The Women’s Marches that took place across the country – some 250 of them including Washington DC and New York City – are the opening salvo to the 2020 Election. Make no mistake, this was about voting, realizing that all the issues that they care about hinge on the coming election and not on changing the minds of lawmakers who currently control the levers of power: reproductive freedom and a woman’s right to self-determination; access to the ballot and access to health care; climate action and environmental justice; gun safety and domestic violence; gender equity, sexism and misogyny; discrimination and sexual harassment; immigration reform and human rights. They are all on the ballot this November.
And the Supreme Court and all the courts now
dominated by radical right-wing judges that seek to roll back women’s rights,
civil rights, voting rights, health-care-is-a-human-right. “Ruth Bader
Ginsburg, hold on,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer declared as the
march set off down Columbus Avenue, passed the Trump International Hotel, where
the most animated expressions of outrage against Trump and his administration
A singular, unifying message emerged: Dump Trump and
his henchmen and his enablers.
And a theme for the New York City march organized by Women’s March Alliance (womensmarchalliance.org): Rise & Roar.
Though it is unlikely that women will re-create the 750,000 who marched on Washington with millions more around the world who turned out in 2017 in the largest single day of protest in history, vastly outnumbering those who came out the day before on the National Mall to watch Trump swear to uphold the Constitution and protect the nation against enemies foreign and domestic, it is crucial that people turn out for the women’s marches in Washington, DC (Meet at Freedom Plaza, 1455 Pennsylvania Ave. at 10 am, womensmarch.com), New York City (at Central Park West & 72nd Street, 11 am, womensmarchalliance.org) and many other cities in 2020, taking place on Saturday, January 18.
The disappointing reality after that
first spectacular Women’s March is how little it accomplished. Lawmakers could
care less, based on the policies they enacted, including moving so close to
repealing Obamacare except for Senator McCain’s last-second vote, and tax
policy that discriminated against women’s health, and shifted $1 trillion in
resources from infrastructure and services for everyday Americans to the
richest 1% and corporations. They could care less for the hundreds of
thousands who pleaded for sensible gun laws, or for climate action and
There isn’t even the same buzz as in
the 2018 march in Washington and around the country (200,000 attended in New York City,
alone) , so much more significant because the protest was less about
“converting” lawmakers than mobilizing voter registration, inspiring
women to run for elected office, and driving turnout in the November mid-terms.
And they did in historic numbers, putting Democrats back in control of
the House which put the brakes to the extent possible on the worst impulses of
Trump and the Republicans. “I can do whatever I want as president,” Trump
declared at a Turning Point event with young Republicans. (After the House
Republican majority’s first success in repealing Obamacare in 2017, Trump said,
‘I’m president. Can you believe it?”)
In 2019, tens of thousands
marched in New York City, calling for action on a Woman’s Agenda
that encompasses everything from pay parity, paid parental leave, affordable
child care and pre-K to immigration reform, gun violence prevention, climate
action, criminal justice reform – in other words, the gamut of social,
political, environmental and economic justice. And yes, reproductive freedom.
During 2019, which opened with Trump
declaring a “national emergency” to justify shutting down the federal
government in order to extort billions to build his wall, migrants continued to
be separated and die in custody, thousands were sent to horrific and dangerous
conditions in Mexico; gun violence reached new heights; climate disasters have
exploded around the globe; and reproductive freedom has been further
600,000 women lost birth control
coverage last year because of the Trump Administration’s attacks on your
healthcare; funding for women’s health clinics has been eliminated and
artificial barriers to their operation have forced many to close. The Hyde
Amendment which bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, serves as a
de facto ban for a quarter of low-income women.
Even more is at stake in 2020, when
Trump and Trumpism is on the ballot. Over this first term, he has been
increasingly emboldened and unbridled, to the point where he believes he can
unleash a war while schmoozing on the golf course.
So far, the organizers of this
Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, took out a permit for 10,000.
The women’s movement, inexplicably
and yet probably not, has gotten wound up, bogged down and even subverted with
other issues – racism, anti-Semitism. Leaders are bending over backwards to
show how progressive, how inclusive they are, and moving away from the key
issues that women are fighting for.
Women’s issues wind up being about
all these other issues because all of them affect women’s ability to have equal
opportunity, earn what they deserve in order to provide for their families: war
and peace, climate change, living wage, public education, health care,
affordable pharmaceuticals, clean air and water, voting rights, gun safety,
DACA and immigration reform.
But at the heart of all of them is
women’s reproductive rights, under threat as never before by a radical
right-wingers in Congress and on the courts determined to disregard law and
precedent and overturn Roe v Wade (along with Obamacare) with a Supreme Court
that has been shifted radically right because of the illegitimate appointments
secured by Trump and Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (along with hundreds of
judges throughout the federal court system that are long-lasting bombs to
womens rights and civil rights.
The Roe v Wade decision in 1973
ruled that the Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to
have an abortion without excessive government restriction – in other words, it
was built upon some extrapolation of privacy and property rights, rather than
Overturning Roe v Wade would mean
that women, unlike men, are not entitled to the same right to
self-determination, to make their own judgments and choices for their health,
their body, their family or their lives. And like all those other cases that
Ginsburg argued as the leading gender rights lawyer for the ACLU before
becoming Supreme Court Justice, it would re-establish the systemic barriers to
women (not men) to fulfill all their aspirations and abilities. It is as
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democratic candidate for president, said, when women
are forced out of the career track, they never get back to where they were if
they return at all. This I s the result of unaffordable, inaccessible quality
child care and the lack of universal pre-K.
It would essentially make women a subject
of the state, forced to give up professional aspirations to care for a child,
or spend inordinate amounts of money and resources on child care, put women
into poverty because all of these social services are also being tied to work
while doing nothing to make childcare affordable, taking away food stamps and
school lunch. It’s not one thing, it’s many different elements.
As Justice Ginsburg said, “The
decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her
well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When the
government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a
fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”
And the Supreme Court decision would
not necessarily mean that the state you live in would determine if you might
have access to abortion, which would set up a different category of unequal
protection – their ruling could make abortion illegal nationwide by
establishing “personhood” rights of a fetus, in which case the fetus would have
more rights than its mother.
Women are marching for affordable
child care, quality public education, affordable and accessible health care
without higher cost for women or for pre-existing conditions (which before
Obamacare rendered women of child-bearing age), or lifetime caps on coverage at
a time when middle class families are spending 20% of income ($12,000/year) on
health insurance, 35 million can’t afford life saving drugs they are
prescribed, 30,000 die prematurely because of lack of access to health care,
and 500,000 go bankrupt because of medical bills.
Women are marching for environmental
justice at a time when the Trump Administration is making it easy for polluters
to destroy the air and water producing creating public health issues such as
asthma affecting a child’s ability to succeed in school, and worker
productivity. It means climate justice at a time when the Trump Administration
is actually prosecuting those who would try to reduce carbon emissions (they
are trying to prosecute the four auto manufacturers who said they would comply
with California’s emissions standards for anti-trust violations), while
families are losing their homes, their workplaces and communities have to spend
fortune to rebuild after climate disasters.
Women are marching for gun safety so
that parents and children don’t have the constant anxiety and school districts
and communities don’t have to spend a fortune on security rather than programs
that benefit people.
This year’s march may be the most
important one, just as the 2020 election is the most important one of our
lifetimes (and yes, 2016, as we now know, was the most important election up
until this one).
The march is an affirmation, brings
like-minded people together, validates our case, and yes, motivates and
provides a platform for people to run for office, as in 2018, and win their
The march is not about “them” it is
That is why it is so very important
to have a strong turnout for this year’s marches, the fourth year in a row,
especially in 2020, the centennial of women winning the right to vote,
especially in this election year when the nation faces an existential threat
from its own government. Women must turn out, and continue the momentum
of 2018 into the 2020 election.
Virginia could be the 38th
state to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, which would make the ERA the 28th
amendment to the Constitution, though the opponents argue that the votes by the
other 37 states have expired, and we’ll have to go through this entire 60-year
process all over again. (Trump’s
The opponents argue there is no
reason for an amendment that certifies the equal rights of all people. But
based on the policies, laws and lawsuits at the federal and state level, an ERA
is more necessary than ever, because as we have seen from the Supreme Court,
precedents like Roe v Wade and one-person, one-vote, or equal protection for
all are fungible.
This is a crucial year for women to
turn out, not allow the momentum of 2018 to be lost, but rev up for the 2020 election.
So whip out those pink pussy hats
and march for women’s rights on Saturday, January 18. March as if your ability
to determine your own future is at stake.
I thought it was impressive when a couple of dozen elected officials from state, county and local government came to a Shabbat service at Temple Beth-el of Great Neck to show support for the Jewish community after horrific attacks at a Rabbi’s home in Monsey and a massacre at Jersey City kosher grocery. I was moved by the outpouring of 25,000 mostly Jewish (surprisingly few Orthodox) who marched as a demonstration of Jewish pride and resolution over the Brooklyn Bridge, led by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Governor Cuomo and Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, and faith leaders. But what was truly awesome were the 2500 Long Islanders who marched in a show of solidarity to fight anti-Semitism and hate crimes at the county seat in Mineola, representing just about every aspect, community and culture across the length and breadth of Long Island. Marchers came from across the Island, representing more than 125 religious and community groups.
Nassau County Executive
Laura Curran organized the march and rally in solidarity with the Jewish
community and against Anti-Semitism in response to horrific attacks in Brookyn,
Monsey, and Jersey City, as well as incidents of Anti-Semitic graffiti at the Holocaust Memorial and
Tolerance Center of Nassau County in Glen Cove. In December, Nassau and Suffolk Counties formed a bi-county coalition that
will identify and develop a plan of action to combat and report acts of hate
and bias incidents on Long Island. In conjunction with a number of
organizations, today’s march marked one of the task force’s inaugural
“We organized this march
to send a clear message in one voice: Long Islanders of all faiths and
backgrounds stand united with our Jewish community and against Anti-Semitism,”
said Nassau County Executive Laura
As Assemblyman Charles Lavine read off
the names of participating groups, closing out nearly two hours of speeches
(notably very short speeches, that’s how many speakers there were) included on
the list: Turkish, Chinese, Indian…
Many of the speakers spoke of bigotry
and anti-Semitism as being anathema to American values. But of course,
Americans have a Pollyannish notion of this country’s “tolerance,”
“acceptance.” The strain of bigotry, hatred and particularly anti-Semitism has
always been here, even during World War II. It was muted after the Holocaust,
after the US soldiers penetrated the concentration camps and saw, for the first
time, that it was not “propaganda” that millions and millions were caged for
extermination, that the Final Solution was real. But it was anti-Semitism that
kept America from accepting refugees before, during and after the Holocaust,
and no coincidence that the Palmer raids of the 1920s targeted Jewish labor
leaders and the McCarthy blacklist consisted mainly of Jewish writers and
The “popular” view is that anti-Semitism
is back on the rise because working people feel somehow disadvantaged, though
the connection eludes me. But here’s what I don’t get: in Nazi Germany, Jews
were a convenient scapegoat for the genuine suffering of Germans caught in a
Great Depression. That is not the case here in the United States. In fact, we
are constantly told that the economy is the strongest in history, unemployment
is at a 50-year low.
