biggest internet service providers (ISPs) have left large parts of the country unserved or dramatically underserved. 

Not only that, they have deliberately restricted competition, kept prices high, and used their armies of lobbyists to convince state legislatures to ban municipalities from building their own public networks. Meanwhile, the federal government has shoveled billions of taxpayer dollars to private ISPs in an effort to expand broadband to remote areas, but those providers have done the bare minimum with these resources – offering internet speeds well below the FCC minimum. 

This ends when I’m President. I will make sure every home in America has a fiber broadband connection at a price families can afford. That means publicly-owned and operated networks – and no giant ISPs running away with taxpayer dollars. My plan will:
 

Make it clear in federal statute that municipalities have the right to build their own broadband networks. Many small towns and rural areas have turned to municipal networks to provide broadband access in places that the private market has failed to serve – but today, as many as 26 states have passed laws hindering or banning municipalities from building their own broadband infrastructure to protect the interests of giant telecom companies. We will preempt these laws and return this power to local governments.
 

Create an Office of Broadband Access in my Department of Economic Development that will manage a new $85 billion federal grant program to massively expand broadband access across the country. Under my plan, only electricity and telephone cooperatives, non-profit organizations, tribes, cities, counties, and other state subdivisions will be eligible for grants from this fund – and all grants will be used to build the fiber infrastructure necessary to bring high-speed broadband to unserved areas, underserved areas, or areas with minimal competition.

The federal government will pay 90 cents on the dollar for construction under these grants. In exchange, applicants will be required to offer high-speed public broadband directly to every home in their application area. Applicants will have to offer at least one plan with 100 Mbps/ 100 Mbps speeds and one discount internet plan for low-income customers with a prepaid feature or a low monthly rate.

Of these funds, $5 billion will be set aside specifically for 100% federal grants to tribal nations to expand broadband access on Native American lands. In addition to necessary “last mile” infrastructure, tribes will be able to apply for funds to build the missing 8,000 miles of middle mile fiber on tribal lands.   

Appoint FCC Commissioners who will restore net neutrality. I will appoint FCC Commissioners who will restore net neutrality, regulatinginternet service providers as “common carriers” and maintaining open access to the Internet.And I will require all telecommunications services to contribute fairly into the Universal Service Fund to shore up essential universal service programs that provide subsidies to low-income individuals, schools, and libraries to increase broadband adoption, including signing into law and building on the Tribal Connect Act, so that we can work toward every tribal library having broadband access.  

Bolster the FCC’s Office of Native Affairs and Policy. This office holds trainings, technical assistance, and consultations for Indian Country. Providing it with dedicated, increased funding to expand its capacity will help close the digital divide.  

Improve the accuracy of broadband maps. Weak FCC oversight has allowed ISPs to greatly exaggerate how many households they serve and has given ISPs added fuel to downplay their failures and protect themselves from regulation. To provide universal broadband access and crack down on anti-competitive behaviors, the government has to know how extensive the problems are. I will appoint FCC Commissioners who will require ISPs to report service and speeds down to the household level, as well as aggregate pricing data, and work with community stakeholders – including tribal nations – to make sure we get this process right. Then, we will make these data available to the public and conduct regular audits to ensure accurate reporting.   

Prohibit the range of sneaky maneuvers giant private providers use to unfairly squeeze out competition, hold governments hostage, and drive up prices. It’s time to crack down on all the anti-competitive behaviors that giant ISPs have used to steamroll the competition. We will return control of utility poles and conduits to cities, prohibit landlords from making side deals with private ISPs to limit choices in their properties, and ban companies from limiting access to wires inside buildings. We will make sure that all new buildings are fiber-ready so that any network can deliver service there, and we will also enact “Dig Once” policies to require that conduit is laid anytime the ground is opened for a public infrastructure project.   

Ensure every person has the skills to fully participate in our online economy. Even when there’s access to broadband internet – and even when it’s available at an affordable price – people may still not take advantage of it because they don’t know how to use it. That’s why I will work to pass the Digital Equity Act, which invests $2.5 billion over ten years to help states develop digital equity plans and launch digital inclusion projects. 

Creating and Defending Jobs in Rural America

Expanding broadband is just the first step to boosting economic opportunity in rural communities. We need to do more to bring high-quality jobs back to rural areas and small towns and negotiate trade agreements that keep jobs in the U.S. – and don’t ship them overseas. That’s why I’ve committed to creating a National Jobs Strategy focused specifically on regional economies and trends that disproportionately affect rural areas and small cities. And why I will spend $2 trillion in green research, manufacturing, and exporting to create more than a million new jobs, reversing the manufacturing losses that many rural communities have experienced over the last two decades. 

I’ve also called for a $400 billion commitment in clean energy research and development 
– funding that will go to land grant universities, rural areas, and areas that have seen the worst job losses in recent years. I’ll dramatically scale up worker training programs, spending $20 billion on apprenticeships and instituting new sectoral training programs to boost job opportunities for people across Rural America.

Immigration is also revitalizing local economies and reversing population decline in a number of rural communities. I’ve called for expanding legal immigration – done the right way and consistent with our principles – to grow our economy, reunite families, and meet our labor market demands. My immigration plan will raise wages for everyone and make sure that businesses won’t be able to get away with dirty tricks that undercut pay.

And I will build a new approach to our trade policy to make sure that the new, high-quality jobs we create stay right here in America.
 As part of my new plan, I’ll fundamentally change our negotiation process so that rural communities are explicitly represented at the table, and use our leverage to demand more for workers and farmers by raising standards worldwide.

Bolstering Small and Local Business

Small businesses are critical to the economic vitality of rural communities, but people in rural communities face challenges accessing capital and financial services to start, grow, and operate their businesses. The number of rural counties without a locally owned community bank has doubled since 1994, and 86 new rural banking deserts have appeared since 2008, leaving these communities with no banking services within 10 miles. That’s why I’ve proposed allowing the U.S. Postal Service to partner with local community banks and credit unions to provide access to low-cost, basic banking services online and at post offices. 

What’s more, 25% of new rural banking deserts have been in communities of color. Credit and small loans are critical to starting and growing a small business, but longer distances between a borrower and their bank are associated with more credit denials and higher interest rates on loans. That’s why I will establish a $7 billion fund to close the gap in startup capital for entrepreneurs of color, which will support 100,000 new minority-owned businesses, provide over a million new jobs, and further boost economic development in rural areas. 

Private equity firms have further harmed local businesses, buying up everything from mobile home parks to hospitals to nursing homes to local newspapers, loading them up with debt, sucking them dry, and leaving workers to pick up the pieces. I’ll rein in Wall Street to hold private equity firms accountable and keep them from destroying businesses that bring economic opportunity – and jobs – to small towns and rural communities across the country. It’s time to prioritize the long-term interests of American workers, not the short-term interests of big financial institutions.

Building a New Farm Economy

Rural America is also the home of our nation’s agriculture sector, but today, farmers are getting squeezed by giant agribusinesses that are gobbling up more land and driving down prices. In 1935, there were 6.8 million farms in the United States – but in 2017, there were just above 2 million. What’s more, as the number of farms has decreased, the size of each remaining farm has dramatically grown – from an average of 155 acres per farm in 1935 to an average of 444 acres per farm today. Meanwhile, the farmer’s share of the food dollar has plummeted to just 14.6 cents in 2017 – the lowest number since the USDA began reporting this figure in 1993.

That’s why I’ve pledged to address consolidation in the agriculture sector by reviewing – and reversing – anti-competitive mergers and breaking up big agribusinesses that have become vertically integrated. I’ll also support a national right to repair law for farmers, reform country-of-origin labeling, and restrict foreign ownership of American agriculture companies and farmland. 

And I’ll take it one step further – charting a new farm economy that replaces our government’s failed approach with one that guarantees farmers a fair price and protects our environment. 

The cost of each and every one of these investments is fully offset by my plans to make the ultra-wealthy and large corporations pay more in taxes. Those plans include my annual two-cent wealth tax on fortunes over $50 million and my plan to ensure that very large and profitable American corporations can’t get away with paying zero taxes. And the new investments I’m announcing today for universal broadband access and health care options in rural areas can be offset by changing the tax laws that encourage companies to merge and reduce competition. 

I want Washington to work for communities all over this country. From expanding access to broadband to boosting investment in quality jobs, together we can make big, structural change to create new opportunities all across rural America


A New Farm Economy


Consolidation in the agriculture sector is leaving America’s family farmers with lower prices and fewer choices. Giant corporations use their market share to squeeze farmers from both sides. Farmers are pressured into taking on huge debts to pay the high prices that a small number of large suppliers charge them for inputs like seeds and fertilizer. Then, farmers are at the whim of a market that is controlled by meatpackers and grain traders that can pay them low prices for the commodities they produce — prices that often don’t cover all the money farmers had to spend in the first place. 

All of this causes tremendous overproduction of commodities. In the face of lower and lower prices in the market, farmers are left to produce more to try and break even. But this just causes prices to go down even further, benefiting the huge corporations looking to buy goods on the cheap and leaving farmers dependent on the government to backfill their costs. 

As a consequence, the agriculture sector has become one of the largestpolluters in our economy. As farmers are pressured to plant fence row to fence row and use more fertilizer in search of a higher yield, rural communities lose their soil and water and the environment suffers

Much of this situation is the direct result of government policy. Our current system of subsidies is supposed to make up the difference between the low prices farmers get on the market and what they have to pay to grow food. But instead it lets big corporations at the top of the supply chain get away with paying artificially low costs while farmers struggle and taxpayers make up the difference. It encourages overproduction by guaranteeing revenue regardlessof prices or environmental conditions. And it feeds climate change. 

Farmers are stewards of the land, and they know this system of overproduction is unsustainable — but without a change in incentives, they have no other choice. 

To fix this problem, we need big, structural change. That’s why I’m calling for a complete overhaul of our failed approach to the farm economy. Instead of subsidizing industrial agriculture and starving farmers and rural communities, my new approach will guarantee farmers a fair price, reduce overproduction, and pay farmers for environmental conservation.  

By making this shift, we can raise farm incomes and reduce taxpayer expenditures. We can break the stranglehold that giant agribusinesses have over our farm economy, and expand economic opportunities for small- and medium-sized farmers, family farmers, women farmers, and farmers of color. We can also provide consumers with affordable, high-quality, and often local food, while protecting our land and water and combating the existential threat of climate change.

Replacing our government’s failed approach to the farm economy

Our agriculture markets are badly broken. American farmers spend their days toiling over their crops, but at sale time, more than half report negative income from their farming activity. In 2018, the median income farmers made from farming activity before federal subsidies was negative $1,316. Why? Because the market is paying farmers far less than what it costs them to produce their goods.

And it gets worse. Farm subsidies that are necessary to keep farms afloat in this market function as an incentive to overproduce by guaranteeing payments only for certain commodities and encouraging farming on marginal land. This squeezes small farmers, undermines sustainable farming for the long-term, and damages our environment. 

It hasn’t always been this way. During the New Deal, FDR’s administration recognized the critical role farmers would play in getting our country out of the Great Depression. His administration set up a system that guaranteed farmers fair prices, tackled overproduction, and reversed environmental degradation. And it worked: for decades, this system gave farmers the security they needed to thrive, kept consumer prices stable, and helped restore our country’s farmland.

But starting in the 1970s, giant agribusinesses convinced the Nixon Administration to change the system. Corporations called it “deregulating” the farm economy, but of course, this didn’t actually mean reducing government intervention. It just meant shifting that intervention from advancing the interests of farmers, consumers, and the environment to protecting the bottom line of giant agriculture corporations.

Now, the Department of Agriculture budgets over $10 billion each year on post-sale subsidies that are supposed to make up for the low prices that big corporations and livestock giants pay farmers on the market. Meanwhile, Big Ag pockets the profit: one study shows industrial livestock giants, for example, have saved $35 billion over twenty years from buying feed below the cost of production. 

We need a new approach that uses taxpayer money more wisely, provides stable access to food,  and accounts for the complexities of the agriculture markets. Just like workers need a living wage, farmers need a fair price — one that covers the costs they have to pay to produce their goods. We need to replace our failed system with a tried-and-true method that guarantees farmers that fair price and ends overproduction. Building on the successful model of the New Deal, my plan calls for a new supply management program — which studies show would be billions cheaper for taxpayers than our current subsidy program, yet provide farm incomes that are higher.  

Here’s how it will work. First, we guarantee farmers a price at their cost of production. To do that, the government would offer farmers a non-recourse loan that covers most of their costs of production — essentially, an offer to buy their products at cost if a farmer can’t get a better price from a private purchaser on the market before the end of the loan period. Farmers can either repay the loan by selling their products or they can forfeit the products they used as collateral for the loan at the end of the loan period. 

If the farmer does not sell those products to a private buyer during that time period, then the government will store the products in reserves. As supply comes off the market as a result, prices will rise. And if prices rise beyond a certain point, the government can release the supply from the reserves back onto the market, stabilizing prices once again. This mechanism guarantees farmers a fair price at a far lower cost than the current subsidy system. 

In addition, to address overproduction, farmers will have the option of bidding acres of land currently used to produce commodities into conservation programs. USDA will offer attractive prices based on the environmental benefit that repurposing the land towards conservation programs would provide. This will provide farmers with the choice — and revenue — to diversify their farms, rather than face mounting pressure to produce more and more of the same. . 

This approach has advantages beyond guaranteeing farmers a fair price for their goods. It gives us the tools to stabilize farm income where farmers aren’t getting prices at the cost of production, like commodity crops and dairy. It enhances our food security by giving the government access to reserves if needed — a particularly important consideration as climate change continues to disrupt food production. It addresses our overproduction problem and helps reduce environmental damage. And it keeps consumer prices relatively stable

It would also save taxpayers billions. Because a supply management program only pays for the amount of commodities that it takes off of the market, it would substantially reduce costs for taxpayers who, in the current subsidy approach, can end up paying for every single bushel and bale that farmers grow.

Paying farmers to fight climate change 

To transition to a sustainable farm economy, we also need to diversify our agriculture sector. As President, I will lead a full-out effort to decarbonize the agricultural sector by investing in our farmers and giving them the tools, research, and training they need to transform the sector — so that we can achieve the objectives of the Green New Deal to reach net-zero emissions by 2030. 

This begins with paying farmers for embracing techniques that promote a sustainable future for all of us. Farmers are already adopting climate-friendly practices — including proven and profitable techniques like cover crops. But today, there are far more farmers who want to join land conservation programs than there are funds available to support them. That’s because we have continually underfunded a tried-and-true program — the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) — that provides funding for farmers eager to transition to sustainable practices, and that delivers substantial returns to taxpayers.  

My plan will make it economically feasible for farmers to be part of the climate change solution by increasing CSP’s payments for sustainable farming practices from around $1 billion today to $15 billion annually – and expanding the types of practices eligible for compensation – so that every farmer who wants to use their land to fight climate change can do so. This will put our future investment in conservation above the level we currently fund commodity programs. And I will support staff at USDA to empower them in the fight against climate change, from scientists in Washington all the way down to the county-level offices tailoring solutions to challenges in their local communities.

Research and innovation are also essential in supporting a transition to sustainable farming. I will dedicate resources from the $400 billion R&D commitment in my Green Manufacturing Plan towards innovations for decarbonizing the agriculture sector, including a farmer-led Innovation Fund that farmers can apply to use towards pioneering new methods of sustainable farming, like agroforestry

Our land grant universities also have a critical role to play – but first, we need to reclaim our land grant universities from Big Ag and restore them to their core purpose of supporting our family farmers. My Administration will reinvest inour land grant universities and focus their agricultural efforts in part on evaluating farmers’ ideas to decarbonize the agricultural sector and training a new generation of farmers. 

Take on Big Ag to level the playing field for family farmers

We also must take on Big Ag head on if we want to create a new farm economy. When Nixon’s Secretary of Agriculture told farmers to “get big or get out,” he paved the way for the giant agribusinesses that have eroded America’s rural communities and turned the agricultural sector into one of the largestpolluters, all while making huge profits.

That ends now. I will use every tool at my disposal to level the playing field for family farmers and hold agribusinesses accountable for the damage they’ve wrought on our farmland. 

Break up Big Agribusinesses. Under my plan to level the playing field for America’s farmers I’ll use every tool I have to break up big agribusinesses, including by reviewing  — and reversing — anti-competitive mergers. 
 

Strengthen rules and enforcement under the Packers and Stockyards Act.In 1921, Congress passed the Packers & Stockyards Act (P&S Act) to protect independent farmers. But Trump has eliminated Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) — the office responsible for upholding the P&S Act —  as an independent office. My administration will restore GIPSA and make it easier for farmers to bring suits against unfair practices — including by clarifying that they do not have to prove harm across the entire sector to bring a claim. 
 

Make sure programs benefit independent family farmers, not the rich and powerful. Agribusinesses exploit loopholes to put taxpayer dollars that should be going towards family farmers into their own pockets instead. The Trump administration has handed over billions more into the pockets of the wealthiest through trade war bailouts. On average, the top 1% of recipients received over $180,000, and the bottom 80% percent received less than $5,000.  — all without Congressional authorization. I will prevent huge factory farms from accessing funds intended to benefit family farmers, like those for payment limitations and for programs like EQIP, and ban companies that violate labor and environmental standards from accessing funds, too. 
 

Hold Big Ag accountable for environmental abuses. Agribusinesses are the likely culprits for polluting hundreds of thousands of miles of rivers and streams and causing dead zones in our waters, including in the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. I will make agribusinesses pay the full costs of the environmental damage they wreak by closing the loopholes that CAFOs use to get away with polluting and beefing up enforcement of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts against them, including by working with state and local officials.  

Build out local and regional food systems that support rural farmers and their communities

Because giant agribusinesses control entire supply chains, many small farmers today must send their products to huge packaging and distribution centers that are hundreds of miles away from their farms and from the end consumer. This deprives rural communities from access to produce, contributing to food desertsand obesity.