The rise in anti-Semitism – not just
vandalism and nasty remarks but physical violence like the massacres at the
Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg, a synagogue in Poway, California, in
Jersey City and the attack at a rabbi’s home in Monsey during a Chanukah
celebration, has been quite astonishing. Over 2,000 hate crimes against Jews in
2019. In New York City, according to the New York Police Department, hate
crimes against all other groups (Asian, Catholic, Hispanic, Black, Arab, Muslim,
LBGTQ) totaled 206; the number directed against Jews, just in the five
Speakers referred to the fear that Jews now
feel in their own neighborhood, community, college campus. Many
Holocaust survivors are being wracked with renewed PTSD, their terrors
Indeed, a study by the American Jewish
Committee in October found that 31% of Jews hide the fact they are Jewish; 25
percent avoid certain places, events, situations out of concern for their
safety. In America? “We must be proud
and not shy away,” said Eric Post, AJC NY Associate Director.
“Anti-Semitism is not solely a Jewish problem. It’s an American problem. If not
eradicated, it will corrode our fabric.”
There is a difference in today’s
anti-Semitism, in that individuals armed with social media or semi-automatic
weapons can do horrific damage that before would have required some
organization or government sanction. And even if the defense is some sort of
mental illness, as in the Monsey case, the question is why the voices compel them to strike out
against Jews, what is it in the culture that directs hatred in that way?
But such hate turns out not even to be
solely “organic” or a representation of “grassroots” disaffection. Foreign
governments, particularly Russia, as well as domestic political factions that
are using anti-Semitism, racism and fomenting hate in order to sow division,
disrupt and destabilize our society to tilt elections and take power – after
all, it worked so well during the 2016 campaign.
five of our region’s Congressional representatives – Suozzi, King, Rice, Meeks and Zeldin – are requesting FBI
Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel, Homeland Security acting
Secretary Chad Wolf and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper conduct an investigation into
potential campaigns sponsored by foreign adversaries to cause civil unrest on
“Whether anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, race
based or some other form of hate, internal divisions provide an opportunity for
our adversaries to exploit and further divide our nation,” the letter states.
“We must work together to combat those that exploit ignorance to sow division for
their strategic interest.”
The letter also cites a recent FBI study
that found the rate of hate crimes increased by 17 percent from 2016 to 2017
but the rate of anti-Semitic crimes increased by 37 percent in 2017 and attacks
motivated by racial or ethnical prejudice doubled. The timing since Trump’s
ascendancy is not coincidence; Trump has curried the support of racists and
bigots and basically green-lighted their activities. No longer is racism and
bigotry kept under wraps or in shadow; with Trump it is out in the open.
But to the extent America is a melting
pot, that melting pot is the New York metropolitan region – the city and suburbs,
especially Long Island. Which is why the dramatic escalation in anti-Semitic
hate crimes our area is all the more shocking and terrifying.
Rabbi Meir Feldman, who gave the sermon
at Temple Beth-el on that Friday night, had only 72 hours before been at Yad
Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.
“Our question tonight is not why there
is anti-Semitism. It is simpler: what is this crazy evil thing, this abnormal
force of anti-Semitism?” He shows a cartoon that is displayed at the memorial,
an image of a parasite, an insect meant to be walked on but sits on top of the
world, in its right eye, a symbol of money, in its left eye a hammer and
sickle, the symbols of Capitalist and the communist seemingly
contradictory. That is anti-Semitism –
hated by both ends, a convenient scapegoat for anybody’s discontent and any
“Anti-Semitism is an impossible series
of contradictions,” he says. “What’s our response? How do we confront and fight
this scourge of contradictions?” He says with honesty, unity, solidarity and
“We must call out Anti-Semitism
wherever, whenever, reveal it for what it is: insane contradictions. Identify
the ideological source – right, left, White Nationalist, Black Nationalist.”
But this is the most
significant difference between Germany in the 1930s (where Jews had been living
for 1000 years) and now: the vast majority of elected officials are standing up
and calling out anti-Semitism, initiating new laws and calling for police enforcement,
as they did on Friday night at Temple Beth-el, in the March Against Hate in New
York last week, and in this weekend’s extraordinary march and rally on the
steps of the Theodore Roosevelt County Building.
it isn’t just speeches and marches, but actions. Senator Charles Schumer is
advocating $360 million more in spending to secure houses of worship and
federal assistance to localities to prosecute hate crimes; 298 Representatives
have signed on to sponsor the Never Again Education Act to authorize the Secretary of Education
to award grants to eligible entities to carry out educational programs about
the Holocaust. (It was introduced in the House in January 2019.)
Congressman Tom Suozzi attributed the
rise in anti-Semitism to social media which makes it easy to spread and magnify
hate, some of it promulgated by foreign adversaries trying to stir up civil
unrest. It works because “there is too much ignorance. How many deny the
Holocaust or don’t know about it? That is a recipe for disaster.” The US
soldiers, he said, who were just two or three months away from liberating the
concentration camps were still debating if the Holocaust was real or propaganda.
“We must educate.”
The state and county are stepping up
prosecution of hate crimes, as well. Governor Cuomo is proposing a domestic terrorism law that encompasses
hate crimes, and is seeking resources and security funding for law enforcement
and faith based institutions.
State Senator Anna
Kaplan has introduced four bills aimed at combating the rising tide of
anti-Semitism and hate in New York State, through education, awareness, and a
stronger hate crimes statute to ensure prosecutors have the tools necessary to
hold accountable those committing anti-Semitic and hate motivated crimes.
“As a Jewish
refugee who came to this country fleeing anti-Semitic violence in my homeland,
my heart aches over the out-of-control spree of anti-Semitic violence taking
place here in New York. I’ve been proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with New
Yorkers of all faiths and backgrounds as we have marched in the streets and
loudly proclaimed that we will not allow anti-Semitism and hatred to take hold
in New York, and today, I’m proud to announce that I am taking concrete steps
to address this crisis from every direction.”
the first Persian-American elected State Senator: “We speak with one voice. We
are never going to accept anti-Semitism in our community or anywhere. Anti-Semitism
has been a plague on society for thousands of years. We have to be the
generation that stands up and takes decisive action.”
Nassau County District Attorney Madeline
Singas said, “We see thousands of you shoulder to shoulder, different colors,
creeds, faiths, standing with neighbors, community to say ‘Enough.’ Hate is
offensive to a nation born of tolerance, and it is criminal. We will work hard
to arrest, prosecute, hold offenders accountable. “ She has created a hate
crimes bureau. ‘We hope one day soon we won’t need it. We say no to
anti-Semitism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, bigotry.”
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran,
who organized the massive display, said, “Hate has no place on our beautiful
island. We have got your back,” and introduced five Holocaust survivors.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone:
“this is the one nation on earth where every form of humanity is a citizen…
January 27 is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
That date is a reminder, we must stand up, any time we see bias or hate in
words or actions.”
Senator Schumer, relating how his great
grandmother, along with 30 other
relatives aged 3 months to 85 years old, were machine gunned by Nazis in
Ukraine, said, “Unfortunately people there didn’t speak up.”
New York State Attorney General Letitia James said, “As an African American, I know hate, know discrimination. An attack against one of us is an attack against all of us… During the civil rights movement, it was Jews who referred to blacks by their last name, not their first; who let Blacks enter the front door, not the back door, Jewish people who died for my people. Not just black blood but Jewish blood [was shed for civil rights]. Hate won’t be tolerated on Long Island or anywhere in the State.”
New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli
said it is hard to believe how the numbers of anti-Semitic incidents, of hate,
violence are going up in the New York metro area. “You being here show that we
will not accept this as the new normal. What we take from today, in our homes,
workplaces, houses of worship, neighborhoods, that’s where we must fight hate.”
Everyone, he said, should see the “Auschwitz: Not Long Ago, Not Far Away”
exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage (extended until August 30, 2020). “Eli
Wiesel warned of the great peril of indifference in the face of hate.”
Dr. Isma Chaudhry, president of the Islamic Center of Long Island, which turned out in force for the march, said, ‘What I see today is a strong Long Island. As a Muslim, our moral obligation to stand by humanity suffering in pain, prosecution of hatred, discrimination. We stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters in solidarity… Nassau is making history by this strong statement of solidarity of diverse communities.”
Kevin Thomas, the first Indian-American
elected State Senator, holding his 13-month old daughter: “My community stands
with the Jewish community” adding, we need to teach our children when they are
Assemblyman Tony D’Urso’s family is a
model of the courage that it takes. When he was just a boy, Nazis took over his
village in Italy. His father protected the only two Jewish families who lived
in the village, hiding them in the mountains when others would have happily
given them up for a little money or food.
Probably most touching was Linda Beigel
Schulman, whose son Scott was a teacher-coach when he was murdered in
the massacre at Parkland school in 2018. She noted that the target of his
killer was a history class teaching about the Holocaust.
“We held a celebration of his life at
the temple where Scott was bar mitzvahed. The rabbi asked if I wanted any
security. I said ‘Why?’ Six days later, a gunman massacred Jews at the Tree of
Life synagogue, simply because they were Jewish.”
Schulman’s father was a Holocaust
survivor and when she taught in Germany 1977-9, “I feared telling people I was
a Jew. But living in Louisiana, a woman asked me, ‘where do you hide your
horns.’ Her husband attended NYU; his roommate moved out when he discovered he
“I know why I am here today, why we all
must be here, to have our voices heard. Over 2,000 anti-Semitic incidents in
2019 – gestures, name-calling, painting swastikas, toppling headstones,
physical attacks and murder, merely because a person is Jewish or believed to
be. Anti-Semitism is like a virus infecting, sometimes killing its host. The
body tries to fight it off, but it lies dormant, and rears up again. If we
allow anti-Semtiism to take hold in the United States, it will destroy the
fiber that holds us together. E Plubus Unum – out of many, one. Without that
motto is tribalism and ‘me first’.
“We need to become the best society we
can. We the people are the antidote. It
doesn’t matter if Jew, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or no religion, Asian
American, Hispanic, Italian, African American, whether citizen or immigrant, if
you came by airplane, ship or on foot. We are the antidote to wipe out
anti-Semitism once and for all. Our voices must be heard. Silence only brings
acceptance and gives anti-Semitism the fuel it needs to spread.”