I will provide farmers and rural communities with the resources they need to build thriving local and regional food systems so that every community has access to healthy food — and the billions in economic opportunities that come with it.

I will use the full power of federal and state procurement to ensure access to local, sustainable produce in all communities. My administration will expand the “Farm-to-School” program a hundredfold and turn it into a billion-dollar “Farm to People” program in which all federally-supported public institutions — including military bases and hospitals — will partner with local, independent farmers to provide fresh, local food.

To meet this additional demand, farmers will need access to local and regional supply chain infrastructure. USDA’s Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) currently invests $50M a year in local infrastructure-building projects — which experts estimate falls far short of meeting the substantial demand. I will increase LAMP’s funding ten-fold, investing $500M a year over the next decade to fund food hubs, distribution centers, and points-of-sale that our rural and small town communities can use.

Create opportunities for diverse and beginning farmers 

Farmers of color have experienced a long history of discrimination, some of it at the hands of the federal government. From 1910 to 1997, black farmers were stripped of 90% of black-owned farmland. They received a mere fraction of the value of the land they lost —  a staggering loss of wealth that is a major contributor to the racial wealth gap. My plan will end the policies that have perpetuated this discrimination and help rural families of color build wealth and sustainable livelihoods.

Addressing the systematic dispossession of land in communities of color, including Black farmers and Native American communities. Over the past century, Black farmers were stripped of 90% of black-owned farmland and received a mere fraction of the value of the land they lost – largely because they held the land as “heirs’ property,” an unstable and much-exploited form of ownership.  I will establish programs to assist heirs’ property owners and make sure they retain access to their land, including building on successes in the 2018 Farm Bill to allow heirs’ property owners to present additional types of documentation to not only access USDA programs, but also other federal programs in FEMA and HUD. I will also fully fund the relending programenacted in the 2018 Farm Bill to expand support services for farmers of color, including legal and technical assistance to help farmers hold on to their land – and prioritize lending organizations operating in states that have enacted model legislation that protects heirs’ property ownership.

Native American communities have also experienced challenges related to fractionated land ownership. This problem was caused by a destructive federal policy from the late 1800s that  allotted tribal lands held in common to individual tribal members and sold additional tribal lands to non-Native settlers and commercial interests. This policy eventually led to roughly two-thirds of all reservation lands being taken from tribes without compensation. Several generations later, individual tribal allotments are now co-owned by many people — sometimes hundreds or thousands — making it difficult to use the land or coordinate activities on it.

Government policy created this problem, and government must help fix it. That’s why I will expand funding for the Indian Tribal Land Acquisition Loan Program and the Highly Fractionated Indian Land Loan Program, USDA programs that help tribal governments acquire land and preserve it for future generations. And I will also push Congress to provide another infusion into the Trust Land Consolidation Fund..

Expand access to credit and land for new and diverse farmers. Women and farmers of color have been disproportionately excluded from accessing the credit and land they need to farm. The Farm Credit System was founded a century ago as a government-sponsored enterprise to provide credit for farmers — but it has strayed from its central mission and instead is pocketing big profits. I will require FCS to allocate 10% of its $5 billion in annual profits towards supporting new and diverse farmers through regional lending mechanisms. I will make sure that farmers can access land, too, by stopping foreign interests from buying up American farmland and expanding the use of programs like the transition incentives program. Native American Community Development Financial Institutions also provide crucial access to credit in underbanked areas and for underbanked businesses, especially farmers. We should provide significant financial support to Native CDFIs.

Invest in protecting the civil rights of farmers of color. I will fully fund and staffUSDA’s Office of Civil Rights and administrative law courts — so that they have the resources necessary to resolve discrimination complaints at a reasonable pace. I will direct regular audits of USDA to ensure that it is not discriminating against farmers of color in issuing loans or subsidy grants. And I will increase the agency’s transparency by creating an online civil rights database that would regularly report on the complaint process.  

***

My plan will help create a new farm economy where family farmers have financial security and the freedom to do what they do best. Farmers of all backgrounds will finally have the economic freedom to pursue diverse, sustainable farming — and get paid up front for doing so. Americans will have a steady and affordable supply of food. Kids in rural communities will have healthy lunches grown in their backyards and packaged at local food hubs run by small town entrepreneurs. Taxpayers won’t pay twice — once at the grocery store and once through their taxes — for overproduced commodities. We will replenish our soil and our water to chart a path towards a climate solution and achieve the goals of the Green New Deal.

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Biden’s Plan for Rural America

Vice President Joe Biden, running for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, presented his plan for Rural America © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Vice President Joe Biden has presented his plan for Rural America. This summary is provided by the Biden campaign:

Rural America is home to roughly 20% of Americans, but we are all connected to rural communities in many ways. Rural Americans fuel us and feed us. Rural lands provide us with places to spend time outdoors with friends and family and relax.

A healthy, vibrant rural America is essential to the success of our country. Yet in small town after small town, parents watch their kids and grandkids leave rural communities because there just is not enough opportunity for them at home. For too many rural Americans, a pathway to the middle class is out of reach if they stay in their rural communities.
 
The moral obligation of our time is rebuilding the middle class, so that this time everyone comes along regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or zip code.  It should not be dependent on whether they live in a city center, a small town, or a remote area. Everyone means everyone.
 
As president, Biden will build a pathway to the middle class for rural Americans, in rural America. He will pursue a rural economic development strategy that partners with rural communities to invest in their unique assets, with the goal of giving young people more options to live, work, and raise the next generation in rural America. It’s not just good for those in rural America, it’s good for everyone across our country.

I. FUNDAMENTALLY REVITALIZE RURAL ECONOMIES

Rural America is asset-rich. It feeds and fuels the rest of the country, gives us places to enjoy the outdoors and spend time with friends and family, and is home to creative, hard-working Americans. Yet rural America’s economy is traditionally based on extraction, taking the resources out of rural communities and never returning the profits.
 
The Biden strategy for rural economic development will be to partner with rural communities, invest in their unique assets, and make sure the wealth created in rural America stays in rural America.
 
Under this strategy, Biden will:

Strengthen our agricultural sector by:

Pursuing a trade policy that works for American farmers. More than 20% of all crops grown and products raised in the United States are exported, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and helping to stabilize farm income. But America’s farmers and rural communities have paid a heavy price for President Trump’s tariffs. While Trump is pursuing a damaging and erratic trade war without any real strategy, President Biden will stand up to China by working with our allies to negotiate from the strongest possible position. And, he’ll make sure our trade policy works for American farmers.

Supporting beginning farmers. America tries to make it easy to start a business, but unless you inherit the land, it’s much more difficult to start a farm. The Biden Administration will expand the Obama-Biden Administration’s microloan program for new and beginning farmers, doubling the maximum loan amount to $100,000. And, it will increase funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s farm ownership and operating loans that typically serve beginning farmers who grew up on a family farm but need low-cost capital to add to their family’s operation to support another household.

Fostering the development of regional food systems. The Biden Administration will partner with small and mid-sized farmers to help them collectively create supply chains to deliver fresh produce and other products to schools, hospitals, and other major state and federal institutions, including the Defense Department. This will allow these farmers to negotiate their own prices. And, it will help farmers identify markets for specialty crops and secondary products, like ice cream produced by dairy farmers to bring in additional revenue.

Re-investing in land grant universities’ agricultural research so the public, not private companies, owns patents to agricultural advances. The Biden Administration will reinvest in agricultural research by bolstering funding for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Our farmers need new technologies to compete in world markets while protecting our soil and water. These new technologies – and the next new seeds – should be developed and owned by the American people, not private companies who can use patents to expand profits.

Partnering with farmers to make American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, giving farmers new sources of income in the process. Many farmers are some of the best stewards of our land, air, and water. The government needs to partner with them to accelerate progress toward net-zero emissions. As president, Biden will ensure our agricultural sector is the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, and that our farmers earn income as we meet this milestone. Toward this end, the Biden Administration will dramatically expand and fortify the pioneering Conservation Stewardship Program, created by former Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Tom Harkin, to support farm income through payments based on farmers’ practices to protect the environment, including carbon sequestration. In addition to seeking full federal funding for the program, the Biden Administration will ensure the program can participate in carbon markets. Corporations, individuals, and foundations interested in promoting greenhouse gas reductions could offset their emissions by contributing to Conservation Stewardship Program payments to farmers for those sequestering carbon — for example, through cover crops. This will not only help combat climate change, which Vice President Biden has called an existential threat, but also create additional revenue sources for farmers at a time when many are struggling to make ends meet. And, this approach will create a whole series of new businesses that survey, measure, certify, and quantify conservation results. In addition, the Biden Plan will make a significant investment in research to refine practices to build soil carbon while maximizing farm and ranch productivity. Soil is the next frontier for storing carbon.

Strengthening antitrust enforcement. From the inputs they depend on – such as seeds – to the markets where they sell their products, American farmers and ranchers are being hurt by increasing market concentration. The Biden Administration will protect small and medium-sized farmers and producers by strengthening enforcement of the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts and the Packers and Stockyards Act.

Expand bio-based manufacturing to bring cutting-edge manufacturing jobs back to rural America. The Biden Administration will create a low-carbon manufacturing sector in every state in the country, but not just in cities. As president, Biden will grow the bioeconomy and bio-based manufacturing to bring cutting-edge manufacturing jobs back to rural America. This means taking every aspect of agricultural production – from corn stock to manure – to create chemicals, materials, fabrics, and fibers in a process that is good for the environment and creates new sources of revenue for farmers. Key to this strategy will be connecting research universities, community colleges, incubators and accelerators, manufacturing institutes, employers, unions, and state and local governments – alone or as part of a regional pact. The federal government will provide them with significant funding for deployment of a place-based plan to help their state or region build a competitive and low-carbon future in manufacturing that reflects climate impacts in their local communities.

Promote ethanol and the next generation of biofuels. Joe Biden believes renewable fuels are vital to the future of rural America – and the climate. The Biden Plan will invest $400 billion in clean energy research, innovation, and deployment – more than twice what America spent to put a man on the moon. And, as part of this effort, developing the next generation of biofuels will be a top priority. The Biden Plan will invest in research to develop cellulosic biofuels in a manner that protects our soil and water and addresses the challenge of climate change, while turning grass, crop residues, and other biomass into fuel. Doubling down on these liquid fuels of the future will not only make value-added agriculture a key part of the solution to climate change – reducing emissions in planes, ships, and other forms of transportation – but will also create quality jobs across rural America. From day one, President Biden will use every tool at his disposal, including the federal fleet and the federal government’s purchasing power, to promote and advance renewable energy, ethanol, and other biofuels.

Invest in wind and solar energy. President Obama put Vice President Biden in charge of the Recovery Act, which invested more than $90 billion in clean energy technology. Those investments contributed to a doubling of the share of domestically produced wind turbine components and produced a dramatic decrease in solar costs, making wind and solar power cost-competitive. Biden will build on the Recovery Act by setting an ambitious but essential goal for America to achieve a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050. His clean energy plan will accelerate the already dramatic growth of solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources.

Invest $20 billion in rural broadband infrastructure, and triple funding to expand broadband access in rural areas. High-speed broadband is essential in the 21st Century economy. Yet far too many rural communities still don’t have access to it. Rural Americans are over 10 times more likely than urban residents to lack quality broadband access. At a time when so many jobs and businesses could be located anywhere, high-speed internet access should be a great economic equalizer for rural America, not another economic disadvantage. Investing $20 billion in rural broadband infrastructure has the potential to create more than a quarter million new jobs. The Biden Plan will triple Community Connect broadband grants and partner with municipal utilities to bring cutting-edge broadband connections to communities across rural America.

Invest in green infrastructure nationwide. As president, Biden will make smart infrastructure investments to rebuild the nation and to ensure that our buildings, water, transportation, and energy infrastructure can meet America’s economic needs and withstand the impacts of climate change. The Biden Administration will use this infrastructure funding to ensure that rural communities across the country have access to clean, safe drinking water. It will modernize the lock and dam system vital to getting rural products to markets, leveraging the federal resources to the maximum extent possible with the private sector. And, it will build the roads to give farms and small town businesses access to markets and an efficient means to participate in the world economy. 

Expand access to credit for new and small businesses. Entrepreneurs in small towns and rural areas should have access to the capital they need to realize their dreams. The Biden Administration will dramatically expand funding for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program to help rural entrepreneurs. Biden will expand the number of Rural Business Investment Companies to help rural companies obtain capital.

II. PARTNER WITH RURAL COMMUNITIES TO HELP THEM FULLY ACCESS FEDERAL RESOURCES

A contributing factor to place-based inequality across the U.S. is the simple fact that some communities are more successful at accessing federal dollars and technical assistance than others. The federal government’s programs are too often too challenging to navigate for cities and towns that do not have the ability to hire highly qualified professionals to engage with the system.
 
The Biden Administration wants to fundamentally change how the federal government interacts with rural communities that so often do not have access to federal programs. The Biden Administration will partner with these communities to help them fully access federal resources to create jobs, build wealth, and give rural Americans who live in poverty the chance to join the middle class.
 
The Biden Administration will do this in two ways:

Create a White House “StrikeForce” to partner with rural communities to help them access federal funds. The Biden Administration will create a White House StrikeForce consisting of agency leaders who will partner with community-building organizations in persistent poverty rural communities and help them unlock federal resources. This approach is modeled on the StrikeForce Secretary Tom Vilsack successfully established in the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the Obama-Biden Administration.

Prioritize persistent poverty rural communities. Approximately 85% of roughly 350 persistent poverty counties in the United States fall outside of a metropolitan area. To tackle persistent poverty in all communities, but especially rural America, Vice President Biden supports applying Congressman James Clyburn’s 10-20-30 formula, which will allocate 10 percent of funding to areas “where 20 percent or more of the population has been living below the poverty line for the last 30 years,” to all federal programs.

III. PROTECT AND BUILD ON THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO QUALITY HEALTH CARE IN RURAL COMMUNITIES

The Affordable Care Act was a big deal in rural America, and it should be protected and built upon. As president, Biden will protect and build on Obamacare – not get rid of it and start over with something new. He will not support any policy that means getting rid of Obamacare, whether proposed by a Democrat or Republican.
 
Vice President Biden believes that every American has a right to the peace of mind that comes with knowing they have health insurance and access to affordable, quality health care. He believes that it’s a right, not a privilege. It should not be dependent on whether they live in a city center, a small town, or a remote community.
 
Rural America faces unique challenges and opportunities when it comes to access to quality health care. In many rural communities, the local hospital is one of the largest – if not the largest  – employers. Keeping our rural hospitals open is critical not only for saving lives, but also for supporting local economies in rural America. Yet, since 2010, more than 100 rural hospitals across the United States have closed. Combined, these closures represent the loss of over 10,000 jobs. And, they could mean life or death for patients in rural communities. Already, someone injured in a rural area has to travel, on average, nearly twice as far to get to the closest hospital as someone injured in an urban area. These critical moments lost in travel time are one reason an estimated 60% of all trauma fatalities occur in rural communities.
 
This problem is at risk of getting even worse. Roughly 1 out of 3 rural hospitals are at risk of shutting down. And that’s only part of the story. Rural clinics and rural nursing homes are closing as well.
 
You can read Vice President Biden’s full health care plan here. To specifically help rural Americans, his plan will also:

Keep our rural hospitals open by:

Defending the Affordable Care Act. The first step to save our rural hospitals is to defend the Affordable Care Act. In fact, one proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act would have caused $1.7 billion in cuts to rural hospitals, 181 additional rural hospitals “forced into the red,” and nearly 38,000 lost jobs.  President Biden isn’t going to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, he’s going to build on it.

Finishing the job of expanding coverage to low-income adults. Research found that, in states that took up the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, the expansion was a critical tool in keeping rural hospitals open. Yet, 14 states have still not expanded Medicaid eligibility, and an estimated 4.9 million individuals would be eligible for coverage but for their state’s inaction. Vice President Biden’s plan will enroll all of these individuals in a new public option, without a premium and with benefits like those offered in Medicaid. This isn’t just the right thing to do, it will help rural hospitals remain solvent. And, under the Biden Plan, which preserves individuals ability to choose private insurance, these hospitals won’t be threatened by having to get by on low Medicare reimbursement rates for all.

Giving rural hospitals the flexibility they need to keep their doors open and care for their patients. The Biden Administration will provide rural health care providers with funding and flexibility necessary to identify, test, and deploy innovative approaches to keeping their doors open and providing care for the unique needs of rural communities. The Affordable Care Act supports this type of innovation, for example through demonstration projects like the Pennsylvania Rural Health Model, which is giving rural hospitals in the state more flexibility to decide how best to spend dollars to improve the health of the population they serve. The Biden Plan will expand funding for these types of demonstration projects, and then accelerate efforts to replicate proven models to other rural hospitals across the country. And, the Biden Plan will identify and eliminate federal rules making it harder for rural hospitals to serve their communities. For example, many rural hospitals serving small populations do not have enough patients to maintain inpatient care, but those communities still need a 24/7 emergency department. One approach to ensure they can keep their doors open is to create a new designation, the Community Outpatient Hospital, as proposed in the bipartisan Save Rural Hospitals Act. The Biden Administration will make sure the federal government is helping rural hospitals meet community needs, not serving as a roadblock.

Adequately funding our rural hospitals. To help hospitals keep their doors open, President Biden supports the elimination of payment cuts and additional payments for rural hospitals as detailed in the bipartisan Save Rural Hospitals Act.

Expand primary care and innovative health care delivery models in rural communities by:

Doubling funding for community health centers. Community health centers  provide primary, prenatal, and other important care to underserved populations. The Biden Plan will double the federal investment in these centers, expanding access to high quality health care for the populations that need it most. More than half of community health centers are in rural areas.