Assemblyman Charles Lavine, who served
as the emcee for the event, said, “For generations, tragedy after tragedy, Jews
have been saying “Am Yisrael Chai” – the people of Israel live. It is time for
us all Americans to stand together, united to say, Am America Chai. These are
Here is a list of the elected officials,
community and faith leaders who participated in Long Island’s march against
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Suffolk County
Executive Steve Bellone
Chuck Schumer, Senator
Letitia James, State Attorney General
Tom Suozzi, Congressman
Peter King, Congressman
Kathleen Rice, Congresswoman
Tom Di Napoli, State Comptroller
Todd Kaminsky, State Senator
Kevin Thomas, State Senator
Anna Kaplan, State Senator
Jim Gaughran, State Senator
John Brooks, State Senator
Chuck Lavine, Assemblyman
Judy Griffin, Assemblywoman
Mike LiPetri, Assemblyman
Michelle Solages, Assemblywoman
Madeline Singas, NC Distirct Attorney
Jack Schnirman, NC Comptroller
Don Clavin, Town of Hempstead Supervisor
Anthony D’Esposito, TOH Councilman
Charles Berman, Town of North Hempstead Tax Reciever
Wayne Wink, ToNH
Peter Zuckerman, ToNH Councilman
Veronica Lurvey, ToNH
Viviana Russell, ToNH Councilwoman
Debra Mule, County Legislator
William Gaylor, County Legislator
Thomas Mckevitt, County Legislator
Delia Deriggi-Whitton, County
Ellen Birnbaum, County Legislator
Richard Nicolello, President Officer of County
you watch Elizabeth Warren at her rallies, you don’t get the feeling she is
doing this for her own ego, for her own advantage. Her own situation is so far
passed the stress she had as a young person, when her father, a janitor, got
sick and her mother had to go out and support the family on a minimum wage job
at Sears, or when she attended the only community college she could afford, She’s
well passed being a special education public school teacher, and even the
prestigious job of a Harvard law professor and could easily sail through being
a US Senator without the superhuman tension of being the Leader of the Free
World. She would not personally benefit from any of the proposals she is
fighting for, except that they would make the country stronger, healthier,
happier, more prosperous, and restore its moral compass so badly misdirected by
a president who regards the Constitution as having as much force as a
suggestion, who separates families, puts children in cages, launches illegal
assassination, pardons war criminals, and advances economic policies that
exacerbate the inequality between rich and poor.
one young woman said walking into the Kings Theater in Brooklyn where Warren
was going to campaign with Julian Castro for the first time, “You feel hope.
You feel she is speaking to you.”
smarts come through, even as she makes jokes and makes fun of herself (“When
you have to number your husbands, not a good thing.” “Are you sensing a pattern
here?” she says as she relates how her quest to get a college education or hold
a job was interrupted by pregnancy and raising a baby. And you must hear her
story about the toaster to appreciate how she got the idea for the Consumer
Financial Protection Board, which boils down to the idea that government
regulation is needed to protect consumers and like with product safety,
financial security should also have consumer protection, and level the playing
field for enterprises that seek to implement socially responsible,
environmentally sustainable practices.)
Not surprisingly, among the reams of specific plans she has come out with, from universal health care to public education to environmental justice, to immigration reform, Warren, who notes that she spent 45 minutes as a lawyer after getting her degree, but as a Harvard law professor, taught everything to do with finance, has come out with specific plan to re-write the bankruptcy law.
At her rally at the grand historic Kings Theater in Brooklyn, in front of an audience of over 3,000 (another 1500 outside who couldn’t be admitted), Senator Warren went through her biography, her resume, and managed to digest down to three key points the sum-total of a bold progressive remaking of America – attack corruption; structural change in the economy; protect democracy – that comes down to “making government work for everyone,” and, as Julian Castro said, putting the American Dream back within reach of ordinary people.
Castro, the former HUD Secretary under Obama who had just abandoned his own
presidential bid and immediately endorsed Warren, made this plain, describing
her as someone who has overcome adversity, understands what ordinary people
need and more significantly, understands the structural forces that contribute
to inequality and the undoing of democracy:
a fighter because she has also struggled and lived that American dream.
Elizabeth Warren grew up the daughter of a janitor. She grew up to become a
public school teacher. And a law professor. And a United States Senator. And
a champion for consumers everywhere in this country.
knows what sacrifice is like after her father had a heart attack, her mom had
to take a minimum wage job at Sears to make ends meet. She understands because
she’s listened to people for many years, throughout this country. She’s heard
their calls for change. She’s heard about their dreams and their aspirations
for themselves and for their families and communities and for our country.
She’s a fighter because she knows that too often times today the deck is
stacked against people who just want a shot at reaching their dreams. She knows
that too often today in Washington, the power goes to special interests who can
afford big lobbyists and lawyers to write in special provisions and
legislation. She knows that we need to get big money out of politics.
“She knows that we need to give the people the powerful — the power and not the powerful the biggest voice. And let me tell you something, I don’t have to guess what kind of President she’s going to be, because I’ve seen firsthand what kind of the senator she is…
was there to know what we were gonna do to invest in communities that were
hurting. She is a fighter for people who need a voice.
“She’s a fighter for everyday Americans that simply want a shot. So I know that that’s the kind of president that she’s gonna be.”
In the video Castro made announcing his endorsement of Warren,
he said, In the video
announcing his endorsement, Secretary Castro said: “There’s one candidate I see
who’s unafraid to fight like hell to make sure America’s promise will be there
for everyone. Who will make sure that no matter where you live in America or
where your family came from in the world, you have a path to opportunity too.
That’s why I’m proud to endorse Elizabeth Warren for president.”
Warren came to the stage, embraced
Castro, and immediately opened with her concern about Trump orchestrating a war
in Iran, and reaching out to the “brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico who need
help” after devastating series of earthquakes, and should get the federal help
the island was denied after Hurricane Maria.
She renewed her charge that
government works great for Big Pharma but not for people needing to fill
prescriptions; for giant oil companies, but not for the rest of us who realize
the existential risk that climate change poses. (Just this week, the Trump
Administration is seeking to eliminate environmental restrictions on building
pipelines or drilling).
“If there is a decision to be made,
it’s made by Big Money,” she declared. “The middle class is being hollowed out.”
“To fix this, we can’t just nibble
at the edges. We need big structural change. And I have a plan for that.”
Indeed, she has already released a
score of detailed plans, including how she would battle corruption in
government. “I have the biggest anti-corruption plan since Watergate; I will
end lobbying as we know it. Make the Supreme Court play by the basic rules of
ethics. Make everyone who runs for federal office put their tax returns on
line. Attack the corruption head on. Disrupt the inflow of money into politics.
It is time for a president to enforce the anti-trust laws.”
She also is advocating for “an
ultra-millionaire” wealth tax, prompting chants of “Two Cents. Two Cents” – the
amount of tax she would impose after the first $50 million of net worth (6% on
amounts over $1 billion) – that is the top one tenth of one percent of the
country who would fall into this category. That money, she insists, would pay
for scores of programs needed to restore equal opportunity, from universal
child care, to universal pre-K, to erasing student debt (big cheers).
So the first part of her vision is
to attack corruption that disrupts the stranglehold on government that money in
politics plays, so we can fight back against score of big issues that have
languished: climate change, gun safety
The second element is structural change in the economy – and on this, she has proposed a score of changes including tax reform, a living wage, changing the rules for mortgages and rentals and bankruptcy, investing in a Green New Deal and affordable housing.
The third element is protecting
“I will seek a Constitutional
amendment to protect the right to vote and to get every vote counted; a law
banning political gerrymandering (applause); to roll back every racist voter
suppression law (big cheers), to overturn Citizen United (cheers of “Warren,
And that’s what brought her to
“I think about toasters,” she turns
and with a sly smile, says, “You are surprised?”
“When I was a young mother,
toasters could burn down houses – they didn’t turn off. Ask me how I know,”
(she again has that sly smile). Then along comes the Consumer Product Safety
Board. Manufacturers were forced to put in safety switches.
“In the early 2000s, mortgages were so complex, dangerous that there was a one in five chance of a family losing their home through foreclosure. The federal government was not on the side of the people’s, but was deep in the pocket of banks, preying on the young, farmers, seniors, They crashed the economy.
“So I had the idea for an agency
like the toaster agency, so that you can’t cheat people.
“People said, ‘You can’t make a
difference. Don’t even try. You can’t get it done.
“Big structural change is hard, but
the right thing to do,” she said applying the lesson of having created the
Consumer Financial Protection Board (chants of “CFPB”, “CFPB”) to take on Wall
Street, which Obama signed into being in 2010. Since then, she said, more than
$12 billion in ill-gotten gains from financial companies has been returned to
“We can make government work for
people,” she said.
But, she said with an air of
warning to those who would back a moderate candidate believing a moderate would
have the best chance at defeating Trump in 2020, “We need big ideas to inspire
people, to vote, to bring their friends out to vote, to tell the world who and
what Democrats will fight for. To take back the Senate and put Mitch McConnell
out of a job,” she declared, bringing the audience of 3000 to its feet with its
“We need big ideas and be willing
to fight. But if we give up big ideas, if we only offer business as usual,
Democrats will lose.
“I’m not running to appease big donors – I passed that stop sign a long time ago. This campaign is from the heart. 2020 is our moment. We will fight for a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and a 2 cent wealth tax.”
Before coming to Brooklyn, Warren had held 199 town halls across the country and traveled to 29 states and Puerto Rico. She had taken over 100,000 selfies since the beginning of the campaign (20,000 of them in Washington Square Park, posing until midnight). She took her 100,000th selfie in Manchester, Iowa the Saturday before coming to Brooklyn. She had visited the boroughs of New York City and Queens and now Brooklyn. By the end of the Brooklyn event, with enthusiastic supporters lined up throughout the Kings Theater and down the street, Warren would have added some 3,000 more selfies to her total.
Outside the theater, a score of volunteers on every street corner were collecting signatures to meet the required 40,000 by January 21 deadline to be on New York’s ballot. The New York primary is April 28.
Just before taking the stage at Kings Theater in Brooklyn, NY, with Julian Castro, in her campaign for president, Senator Elizabeth Warren detailed how her administration will fix the bankruptcy system to protect working families and give people a second chance. It is part of her plan to restructure the systemic impediments to financial and economic opportunity for ordinary Americans.The plan to reform bankruptcy laws is a particular jab at Vice President Joe Biden, who as Senator representing the State of Delaware, helped push the George W Bush re-write of the bankruptcy laws that shielded financial institutions but put consumers on the hook. This is from the Warren campaign:
As one of the nation’s leading experts on the financial pressures facing middle class families, Elizabeth conducted groundbreaking research on why families go broke. Elizabeth spent ten years battling the banking industry over the bad 2005 bankruptcy bill — which spent $100 million on lobbying efforts. The bill became law with overwhelming support from Republicans and support from some Democrats in Congress.
I spent most of my career
studying one simple question: why do American families go broke?
When I started my career as a young law
professor, I thought — like a lot of people at the time — that most families
went broke because they were irresponsible or wasteful. They lived beyond their
means. And when their irresponsibility finally caught up with them, they took
advantage of our bankruptcy system to get out from under their debts.But when I
started to teach bankruptcy, I found that no one — not even the supposed
“experts” — had actually dug into the data to figure out what drove families
So I found two incredible partners and set out
to gather the data about why families go broke. That was back when you had to
collect information by hand, and courts charged a lot to make copies for you.
To save money, I flew around to courthouses all over the country with my own
photocopier — nicknamed R2D2 — strapped into the airplane seat next to me,
copying thousands of bankruptcy filings to begin understanding why American
families turned to bankruptcy.