Equipping rural community health centers to be hubs for healthy communities. As president, Biden will establish a grant program to help community health centers hire social workers or other professionals to coordinate resources necessary for community health, such as transportation to get patients to health centers and connections to housing and nutrition services.

Expanding the pipeline of rural health care providers. The Biden Administration will use a comprehensive approach to increase the number of rural individuals going to medical school or other training programs and returning or staying in rural communities to provide care, with a focus on primary care physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and other in-demand providers. This initiative will include additional funding for residency programs in rural areas, expanding theNational Health Service Corps, and developing high school-community-college-health-center partnerships to inspire rural youth to pursue jobs in health care and pursue the advanced credits or industry credentials that will put them on the path to success in the field.

Building new health clinics and deploying telehealth in rural America. The Obama-Biden Administration successfully used the USDA Community Facility Direct Loan & Grant Program to build rural hospitals and mental health clinics across rural America and equip them with the best technology. As president, Biden will expand this grant funding, with a focus on accelerating the deployment of telehealth for mental health and specialty care. Telehealth – the use of videoconferencing and other technology to provide remote care – can be a vital resource for rural communities with limited access to providers.

——  

Previously Released Biden Plans & Rural America  

To Protect & Build on the Affordable Care Act, including a public option, which will give rural Americans a new health insurance choice, and other policies to lower health care costs.
 
For Educators, Students, and Our Future, which will triple funding for Title I schools, including those in rural communities, and expand high school-community college-business partnerships to prepare students for good jobs.
 
For a Clean Energy Revolution and Climate Justice, which commits our country to fulfilling our obligation to all workers impacted by the energy transition, like coal miners and power plant workers and their communities.
 
In the months ahead, Biden will release a higher education proposal which will include a policy to support small, low-endowment private colleges that are often anchor institutions in rural communities.

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Klobuchar’s Plan to Strengthen Agricultural, Rural Communities

Senator Amy Klobuchar’s “Plan from the Heartland” seeks to strengthen agricultural and rural communities. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Amy Klobuchar’s “Plan from the Heartland” seeks to strengthen agricultural and rural communities. This is a summary from the Klobuchar campaign:

MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Senator Amy Klobuchar is proposing a plan for America’s Heartland that will strengthen our agricultural and rural communities, bridge the rural-urban divide, and make sure that kids who grow up in rural America can stay in rural America. Senator Klobuchar knows that America’s prosperity depends on the success of our farmers and as a senior member of the Agriculture Committee, she’s been a champion for farmers and rural communities in the Senate. Her plan builds on her record of getting things done for rural America and as President, she will:  

1. HEARTLAND ECONOMICS

Support our farmers. Our farmers are facing significant uncertainty as a result of recent floods and other natural disasters, unprecedented market consolidation, low commodity prices, and uncertainty surrounding market access in some of our biggest export markets. As President, Senator Klobuchar would invest in growth opportunities like renewables to raise farm incomes and create good paying jobs, and maintain and expand critical safety nets.  

  • Expand commodity support, disaster programs, and federal crop insurance for our small and family-owned farms. As a senior member of the Agriculture Committee, Senator Klobuchar worked to write and pass three farm bills with strong farm safety nets for our farmers. As President, Senator Klobuchar would push to index farm safety net support levels to reflect changes in our country’s cost of production, low commodity prices, and loss of global market access. She would also work to improve and fully fund permanent disaster programs and improve support levels, loan rates and program delivery. Senator Klobuchar also supports improving and expanding commodity support and federal crop insurance programs and increasing the average premium subsidy for crop insurance. And as dairy farms continue to close, Senator Klobuchar would convene a commission to immediately address the dairy crisis. 
  • Strengthen the Animal Disease Vaccine Bank and prioritize crop and livestock health. Strengthening our agricultural disease prevention, surveillance, and response capabilities is critical to our farmers and livestock producers, as new emerging diseases like African Swine Fever could cause billions in damages should they reach the U.S. Senator Klobuchar understands that we need to be doing everything we can to prevent catastrophic disease outbreaks before they start, and if we do have an outbreak, we need to be prepared. She authored and passed provisions to create a disaster response program and a foot and mouth disease (FMD) vaccine bank to protect farmers against the next disease outbreak. As President, she will fully fund disease eradication programs, support new research, and push for additional emergency support for farmers, producers and ranchers impacted by agricultural diseases. 
  • Ensure safety net programs are targeted to help family-owned and small farms and beginning farmers and make sure farmers know about all the available support programs. Senator Klobuchar has repeatedly led efforts to reform the farm support payment system, including an income cap on eligibility for commodity payments. As President, she will work to ensure payments are directed toward those who need them most, including small and family-owned farms. She would enforce the prohibition against artificial subdivision of farms to avoid limits and work to protect family farms from cuts scheduled under the terms of any budget act. Senator Klobuchar will support regional food systems and also create and expand programs that educate farmers on available programs and opportunities including by supporting existing outreach and extension programs through our land grant universities.        

Promote exports and drive job growth. With 95 percent of the world’s customers living outside our borders, opening up new markets and lowering trade barriers is critical to our agricultural and rural economy. Our farmers produce food, fuel, feed, and fiber, and they need export markets where they can sell their products. Senator Klobuchar will direct her administration to create a national rural export strategy to coordinate efforts across agencies and review all international tariffs in place as of 2021 and she will build on her work in the Senate to continue to increase access for U.S. agriculture producers. In her first 100 days as President, she will restart the President’s Export Council, which brings together business, labor, and agricultural leaders with Members of Congress and key Administration officials to help promote a comprehensive export and trade strategy. 

Invest in rural infrastructure and transportation. Rural areas are a major focus of Senator Klobuchar’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan, and she will require a new Infrastructure Financing Authority to make investments in rural areas. As President, Senator Klobuchar will invest in the repair and improvement of rural bridges that are not part of the federal-aid highway network and invest in the Harbor Maintenance Trust fund to improve inland waterways and ports, including funding for the Navigation and Ecosystem Restoration Program to modernize and expand outdated locks and restore ecosystems along the Mississippi. She will direct additional resources to help close the backlog in USDA’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. To keep rural and general aviation airports strong, she will continue support for the Essential Air Service and Airport Improvement Program.

  • Bring high-speed broadband to every household and business in America. Broadband creates jobs, opens new economic opportunities, and allows America to compete and succeed in an increasingly digital world, but roughly one in four rural Americans say access to high-speed internet is a major problem. In an effort to close the rural-urban divide, Senator Klobuchar has previously announced a commitment to connect every household in America to the internet by 2022. She will focus on creating accurate broadband maps to identify areas that lack adequate access, bringing high-speed internet infrastructure to areas most in need, including by expanding Rural Utility Service grants, and providing greater incentives for existing providers to upgrade their networks to cover unserved and underserved areas. She will also work to quickly implement the recommendations of the Precision Ag Connectivity Task Force to help farmers fully realize the potential of broadband in their operations. 
  • Revitalizing freight and passenger rail. Railroads provide a vital link between rural communities and a cost-effective way for producers to bring their goods to market. As President, Senator Klobuchar will encourage investment in short-line and freight rail networks. She will also address safety concerns including two-man crews, better braking systems, and ensuring communities are prepared to respond to derailments involving hazardous cargo. She will also build on her work pushing for greater competition in freight markets by providing fair treatment for captive shippers, appointing well qualified members to the Surface Transportation Board, and reviewing and addressing consolidation in the freight rail industry. She is also committed to expanding Amtrak service in rural America.  

Expand opportunities for rural small businesses, entrepreneurs and beginning farmers. Rural America is home to many innovators and entrepreneurs, but we need to do more to help give them the tools they need to succeed and expand job opportunities in rural areas. Senator Klobuchar will strengthen USDA programs that support entrepreneurs like the Value-Added Producer Grants, Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, Intermediary Relending Program, and Agricultural Innovation Centers. She will promote regional cooperation to facilitate economies of scale among businesses, development organizations, government programs, and community area anchor institutions. She will also fully implement and support the Farm Bill provision restoring the USDA’s Under Secretary of Rural Development so that rural development remains a top priority for the department. 

  • Expand access to capital and loans for small and family-owned farms. Senator Klobuchar has worked successfully in the Senate to increase the caps on Farm Service Agency loans to ensure farmers and ranchers have access to the land and capital they need. As President, she will push to further increase the maximum loan amount that an individual farmer or rancher can receive under the direct farm ownership and operating loans, where some loans are reserved for beginning farmers. At the same time, Senator Klobuchar will work to increase the size of Farm Service Agency’s loan portfolio to ensure more farmers are able to access this critical lending source. She would also make sure that equipment updates — that allow farmers to take advantage of technology and innovation — are readily available and that loans and credit are targeted to small and family-owned farms. 
  • Strengthen rural small business lending. Small businesses in rural areas face additional obstacles in accessing credit because many traditional lenders do not have the infrastructure and experience to effectively serve rural America. As President, Senator Klobuchar will expand and strengthen USDA’s Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program and the Rural Business Investment Program, which supports start-up of venture capital firms, and she will continue support for the Farm Credit System. She will continue to support sensible regulation of community banks and credit unions, which are important sources of credit for rural businesses. She will push to reauthorize the New Market Tax Credit and make sure it effectively serves rural America. She will also improve controls to ensure government programs designed for small businesses actually serve small businesses.
  • Support agricultural research. The Trump Administration has repeatedly proposed budgets for USDA that cut billions for rural development, conservation, and research. These include the forced closure of agricultural research laboratories and stations. In her first 100 days as President, Senator Klobuchar will re-open these laboratories and give these important programs the support they deserve. She will also publish all government-funded studies on climate change conducted by in-house scientists and in collaboration with land-grant universities. And she will halt the arbitrary relocation of USDA scientific agencies which has resulted in staff attrition and decreased capacity.
  • Support our new and beginning farmers. Senator Klobuchar believes if we want to continue to maintain our country’s agricultural strength and keep our rural communities vibrant, we need to do more to support our new and beginning farmers and ranchers. As a Senator she has authored several provisions that would expand loans and land transitions to beginning farmers. As President, she would push for a new tax credit for farmers who sell land or equipment to beginning farmers and expand assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers so that they have better access to land, capital, and risk management tools. Senator Klobuchar has also been a champion in the Senate for permanent mandatory funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, and as President she would continue to promote efforts with non-profit and university partners to provide farm business education and on-site trainings for beginning farmers. 

Promote rural workforce development to connect people to jobs and address workforce shortages. Senator Klobuchar will address rural workforce shortages and close the skills gap by promoting apprenticeships so students and workers can get on-the-job training. She will direct her Secretary of Labor to analyze the use of apprenticeships and expand apprenticeship opportunities and benefits in rural areas. Senator Klobuchar is also committed to passing comprehensive immigration reform in the first year of her presidency. Immigrants accounted for more than a third of rural population growth from 2000 to 2018 and comprehensive immigration should include providing a pathway to citizenship and updated policies that will help rural communities get the workers they need when they need them. 

  • Expand student loan forgiveness to help our farmers. Senator Klobuchar has proposed a loan forgiveness program — modeled after the public service loan forgiveness program — that would forgive federal student loan debt for in-demand occupations that will include farmers and people who choose careers in agriculture. 

Agricultural Competition and Concentration. The concentration across agricultural markets and steep decline in family farms have resulted in an increasingly anti-competitive industry. Senator Klobuchar is committed to reducing barriers for family farmers and promoting fair, transparent practices that increase competition. 

  • Taking on consolidation. Senator Klobuchar will look at large acquisitions and mergers in the agriculture industry that have already happened and assess whether the integration of services insulate agricultural corporations from competition. She will also make sure that our antitrust agencies have the resources they need to aggressively enforce our antitrust laws. And she will give antitrust agencies and courts the legal tools necessary to promote competition by updating legal standards, shifting the burden of proof for mega-mergers to the merging parties to show that their transactions do not reduce competition, clarifying that existing antitrust laws should take into account more than price and should consider vertical integration, harms to innovation, and monopsony, where a buyer has the power to reduce wages or the prices it pays for agricultural products. As President, Senator Klobuchar would also require the USDA to collect and publish concentration information in agricultural markets and allow the USDA to participate in the review of proposed mergers in the agricultural sector. As President, her Administration would thoroughly review our agriculture laws and assess their application in an environment with increased market concentration.
  • Support strong enforcement by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The CFTC budget has stagnated in recent years making it difficult for the commission to do its job. Senator Klobuchar will provide the CFTC with the resources to make sure our commodity markets work, encourage the commission to put the needs of farmers first in all of its decisions, and move aggressively to stop price manipulation in energy and other markets.
  • Restore staffing levels at the Department of Agriculture. Under the first two years of the Trump Administration, between December 2016 and March 2018, USDA had more staff departures than any other federal agency. This has severely impacted USDA’s ability to carry out its mission on behalf of rural communities and farmers. During her first 100 days as President, Senator Klobuchar will restore staffing levels to the appropriate levels. She will also stop politically-motivated relocations that result in the loss of critical agency expertise.

2. LIVING IN RURAL AMERICA

Expanding rural health care and saving our rural hospitals. As President, Senator Klobuchar would revise our Medicare rules to help rural hospitals stay open, provide expanded support to our critical access hospital and community health centers, over half of which are located in rural areas, and dramatically expand telehealth services. To address rural workforce shortages, she will build on the Conrad 30 program that allows international doctors trained in the United States to extend their stay in the country if they agree to practice in underserved communities. To further bolster the health care workforce Senator Klobuchar will expand student loan forgiveness programs for health care and long term care workers practicing in underserved areas. She will also reform Medicare telehealth rules that unfairly limit coverage and reimbursement. 

  • Preserve and strengthen rural hospitals. Over 100 rural hospitals have closed since 2010 and more than more than a third of rural hospitals, providing care to almost 12 million Americans, are at risk of closing. As President, Senator Klobuchar will help hospitals in rural areas stay open by creating a new Rural Emergency Hospital classification under Medicare to give hospitals more support if they maintain an emergency room and provide outpatient services.  
  • Provide sustainable reimbursements for rural health care providers. Today, inadequate reimbursement from federal health programs that do not take into account the additional costs of rural health providers puts significant pressure on the rural health care system.  Senator Klobuchar will adjust Medicare’s geographic practice cost index to reflect the actual costs of providing health care in rural areas. She will also provide ongoing financial relief by ending the two percent Medicare automatic reimbursement cut for rural hospitals. 
  • Tackle rural mental health and addiction. Mental health and addiction services are often lacking in rural areas where accessibility, availability, affordability and acceptability may be limited. For example, 65 percent of non-metropolitan counties do not have a psychiatrist and almost half of non-metropolitan counties do not have a psychologist. As President, Senator Klobuchar will strengthen mental health and addiction programs in rural America by investing in and expanding the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, tackling the opioid epidemic and increasing access to mental health and substance use care, including support for clinics and community-based services, as well as technical support and telehealth services. She will address the challenge of farmer suicide, while also focusing on recruitment, retention, training and workplace protections for the mental health and substance use health care workforce in rural areas and our hardest hit communities.

Support rural education and public schools. On average, rural districts receive just under 20 percent of state education funding and have smaller student populations, so they’re often disadvantaged by funding formulas. And higher transportation costs for students who live in rural areas can often mean even less money for instruction. As part of her previously announced “Progress Partnerships” Senator Klobuchar will help improve rural schools by encouraging states to create funding formula commissions to improve equity and establish equitable school infrastructure funding mechanism. 

  • Empower community colleges to be community hubs for economic development and workforce training. In many rural areas, local community colleges provide key economic development and workforce training resources for the community. Senator Klobuchar will work to better integrate federal business and workforce development programs with local community colleges building on the Small Business Administration’s successful Small Business Development Centers. 
  • Invest in land-grant universities agricultural research. Recognizing the long standing contributions of our land-grant universities to innovation and development in agriculture, as well as their central role in their communities, Senator Klobuchar will also expand resources available to these schools for capital projects, research and extension programs. 

Address child care and energy costs and expand access to affordable housing. Many Americans want to live and work in rural communities but cannot find an affordable place to live. More than 50 million Americans live in rural areas with a severe need for more affordable rental housing. Senator Klobuchar will strengthen rural rental assistance programs, increase investments in the rural housing supply. We also need to cut red tape and improve communication among local, state, and federal officials so renters, communities, and developers have access to information about the programs available in rural America. Senator Klobuchar will also strengthen protections for mobile home owners. 

  • Directly address the challenge of rural child care: Rural communities experience unique challenges when it comes to child care, as nearly two-thirds of rural families live in a child care desert, or an area where there are at least three young children for every licensed child care slot — or no licensed child care providers at all.  As President, Senator Klobuchar would expand assistance for child care, with a focus on rural areas by increasing funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant and increasing the subsidy rate so that rural child care providers can more easily meet their operating expenses and increase the quality of their programs. She would also work to pass a landmark childcare proposal limiting child care payments to 7 percent of a family’s income and making targeted investments to build the supply of licensed child care in rural child care deserts. 
  • Make energy costs affordable. Recognizing that rural households pay a significantly higher share of their income on energy costs than the national rate, Senator Klobuchar will also will preserve and expand resources for LIHEAP and the Weatherization Assistance Program, which helps households in need reduce energy spending. Senator Klobuchar is a strong supporter of the Rural Energy for America program and Rural Energy Savings program so that farmers and rural communities can access renewable energy solutions that lower their costs.  

3. PROTECTING OUR FUTURE

Expand conservation practices. Senator Klobuchar has been a champion of supporting farmer conservation efforts and promoting farming practices that reduce soil erosion and improve air and water quality, including by helping pass the 2018 Farm Bill, which included several of her priorities. As President, she will support significant new investments in conservation of working and retired lands. Senator Klobuchar will support the continued expansion of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and increase resources for the Conservation Stewardship Program to help provide farmers the tools they need to protect and enhance natural resources on working agricultural lands. And after successfully increasing the acreage cap of the Conservation Reserve Program, Senator Klobuchar will work to attract more enrollees and ensure payment rates are fair.

  • Protect native sod and improve soil health. Senator Klobuchar pushed for provision in the 2018 Farm Bill that closed a loophole allowing some non-insured crops to be planted four consecutive years without a reduction in crop insurance assistance for succeeding insured crops. As President, she will expand nationwide the sodsaver’s prohibition to substitute crop insurance yields on native sod that is converted to cropland. She will also expand the Soil Health and Income Protection Pilot Program to help provide farmers an alternative to cropping less productive cropland.
  • Invest in conservation innovation. Senator Klobuchar will target research into soil carbon sequestration, which could improve soil health as well as reduce carbon levels in the atmosphere. She will also expand Conservation Innovation Grants to test emerging conservation approaches, including practices that increase carbon sequestration levels. And building on provisions she included in the 2018 farm bill, Senator Klobuchar will further improve agriculture data research of conservation practices to help farmers reduce risk and increase profitability.

Investing in and providing incentives for homegrown energy. Senator Klobuchar believes that homegrown biofuels are key to our rural economies, our nation’s energy security, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In the Senate, she has been a leader when it comes to standing up to the Administration’s misuse of small refinery renewable fuel standard (RFS) waivers. She has also worked successfully in the Senate to provide financing and grant support to biobased manufacturers. She authored an amendment that was included in the Farm Bill that provides mandatory funding to support biobased marketing, manufacturing.

  • Strengthen the RFS. As President, Senator Klobuchar will work with the EPA to continue and strengthen the RFS. Continuing to increase the required blend levels will add value to farm products, reduce the use of fossil fuels, and contribute to better air quality.
  • End the overuse of secret RFS small refinery waivers. In the first 100 days of her presidency, Senator Klobuchar has pledged to end the misguided overuse of secret RFS small refinery waivers that have been granted to big oil companies at the expense of farmers. As President, she will take action to increase transparency in the waiver application process and to make sure that the market for Renewable Identification Numbers accurately accounts for the overuse of small refinery waivers. 
  • Promote the use of blender pumps. In addition, Senator Klobuchar will promote and invest in blender pump infrastructure by restarting and building upon USDA’s Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership, providing consumers more refueling choice and supporting the transition away from fossil fuels. 
  • Pass a statute to ensure year-round E15 sales. After successfully pushing for the administration to allow for the year-round sale of E15, Senator Klobuchar will also advance legislation that would allow for year-round E15 sales to remove regulatory uncertainty and help reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. 
  • Extend biodiesel and second generation biofuels tax credits. Senator Klobuchar has long championed tax credits for renewable energy and as President she will push to extend biodiesel and second generation biofuels tax credits. 

Invest in wind and solar and support rural energy development. Clean energy, including wind and solar, is a major driver of job growth in rural areas. In fact, 99 percent of operating wind capacity is located in rural areas. A part of Senator Klobuchar’s plan to tackle climate change, she will prioritize rural energy development, including expanding storage capacity and strengthening our energy grid is critical for continuing to scale up renewable energy. Senator Klobuchar will invest in interregional transmission lines and grid improvements to support the development of renewable energy and establish a Clean Energy bond program to expand clean energy tax incentives. And as President, Senator Klobuchar will launch a grant program to help rural cooperatives develop energy storage and microgrid projects for renewable energy for generation, transmission and storage. She will also support increased investment in small, distributed wind, solar and biogas projects.

Expand energy efficiency programs. Energy costs can be a significant burden on farms, small businesses and households in rural communities. Senator Klobuchar has long worked to see that the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) has the resources needed to provide grants to farms and rural businesses to install energy efficient technologies, and she will continue to push for additional resources.

Safeguard federal lands. Federal lands are integral to many rural economies. Senator Klobuchar is committed to preserving these lands for future generations including by restoring environmental protections repealed by the Trump Administration. She will also make sure that rural counties that host tax-exempt federal lands will receive their payments in-lieu of taxes in a predictable and uninterrupted manner.

4. LEAVING NO ONE BEHIND

Reducing child poverty in rural areas. According to the Department of Agriculture, poverty rates in rural America are still higher than in urban areas, and one in five rural households with children face food insecurity. As part of her plan to cut childhood poverty in half within ten years, Senator Klobuchar will expand the earned income tax credit, the child care tax credit, and SNAP benefits and make housing choice vouchers available to every qualifying household with a child. 

  • Meeting the nutrition needs of our most vulnerable citizens. As a member of the Agriculture Committee, Senator Klobuchar has always pushed for a strong nutrition title in the Farm Bill. As President, she will make sure that nutrition programs are there for families when they need them, while also strengthening employment and training programs that help get people back into the workforce. She will oppose efforts to institute draconian and ineffective work requirements and reverse the harmful rulemakings that the Trump Administration has proposed that would force millions of families, elderly, and veterans out of nutrition programs.
  • Overcoming persistent poverty. Senator Klobuchar supports Congressman Jim Clyburn’s 10-20-30 proposal, which would require that a minimum of 10% of federal funds of a particular program go to persistent poverty communities, where the poverty level has been 20% or higher over the past 30 years. 

Rural Veterans. Roughly one in four U.S. veterans live in rural areas, and many face challenges accessing health care and affordable housing. Building on her strong track record of supporting veterans, including our veterans in rural areas, Senator Klobuchar will focus on ensuring our veterans receive the support they deserve. As President, she will work to attract medical professionals to VA health care facilities in rural areas, invest in VA telehealth services and expand transportation options for our veterans. In addition, she will expand programs to connect veterans in rural areas to affordable housing and invest in programs that tackle veterans homelessness.

Helping farmers in bankruptcy. In many regions, farm bankruptcy rates are reaching their highest point in a decade due to persistently low commodity prices, economic uncertainty and tight farm lending regulations. As President, Senator Klobuchar will work to allow more family farmers to seek relief under Chapter 12 bankruptcy, which would allow family farmers to reorganize and keep the farm after falling on hard times. This builds off of Senator Klobuchar’s bipartisan legislation that recently passed the Senate and House. She will also promote support programs and education for farmers so they are familiar with sound farm management principles in an effort to reduce foreclosure rates.

Fight discrimination and empower communities of color. People of color make up one in five Americans living in rural areas, but too often systemic racism limits their contributions to rural economies. Senator Klobuchar will instruct all federal agencies to aggressively enforce anti-discrimination rules when it comes to housing, education, employment and wages. She will strengthen USDA’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, increase diversity in senior leadership positions at USDA, and develop better metrics to accurately reflect the impact of USDA programs of people of color. She will also increase rural outreach by the Minority Business Development Administration to help minority businesses overcome social and economic disadvantages. 

Partner with Native American tribes. Senator Klobuchar is committed to partnering with Native American tribes in rural areas. As President, she will end the Trump Administration’s attacks on tribal sovereignty and increase meaningful tribal consultation. She will fully support the Indian Health Service and build on her work to provide resources for tribal schools. She will work to expand broadband deployment on tribal lands including working to restore the Tribal Lifeline program, which the Trump Administration has tried to eliminate. She will also direct the USDA to increase support for tribal agricultural needs. 

Supporting rural seniors. Older Americans who live in rural areas can be isolated, with fewer transportation options and limited access to other important services like transportation, health care, and affordable housing. As President, Senator Klobuchar will make sure her USDA and other federal agencies are investing in housing, health care, transportation and nutrition programs for our country’s rural seniors. She will support generous tax-credits and programs that allow seniors to remain and age in their homes as long as possible, with a focus on promoting affordable housing and long-term care options. 

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Klobuchar Policy Plan for Seniors Tackles Alzheimers, Healthcare, Drug Costs, Retirement Security

Senator Amy Klobuchar’s plan for Seniors tackles Alzheimer’s, enhances health care and retirement security and reduces prescription drug costs. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Amy Klobuchar’s plan for Seniors tackles Alzheimer’s, enhances health care and retirement security and reduces prescription drug costs. This is a summary from the Klobuchar campaign:


MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Senator Amy Klobuchar released her policy priorities for seniors. Building on her leadership in the Senate when it comes to lowering the cost of prescription drugs and addressing the challenges our seniors face, Senator Klobuchar is proposing a bold plan to tackle Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, enhance health care and retirement security, reduce skyrocketing prescription drug costs and combat senior fraud and abuse. As President, Senator Klobuchar will continue to stand up for our seniors and the 10,000 Americans who turn 65 each day.

“Everywhere I go, I meet seniors who tell me about their struggles to afford everyday costs like prescription drugs or health care,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar. “I meet family members who face challenges caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and urgent action is needed to take on these problems. I believe we owe it to our seniors to make sure they have the care and support they need as they get older, and as President I will prioritize tackling Alzheimer’s, strengthening health care and retirement security, and reducing prescription drug costs.”

Highlights of Senator Klobuchar’s Plan:

Tackling Alzheimer’s and Other Chronic Conditions

Support caregivers for those living with Alzheimer’s and other chronic conditions. Senator Klobuchar has been a leader when it comes to supporting people affected by Alzheimer’s and their families. As President, she will support expanding resources for health care providers to expand training and support services for families and caregivers of people living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia as well as other chronic conditions, improving caregiver well-being and health, as well as allowing patients to stay in their homes longer.

Make it easier for people with Alzheimer’s and their families to get the medical care they need. Medicare is an essential resource for people affected by Alzheimer’s, but many patients and their families are unaware of the resources and coverage available when it comes to Alzheimer’s. Senator Klobuchar will take action to expand Medicare covered services for Alzheimer’s and she will expand efforts to make patients and their families aware of the care-planning and services that are covered. She will also support an ongoing investment in public health infrastructure for Alzheimer’s that reduces risk, improves early detection and diagnosis, and focuses on tribal, rural, minority, and other underserved populations.  

Strengthen the National Institutes of Health and invest in research for chronic conditions. While the current administration has proposed draconian cuts to lifesaving research, Senator Klobuchar will bolster research at the National Institutes of Health and increase investments in research into cancer, including breast cancer, which the Senator has long supported, and other chronic conditions. And Senator Klobuchar will also invest in research into health disparities. Significant and persistent disparities exist in health outcomes for minority populations in the United States. When it comes to healthy aging, research has shown divides based on race, wealth, and education. Senator Klobuchar will invest in research across the federal government into the causes of these disparities and how they can be reduced. 

  • Invest in Alzheimer’s research. Senator Klobuchar will commit to preventing, treating and facilitating a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, with the goal of putting us on a path toward developing a cure and treatment by 2025. To support researchers, she will make sure that funding is reliable and consistent. Since African Americans and the Latino community will represent nearly 40 percent of the 8.4 million American families affected by Alzheimer’s disease by 2030, Senator Klobuchar will increase federal research into disparities in the incidents and outcomes of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Improve mental health care for seniors. Senator Klobuchar is committed to making mental health a priority, including for our seniors. As part of her recently released mental health plan, she will expand access to mental health treatment for seniors and expand depression treatment and suicide prevention efforts that focus on seniors.

Implement and extend Kevin and Avonte’s law and expand dementia training. Senator Klobuchar introduced bipartisan legislation signed into law last year that helps families locate missing people with forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, or developmental disabilities, such as autism. As President, Senator Klobuchar will make sure the program is fully implemented and she will also establish federal partnerships with state and local governments to provide dementia training for public sector workers who interact with seniors.

Ensure a Secure Retirement

Protect Social Security and make sure it is fair. Social Security has served as a stable and secure retirement guarantee for generations of Americans. Senator Klobuchar believes that this program must remain solvent for generations to come and she will fight against risky schemes to privatize it. As President, Senator Klobuchar will work to lift the Social Security payroll cap. Currently the payroll tax only applies to wages up to $133,000. Senator Klobuchar supports subjecting income above $250,000 to the payroll tax and extending the solvency of Social Security.  And Senator Klobuchar will make sure people are treated fairly by the current Social Security system. As President, she will work to strengthen and improve Social Security benefits for widows and people who took significant time out of the paid workforce to care for their children, aging parents, or sick family members.

Expand retirement savings. Senator Klobuchar believes all Americans deserve a secure retirement. As she has previously announced, Senator Klobuchar will work to create innovative, portable personal savings accounts called Up Accounts that can be used for retirement and emergencies by establishing a minimum employer contribution to a savings plan. [ This proposal is modeled after the Saving for the Future Act, which was introduced by Senators Coons and Klobuchar.] Under her plan, employers will set aside at least 50 cents per hour worked, helping a worker build more than $600,000 in wealth over the course of a career. And Senator Klobuchar will work to reduce disparities when it comes to retirement savings. According to a recent study, the median wealth for white families was more than $134,000, but for African American families it was just $11,000.

Defend pensions. Senator Klobuchar has been a leader in the Senate when it comes to keeping our pension promises. As President, she will support legislation to ensure retirees can keep the pensions they have earned and, in her first 100 days, she will recommend that Treasury heighten the scrutiny of any applications to reduce retiree benefits under the Kline-Miller Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014.

Improve Health Care for Seniors and Lower Prescription Drug Costs

Unleash the power of 43 million seniors in Medicare Part D to negotiate better drug prices. Seniors should have access to their medicines at the lowest possible prices. As President, Senator Klobuchar will push to allow the government to directly negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare Part D, building on legislation she has led in the Senate.

Take immediate and aggressive action to lower prescription drug prices, including allowing personal importation from countries like Canada and crack down on “Pay-for-Delay” agreements. Senator Klobuchar has been a leading advocate for reducing the price of prescription drugs for seniors, including by helping close the Medicare Part D donut hole and introducing legislation to increase competition and require Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices. As President, during her first 100 days she will allow for the personal importation of prescription drugs from safe countries like Canada and crack down on “Pay-for-Delay” agreements that increase the cost of prescription drugs.

Strengthen Medicare and provide incentives for getting the best quality health care at the best price. Senator Klobuchar opposes cuts and risky schemes to privatize Medicare and will take action to strengthen Medicare and find solutions so it remains solvent. She will improve Medicare for current beneficiaries by reforming payment policies through measures like site neutral payments and providing incentives for getting the best quality health care at the best price, including bundled payments and telehealth.

Expand coverage for dental, vision and hearing under Medicare. Dental, vision, and hearing care should be covered as part of Medicare. Senator Klobuchar will support new Medicare coverage for these services that makes them affordable for all seniors.

Expand telehealth and rural health services and maintain rural hospitals. In the Senate, Senator Klobuchar has championed policies that ensure seniors who want to stay in their homes and communities can do so. As President, she will promote remote monitoring technology and telehealth services in Medicare and other programs that improve the quality of life and expand access to quality home care and emergency hospital services in rural areas. As President, she would work to create a new Rural Emergency Hospital classification under Medicare to help rural hospitals stay open and provide expanded support to our critical access hospitals.

Invest in Long-Term Care

Create a refundable tax credit to offset long-term care costs. Senator Klobuchar will work with Congress to establish a new refundable tax credit to help offset the costs of long-term care. The credit will be available for qualifying long-term care costs including both nursing facility care and home- and community-based services, and additional expenses like assistive technologies, respite care, and necessary home modifications. The credit will be targeted towards those who are most in need of support. Senator Klobuchar will also stand up to efforts to cap Medicaid spending, which would put services like mental health care, transportation costs, and long-term care at risk for millions of Americans.

Reduce the costs of long-term care insurance and increase access. Senator Klobuchar believes seniors and their adult children must have the resources they need to prepare for long-term care, including education about the types of services available. To reduce the costs of long-term care, Senator Klobuchar will propose a new targeted tax credit equal to 20 percent of the premium costs of qualified long-term care insurance. Senator Klobuchar will also establish incentives and make it easier for employers to offer their employees long-term care insurance on an opt-out basis. In addition, she will explore updating federal policies to combine long-term care policies with life insurance.

Provide financial relief to caregivers and ensure paid family leave for all Americans, including those who care for elderly or disabled relatives. Senator Klobuchar is proposing a tax credit of up to $6,000 a year to provide financial relief to those caring for an aging relative or a relative with a disability to help offset expenses, including the cost of medical care, counseling and training, lodging away from home, adult day care, assistive technologies, and necessary home modifications. As President, Senator Klobuchar will also support legislation to provide paid family leave to all Americans so no one has to sacrifice a paycheck to care for someone they love, including an elderly parent.

Support a world class long-term care workforce, increase long-term care options, and tackle disparities in long-term care. Senator Klobuchar believes we must invest in and address shortages in our long-term care workforce. She is committed to increasing wages, improving job conditions and promoting other recruitment and retention policies, especially in rural communities facing workforce challenges. She will also support training for long-term care workers and new loan forgiveness programs for in-demand occupations that includes our long-term care workers. In addition, she will expand long-term care facilities and beds as well as home care and telehealth services. Research also suggests that there are significant racial and ethnic disparities in the quality of long-term care as well as disparities in coverage for long-term care. Senator Klobuchar is committed to tackling disparities in care through expanding access to long-term care with a focus on reducing inequities as well as addressing the costs of long-term care services for people in the greatest need of assistance.

Reduce Costs and Prevent Fraud

Fight senior fraud and elder abuse. As a prosecutor, Senator Klobuchar created a senior protection unit at the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. And she has always believed that we need strong safeguards to prevent and address fraud, abuse and exploitation of our seniors, and has led and passed multiple bills in the Senate that would strengthen these safeguards. Within her first 100 days as President, she will establish a new senior fraud prevention office to educate consumers, expedite the handling of complaints, and coordinate prevention efforts across the federal government. Senator Klobuchar will stregthen enforcement of age discrimination laws, and she will also take action to tackle elder abuse, strengthen oversight and accountability for court-appointed guardians, support training for employees at long-term care facilities, and increase tracking of incidents and investigations to help prevent and better respond to elder abuse.