I’ll never forget sitting in a wood-paneled
courtroom in San Antonio on one of my first trips, watching the families filing
for bankruptcy move in and out of the courtroom to appear in front of the
judge. They looked just like the family I grew up in — hanging on to the
ragged edge of the middle class. Now they were standing in front of a judge,
ready to give up nearly everything they owned just to get some relief from the
bill collectors.Our research ended up showing that most of these families
weren’t reckless or irresponsible — they were just getting squeezed by an
economy that forced them to take on more debt and more risk to cling to their
place in America’s middle class.
And that meant one bad break could send them
tumbling over the edge. The data showed that nearly 90% of these families were
declaring bankruptcy for one of three reasons: a job loss, a medical problem,
or a family breakup.
In the early 1990s, Congress launched a
blue-ribbon commission to review the bankruptcy laws and suggest improvements.
I was asked to help. Initially, I said no. Then I thought about the stories I
had come across in our research. I thought about the family that finally got a
shot at their lifelong dream to launch a new restaurant — and it went
belly-up. The young and very tired woman who described how she finally managed
to leave her abusive ex-husband, but now was alone with her small children and
a pile of bills. The elderly couple who had cashed out everything they owned
and then went into debt to bail out their son who was fighting addiction and
put him through rehab again and again. And then I called back and said yes.
That’s what started my ten-year fight against
the banking industry’s effort to change our bankruptcy laws to squeeze
everything they could out of working families. Just as the commission’s report
was due, the banking industry wrote its own version of a bankruptcy bill and
got its allies in Congress to introduce it. In the industry’s version of the
world, Congress could support either “honest people who pay their bills” or
“people who skip out on their debts.” There wasn’t any room to talk about
rising health care costs or lost jobs that pushed working families to the
brink. I knew that those hundreds of changes in the industry-backed bill would
make it harder for struggling families to get relief.
And I knew I needed help. I was lucky to pick up
some terrific allies in the Senate. Senator Ted Kennedy, who led the fight for
years. Senators Paul Wellstone, Russ Feingold, and Dick Durbin all
enthusiastically jumped in. For the next three years, we fought off the
industry as best we could. Ultimately, however, the Senate and House passed the
industry-backed bill by wide margins. But President Clinton, in the last days
of his presidency, upended the industry plan and vetoed its bill.
The financial industry lost that round — but it
didn’t quit. Eventually, it rallied its allies in Congress again and managed to
push through another version of its bill in 2005 with overwhelming Republican
support and some Democratic support.
I lost that fight in 2005, and working families
paid the price. But I didn’t stop fighting to hold the financial industry
accountable and to help American families. I started laying the groundwork for
new protections for credit card users and in 2007 proposed the idea of a new
federal agency to protect
American families from tricks in mortgages, student loans, and other financial
products. The rules helping credit card users ended up in the Credit CARD Act,
which President Obama signed into law in 2009. And in 2010, President Obama
signed that new consumer agency — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau —
into law too. That agency has now returned
$12 billion to people who were cheated by
big banks and other financial firms.
But there are still serious problems with our bankruptcy
laws today, thanks in large part to that bad 2005 bill. That’s why I’m
announcing my plan to repeal the harmful provisions in the 2005 bankruptcy bill
and overhaul consumer bankruptcy rules in this country to give Americans a
better chance of getting back on their feet.
Making it Easier to Obtain Relief Through Bankruptcy
Thanks in part to the 2005 bankruptcy bill, our current
system makes it far too hard for people in need to start the bankruptcy process
so they can get back on their feet. My plan streamlines the process, reduces
costs, and gives people more flexibility in bankruptcy to find solutions that
match their financial problems.
Streamlining the bankruptcy filing process. Currently, there
are two main types of bankruptcy proceedings for individuals — the traditional
Chapter 7 proceeding and the longer and less generous Chapter 13 proceeding. In
Chapter 7, bankruptcy filers pay off their debts by surrendering all of their
property other than that protected by
“exemption” laws, but keep their future income. In Chapter 13,
filers keep their property, but undertake a multi-year repayment plan.
The core of the 2005 bankruptcy bill was an onerous and
complicated means test that forces many people with income above their state’s
median income to file for Chapter 13 and make payments from their wages for an
extended period. That is a big additional burden. In Chapter 13, debtors remain
in bankruptcy longer and must pay more to creditors. Many are unable to
complete their repayment plans and do not obtain a discharge of
their unpaid debts at all.
My plan does away with means testing and the two chapters
for consumer debtors. Instead, it offers a single system available to all
consumers. Here’s how it would work.
When people file for bankruptcy, they would disclose all of
their debts, assets, and income, just as they do now. And just as under the
current system, creditors must stop all collection actions against the debtor
outside of bankruptcy court.
Filers would then choose from a menu of options for
addressing their debts. The menu of options available would include a Chapter
7-type option of surrendering all non-exempt property in exchange for having
their unpaid debts “discharged,” as well as options that allow people to deal
with specific financial problems without involving all of their obligations.
For example, someone might use bankruptcy to cure a home mortgage delinquency
while continuing to pay other debts outside of bankruptcy. Or if someone has
long-term debt she needs to restructure, non-exempt property such as a car that
she needs to get to work, a family home she wants to protect, or if the debtor
simply wants to try to pay her creditors, the debtor can also choose to file a
payment plan and request that the court limit the stay of collection actions to
the extent necessary to execute that plan.
As with the current system, certain types of debts would be
non-dischargeable. Additionally, creditors could seek to dismiss a case or
object to an individual’s discharge on grounds of abuse, and they would have an
easier time proving abuse for higher-income debtors. These provisions would
protect against misuse of the bankruptcy system.
My plan would make the bankruptcy system simple, cheap,
fast, and flexible. It would eliminate the burdensome paperwork that drives up
costs for filers and deters them from seeking bankruptcy protection in the
first place. The 2005 bill imposed the same onerous paperwork requirements on a
middle-class American filing bankruptcy that it did on a wealthy real-estate
developer. Both must file the same documentation — including months of pay
stubs and old tax returns — much of which is useless to creditors looking to
get debts repaid.
These requirements are costly and ineffective. The
nonpartisan Government Accountability
Office estimates that these requirements increased what a
Chapter 7 filer had to pay for a lawyer by over 50%. My plan scraps this
unnecessary paperwork and simply requires that bankruptcy filers disclose their
assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. If necessary, the court can always
direct people to provide more information.
Congress also added to the cost of bankruptcy relief in the
2005 bill by putting onerous requirements on consumer bankruptcy attorneys.
Congress required attorneys to certify the accuracy of debtor’s financial
disclosures, to certify the debtor’s ability to make certain payments, to
advertise their services in certain ways, and to provide certain financial
advice to clients. These rules, opposed by the American Bar Association,
increase costs to lawyers that get passed on to consumers, while failing to
adequately protect consumers against unscrupulous lawyers. My plan gets rid of
these requirements and authorizes local bankruptcy courts to develop
disciplinary panels to strengthen enforcement of the existing rules that
discipline ineffective or dishonest lawyers.
Reducing the costs of filing for bankruptcy. A Chapter 7
bankruptcy case today costs the person filing for bankruptcy $1,200 in attorneys’ fees on
average. Academic studies document how
families and individuals, ironically, have to save up for bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy filings spike every spring as tax refunds go to pay a bankruptcy
lawyer, and on days when people often receive paychecks.
Worse, many bankruptcy filers are
shuffled into a more onerous Chapter 13 bankruptcy because it
is the only way they can afford to pay their bankruptcy lawyer. These people
often do not need the more complicated and more expensive Chapter 13 procedure,
which at $3,200 on average costs
more than twice a Chapter 7 filing. Chapter 7, however, requires the filer to
have the cash to pay the lawyer up front, and most people filing bankruptcy are
by definition short on cash, while Chapter 13 allows the person filing to pay
the lawyer over time. Forcing people into Chapter 13 because they cannot afford
to pay their lawyer up front is a ridiculous way to run a consumer debt relief
My plan makes it easier for people to pay for the bankruptcy
relief they need. It automatically waives filing fees for anyone below the
federal poverty level and slowly phases in the fees above that line. And it
allows the bankruptcy filer to pay off reasonable lawyers’ fees at any time
during or after the bankruptcy, not just up front.
These proposals will make it cheaper and quicker for people
to obtain debt relief. And speed is important. Research has shown that the “sweatbox” period when
consumers wrestle with the decision to file for bankruptcy is particularly
damaging to families and their financial health. The 2005 law benefited credit card
companies by extending the sweatbox period. Bankruptcy is not the
right solution for every family facing financial difficulties, but for those
who need bankruptcy relief, it should be available without unnecessary
obstacles or costs. My plan will shrink the sweatbox and make sure that
consumers who need bankruptcy are able to promptly obtain help.
Expanding People’s Rights to Take Care of Themselves and
Their Families During the Bankruptcy Process
Bankruptcy law places certain spending limitations on people
while they are in the bankruptcy process. My plan pares back some of the
limitations that place a particular burden on people — particularly parents
with children — and limit their ability to recover after the bankruptcy
For example, during the debate on the 2005 bankruptcy bill,
Democrats proposed modifying the bill so that renters in bankruptcy could
continue paying their rent if it allowed them to avoid eviction. While that
change was voted down in Congress, my plan adopts it as a fair way to let
people avoid the incredible disruption of an eviction during the bankruptcy
Similarly, my plan allows people in the bankruptcy process
who select a repayment plan option to set aside more money to cover the basics
for themselves and their children. In 2005, Congress rejected an
amendment to the bankruptcy bill that would have allowed
parents to spend a reasonable amount of money on toys and books and basic
recreation activities for their kids during the bankruptcy process. That’s just
wrong — and my plan will provide those protections.
In that same vote, Congress rejected a change that
would have allowed union members to continue paying their union dues during the
bankruptcy process — a critical protection so that people can maintain their
employment and get back on their feet after the bankruptcy process is over. My
plan adopts that protection too for those people who choose a repayment
Ending the Prohibition on Discharging Student Loan Debt
We have a student loan debt crisis in America. And one
reason is that our bankruptcy system makes it nearly impossible to get rid of
that debt, even when you have nothing left.
Over the past forty years, Congress and the courts have made
it progressively more difficult to gain relief from student loan debt in
bankruptcy. Congress initially passed a law saying
that publicly backed student loans could be discharged only with a showing of
“undue hardship” by the borrower. The courts eventually interpreted
that language to impose a very high standard for discharge — a
standard that generally doesn’t apply to other forms of consumer debt. Then, as
part of the 2005 bankruptcy bill, Congress explicitly protected
private student loans with the same undue hardship standard.
As President, I’ll attack the student debt crisis head on.
My student loan debt
cancellation plan cancels up to $50,000 in debt for 95% of
people who have it, relieving a massive burden on families and boosting our economy.
But for people who may still have debt, my bankruptcy reform plan ends the
absurd special treatment of student loans in bankruptcy and makes them
dischargeable just like other consumer debts.
Letting People Protect Their Homes and Cars in Bankruptcy
My plan also makes it easier for people to protect their
homes and cars in bankruptcy so they can start from a better foundation as they
try to rebuild their financial lives.