Improve access to affordable housing, transit, and nutrition for seniors and expand workforce opportunities. In the first 100 days of her Administration, Senator Klobuchar will reverse the Trump Administration’s proposed changes to federal housing subsidies that could triple rent for some households and would be particularly harmful for seniors. In addition, she will update regulations for reverse mortgages to make sure seniors have access to safe products that make it easier to stay in their homes, as well as expand support for affordable senior housing. Senator Klobuchar is also committed to expanding transportation programs and services for older adults, particularly in rural and underserved populations. She also supports expanding resources for Meals on Wheels, helping the food bank system serve seniors in need, and launching a national effort to increase enrollment among seniors in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Senator Klobuchar will also work to expand workforce and training opportunities for older Americans who are looking to remain in and return to the workforce.

Help seniors afford their energy costs: Senator Klobuchar strongly opposes efforts by the Trump Administration to eliminate funding for programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps seniors afford heating and cooling. As President, Senator Klobuchar’s budget will preserve and expand resources for LIHEAP and the Weatherization Assistance Program, which helps households in need reduce energy spending, and she will support new efforts to help seniors with their energy costs.

To pay for these policies, Senator Klobuchar will close the trust fund loopholes that allow the wealthy to avoid paying taxes on inherited wealth.

Elizabeth Warren Announces Her Plan for Immigration Reform

One of  hundreds of candlelight Lights for Liberty vigils that took place across the country on the eve of Trump’s raids took place at the Universalist Unitarian Church in Garden City, Long Island. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has put forth her plan for immigration reform. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As Donald Trump prepares to unleash raids on undocumented migrants in cities across the country, while thousands of men, women and children seeking asylum are crammed into unliveable detention camps for weeks and months without end – a humanitarian crisis created through a combination of cruelty and ineptitude – US Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for Democratic nomination for president, announced a plan to create an immigration system that is fair, humane, and reflects American values. 

“Donald Trump wants to divide us — to pit worker against worker, neighbor against neighbor. He wants Americans to blame their troubles on those who are new to our country, or who don’t look the same, even as his administration robs us dry. He has tried his best to make it appear that immigrants are not welcome on our shores. 

“We can be better than this. Americans know that immigrants helped weave the very fabric of our country in the past — and they know that immigrants belong here today. 

“I’ll work with Congress to pass broad-reaching reform, but I’m also prepared to move forward with executive action if Congress refuses to act. We cannot continue to ignore our immigration challenges, nor can we close our borders and isolate the United States from the outside world. Instead we need big, structural change: a fair immigration system that preserves our security, grows our economy, and reflects our values. That’s good for immigrants, good for workers, and ultimately good for the United States.”

Here is a summary: – Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, introduces her plan for immigration reform © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com


A Fair and Welcoming Immigration System

Immigrants have always been a vital source of American strength. They grow our economy and make our communities richer and more diverse. They are our neighbors, our colleagues, and our friends — and every bit as much a part of America as those who were born in the United States. 

President Trump sees things differently. He’s advanced a policy of cruelty and division that demonizes immigrants. He’s axed programs that protect young Dreamers and asylum seekers fleeing violence and upheaval. He’s championed dramatic cuts to legal immigration, and imposed a bigoted ban on travelers from Muslim-majority countries. He’s threatened to close our ports of entry to lawful transit and commerce, and exploited a crisis of his own making at the border to score cheap political points. But while Trump may have taken the system to its most punitive extreme, his racist policies build on a broken immigration system and an enforcement infrastructure already primed for abuse. 

I saw that in McAllen, Texas, in the eyes of mothers who fled violence only to be ripped apart from their babies at the U.S. border. I saw it in the tears of families as they waited for their loved ones at Logan Airport in Boston on the night Trump announced his Muslim Ban. I saw it in the tired faces of little children made to march in formation between makeshift tents in the hot summer sun at the Homestead detention facility in Florida. 

I also see it when I talk with our Dreamers about their aspirations and their fears. When I meet with business owners who watch their competition exploit undocumented workers for a competitive advantage, and with farmers who cannot access the labor they need. When I sit with families who have been waiting decades for a visa to reunite with their loved ones, and with mixed-status families who worry that a parent, brother or sister could be ripped away at any time. 

We must address the humanitarian mess at the border and reverse this president’s discriminatory policies. But that won’t be nearly enough to fix our immigration system. We need expanded legal immigration that will grow our economy, reunite families, and meet our labor market demands. We need real reform that provides cost-effective security at our borders, addresses the root causes of migration, and provides a path to status and citizenship so that our neighbors don’t have to live in fear. That’s why today I’m announcing my plan for immigration reform — to create a rules-based system that is fair, humane, and that reflects our values. 

Eliminating Abusive Enforcement 

President Trump has weaponized deportation in ways that are costly, ineffective, and designed to maximize pain. It’s time to end this cruelty — and refocus on true threats to public safety and national security instead. As president, I will: 

Decriminalize migration and refocus enforcement on serious criminal activity. Entering the country without authorization has always been a violation of civil immigration law, but thanks to a former segregationist Senator, it’s also a criminal violation. This additional criminal provision is totally unnecessary for border security, and for a century, it was rarely enforced. But since the early 2000s, it has been used to build and sustain a massive immigration detention complex. In 2016, over half of all federal criminal prosecutions were for immigration violations — more than prosecutions for terrorism, organized crime, hate crimes, or financial fraud. This obsessive focus ties up federal prosecutors and overwhelms federal courts. It’s costly and unnecessary. And under Trump, it has become increasingly abusive. We should repeal this criminal prohibition to prevent future abuse. As president, I will immediately issue guidance to end criminal prosecutions for simple administrative immigration violations; end Operation Streamline, which subjects migrants to mass prosecutions; and refocus our limited resources on actual criminals and real threats to the United States. I will also issue prosecutorial guidance to prioritize immigration cases with security concerns, and make sure government attorneys are properly exercising their discretion for individuals who pose no public safety risk. 

Separate law enforcement from immigration enforcement to strengthen our communities. There are good reasons to keep immigration enforcement and law enforcement separate. When law enforcement is forced to also handle immigration violations, people are less willing to report crimes for fear of revealing their immigration status. Combining these functions sows distrust and harms public safety. As President, I’ll put in place strict guidelines to protect sensitive locations like schools, medical facilities, and courthouses from enforcement actions. I’ll expand programs that grant protections to immigrant victims of serious crimes who come forward and assist law enforcement. And I’ll end programs like 287(g) and “Secure Communities” that force local cops to enforce federal immigration laws so they can focus on effectively serving their communities. 

Remake CPB and ICE in a way that reflects our values. Our immigration agencies should protect Americans and uphold the rule of law, not pursue punitive anti-immigrant policies that target communities of color. I’ll hold immigration enforcement to the same due process standards as other law enforcement agencies — no more warrantless arrests or stops deep in the interior of our country. I’ll reshape CBP and ICE from top to bottom, focusing their efforts on homeland security efforts like screening cargo, identifying counterfeit goods, and preventing smuggling and trafficking. And to change the culture, I’ll insist on transparency and strengthen the authorities of independent internal watchdogs to prevent future abuses. 

Create accountability for the abuse perpetrated during the Trump Era. President Trump and his Administration are comfortable looking the other way while criminal abuses of immigrants pile up. When I am President, I will not. I’ll designate a Justice Department task force to investigate accusations of serious violations — including medical neglect and physical and sexual assaults of detained immigrants — and give it independent authority pursue any substantiated criminal allegations. Let there be no ambiguity on this: if you are violating the basic rights of immigrants, now or in the future, a Warren Administration will hold you accountable. 

Significantly Reduce Immigration Detention 

Americans are rightfully horrified by scenes of chaos and abuse at our border. Separating parents and children and detaining families and other vulnerable populations is not only staggeringly expensive and inhumane, it has no proven deterrent effect. To end unnecessary detention and rebuild a more humane system, a Warren administration will: 

End unnecessary detention. We already have the tools to effectively track and monitor individuals without shoving them into cages and camps along the border. As President, I’ll issue guidance ensuring that detention is only used where it is actually necessary because an individual poses a flight or safety risk. I will put additional layers of protection in place for certain groups, including asylum seekers, families and pregnant women, and LGBTQ+ people who are more vulnerable in a general detention facility. And I’ll enforce strict standards for remaining detention facilities, including for medical care and to end the use of solitary confinement. 

Eliminate private detention facilities. There is no place in this country for profiting off cruelty. I’ll end the contracts ICE has with private detention providers, and push for legislation to permanently ban for-profit detention. 

Expand the executive use of parole and invest in alternatives-to-detention. DHS has broad authority to parole individuals who are detained prior to their cases being heard in immigration court. Community-based alternatives to detention are safer, save money, and can be more effective at ensuring compliance. I’ll significantly expand successful programs, which include case management, referrals to legal and social services, and periodic check-ins and surveillance. These programs provide a measure of dignity for those in the system, and their expanded use would save over a billion dollars each year in unnecessary detention costs. 

Provide Rights and Due Process in our Immigration Courts 

It’s not enough to merely correct the excesses of the Trump administration’s immigration policies. To prevent future abuses, we need to treat migrants moving through the system in a manner that reflects our Constitution and our values. A Warren administration will: 

Establish professional, independent Article I immigration courts. DOJ both oversees the immigration court system and enjoys massive authority to manipulate those courts to implement the president’s immigration policy agenda. Immigration court rulings can even be overturned by the Attorney General — a fundamental conflict of interest exploited by Jeff Sessions. I’ll work to create a credible, independent system by passing legislation establishing Article I judicial review for immigration cases modeled on our federal courts. I’ll deploy smart efficiency measures, beginning by restoring judges’ ability to prioritize and manage their own dockets. And my administration will recruit highly qualified immigration judges with a diverse set of legal experiences so that everyone receives appropriate justice. 

Eliminate expedited removal and provide due process. Due process ensures basic fairness for individuals attempting to navigate complex laws and prevents law enforcement and Presidents from abusing authority. But mostimmigrants facing deportation do not have attorneys — and in the Trump administration, that even includes toddlers. In fact, one-third of deported immigrants never even see a judge: instead, the immigration officer serves as both prosecutor and jury. I’ll eliminate the use of expedited removal proceedings and guarantee hearings. I’ll call for creating a national-scale immigration public defender corps, and a Warren administration will provide access to counsel in immigration court. 

Welcome Those In Need 

Our laws and our values compel us to help those fleeing violence and oppression, but Trump’s racism has contributed to a climate of fear for those seeking refuge in our country. As president, I will: 

Reject exclusionary policies based on race, religion and nationality. I’ll reverse Trump’s bigoted Muslim Ban on my first day in office. I’ll withdraw the Trump policy that forces immigrant families to choose between staying together and ensuring their children — many of whom are American citizens — have access to critical services. And I’ll reinstate Temporary Protected Status designations and Deferred Enforced Departure to protect individuals at risk in their home countries, including migrants from the Caribbean and Africa that have built lives and businesses in our country. 

Raise the refugee cap. At a time when 70 million are displaced around the world, President Trump has abused his authority to lower the refugee cap for the United States, admitting just over 22,000 refugees in total last year. I’ll welcome 125,000 refugees in my first year, and ramping up to at least 175,000 refugees per year by the end of my first term. 

Affirm asylum protections. We should welcome those fleeing violence, not imprison them in cages. As president, I will reverse Trump’s efforts to stack the deck against asylum applicants. I’ll ensure that asylum seekers can safely present themselves at ports of entry for humane, efficient processing, including by ending the metering and “Remain in Mexico” policies. I’ll restore President Obama’s promise to extend asylum for those fleeing domestic or gang violence and affirm asylum protections for gender identity and sexual orientation-based asylum claims. I’ll streamline processes to eliminate the backlog of individuals waiting for an asylum adjudication. And I’ll pardon those convicted of providing food and water to migrants — because no one should go to jail simply providing humanitarian aid to another person in need. 

Grow Legal Immigration and Establish a Fair and Achievable Path to Status 

As president, I’ll work to expand legal immigration. I’ll also take executive action to provide a measure of protection for those who are undocumented, while pursuing a legislative solution that provides a path to citizenship. 

Expand legal immigration. America should welcome more legal immigration — done in the right way and consistent with our principles. We should use targeted immigration as a tool to create jobs and businesses and grow our economy. We should reflect our values, which means expanding family reunification and making it easier for relatives of citizens and green card holders to come to the United States. We should put American workers first by ensuring that workers already here get the first opportunity to fill any available positions. We should empower workers, not employers, by coupling any expansion of legal immigration with real accountability on employers who break the rules, exploit workers, or don’t adhere to basic labor standards. And we should be transparent and data-driven in our immigration policies, using the best available information to identify true needs in the labor force and to address those needs in a way that incorporates the input of both workers and companies. 

Make it easier for those eligible for citizenship to naturalize. Today over 9 million green card holders are eligible to apply for citizenship but many have not chosen to naturalize due to unnecessary barriers, including the cost of applications, the complexity of the process, and administrative issues and backlogs. I’ll work to make it possible for everyone who is eligible to naturalize to do so. 

Reduce the family reunification backlog. As many as 4 million immigrants who are otherwise eligible to come to the United States legally are prohibited because of by-country visa caps. My administration will redistribute unused visas to reduce this backlog and reunite more families with their loved ones. I’ll also urge Congress to repeal laws that make family reunification more difficult to achieve. 

Repeal the 3- and 10-year bars. The law currently requires a person unlawfully in the United States to depart the country for three or ten years before they can apply for legal status. I’ll petition Congress to repeal that requirement. In the meantime, I’ll reinterpret “extreme hardship” to include family separation, making it easier to obtain a waiver allowing people to apply for legal status without having to leave the country for an extended period of time. 

Provide a fair and achievable pathway to citizenship. For the good of our economy and our communities, it’s long past time to provide a path forward for the approximately 11 million undocumented individuals currently living and working in the Unites States. We should immediately reinstate the DACA program and protections for our Dreamers and their families. I’ll expand the program to cover more young people by extending the cut-off date, eliminating the arbitrary application age requirement, and extending the “minor” designation to anyone who was brought to the U.S. under the age of 18. But Dreamers have families and communities that are productive, longtime members of our American family and need protection too. The same is true of the Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure holders. I’ll extend the individual exercise of discretion to offer deferred action protections to hardworking immigrants who have contributed to our country for years and have built careers and families here. And I’ll push for a far-reaching legislative fix that provides a fair but achievable path to citizenship for them. 

Limit the penalties considered for status determinations. Part of focusing on real threats means distinguishing between actual criminals and law-abiding immigrants. We shouldn’t penalize people for prior convictions under statutes that criminalize border crossing for the purpose of status determinations. And we should establish a statute of limitations for how long a misdemeanor will be considered as part of an individual’s immigration adjudication. Citizens with minor, non-violent criminal records should not be permanently excluded from being a part of American society — and immigrants shouldn’t be, either. 

Create an Office of New Americans. I’ll establish an Office of New Americans dedicated to supporting new immigrants as they transition into our society and economy, and task that office to draft a national strategy for integration. We should provide English, civics, and employment- focused classes and training for immigrants who want to enroll, and work with faith groups and other community organizations to provide support services for refugees and asylees, providing the tools to make it easier for newcomers to integrate into their communities. 

Address the Forces Displacing Migrants from Their Home Countries

Migration has spiked around the world, the result of poverty, climate change, violence and injustice. Migrants have come to our country fleeing naturaldisasters or conflicts that forced them from their homes. 

In recent years, many have fled north from the Northern Triangle. But the solution to Central American migration isn’t placing children in cages, it’s stabilizing the countries that families are risking their lives to escape. Rather than addressing rampant corruption, criminal gangs, and some of the world’s highest rates of gender-based violence, President Trump has cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for programs that provide vital support. 

We cannot fully address migration until we address its root causes. Now more than ever, the United States must reclaim its role as the world’s beacon of hope — and that means proposing bold and nuanced solutions to these complex challenges. As president, I will: 

Restore and increase aid. I’ll commit at least $1.5 billion annually in aid to fully fund programs that target crime, disrupt trafficking, address poverty, reduce sexual violence, and enhance programs for at-risk youth in Central America and throughout our hemisphere — and I’ll rally the international community to match those funds. 

Step up efforts to address transnational crime. A Warren administration will expand efforts to reduce corruption and improve the rule of law, investigate and prosecute human trafficking, employ targeted financial sanctions against drug kingpins and money launderers, and provide robust funding for efforts to counter gangs. 

Inform and protect those seeking refuge. My administration will provide information about the right to seek asylum, reinstate the Central American Minors program, and coordinate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help resettle children and families who need protection. We’ll also do more to spread awareness about the dangers of attempting migration across borders to help prevent vulnerable people from being exploited along the way. 

Joe Biden on July 4th: ‘The liberal idea is the American idea; the liberal idea is what built the Free World’

Vice President Joe Biden campaigning for the Democratic nomination for President in Iowa.

Celebrating the Fourth of July with Iowans in Marshalltown, Vice President Joe Biden, campaigning for the Democratic nomination for President, expressed what the holiday is really about and how Donald Trump doesn’t get it. Here is his speech, as prepared for delivery, with segments highlighted:

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s great to be back in Iowa celebrating the independence of our country and the incredible promise of the American future. 

243 years ago, a group of rebels in Philadelphia pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to a revolutionary idea—to the self-evident truth that all men—and women—are created equal. 

And ever since then presidents and patriots have gathered together on the 4th, as we are gathered today, to reflect on the greater meaning of our American experiment. 

In 1821, just decades after revolution, John Quincy Adams proclaimed: “[America’s] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind.”

In 1861, Abraham Lincoln invoked the Declaration to make the case for the Civil War, reminding Congress that it would be: “a struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men; to lift artificial weights from all shoulders; to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all.”

In 1962, deep in the grip of the Cold War, Kennedy made the pilgrimage to Independence Hall to declare that: “this Nation—conceived in revolution, nurtured in liberty, maturing in independence—has no intention of abdicating its leadership  in that worldwide movement for independence to any nation or society committed to systematic human oppression.”