My plans also permits people to modify their mortgages in
bankruptcy — something that is generally prohibited by law. The restriction on
mortgage modifications in bankruptcy — even though other types of debts can be
renegotiated in bankruptcy — can hurt both bankruptcy filers and mortgage
lenders. Studies have found that the existing restriction on
modifications has not led to a lasting reduction in mortgage
rates. My plan ends this harmful limitation.
My plan further encourages win-win mortgage modifications
by creating a streamlined, standardized mortgage modification option in
The 2008 financial crisis resulted in an unprecedented wave
of mortgage foreclosures, with nearly 8 million foreclosures completed
in the decade starting in 2007. While not all of these foreclosures could have
been prevented, there were many foreclosures that made no sense. In these
cases, the lender and borrower should have been able to agree to a win-win
modification. Yet these common sense deals weren’t happening.
Bankruptcy does not currently provide a solution for this
problem. My plan does. As part of the menu of options available to a bankruptcy
filer, it offers a special streamlined pre-packaged mortgage bankruptcy
procedure that will allow struggling homeowners to get a statutorily defined
mortgage modification. Under this procedure, if a foreclosure has started, and
the homeowner certifies that she has attempted to negotiate a modification in
good faith, she could seek an automatic modification of the mortgage debt to
the market value of the property, with interest rates reduced to achieve a
sustainable debt-to-income ratio.
The homeowner benefits by receiving a sustainable mortgage.
The lender benefits from a modification that produces significantly better
recovery than foreclosure. The neighborhood also benefits by avoiding a nearby
foreclosure. This commonsense proposal should not only be win-win, but the
possibility of a mortgage modification in bankruptcy should encourage more
negotiated modifications outside of bankruptcy.
Finally, my plan will help address so-called “zombie”
mortgages. Mortgage lenders sometimes start, but do not complete, foreclosures
to avoid assuming liability for property taxes and code violations on the
mortgaged property. When the homeowner has vacated the property, the result is
a “zombie” title situation, in which the homeowner remains liable for taxes and
code violations but does not have use of the property. My plan uses bankruptcy
law to “slay” these zombie mortgages by enabling a homeowner who is no longer
in residence to force the lender to complete the foreclosure or otherwise take
title to the property and pay its ongoing costs. This will enable families to
move on with their lives and get a fresh start without the overhang of
liability for a former property they no longer live in. It will also help
communities by reducing the number of abandoned and derelict properties.
My plan goes beyond protecting homes to offering more fair
protection for people’s cars too. For over one-third of bankruptcy
filers, cars represent their most important asset. For these
struggling Americans, the family car is the principal resource that
bankruptcy’s safety net is protecting. And access to a car is often a
requirement for commuting to a job, getting children to child
care, and starting to rebuild finances.
As part of the 2005 bankruptcy bill, Congress made it more
difficult for Chapter 13 bankruptcy filers to keep their cars.
Under prior law, a debtor could keep their car by paying the lender the fair
market value of the car over a reasonable time. But the 2005 bill changed the
law so that families who want to keep their cars often repay more than the fair
market value of the car; they must pay the full amount of their original car
loan, regardless of the true worth of the vehicle.
Families should not have to pay more than the car is
actually worth to keep it. That’s why my plan repeals the 2005 bankruptcy bill
requirement, makes it easier for bankruptcy filers to keep their cars, and
ensures that their fresh start includes the ability to get to work, to school,
and to the doctor.
Addressing Racial and Gender Disparities in the
Bankruptcy doesn’t affect all
people equally — it mirrors the systemic inequalities in our economy. Women and people of color are more likely to file for bankruptcy, which is
in part a reflection of wealth and income disparities. The situation is especially dire
for middle-class families: my
research found that Black middle class families are three times more likely to
file for bankruptcy, and Latinx families are twice as likely, than white
families. The persistent wealth gap in America means that families of color
have far less wealth than white families on average — and at the same time, families of color are far
more likely to be abused by
predatory lending practices. The outcomes in our current bankruptcy system
aren’t equal, either. Black Americans appear to be much more likely to file for
bankruptcy under Chapter 13, a
costlier and more burdensome form of bankruptcy that requires people to make
several years of payments before getting their debts wiped out — and leaves many in an even worse
position as they struggle to
make these payments. The data suggests Black filers are more likely to have
their cases dismissed, too: people who live in majority Black zip codes are more than
twice as likely to have their cases thrown out as those living in majority white areas.I raised
the alarm on the disparate effects of bankruptcy during the years-long debate
over bankruptcy reform. I called out racial disparities in the economic security of middle-class
families filing for bankruptcy. I published articles showing that bankruptcy reform is a
women’s issue, and that women — in
fact, more women than would graduate from four-year colleges or file for
divorce — would be most affected by the changes Congress was considering.The
changes I’ve outlined above — like the new single entry point system that
eliminates the steering of Black bankruptcy filers into Chapter 13, the new
homestead exemption, and the elimination of the means test — will help address
some of these shameful racial and gender inequities in the bankruptcy system.
But my plan takes additional steps as well: Local
fines. Under current law, people who file for bankruptcy are generally not able
to discharge local government fines. Although some of these fines may have an
important governmental function, many operate as a regressive form of revenue
targeting lower-income Black communities in particular for truly minor offenses. My plan eliminates the
special privilege for local fines, with an exception for fines related to
death, personal bodily injury, or other egregious behavior that threatened
public safety.Civil Rights Debts. While current law prevents people from
discharging local fines, it permits discharging debts resulting from civil rights violations. That is unacceptable, especially as police brutality
and the shooting of unarmed Black children and adults in particular remain
serious problems in our country. My plan changes the law so it’s clear that
individuals cannot get relief from debts arising from the commission of civil
rights violations such as police brutality.Improved data collection and audits.
When individuals file bankruptcy petitions, they are obliged to make a long
list of disclosures — but not their race, gender, or age. Although extensive data collection efforts by
academics helped bring to light the differential experiences of filers of color, women, and older Americans, we can continue to improve upon our bankruptcy
system if we collect this information systematically. That’s why my plan
invites bankruptcy filers to provide their racial identification, gender, and
age if they choose to.
A simpler single portal into the personal bankruptcy system
and replacing many line-item categories with a lump-sum personal property
exemption, separate from the homestead exemption, will help align those values.
The lump-sum personal property exemption would be provided by household,
adjusted by the number of dependents, rather than by number of bankruptcy
filers in the household, to prevent under-protecting a single parent with
In addition, my plan adds extra protections for alimony,
child support income, the child tax credit, and the Earned Income Tax Credit
(EITC), ensuring that people (especially single mothers) will be able to
provide for their families and get back on the path to financial security.
These sources of income and assets traceable to them would be exempt
Closing Loopholes that Benefit the Wealthy and Cracking
Down on Big Corporations
While the current bankruptcy system imposes all sorts of
obstacles for working families, it includes loopholes that benefit wealthy
individuals filing for bankruptcy and failed to hold big companies accountable
when they break the law. My plan closes these loopholes and imposes more
accountability so that our system is more fair.
Loopholes benefiting wealthy individuals. In certain states
like Delaware, wealthy individuals can file for bankruptcy and get debt relief
while shielding their assets by placing them in trusts for their own benefit.
This is known as the “Millionaire’s Loophole.”
As part of the 2005 bankruptcy legislation, Congress pretended to close the
Millionaire’s Loophole, while rejecting legislation that actually
would have shut it down. My plan stitches up the Millionaire’s Loophole once
and for all by ensuring that assets in self-settled trusts and revocable trusts
are not exempt from creditors’ claims in bankruptcy. My plan also closes off
the related “spendthrift clause”
loophole that allows the beneficiaries of “dynasty trusts” to
avoid paying their creditors (while maintaining such protection for bona fide
qualified disability trusts).
I am also committed to giving bankruptcy courts more tools
to address fraud. For example, under current law,
a bankruptcy filer who lied and submitted fraudulent documents regarding one of
his assets is entitled to an exemption even when it was shown that he lied. My
plan closes this enormous loophole so that courts can deny an exemption in an
asset that the filer has concealed or lied about.
My plan also strengthens the so-called “fraudulent transfer”
law. Fraudulent transfer law allows creditors to claw back certain transfers
the bankruptcy filer made with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud
creditors. For example, fraudulent transfer law would apply to a deadbeat
ex-spouse who has transferred money into a trust to avoid paying alimony. The
federal statute of limitations for actual fraudulent transfers is shorter than
that of some states, so my plan extends the federal statute of limitations to
match the longest state statute of limitations. Additionally, to discourage
third parties from receiving these fraudulent transfers, my plan updates
federal criminal law to add penalties for knowingly engaging in, aiding and
abetting, or receiving an actual fraudulent transfer.
Accountability for creditors. My plan also cracks down on
big companies that break the law or otherwise unfairly squeeze families in the
bankruptcy process. For example, some companies will use the bankruptcy process
to collect debts even as they have a track record of violating consumer
financial protection laws. By disallowing debts of creditors that harm debtors
by violating consumer financial laws, my plan strengthens the deterrent effect
of our consumer protection laws and helps ensure better compliance of creditors
and their agents, such as mortgage servicers and debt collectors.
My plan also stops companies from collecting on debts that
are no longer valid. In bankruptcy, many debt collectors attempt to
collect on expired debts, whose statute of limitations has run, by
filing claims to be paid and hoping that no one will notice that they no longer
have the right to collect the debt. This practice is harmful to everyone
involved, including other creditors with legally enforceable claims. The Supreme Court wrongly
ruled that seeking to get paid on expired debts does not
violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, so it’s up to Congress to fix
the law now. That’s what my plan does, by making clear that collection of an
expired debt is a violation of the law.
And my plan allows individuals to file to sue to deter
creditors from seeking to collect on debts that were already discharged in an
earlier bankruptcy. Too often, creditors, particularly companies that buy debts for
pennies on the dollar, attempt to collect debts that have been discharged in an
earlier bankruptcy. For decades this has been illegal, but the practice has
persisted because the courts have limited remedies available to address this
misconduct. As recommended by the American
Bankruptcy Institute’s Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy, my plan
gives bankruptcy filers the right to file a lawsuit and have the court order
compensation for the harms caused by creditors who violate this law. My plan
also gives courts the power to impose effective sanctions when they catch this
abuse on their own.
Finally, consumer loans often contain provisions requiring
the borrower to resolve any disputes outside of court, through arbitration. My
plan ensures that creditors cannot continue their efforts to go after consumers
during the bankruptcy process through mandatory arbitration as part of my larger fight against
unfair forced arbitration clauses. Disputes between bankruptcy filers and
creditors should be resolved openly and transparently as part of the bankruptcy
process in court, not in forced arbitration proceedings behind closed doors.
While most Americans give little consideration to foreign policy credentials of their candidates for president, over the “kitchen table” issues such as health care, education, taxes, foreign policy should loom largely over the 2020 election as Americans are waking up to the fact that while a president is for the most part constrained by the legislative branch (Congress) on what can be accomplished domestically (recall how Republicans obstructed Obama on health care, immigration reform, gun safety, climate action and infrastructure and why Medicare for All, a wealth tax may still be a pipe dream), a president is virtually unrestrained in making foreign policy at a time when the world is smaller and more globally interdependent, such as addressing climate change.