Three different presidents, of three vastly different eras, united by their faith in the power of the idea that is America. Constant in their dedication to the pursuit of humankind’s highest ideal—liberty. 

What, I wonder, will Donald Trump say this evening when he speaks to the nation at an event designed more to stroke his ego than celebrate American ideals?

Will he speak to the example America must set to inspire the world? Will he offer a robust defense of the democratic values that have always been our strength in times of crisis? 

We all know the answer to that. Donald Trump is incapable of celebrating what makes America great—because he doesn’t get it. 

He cannot distinguish between our Allies and our adversaries—because he does not grasp that America is the “march of the mind” toward greater openness, greater understanding, greater human freedom to pursue lives of meaning and fulfillment. 

And if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation. We can’t let that happen.

Trump’s embrace of dictators and strongmen is a fundamental rejection of everything our founders wrote into their Declaration. 

Vladimir Putin in Russia, Kim Jong Un in North Korea, Mohamad bin Salman in Saudi Arabia—their drive to concentrate greater and greater power in their own hands and to silence their opposition, including through brutal assassinations—that is the death of liberty. 

Last week, Putin gave an interview where he crowed: “the liberal idea has become obsolete.” 

Trump thought he was talking about Democrats in California. Not a joke.  

Our president does not understand the difference between liberal as opposed to conservative politics, and liberal as opposed to autocratic systems of government. 

Well, I’m here to tell Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trump, and anyone who needs to hear it:the liberal idea is the American idea. And it will never be obsolete—not as long as there remain patriots committed to the higher ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

The liberal idea is what drives innovation and entrepreneurship. The liberal idea is what inspires art and exploration and human curiosity. And—critically—the liberal idea 
is what built the Free World. 

The Free World is an American design. We created it, together with our democratic allies in Europe and in Asia after World War II, to hold in check the abuse of power by any one nation, and to affirm a collective defense, open economies, and human rights. 

The Free World drove the march of democracy, prevented a third great war, protected the territorial integrity and sovereignty of small states, allowed unprecedented economic growth and development, and advanced basic human rights and fundamental freedoms in every corner of the world. 

Ours is a community of values that stands in opposition to all who seek to profit by the oppression of others.  

That’s why Putin wants to see it destroyed. That’s why he’s actively working to tear apart our democracy. 

Ladies and gentlemen – America is the heart of the Free World—and we must defend it. 

That is how the Fourth of July is best honored – by remembering that our Declaration is first and foremost a call to arms, in defense of liberty.

But we must also remember, as JFK put it, that ours is: “not the individual liberty of one 
but the indivisible liberty of all.”

Donald Trump doesn’t get that either. 

My liberty, depends on yours. Our liberty as a nation rests on our ability to ensure equal access, equal opportunity – not just for our own children, but all our children. 

We have to take on the inequalities in our system that are causing too many today—
in America and around the world—to question their faith in the ability of democracy to deliver for them. 

It’s not enough to be for political equality—we have to be for economic fairness as well.  

It’s not enough to be against the way Donald Trump conducts himself—the way he assaults the dignity of women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals—we have to be against his policies that are further entrenching economic inequality in this nation. 

That are rigging the system against the middle class.

That too is an attack on our democracy—on our liberty. 

That’s the message I’ve been taking all across this nation.  

And it’s all the more clear today – on the day we celebrate our independence—this country wasn’t built by Wall Street bankers and CEOs and hedge fund managers. 

It was built by you. By ordinary Americans – given half a chance – doing extraordinary things. That’s the history of the journey of America.

My dad used to have an expression. He’d say a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about one’s place in the community. It’s about being able to look your child in the eye and say everything is going to be ok.  And mean it.

But today so many people can’t do that. That’s what we have to change. That is my north star.

The moral obligation of our time is to rebuild the middle class. And this time, everybody comes along – no matter their race, gender, ethnicity, religion,who they love or where they live or whether they have a disability. 

For me, it’s all about restoring the dignity of work – being able to provide security and joy for your family.

But how can a person’s dignity be maintained if they can’t afford to care for a sick child  or a family member because of a pre-existing condition – or because they’ve reached a point where their health insurer says “no more?”

I can’t imagine what Jill and I would have done with Beau if we couldn’t get the best care to ease his pain and suffering while dealing with an incurable disease.

How can a parent maintain their dignity if their talented and qualified child wants to go beyond high school to trade school or community college or college, but they can’t afford to get them there?

I remember how my father felt when he told me the bank wouldn’t give him a loan to help me go to college. He said, “I’m so ashamed.” I got there – but I’ll never forget that look on his face. 

Today’s corporate culture and this Administration don’t care about your dignity. They don’t care about economic fairness.

They’re squeezing the life out of workers. They’re making it harder for you to bargain for your personal worth as well.

40% of workers have to sign non-compete clauses at some point in their careers. 

These non-compete agreements have one purpose: to hold down the ability of workers 
to bargain for themselves and to keep their wages low. 

And why do companies classify so many low-wage workers as managers? 

So they can get out of paying overtime and take more in profits for themselves. That cost more than 4 million hourly workers $1.2 billion in lost wages last year.

And speaking of overtime – it’s long past time we make a $15 minimum wage at the federal level. 

It’s time we started to reward work over wealth in this country. 

Let me ask you something. 

The stock market is roaring. Do you feel it?

Or how about that big tax cut passed by Trump and the Republicans? Did you feel it?

That tax cut exploded the deficit by some $2 trillion – and now the Republicans are using it as an excuse to go after the social safety net. 

Let’s not kid one another. If Trump and the Republicans win in 2020 – they’re coming after Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security. 

They’ve already said it.  And we can’t let that happen. 

So, we need to reverse the Trump tax cuts on the super wealthy. And then we need to get rid of the capital gains loophole. 

A just economy—an economy that advances liberty for all—isn’t one where the super wealthy pay lower tax rates than teachers and firefighters.

The Fourth is also a reminder of an important lesson we learned early in this county.

As Benjamin Franklin supposedly said at the signing: “We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

Folks, we need to unify this country. We have to overcome this status quo of division—that’s the only way we’ll be able to get anything done. 

And we can do it without compromising our principles. Marshalltown knows that better than anyone—what do you do when disaster strikes? You come together.  

Mr. Mayor, how did you begin rebuilding after that God-awful tornado? By working together with the city council and the local businesses. 

It didn’t matter whether folks were Democrats or Republicans then—all that mattered was getting Marshalltown back up and running.

You made that happen—you’re still making that happen.  

It goes to show that all that stands in our way is a broken political system.

Folks, for all our problems, I’m more optimistic today than when I got elected to the United States Senate as a 29-year old kid. 

And here’s why: We’re better positioned than any nation in the world to lead the 21st Century. 

We have the strongest military in the world. We have led not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. The most productive workers among major world economies. North America is energy independent. We have the world’s greatest research universities. 

No other nation in the world can match us. The only thing that can tear America apart is America itself. 

The only thing that would make the liberal idea obsolete is if Americans walked away from liberty itself. 

Everybody knows who Donald Trump is. 

This July 4th, let’s remind the world who we are.

This is the United States of America.  

This is the nation that willed ourselves into existence with nothing but faith in ourselves and in the power of an idea. 

There’s not a single thing we can’t do – together.

God bless all of you. May God protect our troops.

Senator Amy Klobuchar Releases Plan for 100 Actions for Her First 100 Days as President

US Senator Amy Klobuchar, at the official launch of her 2020 Presidential Campaign, has released a list of 100 concrete actions she would take in her first 100 days as President of the United States © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

US Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for President, released a plan outlining the more than 100 concrete steps she would take in her first 100 days as President of the United States to take on the biggest challenges we face at home and abroad.

“The problems Americans are facing every single day require urgent action. That’s why Senator Klobuchar has a plan to get to work and deliver results on Day One,” the campaign stated.

Through executive action, Senator Klobuchar will begin to immediately deliver on her ambitious, optimistic agenda that will build a safer world, a stronger democracy, and a fairer economy while taking much-needed action on health care, climate change, and immigration. 

“After four years of Donald Trump, a new President can’t wait for a bunch of congressional hearings to act,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar. “The urgent problems our country is facing require immediate action. That’s why in my first 100 days as President I will enact an ambitious, optimistic agenda to improve our health care, combat climate change, pursue economic justice and shared prosperity, and build a stronger democracy and safer world. With these concrete steps, we will put our country back on a path of progress where people have an opportunity to get ahead.”

During the first 100 days of Senator Klobuchar’s presidency, she will:

Get the United States back in the International Climate Agreement on day one. On day one of Senator Klobuchar’s presidency she will get us back into the International Climate Change Agreement, working so that the United States maintains global leadership to address the climate crisis.

Immediately suspend the Trump Administration’s efforts to eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Senator Klobuchar will immediately suspend all Trump Administration efforts — both in federal court and at the Department of Health and Human Services — that would allow insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

Rebuild our relationship with our allies and restore America’s standing in the world. To rebuild the relationship with our allies that President Trump has undermined, Senator Klobuchar’s first international trips as President will be to Canada and Europe to begin restoring trust with our most important allies.

Immediately allow for the safe importation of prescription drugs from countries like Canada. Americans pay double what Canadians do for some prescription drugs, which is why Senator Klobuchar will use existing Food and Drug Administration authority to grant a waiver that allows people to import safe prescription drugs for personal use from countries like Canada to decrease drug costs for seniors and all Americans.

Fill judicial vacancies by nominating well-qualified judges on day one. Senator Klobuchar will waste no time in working with the Senate and the American Bar Association to nominate a full slate of well-qualified judges who will follow the law to fill judicial vacancies on federal courts on day one of her presidency.

Revive the aggressive protection of voting rights. Senator Klobuchar will restore the federal government’s longstanding position of challenging intentionally racially discriminatory voting laws. And while Congress works to restore the Voting Rights Act (VRA), Senator Klobuchar will direct the Department of Justice to use Section 3 of the VRA to “bail-in” jurisdictions to its preclearance requirements, allowing federal courts to place jurisdictions under the oversight requirement of the VRA.  

Prioritize cybersecurity and protect our elections and other American infrastructure from cyber attack. As President, Senator Klobuchar will make cybersecurity an immediate priority. She will issue an Executive Order launching government-wide cybersecurity initiatives, fast-tracking and streamlining procurement of modern information technology across agencies. She will also launch a cabinet-level taskforce on election cybersecurity to coordinate across agencies, including the intelligence community, on how the federal government can work with state and local governments to address cyber threats to our democracy and infrastructure. She will also introduce legislation that provides election security funding, requires backup paper ballots, and requires campaigns to report contacts from foreign nationals seeking to interfere in an election to federal authorities.

Update the standards for reviewing both horizontal and vertical mergers to ensure vigorous antitrust enforcement. To tackle unprecedented consolidation and monopoly power, Senator Klobuchar will direct the Department of Justice to update its guidelines to ensure vigorous and aggressive enforcement of our antitrust laws.

Undertake aggressive retrospective review of mergers. To tackle corporate consolidation in what she has called “the new gilded age,” Senator Klobuchar will direct her Attorney General to have DOJ’s Antitrust Division undertake aggressive retrospective reviews of mergers. She will introduce legislation to increase funding for antitrust enforcement efforts by adjusting merger filing fees and she will change the legal standards to promote competition and prevent consolidation.

Raise the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15. In line with her goal of increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, Senator Klobuchar will increase the minimum wage for federal contractors to that threshold.

Expand VA health benefits for women veterans and their babies. The Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2008 gave the VA the authority to provide care for newborn babies born to women veterans, but a narrow interpretation of the law is preventing access to care. Senator Klobuchar will direct the VA to expand covering the costs of medically-necessary emergency services for newborn babies of veterans.

Jump-start legislative negotiations for comprehensive immigration reform with the stated goal of passing it in the first year. Senator Klobuchar will jump-start negotiations for comprehensive immigration reform — which includes a pathway to citizenship, the DREAM Act and border security — with the stated goal of passing it in the first year of her presidency. Comprehensive immigration could reduce the deficit by $158 billion.

Protect DACA and TPS and Deferred Enforcement Departure designations. While she jump-starts negotiations for comprehensive immigration reform with the stated goal of passing it within the first year, Senator Klobuchar will undo attempts by the Trump Administration – many of which have been blocked by courts – to deport DREAMers and immigrants who are living, working and succeeding here under Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforcement Departure.

Shine a light on the corporate dark money spending. Senator Klobuchar will shine a light on the dark money by requiring publicly traded companies to disclose all political spending over $10,000 to their shareholders.

Bring transparency to dark money issue advocacy. Senator Klobuchar will direct the IRS to institute the requirement that tax-exempt organizations that engage in issue advocacy disclose to the IRS the names of individual donors who contribute more than $5,000 per year.

Propose landmark legislation that drives our changing economy forward and provides opportunity to all Americans. Our laws and our policies have not kept pace with our changing economy and the digital revolution. That’s why Senator Klobuchar will propose landmark legislation to take on monopoly power, empower our workers, and protect consumers’ privacy and health data privacy. She will also invest in quality child care, raise the minimum wage, provide paid family leave, support small business owners and entrepreneurs, as well as establish portable, worker-owned UP Accounts for retirement savings. She will also allow students to refinance their loans at lower interest rates, provide tuition-free community college and technical certifications, and expand Pell Grant eligibility and award amounts. To pay for these policies and reduce the debt, Senator Klobuchar will repeal the regressive portions of 2017 Republican tax reform, equalize tax rates for capital gains and ordinary income, put the Buffet rule in place, and close the carried interest and big oil loopholes.

Immediately close the “boyfriend loophole.” Senator Klobuchar leads legislation in the Senate to close the ‘boyfriend loophole’ by preventing people who have abused dating partners from buying or owning firearms, and she will take executive action to get it done immediately.

Introduce gun violence legislation. Senator Klobuchar will introduce gun violence legislation including putting universal background checks in place, closing the gun show loophole, and banning bump stocks, assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

Consider gun violence as a public health issue in CDC studies. Senator Klobuchar will direct the CDC to study gun violence as a public health issue and help identify approaches to reduce gun violence and save lives.

Propose a historic investment in public education. Senator Klobuchar will propose a historic investment in America’s education system that will fully fund education, increase teacher pay, and rebuild our crumbling school infrastructure.

End the misguided overuse of secret RFS small refinery waivers that have been granted to big oil companies at the expense of farmers. Senator Klobuchar will completely overhaul the EPA’s small refinery waivers and greatly increase transparency, ensuring that RFS waivers meant for small refiners do not go to big oil companies like Chevron and ExxonMobil and that these secret waivers do not line the pockets of big oil companies at the expense of farmers.

Protect federal employee labor rights. Senator Klobuchar will immediately rescind Executive Orders signed by President Trump that severely restrict federal workers’ rights, including the right to collectively bargain.

Prioritize mental health and addiction. Senator Klobuchar will take immediate action to combat substance use disorders and prioritize mental health, including launching new prevention and early intervention initiatives, expanding access to treatment, and giving Americans a path to sustainable recovery. This includes addressing workforce shortages for nurses, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals in many areas of the country and it means addressing the lack of hospital services and treatment beds.

End attacks on tribal sovereignty. Senator Klobuchar will respect tribal sovereignty including by stopping the Department of Justice from taking anti-sovereignty positions in litigation, directing the Department of Health and Human Services from deferring to states on Medicaid rules for tribal members, and increasing meaningful tribal consultation.

Make a plan to connect every household to the internet by 2022. Senator Klobuchar will work to close the rural-urban divide by connecting every household to the internet by 2022. This means directing federal support to close the last mile gap, overhauling broadband coverage mapping by establishing processes to verify carrier-reported data, and encouraging public-private partnerships in the areas of greatest need.

Restore the Clean Power Plan. To address the climate crisis, Senator Klobuchar will bring back the goals established by the Clean Power Plan, which set emissions standards for states with respect to reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.

Bring back the fuel-economy standards. Senator Klobuchar will restore and strengthen our fuel economy standards, which are key to fighting climate change. The Trump Administration has weakened the fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks and has challenged the right of California and other states to follow more stringent standards.

Introduce sweeping legislation to address the climate crisis. Senator Klobuchar will introduce sweeping legislation to combat the climate crisis that builds on the framework of the Green New Deal, including a massive investment in green jobs and infrastructure, promoting rural energy development, supporting tougher building codes, buy clean, better greener transportation, appliance standards and climate resilience.

End “pay for delay” agreements that increase the cost of prescription drugs. Senator Klobuchar will take aggressive action to crack down on drug companies that are — in effect — paying the makers of generic drugs to delay cheaper versions of drugs from getting into the market.

Outline a plan to cut childhood poverty in half in ten years and end it within a generation. Senator Klobuchar will put forward a plan to cut childhood poverty in half in ten years, including expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Care Tax Credit, SNAP benefits and overhauling our country’s housing policy.

Restore and strengthen overtime rules. Too many American workers have been working overtime without getting paid for the extra hours. Senator Klobuchar will restore and strengthen the Obama Administration’s overtime rules to expand overtime pay to millions of workers, increasing the maximum salary for a worker to qualify for the overtime pay they’ve earned.

Propose legislation to get us to universal health care. Senator Klobuchar will propose legislation that gets us to universal health care, which includes creating a public health care option by expanding either Medicare or Medicaid, as well as improving the Affordable Care Act to help bring down costs to consumers through reinsurance, providing cost-sharing reductions, expanding premium subsidies, and continuing delivery system reform. Her legislation will also provide additional consumer protections and lower the costs of prescription drugs through aggressive reforms including lifting the ban that prohibits Medicare from negotiating the best possible price. These programs significantly reduce cost to consumers and help promote choice.

Develop best models of care to address disparities in maternal and infant mortality and address the shortage of maternity care health professional in underserved rural and urban areas. Senator Klobuchar will immediately implement a new law that tackles the shortage of maternity care health professionals —including nurses, midwives, and obstetricians — in underserved areas, and she will develop best models of care to address racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality.