And while the Constitution theoretically gives Congress the power to declare war, presidents have found loopholes in addressing “imminent threats.” Trump has gone so much further in pulling out of treaties (the Iran nuclear deal), trade agreements and mutual assistance pacts like the Paris Climate Accord, while taking actions to weaken NATO alliance. The way he has dealt with North Korea has only made the world less safe and the list goes on: Iraq, Syria and ISIS, Turkey and the Kurds, Yemen, Venezuela, Australia.
Of the Democratic candidates for president, Vice President Joe Biden is hoping that voters will appreciate his vast experience (which Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg try to diminish because of his vote, along with just about every other Senator, to give George Bush power to address what they were told (lied) was an imminent threat of Saddam Hussein’s use of Weapons of Mass Destruction).
Now there are a few Democrats, like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who are introducing legislation to rescind the 2002 AUMF and require the President to get Congress’ authorization for use of military force, make it specific and require reauthorization after a period of time. But that is already in the Constitution and they are faced with a president who has demonstrated over and over he does not respect the bounds or oversight on him by the Constitution, with Congress apparently unwilling to do anything about it.
Vice President returned to New York to speak again on foreign policy and the unfolding situation in Iran, drawing a contrast to how Trump has mishandled the situation. These are his prepared remarks:
Six months ago, here in New York City, I made the case that Donald Trump was “dangerously incompetent and incapable … of world leadership.”
In the past few days, in the wake of the killing of Iranian General Soleimani, Donald Trump has proven it beyond dispute.
The haphazard decision-making process that led up to it, the failure to consult our allies or Congress, and the reckless disregard for the consequences that would surely follow — was dangerously incompetent.
In the wake of such an enormous escalation that has exploded geo-politics in the region and put the United States and Iran on a collision course, what would we expect of an American President – and what have we heard from President Trump?
We have not heard a sober-minded explanation to reassure the American people about his decision and its consequences.
Not level-headed words meant to dial down tensions and take us off the path of conflict.
No press conference or consultation with Congress.
No — all we have heard from this president is tweets. Threats. Tantrums.
And all we have heard from his administration are shifting explanations, evasive answers, and repeated assertions of an imminent threat, without the necessary evidence to support that conclusion.
And since this is a president with a history of lying about everything — who has destroyed his own credibility, and that of the United States on the global stage — neither the American people, nor our allies, are inclined to take his word for it.
If there was an imminent threat that required extraordinary action, then we are owed that explanation — and the facts to back it up.
These are matters of deadly import, so let me be unmistakably clear: Donald Trump does not have the authority to go to war with Iran without Congressional authorization.
Working with Congress is not an optional part of the job. Presidential notification to Congress about the need to exercise war powers cannot be satisfied in 280 characters or less.
And no president should ever take the United States to war without securing the informed consent of the American people.
So — because he refuses to level with the American people about the danger in which he has placed American troops and our diplomatic personnel and civilians, as well as our partners and allies, or to demonstrate even a modicum of presidential gravitas — I will.
That starts with an honest accounting of how we got here.
Make no mistake: this outcome of strategic setbacks, heightened threats, chants of “death to America” once more echoing across the Middle East, Iran and its allies vowing revenge. This was avoidable.
The seeds of these dangers were planted by Donald Trump himself on May 8, 2018 — the day he tore up the Iran nuclear deal, against the advice of his own top national security advisors. The day he turned his back on our closest European allies, and decided it was more important to him to destroy any progress made by the Obama-Biden Administration than build on it to create a better, safer world.
When we had the Iran Deal, we had verifiably cut off every one of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon. International inspectors repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance, as did our intelligence agencies. One of the greatest threats to stability in the region and global security was off the table.
And when the Iran Deal was in force, we did not have this dangerous cycle of tit-for-tat provocation and response.
There was a united front of allies and partners to address Iran’s other destabilizing actions throughout the region.
The Iran Deal was not only accomplishing the critical mission it was designed for, it created an environment where diplomacy was possible.
But Trump walked away — not Iran.
Trump made the United States the international outlier.
Trump re-imposed significant sanctions designed to exert “maximum pressure” on the regime, with claims that it would deter Iranian aggression and return Iran to the negotiating table to secure a much-promised “better deal.” And on both fronts, as many anticipated at the time, Trump’s promises were empty, baseless, and naïve.
And since then, all that has materialized is an utterly predictable cycle of escalating conflict with Iran.
Of course Iran would seek to demonstrate that the pressure we were exerting was not cost free – that it could take actions to make life more difficult for us, as well.
So Iran began again to enrich uranium beyond the limits allowed under the Iran deal. Iran attacked oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran shot down an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone.
Yet the administration had no plan to prevent, mitigate, or appropriately respond to these provocations. Instead, Trump acted erratically and impulsively. He ordered a retaliatory strike, then called it off at the last minute — feeding Iran’s sense of impunity.
Then, the administration imposed more sanctions, shot down an Iranian drone, issued a warrant to seize an Iranian oil tanker.
Before long, Iran attacked Saudi oil facilities and Iranian-backed militia in Iraq restarted rocket attacks against our bases. Until one of those attacks, against our base in Kirkuk, killed a U.S. citizen and wounded others. It was a tragic loss of life, and an act condemned by all Americans.
In response, Trump bombed five sites in Iraq and Syria tied to the militia group, killing at least 25.
Iraqi protestors, organized by Iranian-backed militia, assaulted our Embassy in Baghdad and breached the outer wall. No injuries were reported, but Trump was embarrassed by the images of a burnt-out reception area.
He ordered a drone strike to kill Soleimani — perhaps the second most important official in Iran — near the Baghdad airport. And rushed thousands more troops to the region to deal with the fallout.
Action and reaction. Provocation and response. All predictable — and, indeed, all predicted.
A president who says he wants to end endless war in the Middle East is bringing us dangerously close to starting a new one.
A president who says he wants out of the region sends more than 18,000 additional troops to deal with a crisis of his own making.
And an administration that claims its actions have made Americans safer in the same breath urges our citizens to leave Iraq and puts Americans throughout the region on notice because of the increased danger.
I have no illusions about Iran. The regime has long sponsored terrorism and threatened our interests. It continues to detain American citizens. They’ve ruthlessly killed hundreds of protesters, and they should be held accountable for their actions.
But there is a smart way to counter them — and a self-defeating way. Trump’s approach is demonstrably the latter.
Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American troops and thousands of innocent lives throughout the region. He was the mastermind, but he was not the whole of the regime or its capacity to strike back.
So the question is: was the reward of removing a bad actor worth the risk of what comes next?
We don’t have any evidence to suggest that Trump or anyone around him thought seriously about that calculus. It’s been reported that the Pentagon — which has long warned against taking a shot like this — was shocked that Trump would take such a risk.
This is not just a question of whether Iran will retaliate — it almost certainly will — but what it will mean for our troops and our personnel throughout the region. What it will mean for our allies and partners who also have troops in harm’s way that are impacted by this decision. What it will mean for our long-term mission to counter Iran and prevent ISIS from bouncing back, and our ability to pursue our broader strategic aims in the region.
Already, we are seeing the fall out.
Iran has declared it will no longer abide by any of the constraints set up under the nuclear deal — putting it back on track to obtaining material for a nuclear weapon, and pushing the region closer to a nuclear crisis.
Our forces in Iraq and Syria are now focused on protecting themselves and preparing to leave — putting the counter-ISIS mission on hold, and allowing a deadly terrorist organization the room to regroup and reactivate.
The Iraqi parliament has voted to eject all American and coalition forces from the country. And however you may feel about an American military presence in the Middle East, there is a right way and a wrong way to draw down our troop presence. Getting unceremoniously kicked out is unequivocally the wrong way. And if we do end up having to leave, that would be another boon to Iran — tipping the balance of power in the region.
Where, just weeks ago, there were spontaneous protests across Iran against the regime, the killing of Soleimani has taken that pressure off the regime.
Trump’s impulsive decision may well do more to strengthen Iran’s position in the region, than any of Soleimani’s plots could have ever accomplished.
Whether or not we see more loss of life, more threats against American interests and assets — this is already a debacle.
And at what is possibly the most dangerous time in recent American history — at precisely the moment when we should be rallying our allies to stand beside us and hold the line against threats — Donald Trump’s short-sighted “America First” dogmatism has come home to roost.
Our closest allies are calling for restraint and de-escalation — on both sides. Making a moral equivalence between us and Iran.
Russia and China are quietly reveling in the prospect that the United States may once more be bogged down in another major conflict in the Middle East. They would love nothing more than to be able to pursue their own interests, and carve out their own spheres of influence, without the United States challenging them on human rights, on abusive trade practices, or on meddling in other nations’ democracies — because we are too busy fighting Iran.
We are alone. And we alone will have to bear the costs of Donald Trump’s folly.
This is also the moment when we most feel the lack of a functioning national security process or any investment in diplomacy.
After three years of hollowing out the State Department; disrespecting and dismissing our intelligence community; destroying the relationship between the White House and Capitol Hill; throwing out the deliberate policy making process that has served Republican and Democratic administrations for decades; corroding the value of the word of the United States; abusing our allies; embracing dictators; creating, not solving, foreign policy crises on the international stage — we are in a much worse position to meet the demands of this crisis than we were when President Obama and I left office.
President Trump has no strategy here. No endgame. And here’s the hardest truth of all: His constant mistakes and poor decision making have left us with a severely limited slate of options for how to move forward — and most of the options are bad.
But there are some key steps that any responsible commander in chief would take. And, while I don’t expect Donald Trump will listen to me, I hope he listens to those around him who understand the gravity of the threats we now face.
He should take all necessary steps to protect our forces and ensure the security of our diplomats, civilians, and overseas facilities — not just in the Middle East, but anywhere that Iran might strike back.
He should ensure that federal authorities are working with states, local governments, and private institutions to guard against the heightened risk of cyber attacks.
He should stop tweeting so he doesn’t box us in with his threats, such that the only options left to us or Iran are increasingly damaging strikes and counterstrikes.
And he should immediately reach out to our European partners and others to send private signals of deterrence and de-escalation to Iran and find a way to avoid the onrush of war.
The best way to do that, of course, would be for President Trump, to rejoin the Iran Deal and build on it — if Iran also moves back into compliance with its obligations — and re-establish international consensus about how to confront the threats from Iran.
The only way out of this crisis is through diplomacy — clear-eyed, hard-nosed diplomacy grounded in strategy, that’s not about one-off decisions or one-upsmanship. Diplomacy that is designed to de-escalate the crisis, protect our people, and secure our regional interests — including our counter-ISIS campaign.
No one wants war. But it’s going to take hard work to make sure we don’t end up there by accident.
Finally, and this one’s not optional, Mr. President, you have to explain your decisions and your strategy to the American people.
That is your job as President — Not Dear Leader, not Supreme Leader.
Democracy runs on accountability. And nowhere is that more important than in the power to make war and bring peace. You are required to work with Congress. You are required to abide by the War Powers Resolution. You cannot pursue a war with Iran absent Congressional authority. The existing AUMFs — the Congressional Authorizations for the Use of Military Force — do not apply.
The American people do not want, and our Constitution will not abide, a president who rules by fiat and demands obedience.
I served in the executive branch of our government for eight years, but I served in the legislative branch for 36 prior to that, and I understand better than anyone that the system will not hold unless we find ways to work together to advance our national interests — not the political interests of one person or one party.
We need to restore the balance of powers between the branches of government.
We need checks and balances that actually serve to check and balance the worst impulses of our leaders — in any branch.
We need to use our system to bring us together as a nation — not abuse it to rip us apart.
That’s not a naïve or outdated way of thinking. That’s the genius and timelessness of our democratic system, which has, for more than 240 years, allowed us to remake ourselves, reckon with our shortcomings, and move ever forward.
That’s what we owe to those brave men and women who step forward to wear the uniform of these United States; who dedicate their lives to diplomatic service; who choose to join the Peace Corps or to work in development; who represent the best of our country all around the world — and who are, today, doing so at greater risk because of the actions of our president.
Thank you — and in these dangerous times — may God protect our troops.
At a fundraiser before his speech, he told the gathering:
“Did you ever think you’d see the time when we would be engaged in potential conflict and our NATO allies would be applying a moral equivalence between what we do and what the Iranians do? I never thought I see that day I spent my entire professional career dealing with NATO and dealing with foreign policy…Now the president says he did this to make us safer. Make Americans safer. Yet, we’re surging another roughly 18,000 forces in the region. And we find ourselves in position where there’s no evidence that they thought through how to protect our diplomats and our military personnel.”
Mr. Biden used the Iran situation to argue “the next president better be able to on day one, know how to begin to bring things together.”
Later in the day, at another fundraising event, news of an Iranian air strike on a US military base in Iraq started breaking. Without more details about the event, Biden said he would only speak briefly and generally about what happened:
“What’s happening in Iraq and Iran today was predictable – not exactly what’s happening but the chaos that’s ensuing,” he said, faulting Trump for withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and the recent order of a missile strike killing a high ranking Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani, according to the pool report by Julia Terruso of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Some of the things he’s done and said in the meantime have been close to ludicrous, including threatening to bomb holy sites…And I just pray to God as he goes through what’s happening, as we speak, that he’s listening to his military commanders for the first time because so far that has not been the case.”
It took more than 2 ½ hours before all the marchers standing against Anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry got across the Brooklyn Bridge from Foley Square – an estimated 25,000 marching behind Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill DeBlasio, and a slew of state and local leaders, marching in solidarity with Michael Miller, Executive VP & CEO of Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Eric Goldstein, CEO of UJA Federation of NY, the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Congress, NY Board of Rabbis, and faith leaders across Brooklyn Bridge, with a singular message: “No Fear, No Hate”.
political leaders did not just come to give speeches and march, but to take
Schumer said Congress would quadruple federal funding to $360 million to help
places of worship increase security – video cameras, doors, hired guards, and
$100 million to coordinate with local police to act more effectively to
prosecute hate crimes.
has a culture of diversity and tolerance. Anti-Semitism and bigotry is a
national crisis…We will not stand for bigotry of any type,” Schumer said. “We
will not only speak and march, but act.”
Cuomo also announced $45 million in additional funding to protect New York’s
religious-based institutions, including parochial and private schools and
cultural centers. He said that there would be increased state police patrols in
Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods across the state, and has created a new state
police tip line for people to report incidents (1-877-NO-HATE-NY). Also, Cuomo
said he would introduce legislation to elevate hate crimes to the level of
domestic terrorism, and prosecuted as such.
Funding is being made
available through Requests for Applications under New York’s
Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Grant Program. Created by
Governor Cuomo in 2017, the program provides funding to strengthen security
measures and prevent hate crimes against non-profit day care centers, community
centers, cultural museums, day camps andnon-public schools,which
may be vulnerable because of their ideology, beliefs or mission. Since the
program’s inception, more than 500 such projects have been supported by $25
million in state funding. The Governor also announced the creation of a
new tip line that New Yorkers should call if they experience bias or
discrimination – 1-877-NO-HATE-NY. Additionally, the Governor announced
that State Police will continue increased patrols and security in Orthodox
Jewish neighborhoods across the state.
“The recent rash of anti-Semitic and other hate-fueled
attacks in New York and across the nation are understandably causing anxiety,
but we will not be intimidated,” Governor Cuomo said.”In New York we stand up to
those who try to sow division and fear, and this new funding
will provide religious and cultural institutions the support they need to help
protect themselves and keep people safe. We will not let the cancer of hate and intolerance weaken us – we
will continue to stand up and denounce it every time it rears its ugly
Hate crime statistics
indicate a surge of anti-Semitism and hate crimes against the Jewish community,
nationally and in New York. Nearly half of all hate crimes in New York over the
last several years have been against the Jewish community. Last year, more than
half the hate crimes recorded in New York City, 229 (a modern city record, up
from 185 in 2018) were recorded against Jews – and these statistics do not
include hate crimes directed at Jews outside the five-boroughs, such as the the
slashing of five people attending a Chanukah service in a rabbi’s home in
Monsey, NY. The October 27, 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in
Pittsburgh and the recent terror attack at a kosher market in Jersey City, New
Jersey, in which a local Yeshiva and Catholic school faced gunfire, underscore
the need to protect Jewish institutions from violent extremism and
The grants, which
will be directed by the New York State Division of the Budget,
provide up to $50,000 in funding for additional security training, cameras,
door-hardening, improved lighting, state-of-the-art technology and other
related security upgrades at each eligible facility. Organizations that operate
more than one facility have the opportunity to submit up
to five applications.
The program provides funding to strengthen security measures
and prevent hate crimes against non-profit day care centers, community centers,
cultural museums, day camps andnon-public schools,which
may be vulnerable because of their ideology, beliefs or mission. Since the
program’s inception, in 2017, more than 500 such projects have been supported
by $25 million in state funding.
The Hate Crimes Task Force was created last year to mitigate recent incidents of bias-motivated threats, harassment and violence in New York. As part of the Task Force, New York State Police, the Division of Human Rights and the Division of Criminal Justice Services engage local stakeholders and law enforcement agencies, and work to identify and investigate hate-motivated crimes and bias-related trends, community vulnerabilities and discriminatory practices.
The Governor also announced the creation of a new tip
line that New Yorkers should call if they experience bias or discrimination –
1-877-NO-HATE-NY. Additionally, the Governor announced that State Police
will continue increased patrols and security in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods
across the state.
“I’m heartened to see this amazing show
of support and solidarity,” the Governor said at a press conference before the
march. “Literally over 10,000 people have shown up to show support and love for
the Jewish community. And that’s New York at her best. And it’s fitting.
Because what has happened in Brooklyn, what has happened in Monsey, New York
was an attack on every New Yorker. And every New Yorker has felt the pain.
Discrimination, racism, anti-Semitism is repugnant to every value that every
New Yorker’s holds dear. And it’s repugnant to every value that this country
represents. Racism and anti-Semitism is anti-American and we have to remember
“It is ignorant of our history because to know the history of the Jewish community is to love and appreciate the Jewish community because New York would not be New Yorker without the Jewish community. It is intolerant of who we are as a people. It’s intolerant of our diversity and our humanity and it is also illegal. And while we’re here today in the spirit of solidarity and love, government must do more than just offer thoughts and prayers, government must act. This is illegal and it is government’s responsibility to protect the people of the State of New York and the State government will be doing just that. As soon as the Legislature comes back I’m going to propose a new law for the State of New York that calls this hate what it is – it is domestic terrorism. These are terrorists and they should be punished as such. We’re going to increase the State Police force and the Hate Crimes Task Force so we have more State Police in vulnerable communities.
“We are going to work with schools all across the state to make sure our young people are educated on our history and our diversity and the strength of that diversity. We’ll be working with faith leaders, because from every pulpit, every podium to every congregation in this state, we have to be condemning these acts.
“And today the state is going to make an additional $45 million available to non-public schools and religious institutions for security. We also ask every New Yorker to be involved in this crusade today. And if any New Yorker has any information about a possible attack or an attack that has happened, we ask them to be active and to help us thwart these attacks. We have a 1-800 number – 1-877-NO-HATE-NY. If you have any information, we have that tip line open, let’s all stand together and united.
“These acts of hate may not have started in New York – we’ve seen them across the nation – but these acts of hate must stop and end in the State of New York, and that’s New York at her best. Everyone today says the same thing: No hate in our state, period. We won’t tolerate it, we condemn it, we stand united against it and we are going to act against it. Let’s march.”
Here are more photo highlights from the Solidarity March:
The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren has released a detailed plan to protect and empower renters as part of the fight to end the affordable housing crisis. This is from the Warren campaign:
A full-time, minimum-wage worker can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the nation. Gentrification is displacing communities of color, rising rents are crushing millions of families, and landlords are exploiting their power over tenants.
Elizabeth’s Housing Plan for America will invest $500 billion over the next ten years to build, preserve, and rehab more than three million housing units that will be affordable to working families. Her plan will lower rents by 10% nationwide, reform land-use rules that restrict affordable housing construction and further racial segregation, and take a critical first step towards closing the racial wealth gap.
Today, she released an additional plan to expand on those efforts to protect and empower renters. Her plan will:
Everyone in America should have a decent, affordable, and safe place to live.
But today, stagnant wages, sky-rocketing rents, and a stark shortage of affordable options
are putting the squeeze on America’s 43 million renting households.
In 2015, 38% of renters were “rent burdened” — spending
over 30% of their income in rent. In 2017, 23 million low-income renters paid more than half
of their total household income on housing. Many renters also face high energy
bills, with low-income renters paying as much as 21% of their income because of energy inefficient housing. A
full-time, minimum-wage worker can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the nation. Gentrification is displacing communities of
color, rising rents are crushing millions of families, and landlords are
exploiting their power over tenants.
But for decades, the federal government has turned a blind eye to our growing
affordable housing crisis. When the government has made investments, it’s focused largely on homeownership. From
Nixon’s moratorium on new public housing construction to
Reagan’s severe cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s
rental assistance program to today’s corporate capture of the right to shelter, Washington has
failed America’s renters. To make matters worse, every singleTrumpadministrationbudget has slashed funding for HUD’s budget.
And shamelessly, some of the same Wall Street firms that tanked the dream of
homeownership for millions of American families are now the country’s biggest landlords — profiting off the destruction they
caused. In the wake of the 2008 crisis, private equity firms like Blackstone
went on a shopping spree, snatching up apartment complexes and single-family homes that had been foreclosed. Even the
United Nations Special Rapporteurs have reported on their aggressive eviction tactics,
the discriminatory impact of their policies on communities of color, and
their lobbying efforts against legislation that would protect
renters — and accused them of contributing to the global housing crisis.