Stop Trump sabotage of the ACA by ending workarounds that allow states to raise premiums for sicker people and shift ACA premium subsidies away from lower-income enrollees. Senator Klobuchar will eliminate the Trump Administration guidance that provides states more flexibility to increase insurance costs for sicker people and shift premium subsidies away from low-income enrollees.

Remove the citizenship question from the Census. Senator Klobuchar will direct the Department of Commerce to remove the Trump Administration’s citizenship question that was added to the 2020 Census from the short form during preparations for the 2030 Census.

Prevent outsourcing of jobs overseas by closing tax loopholes on corporations’ overseas earnings. The 2017 tax law instituted a new minimum tax on corporations’ overseas earnings but applied the tax on a global or “blended” rate, encouraging companies to move physical operations and jobs overseas. Senator Klobuchar will direct the IRS to mitigate the worst effects of this law and crack down on attempts to minimize tax liability through outsourcing.

Provide incentives for employers to adopt paid family leave and child care benefits. Senator Klobuchar will reward federal contractors by providing additional points during the contract bidding process if contractors offer paid family leave to their employees or child care benefits.

Restore freedom to travel to and trade with Cuba. Fifty years of an embargo have not achieved America’s policy objectives in Cuba. Senator Klobuchar believes that a better path forward would allow Americans the freedom to travel and conduct business there and that lifting the trade embargo will open a huge export market, create American jobs, and support both the Cuban and American economies. She will revive policies to expand the ability of Americans to travel to Cuba and facilitate U.S. exports to the island using credit to the maximum extent allowed by current law while respecting human rights and property claims against the Cuban government.

Create a clemency advisory board and position in the White House that advise the President from a criminal justice reform perspective. Senator Klobuchar will create a clemency advisory board as well as a position in the White House — outside of the Department of Justice — that advise the President from a criminal justice reform perspective. The clemency advisory board will investigate and review requests for clemency for federal offenses and ultimately prepare a recommendation for the President.

Aggressively combat illegal Chinese steel dumping. Senator Klobuchar will ensure the federal government is aggressively combating illegal Chinese steel dumping including through expanded personnel to enforce our trade laws and increased inspections of steel imports at ports of entry. She will also direct the U.S. Department of Labor to expedite approval of Trade Adjustment Assistance petitions for workers from the affected mining operations.

Restart the President’s Export Council. Senator Klobuchar will restart the President’s Export Council, which brings together business, labor, and agricultural leaders with Members of Congress and key Administration officials to help promote a comprehensive export and trade strategy.

Reverse dramatic proposed funding cuts to diplomacy and foreign assistance. Senator Klobuchar will reverse this Administration’s shortsighted approach to diplomacy and US foreign assistance. The FY2020 budget request would cut diplomacy and development funding by 23 percent, including a 30 percent cut to humanitarian assistance and a 22 percent cut to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

End the sale of junk insurance policies that eliminate existing protections for consumers. Senator Klobuchar will end efforts to provide short-term junk insurance that eliminates existing protections for consumers like protections for people with pre-existing conditions and Affordable Care Act requirements to cover essential health benefits.

Restore protections for journalists and protect the First Amendment. Senator Klobuchar will restore former Attorney General Eric Holder’s guidance on protections for journalists so that they are not jailed for doing their jobs.

End the family separation policy. Senator Klobuchar will issue an Executive Order putting an immediate end to the cruel and inhumane policy where the government is taking kids away from their parents and ensuring children are reunited with their parents without delay. She will also reverse this administration’s attempt to overrule the Flores Settlement Agreement, which prevents prolonged detention of children and prevents children from being detained in inhumane conditions by requiring basic levels of food, water and health care.

Restore staffing levels at the Department of Agriculture. Under the first two years of the Trump Administration, between December 2016 and March 2018, USDA had more staff departures than any other federal agency. This has severely impacted USDA’s ability to carry out its mission on behalf of rural communities and farmers. Senator Klobuchar will restore staffing levels to the appropriate levels.

Protect student borrowers. Senator Klobuchar will restore and strengthen rules that allow students who believe they were defrauded by their colleges to apply for loan forgiveness, providing relief to thousands of additional students.

Crack down on gun manufacturers and dealers that break the law. Senator Klobuchar will increase inspections and strengthen enforcement to crack down on gun manufacturers and sellers that violate the law.

Commit to strong financial regulation. Senator Klobuchar will rescind Executive Order 13772, which has allowed the Treasury Department and other financial regulators to weaken critical safeguards put in place after the financial crisis. She will commit to strong financial regulation that levels the playing field and promotes economic stability and growth.

Stop the use of noncompete agreements to stifle competition and hurt workers. Senator Klobuchar will instruct the FTC to initiate a rulemaking addressing anti-competitive noncompete agreements that prevent low-wage workers from pursuing new employment opportunities.

Strengthen minimum wage enforcement efforts. Senator Klobuchar will strengthen enforcement and expand investigations to make sure that are wage laws are properly enforced and that workers are able to recover back pay when the government rules in their favor.

Lift the ban preventing qualified transgender people from serving in the military and restore protections for the LGBTQ community. Senator Klobuchar will direct the Department of Defense to lift the ban on military service by transgender people. She will reverse the harmful anti-LGBTQ administrative actions taken by the Trump Administration when it comes to education, health care and civil rights, and she will work to pass the Equality Act in year one of her presidency.

Protect LGBTQ people from government-sanctioned discrimination. Senator Klobuchar will stop efforts to give federal protections to those discriminating against LGBTQ people. She will end all efforts by the Department of Justice that argue that transgender people do not have protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Prioritize LGBTQ antidiscrimination policies across the federal government to address homelessness, suicide and access to life-saving drugs. Senator Klobuchar will expand efforts to reduce LGBTQ homelessness, address LGBTQ suicide rates, and increase access to PrEP. She will create an office of LGBTQ Antidiscrimination within the White House Domestic Policy Council to coordinate these efforts across federal agencies.  

Propose a bold infrastructure plan to rebuild America and re-establish the Presidential Advisory Council on Infrastructure. The Presidential Advisory Council on Infrastructure was intended to provide the federal government with expertise from key sectors on infrastructure policy, but President Trump disbanded the council. Senator Klobuchar will reinstate the council to execute her first budget proposal: a bold, comprehensive infrastructure plan. This trillion-dollar investment includes repairing and replacing our roads, highways and bridges, building smart climate infrastructure, ensuring clean water, modernizing our airports, seaports and inland waterways, expanding reliable public transit options, rebuilding our schools, and overhauling our country’s housing policy. The plan will be paid for by changes to the tax code including adjustments to the corporate tax rate.

Restore asylum for the victims of gender-based violence. Senator Klobuchar will overturn former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s opinion in Matter of A-B and restore protections for immigrant victims of domestic violence seeking asylum in the United States.

End anticompetitive practices that increase the price of prescription drugs.  Many pharmaceutical companies have found loopholes in regulations that allow them to block or delay cost-saving competition like refusing to provide samples or share important information about how to distribute a drug safely.  As President, Senator Klobuchar will instruct HHS to issue regulations to stop anti-competitive practices and help reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

Reduce racial disparities in disciplining students. Senator Klobuchar will re-issue guidance directing schools to reduce racial disparities in how they discipline students, which prompted more than 50 of America’s largest school districts to institute discipline reform.

Bring cyber-security expertise into the Defense Department immediately. Senator Klobuchar will direct the Department of Defense to immediately provide adequate staffing for cyber security programs, as Congress has already provided the Pentagon with special authority to recruit civilian cybersecurity experts.

Strengthen prosecution of white-collar criminals. Senator Klobuchar will direct the Attorney General to issue a memorandum to federal prosecutors to strengthen prosecution efforts for individuals who are personally responsible for white-collar, corporate crime and tax fraud.

Expand Medicaid reimbursement for people receiving mental health or substance use treatment.  While she works to pass a permanent legislative solution, Senator Klobuchar will make it easier for states to qualify for waivers that allow for Medicaid reimbursements for people receiving mental health or substance use care in facilities with more than 16 beds.

Fully fund the IDEA and reinstate the guidance protecting the rights of students with disabilities. Senator Klobuchar’s budget will fully fund IDEA to support students with disabilities. In addition, Senator Klobuchar will reinstate documents protecting the rights of students with disabilities after Secretary DeVos rescinded 72 guidance documents outlining those rights.

Restore oversight to eliminate discriminatory lending practices. Senator Klobuchar will direct financial regulators to restore Community Reinvestment Act protections, develop policies to encourage financial institutions to make loans and investment in local communities, especially communities in need, and conduct greater outreach to assess the true credit needs of certain areas.

Provide Americans a strong taxpayer advocate. The IRS Taxpayer Advocate exists to help taxpayers navigate tax laws and serve as an ally when Americans need to engage with IRS representatives. But the Trump Administration refused to designate the Taxpayer Advocate Service an “essential service,” forcing it to close shop during the government shutdown and leaving taxpayers without a crucial ally. Senator Klobuchar will designate the IRS an essential service so taxpayers have continued access to this support and advocacy.

Encourage reinsurance programs. Rather than penalizing states who put reinsurance programs in place, which happened under the Trump Administration, Senator Klobuchar will encourage states to adopt reinsurance programs that stabilize the state’s insurance marketplace, lower premiums, and allow more people to access to affordable, quality health care.

Provide incentives for states and localities to adopt sentencing and prison reforms. Congress passed the First Step Act, which changed the overly harsh sentencing laws on nonviolent drug offenders and reformed our federal prisons. But the reform only applies to those held in the federal system. The new law doesn’t help the nearly 90% of people incarcerated in state and local facilities. Senator Klobuchar will create federal incentives so that states can restore some discretion from mandatory sentencing for nonviolent offenders and reform the unconscionable conditions in state prisons and local jails.

Restore staffing levels at the EPA. The Environmental Protection Agency now has fewer staff members than President Reagan’s EPA had in his final year in office. Senator Klobuchar will restore appropriate staffing levels to allow the agency to effectively protect the environment.

Strengthen the Minority Business Development Agency. The Minority Business Development Agency provides technical and managerial expertise to help minority business overcome social and economic disadvantages. President Trump has proposed eliminating the agency, but as President, Senator Klobuchar will ensure it has the resources it needs.

End Illegal Robocalls. Senator Klobuchar will coordinate efforts to end illegal robocalls across the Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission, and Department of Justice and direct the Department of Justice to aggressively pursue robocall scammers while working with Congress to increase penalties for aggravated violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Ensure funding for Planned Parenthood, end the gag rule, and restore the Title X program.  Senator Klobuchar will reverse the Trump Administration’s decision to change the Title X program to ban health providers like Planned Parenthood from receiving funding under Title X. And she will fight for legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade and protects women’s reproductive rights.

Remove barriers to education for homeless and foster youth. Senator Klobuchar will direct her Secretary of Education to remove barriers to higher education for homeless and foster youth, including by ensuring grant programs identify, recruit and prepare homeless and foster students for college.

Restore staffing levels at the Office of Civil Rights and the Office of Federal Student Aid. The Trump Administration has dramatically cut staffing levels at the Department of Education. Senator Klobuchar will restore staffing levels at the Department of Education, including at the Office of Civil Rights and the Office of Federal Student Aid, which has created obstacles for processing more than 87,000 borrower defense claims as well as impeded investigations into Title IX violations.

Prevent misclassification of workers. Senator Klobuchar will rescind the Department of Labor guidance under the Trump Administration that makes it easier for businesses to misclassify workers, which can result in reduced benefits, lower wages, discrimination, diluted worker protections, and abdications of legal responsibilities.

Expand investments in veterans telehealth services. Senator Klobuchar will further expand investments in VA telehealth to ensure rural veterans have access to medical professionals, especially for mental health services.

Ensure funding to prevent and respond to violent hate crimes and address racial discrimination. Senator Klobuchar will fully staff and fund the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service, a non-investigative office of “peacemakers” founded by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which provides communities facing racial and other conflict with confidential services to ease tensions.

Reinstate the National Climate Assessment Advisory Committee to immediately start addressing the climate crisis. The National Climate Assessment Advisory Committee was charged with translating the findings of the National Climate Assessment into concrete goals. Senator Klobuchar will reinstate this committee that President Trump let expire.

Improve free tax filing. Senator Klobuchar will direct the IRS to prevent tax preparation vendors from steering low-income taxpayers toward paid products, which has reduced the use of free filing products. She will also direct the IRS to devote greater resources to the enforcement of vendors’ obligations under the Free File program.

Reverse the Attorney General’s memo directing federal prosecutors to seek the most severe penalties in all cases. Senator Klobuchar would reverse former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s memo limiting federal prosecutors discretion and requiring them to seek the most severe penalties possible in all cases. She will also restore the Smart on Crime initiative, which had been hailed as a positive step forward in rehabilitating drug users by focusing on more serious drug cases and fewer indictments carrying mandatory minimums. Senator Klobuchar will start the evaluation process to reschedule marijuana, collecting the required scientific and medical evaluations and recommendations.

End attempts to reduce federal housing subsidies. Senator Klobuchar will reverse the Trump Administration’s proposed changes to federal housing subsidies that could triple rent for some households and be particularly harmful for seniors, families with children and people with disabilities.

Promote net neutrality. Senator Klobuchar will use federal contracting requirements to encourage broadband providers to honor net neutrality principles and promote a free and open internet.

Support agricultural research. The Trump Administration has repeatedly proposed budgets for USDA that cut billions for rural development, conservation, and research. These include the forced closure of agricultural research laboratories and stations. Senator Klobuchar will give these important programs the support they deserve.

Put rules in place to prevent pay discrimination. The Trump Administration has tried to block rules that require large companies to disclose what they pay employees by sex, race, and ethnicity in an effort to prevent pay discrimination. Senator Klobuchar will end the Trump Administration’s legal efforts to prevent the rule from taking effect.

Prevent the expansion of private school vouchers. Senator Klobuchar will stand firmly with our public schools and end discussions of Secretary Betsy DeVos’s $50 billion proposal to fund private school vouchers.

End the travel ban. Senator Klobuchar will put an end to the administration’s travel ban, recognizing that immigrants don’t diminish America, they are America. While security and vetting should stay in place, the Trump Administration’s ban was wrong.

Support the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership program helps small manufacturers innovate, upgrade their technology and improve production. Senator Klobuchar will support and expand this program, which the Trump Administration has tried to eliminate.

Hold for-profit colleges accountable if they put profits above students. The Trump Administration has repeatedly delayed rules requiring vocational programs at for-profit higher education institutions to show that they provide gainful employment for their students. Senator Klobuchar will hold for-profit colleges accountable if they put profits above students by ensuring that these protections are in place.

Establish a new senior fraud prevention office. Senator Klobuchar will establish a new senior fraud prevention office to educate consumers, expedite the handling of complaints, and coordinate prevention efforts across the federal government.

Collect data to address LGBTQ disparities. Senator Klobuchar will ensure all federal data collection efforts accurately reflect the needs of LGBTQ communities including reinstating LGBTQ data in the foster care system and Older American Act that the Trump Administration has tried to stop collecting.

Reopen and expand the Office for Access to Justice. Senator Klobuchar will reopen and expand the Office for Access to Justice, which makes access to legal aid more accessible to people and has the stated goal of making sure the justice system delivers outcomes that are fair and accessible to all, irrespective of wealth or status.

Raise the refugee admissions cap. Under President Trump, the State Department has dramatically lowered the annual cap on the number of refugees that can be resettled in the United States. Senator Klobuchar will direct the State Department to restore the cap to at least its pre-Trump Administration level.

Invest in the Veterans Health Administration. Expanding access to private care cannot come at the expense of fully funding and even expanding the current Veterans Health Administration (VHA) infrastructure. Senator Klobuchar will direct the VHA to use data on private care usage only as a means to help guide investments in its own growth, not as a way to further privatize its core functions.

Strengthen the National Science Foundation. Senator Klobuchar will fully support the National Science Foundation and ensure that research decisions are being made by researchers and scientists, not politicians.

Expand apprenticeships. Senator Klobuchar will direct her Secretary of Labor to analyze the use of apprenticeships for in-demand occupations and to launch a nationwide campaign to expand apprenticeship opportunities and their benefits.

Reinstate joint employer rules that protect workers’ rights. While the Trump Administration attempted to rewrite the “joint employment” standard, Senator Klobuchar will restore guidance recognizing the responsibilities of joint employers to their employees.

End the Trump Administration’s censoring of climate science. Senator Klobuchar will end Trump Administration efforts to censor climate science through actions like deleting climate-focused websites, removing the phrase “climate change” from reports, and preventing government scientists from attending conferences on climate change.

Set ambitious goals to reduce the carbon footprint of the federal government. The federal government has a significant carbon footprint. As President, Senator Klobuchar will set ambitious goals to increase the efficiency of federal buildings, data centers, and vehicles, reduce water consumption, and increase the use of renewable energy.

Reassess the granting of Medicaid waivers, including states that have privatized Medicaid. Senator Klobuchar will conduct a reassessment of the granting of Medicaid waivers for states that wish to privatize the program and impose discriminatory work requirements.

Restore disclosure rules that counter workers’ organizing efforts. Senator Klobuchar will restore a rule rescinded by President Trump mandating public disclosure when employers hire consultants to counter workers’ union organizing efforts.

Prevent federal funding from being used to arm teachers. The Trump Administration has indicated that it would consider providing federal funding to arm teachers. Senator Klobuchar will prevent any federal funding from being used for arming teachers.

Impose full sanctions on Russia for hostile act against the United States and its allies. In 2017, Congress passed legislation providing additional authorities for the President to impose sanctions on Russia in response to its election interference and other aggressive actions. The Trump Administration has resisted full implementation of these sanctions. Senator Klobuchar will use these authorities to the fullest extent possible to impose serious costs on the Putin regime and its enablers for hostile acts against the United States and our allies.

Improve train safety. The Trump Administration blocked a proposal to require two-person train crews for safety. Senator Klobuchar will direct the Department of Transportation to restart this rulemaking and she will also restore a number of rules to improve train safety.

Protect students from discrimination and violence. Senator Klobuchar will repeal Title IX regulations proposed under the Trump Administration and restore guidance reminding universities of their obligation to protect students from sexual violence.

Direct the Department of Defense and VA to track servicemembers and veterans exposed to toxic chemicals. Currently, servicemembers’ exposure to toxic chemicals such as mold, caustic fumes, open air burn pits, and airborne chemicals during military operations are not being properly documented and tracked by the Defense Department or VA. Senator Klobuchar would direct these agencies to record any environmental health hazard exposure in a servicemember’s records during deployment, and the record would then follow the servicemember through his or her career and into veteran status.

Expand loans for and investments in local communities in need. For the past 40 years, the Community Reinvestment Act has encouraged financial institutions to make loans and investment in local communities, especially low-income and minority communities. Senator Klobuchar will protect the CRA and instruct financial regulators to conduct greater outreach to assess the true credit needs of their communities.

Overhaul ethics rules for White House employees and other senior officials. Senator Klobuchar will make clear that the President and Vice President must follow our conflict of interest laws, do more to investigate foreign agents who lobby in the United States, give the Office of Government Ethics more enforcement power, and provide additional protections for all Special Counsels.

Support and strengthen the Economic Development Administration. The Economic Development Administration works directly with communities and regions to promote competitiveness and innovation. It has a proven track record of success and on average every $1 of EDA infrastructure funding generates $15 in private investment. Still, the Trump Administration repeatedly proposed eliminating the agency. Senator Klobuchar will ensure the agency has the resources to carry out its mission.

Restore reporting requirements of civilian casualties. Senator Klobuchar will issue an Executive Order restoring requirements for the release an annual report on the strikes undertaken by the U.S. military and Central Intelligence Agency outside of war zones and assessments of military and civilian deaths resulting from those strikes.

Work to re-enter the Iran nuclear agreement. The 2015 nuclear agreement imposed verifiable limits on Iran’s nuclear program that would prevent it from building a nuclear weapon. Senator Klobuchar will negotiate to bring the United States back into the nuclear agreement with the goal of avoiding war and a nuclear-armed Iran.

Connect more families to housing in higher opportunity neighborhoods. Senator Klobuchar would expand the pilot for mobility housing vouchers that allow families with children to use their vouchers in higher opportunity neighborhoods.

Prosecute unscrupulous payday lenders. Senator Klobuchar will direct the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Justice Department and other agencies to prosecute unscrupulous payday lenders that engage in predatory practices and charge customers exorbitant interest rates.

Undertake a comprehensive review and restore environmental protections repealed by the Trump Administration. The Trump Administration has revoked dozens of guidance documents and rules that protect people’s safety, health and the environment when it comes to our power plants, oil refineries, national parks and wildlife refuges, offshore drilling, pipelines, and oil and gas development. Senator Klobuchar will undertake a thorough review of all the repealed guidance and rules, and work to restore our environmental and safety protections.

Ensure fair labor practices and safe workplaces for federal contractors. Senator Klobuchar will restore policies ensuring fair pay and safe workplaces for federal contractors.

Protect health care workers’ right to organize. Senator Klobuchar will rescind an anti-union regulatory change enacted by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services that prevents union dues from being deducted from Medicaid-funded paychecks of home health care workers.

Direct the Department of Health and Human Services to consider VHA facilities when designating Health Professional Shortage Areas. Senator Klobuchar has long pressed for HHS to consider adding VHA facilities as Health Professional Shortage areas. Once designated, these facilities have access to health professional students with scholarships and loan forgiveness who pledge to practice in the program for at least two years. As President, Senator Klobuchar would direct HHS to revise its current regulations for defining Health Professional Shortage areas to include VHA facilities.

Stop the diversion of funds needed to modernize our military bases from being used for the border wall. President Trump is diverting funding meant for modernizing our military bases in order to build his border wall. Senator Klobuchar will rescind his national emergency declaration and return funding for its intended purpose.

Visit our troops stationed in combat zones. Visiting our military servicemembers serving in harm’s way is a long-standing Presidential tradition. Senator Klobuchar will visit U.S. troops in combat zones within her first 100 days in office.

Reopen international U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices. The Trump Administration is shutting down international USCIS offices – which deal primarily with international adoptions, family visa applications, petitions for citizenship for military members stationed in foreign countries, and citizenship applications, along with help on refugee processing and investigations of fraud. Senator Klobuchar will direct USCIS to reopen its international offices.

Reduce State Department vacancies. Senator Klobuchar will immediately direct her Secretary of State to accelerate hiring for key positions.

Prevent people with severe mental illness from acquiring guns. Senator Klobuchar will restore a rule requiring the Social Security Administration to submit records of people with severe mental illness to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Curtail arms transfers and other support for the war in Yemen. Saudi and UAE military operations in Yemen have killed thousands of civilians and contributed to a humanitarian crisis that has left millions displaced and starving. The conflict shows no signs of ending, but the Trump Administration continues to go to extraordinary lengths to provide weapons and other support to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, including circumventing the standard Congressional approval processes. Senator Klobuchar will order a stop to arms transfers and support to the Saudi and Emirati forces until a negotiated settlement to the conflict is achieved.

Reinstate visas for same-sex partners of foreign diplomats. Senator Klobuchar will reverse the Trump Administration policy change of no longer issue family visas to same-sex partners of foreign diplomats or employees of international organizations who work in the United States.

Renew efforts to prevent another financial crisis. The Office of Financial Research, an independent bureau within the Treasury Department, was created by the Dodd-Frank Act to collect information on financial system risks, perform long-term research, and develop risk measurement and monitoring tools to help prevent future financial crises. Senator Klobuchar will restore the mission and stature of the office.

Protect funding for the Northern Triangle. Senator Klobuchar will end all Administration discussions to cut off direct assistance funding for Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, recognizing that the cuts present a serious risk to our national security and undermine efforts to address the underlying conditions driving migration to the United States.

Crack down on money laundering and tax evasion. Senator Klobuchar will crack down on money laundering and tax evasion by empowering Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to aggressively implement new rules for identifying the “true” owner of financial accounts, especially large accounts used in financial transactions where the incidence of fraud and tax evasion is high. And she will call on Congress to enact legislation imposing greater disclosure requirements.

Protect retiree pensions. The Kline-Miller Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA) allows underfunded multiemployer pension plans to request permission from the Treasury Department to reduce retiree benefits in order to improve their financial condition. Senator Klobuchar believes retirees are entitled to the benefits they’ve earned during their working lives and will recommend that Treasury heighten the scrutiny of any applications to reduce retiree benefits under MPRA.

Combat segregation in housing. Senator Klobuchar will suspend Housing and Urban Development Secretary Carson’s proposed changes to the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which would weaken efforts to combat segregation in housing policy.

Invest in adult basic education. Senator Klobuchar will reverse President’s Trump proposal to cut basic education programs for adults, and launch an initiative focused on increasing opportunities for adults to master literacy and basic math skills.

Restore consumer protections. Senator Klobuchar will direct the Department of Commerce, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Federal Communications Commission, Department of Transportation and other consumer protection agencies to re-evaluate any Trump Administration actions that have weakened protections for consumers.

Maintain protest rights on public property in Washington, DC. Senator Klobuchar will end the Trump Administration attempts to limit protest rights in Washington, DC, like closing 80 percent of the White House sidewalk and putting new limits on spontaneous demonstrations.

Prevent abuses by IRS private debt collectors. Reports suggest that the IRS private debt collectors have abused and harassed low-income taxpayers whose tax debts are relatively small. Senator Klobuchar will overhaul the program and limit these abuses.

Invest in Alzheimer’s research. Senator Klobuchar will commit to preventing, treating and facilitating a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. She will also immediately expand initiatives that provide support for family caregivers.

End the Justice Department’s reliance on private prisons. As President, Senator Klobuchar will phase out the use of private prisons by directing the Department of Justice to decline to renew or reduce the scope of contracts when the contract reaches its end.

Restore national monuments. Senator Klobuchar will restore the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to protect their ecological and the tribal cultural significance and undertake a review of other boundary adjustment and management changes initiated by the Trump Administration.

Prioritize health care delivery system reform to reduce health care costs. Senator Klobuchar will immediately identify value-based delivery system reforms, including in Medicare and Medicaid, and she will create incentives for employers and insurers to expand new payment models.

Expand the open enrollment period for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act so more people can get insurance coverage. Rather than shortening the open enrollment period on the exchanges from November 1st to December 15th, which happened under the Trump Administration, Senator Klobuchar will expand the open enrollment period for exchange enrollment so more people can access health insurance.

Investigate deceptive online travel practices that hurt consumers. Senator Klobuchar will direct the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Transportation to investigate deceptive and fraudulent practices by online travel booking websites.

“Senator Klobuchar is committed to governing from opportunity and taking administrative actions when it comes to our foreign policy and security, veterans, health care, education, income inequality, worker protections, economic justice, immigration reform, unions, civil rights, climate change, the environment, criminal justice reform and gun violence prevention. She will be updating these goals with your ideas,” the campaign stated.

Joe Biden Releases His Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution & Environmental Justice

Vice President Joe Biden, in the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination for President, released his plan for a Clean Energy Revolution & Environmental Justice © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

With Democrats clamoring for the Democratic National Committee to host a climate debate for candidates, several have issued their own climate action plans, including Vice President Joe Biden. The Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution & Environmental Justice details how a Biden Administration will tackle the moral and economic imperative of climate change on day one. 

“More severe storms and droughts, rising sea levels, warming temperatures, shrinking snow cover and ice sheets – it’s already happening. We must take drastic action now to address the climate disaster facing the nation and our world,” said Vice President Joe Biden. “Science tells us that how we act or fail to act in the next 12 years will determine the very livability of our planet. That’s why I’m calling for a Clean Energy Revolution to confront this crisis and do what America does best – solve big problems with big ideas.”

Here is an overview:  

The Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution & Environmental Justice 

Addressing the global threat of climate change and revitalizing America’s economy

From coastal towns to rural farms to urban centers, climate change poses an existential threat – not just to our environment, but to our health, our communities, our national security, and our economic well-being. It also damages our communities with storms that wreak havoc on our towns and cities and our homes and schools. It puts our national security at risk by leading to regional instability that will require U.S military-supported relief activities and could make areas more vulnerable to terrorist activities.

Vice President Biden knows there is no greater challenge facing our country and our world. Today, he is outlining a bold plan – a Clean Energy Revolution – to address this grave threat and lead the world in addressing the climate emergency.

Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face. It powerfully captures two basic truths, which are at the core of his plan: (1) the United States urgently needs to embrace greater ambition on an epic scale to meet the scope of this challenge, and (2) our environment and our economy are completely and totally connected.

If we can harness all of our energy and talents, and unmatchable American innovation, we can turn this threat into an opportunity to revitalize the U.S. energy sector and boost growth economy-wide. We can create new industries that reinvigorate our manufacturing and create high-quality, middle-class jobs in cities and towns across the United States. We can lead America to become the world’s clean energy superpower. We can export our clean-energy technology across the globe and create high-quality, middle-class jobs here at home. Getting to a 100% clean energy economy is not only an obligation, it’s an opportunity. We should fully adopt a clean energy future, not just for all of us today, but for our children and grandchildren, so their tomorrow is healthier, safer, and more just.

As president, Biden will make the United States a world leader to address the climate emergency through the power of example, by ensuring the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050.

The Biden Plan will: 

  1. Ensure the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050. On day one, Biden will sign a series of new executive orders with unprecedented reach that go well beyond the Obama-Biden Administration platform and put us on the right track. And, he will demand that Congress enacts legislation in the first year of his presidency that: 1) establishes an enforcement mechanism that includes milestone targets no later than the end of his first term in 2025, 2) makes a historic investment in clean energy and climate research and innovation, 3) incentivizes the rapid deployment of clean energy innovations across the economy, especially in communities most impacted by climate change.
  2. Build a stronger, more resilient nation. On day one, Biden will make smart infrastructure investments to rebuild the nation and to ensure that our buildings, water, transportation, and energy infrastructure can withstand the impacts of climate change.  Every dollar spent toward rebuilding our roads, bridges, buildings, the electric grid, and our water infrastructure will be used to prevent, reduce, and withstand a changing climate. As President, Biden will use the convening power of government to boost climate resilience efforts by developing regional climate resilience plans, in partnership with local universities and national labs, for local access to the most relevant science, data, information, tools, and training.  
  3. Rally the rest of the world to meet the threat of climate change. Climate change is a global challenge that requires decisive action from every country around the world. Joe Biden knows how to stand with America’s allies, stand up to adversaries, and level with any world leader about what must be done. He will not only recommit the United States to the Paris Agreement on climate change – he will go much further than that. He will lead an effort to get every major country to ramp up the ambition of their domestic climate targets. He will make sure those commitments are transparent and enforceable, and stop countries from cheating by using America’s economic leverage and power of example. He will fully integrate climate change into our foreign policy and national security strategies, as well as our approach to trade.
  4. Stand up to the abuse of power by polluters who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities. Vulnerable communities are disproportionately impacted by the climate emergency and pollution. The Biden Administration will take action against fossil fuel companies and other polluters who put profit over people and knowingly harm our environment and poison our communities’ air, land, and water, or conceal information regarding potential environmental and health risks. The Biden plan will ensure that communities across the country from Flint, Michigan to Harlan, Kentucky to the New Hampshire Seacoast have access to clean, safe drinking water. And he’ll make sure the development of solutions is an inclusive, community-driven process.
  5. Fulfill our obligation to workers and communities who powered our industrial revolution and subsequent decades of economic growth. This is support they’ve earned for fueling our country’s industrial revolution and decades of economic growth. We’re not going to leave any workers or communities behind.

The Biden plan will make a historic investment in our clean energy future and environmental justice, paid for by rolling back the Trump tax incentives that enrich corporations at the expense of American jobs and the environment. Biden’s climate and environmental justice proposal will make a federal investment of $1.7 trillion over the next ten years, leveraging additional private sector and state and local investments to total to more than $5 trillion. President Trump’s tax cut led to trillions in stock buybacks and created new incentives to shift profits abroad. Joe Biden believes we should instead invest in a Clean Energy Revolution that creates jobs here at home.     

The Biden plan will be paid for by reversing the excesses of the Trump tax cuts for corporations, reducing incentives for tax havens, evasion, and outsourcing, ensuring corporations pay their fair share, closing other loopholes in our tax code that reward work not wealth, and ending subsidies for fossil fuels.

This all builds on Vice President Biden’s years of leadership on climate change – from introducing one of the first climate bills in the Senate to overseeing the largest clean energy investment in our country’s history, the Recovery Act and to mobilizing the world to achieve the Paris Climate Accord.

Vice President Biden has committed that Biden for President will not accept contributions from the oil, gas and coal corporations or executives. 

For more on Vice President Biden’s plan, watch THIS video, view the policy HERE.

Warren ‘Economic Patriotism’ Agenda: Address Climate Change With $2 Trillion Plan for Green Manufacturing and Create 1 Million Jobs

Democratic candidate for President, Senator Elizabeth Warren unveiled an Economic Patriotism Agenda that includes $2 trillion in investment in green manufacturing which would create 1 million jobs © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Charlestown, MA – Elizabeth Warren, Democratic Senator from Massachusetts who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, laid out her vision of economic patriotism, calling for using new and existing tools to defend and create quality American jobs and promote American industry. Warren will continue to release individual plans reflecting how economic patriotism should shape our approach to specific parts of the American economy. She released the first plan: A bold $2 trillion investment of federal money over 10 years in American green research, manufacturing, and exporting — which includes ambitious new ideas to link American innovation directly to American jobs, and focuses on achieving not only the ambitious domestic emissions targets in the Green New Deal, but also spurring the kind of worldwide adoption of American-made clean energy technology needed to meet the international targets of the Green New Deal.

The plan is designed to ensure that American taxpayer investments in combating climate change result in good American jobs. The plan makes a historic $400 billion investment in clean energy research and development, and includes a provision that any production stemming from that federally-funded research should take place in the United States. It also makes a massive $1.5 trillion commitment to federal procurement of clean, green, American-made products over the next 10 years, and requires that all companies that receive federal contracts pay all employees at least $15 per hour, guarantee 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, let employees exercise collective bargaining rights, and maintain fair schedules at a minimum. According to an independent analysis from Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, these provisions ensure that Warren’s Green Manufacturing Plan would boost economic growth and create more than a million new jobs right here at home.

Warren’s plan also includes a Green Marshall Plan — a commitment to using all the tools in our diplomatic and economic arsenal to encourage other countries to purchase and deploy American-made clean energy technology. It creates a new federal office dedicated to selling American-made clean, renewable, and emission-free energy technology abroad, with a $100 billion commitment to assisting countries to purchase and deploy this technology — supporting American jobs while supplying the world with the clean energy products needed to cut global emissions.

Warren’s plan also identifies specific cost offsets that, according to the Moody’s economic analysis, cover nearly the entire cost of her plan: her Real Corporate Profits Tax, ending subsidies for oil and gas companies, and closing tax loopholes that promote shipping jobs overseas.

Warren’s Green Manufacturing Plan comes after her Public Lands Plan, two in a series of proposals as she continues to lay out her vision for how we implement the Green New Deal.

“The climate crisis demands immediate and bold action. Like we have before, we should bank on American ingenuity and American workers to lead the global effort to face down this threat — and create more than a million good jobs here at home,” Warren said.

Read more about Warren’s vision of Economic Patriotism here.

Read more about Warren’s Green Manufacturing Plan here.