My Housing Plan for America invests $500
billion over the next ten years to build, preserve, and rehab more than three
million units that will be affordable to lower-income families. My plan will
lower rents by 10%, reform land-use rules that restrict affordable housing
construction and further racial segregation, and take a critical first step
towards closing the racial wealth gap.
Today, I’m expanding on those efforts with my plan to protect and empower
renters. It has four goals:
and uphold the rights of tenants
the growing cost of rent
in safe, healthy, and green public housing
exploitation by corporate landlords
Protect and uphold the rights of tenants
We’ll start by strengthening the rights of tenants. Over 805,000 renter households were threatened with
eviction in 2017. When landlords evict tenants, families lose their homes,
parents may lose their jobs, kids suffer in schools, and whole communities,
especially communities of color, can be displaced by gentrification and
skyrocketing rents. In many communities, landlords dramatically hike rents after evicting tenants, driving housing
costs up for everyone.
Tenants that organize to take on bad landlords are up against a massive power
imbalance. I’ll fight to put power back where it belongs: with tenants, not big
Landlords shouldn’t be able to arbitrarily push families out of their
communities to make an extra buck or because of thinly-veiled racism and
discrimination. I’ll work to secure tenants’ rights nationwide
— including by creating a federal just cause eviction standard, a right to
lease renewal, protections against constructive eviction, and tenants’ right to
organize. To enforce these rights, I’ll condition the $500 billion in new affordable housing funding to states from
my housing plan on states affirmatively adopting these key tenant protections.
Judges in eviction proceedings would also be required to consider how an
eviction might harm a tenant’s health conditions or a child’s ability to stay
enrolled in local public schools, and to temporarily stay evictions if tenants
can’t find another home in the same neighborhood.
As President, I’ll also fight for a nationwide right-to-counsel for
In 2010, 90% of tenants in eviction proceedings weren’t
represented by lawyers, but 90% of landlords were. That legal help matters. Legal
representation can significantly increase success in for tenants in their cases,
keep eviction filings off their records, and prevent them from having to enter
homeless shelters. That’s why I’ll fight to create a national housing
right-to-counsel fund which would provide grants to cities to guarantee
access to counsel for low- and middle-income tenants who are facing eviction or
taking their landlord to court for violations like breaching their lease, shutting
off their heat and water, or violating the housing code. And I’ll fight
to create a new tenants’ cause of action that allows tenants to sue landlords
who threaten or begin an illegal eviction.
I’ll also push to create a new Tenant Protection Bureau within the
Department of Housing and Urban Development — modeled after the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) — to enforce tenants’ rights, take on bad
actors, and make sure landlords keep affordable housing affordable for working
families. Before the financial crash, I came up with the idea for a
consumer financial protection agency— a new federal agency dedicated to
protecting American consumers. I fought for that agency, helped build it from
scratch, and now the CFPB has returned nearly $12 billion directly to consumers scammed by
Tenants deserve a cop on the beat too. My new Tenant Protection Bureau, housed
within HUD, would enforce these federal tenant protections, like just-cause
eviction, for tenants in all federally-funded affordable housing developments,
ensure safe and decent living conditions, and guarantee that landlords don’t illegally
raise rents or fees in federally-subsidized housing. The Tenant Protection
Bureau will also empower community organizers with grants to state and local
groups who will sue for violations of tenant protections.
Tenants face similar dynamics to borrowers facing unscrupulous banks or
servicers. I’ll create a tenant hotline modeled after the CFPB consumer
complaint database that will route complaints from tenants to their
landlords through HUD, which could review the data for enforcement opportunities
and share the data with local officials and organizations to help them enforce
I’ll strengthen fair housing law and enforcement, giving HUD the tools to
take on modern-day redlining. A 2017 study in Virginia found that
Black tenants were more likely to be evicted, even accounting for
different income levels. Research has also shown that low-income women in Black
and Latinx neighborhoods face a heightened risk of eviction. Fifty years after the
passage of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), housing segregation endures, gentrification is pushing communities of color out of
the neighborhoods they built, people with disabilities face pervasive
discrimination, and nearly a quarter of transgender people report
experiencing housing discrimination.
We need to renew our fight against housing discrimination, and I’ll start on
day one. I’ll restore the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, which
the Trump Administration put on ice. The AFFH rule would
fulfill the FHA’s promise to end housing segregation by requiring local
governments to identify housing policies and practices with racist effects and
undo them. I’ll also roll back the Trump administration’s effort to add work requirements to housing assistance. And I’ll withdraw
Trump’s racist proposed “mixed status” rule which, according to HUD’s own analysis,
would effectively evict tens of thousands of families and 55,000 children based on the immigration status
of household family members.
But reversing the Trump Administration’s attacks on civil rights isn’t enough.
The FHA protects against discrimination based on race, color, national origin,
religion, sex, familial status, and disability. To start, I’ll make sure that
HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, which has been gutted and undercut by the Trump administration, is fully
funded, staffed, and equipped to robustly enforce the FHA — which is
particularly critical for renters with disabilities who make up the majority of discrimination complaints.
My affordable housing bill would prohibit housing discrimination on
the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, veteran status,
and source of income, like a housing voucher. Under a Warren Administration,
HUD will issue regulations to the greatest extent it can under the Fair Housing
Act to end housing discrimination against domestic violence survivors, LGBTQ+
people, and based on tenants’ immigration status or criminal records. I’ll
fight for the Equality Act, which would explicitly ban anti-LGBTQ+
discrimination in employment, housing, healthcare, and public accommodations.
I’ll also direct HUD to take on chronic nuisance ordinances — local laws
that push domestic violence survivors, especially Black women, and people with disabilities, out of their homes.
And I support immigration reform that’s consistent with our values, including a
pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants — which would make them
eligible for public housing benefits.
I’ll also create a national small dollar grant program to help make sure
families aren’t evicted because of financial emergencies. I spent my
career studying why families go broke — so I know that it’s all too easy for a
family to fall behind on rent after a surprise trip to the emergency room or
car repair. Massachusetts pioneered several programs that provide small grants
to help families facing a one-time budget crunch, like the Homestart program, which provides grants of on
average $700 and some wraparound services to help families avoid
eviction. It’s been reported that 95% of their eviction prevention program recipients remain in
their homes four years later. I’ll fight to scale this program up nationwide,
likely saving federal, state, and local governments money by helping families
stay out of emergency homeless shelters.
While nobody should be homeless in America, we need to stop treating our
neighbors who are experiencing homelessness as criminals. All across the
country, cities and states make it illegal to live on the street, even when
there are fewer emergency shelter beds than people who need them — 34% of cities have city-wide bans on camping in public, 43% of cities prohibit sleeping in vehicles, and 9% of cities even prohibit sharing food with homeless people.
Even as the affordable housing crisis deepens, pushing more people out of
affordable housing, these laws are spreading — just this month the Las Vegas City Council voted to
criminalize camping on downtown streets. Enough is enough — it’s time to stop
criminalizing poverty. My Department of Justice will not fund efforts to
criminalize homelessness and will deny grant money to police departments who
are arresting residents for living outside.
I’ve also already committed to preventing and combating the epidemic of
LGBTQ+ youth, transgender, and veterans homelessness. My LGBTQ+ rights plan commits to reauthorizing and fully
funding the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and to creating a LGBTQ+ youth
homelessness prevention program within the U.S. Interagency Council on
Homelessness. And I will restore and strengthen the HUD Equal Access Rule, reversing Ben Carson’s horrific proposal to
allow shelters to discriminate against transgender women – so if a trans women
of color loses her home, she doesn’t face widespread discrimination from
homeless shelters. My plan to support our veterans calls to fully fund rapid re-housing and
permanent supporting housing through the Supportive Services for Veteran
Families (SSVF) and HUD-VASH programs and to create a new competitive grant
program to provide wrap-around services for veterans and their families. As we
fight to end homelessness and expand affordable housing, we won’t leave any
Tackling the growing cost of rent.
My Housing Plan for America tackles the
growing cost of rent at its root: a severe lack of affordable housing supply
and state and local land-use rules that needlessly drive up housing costs. My
plan would add more than 3 million new affordable housing units,
and I’ll commit to prioritizing a portion of these units to particularly
vulnerable groups like the chronically homeless, people living with HIV, people
with disabilities, seniors who want to age in place, and people who have been
incarcerated and are returning to the community. My plan will bring
down the rents by 10% nationwide and make targeted investments in
rural housing programs and in a new Middle-Class Housing Emergency Fund to
support the construction of new housing for middle-class renters in communities
with severe housing supply shortages. My plan also invests $2.5 billion in the
Indian Housing Block Grant and the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant to build
or rehabilitate 200,000 homes on tribal land.
We’ll also incentivize the elimination of costly zoning rules — like minimum
lot sizes or parking requirements — with a $10 billion new competitive grant
program that state and local government can use to build infrastructure, parks,
roads, or schools on the condition that they reform land-use rules to allow for
the construction of additional well-located affordable housing units and to
protect tenants from rent spikes and eviction. And in doing all of this, my
plan would create 1.5 million new jobs.
But we must do more. More than 30 states have laws on the books that explicitly
prohibit cities from adopting rent control — and when tenants and
communities fight to repeal those laws, they’re met with fierce opposition from
real estate and private equity giants that have shelled out massive amounts of money to block them.
States shouldn’t be able to suppress local innovation or stop towns and cities
from adopting the housing policies that best protect their residents. That’s
why my administration will work to stop states from preempting local tenant
protection laws, including rent control. A Warren Administration will
side with people over private equity. I’ll condition the new affordable housing
money from my Housing plan that goes to states on repealing state laws that
prohibit local rent control laws and other tenant protections.
States and local governments across the country have adopted a number of
different strategies to tackle rising rent costs. This year, Oregon and California became the first states to pass
statewide rental control measures. From Maryland to Colorado, communities across the country have been
testing out the community land trust model, to try to break the link between
the cost of the land and the private, speculative market. As President,
I’ll create an Innovation Lab in HUD to study strategies that keep rents
affordable such as rent control, multi-year leases, zoning reform, and
community land trusts, and share data on what works and best practices. I’ll
also bring together a commission of federal, state, and local government
officials, public housing administrators, housing justice organizations,
homelessness advocates, and tenants’ unions to discuss affordability and
strategies to address it.
I’ll direct HUD to recognize strategies that prevent gentrification and
displacement of long time communities as ways for meeting jurisdictions’
obligations under the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule. I’ll also
restore and improve the Small Area Fair Market Rent (SAFMR) rule, which the Trump
administration has tried to block. SAFMR sets the housing voucher
amounts at the zip code level rather than the metro level and promotes
integration by allowing vouchers to cover more in neighborhoods with higher
rental costs. I’ll also direct HUD to ensure that the shift does not reduce the
number of total housing units available to voucher holders, invest additional
resources and technical assistance to increase understanding of this rule among
public housing authorities (PHAs) and tenants, issue additional guidance on
setting payment standards, and make the administrative plans by PHAs of the
implementation of this rule publicly available.
Invest in safe, healthy, and green public housing.
Today, about 2 million people nationwide live in 1.1 million public housing units — and too
many are living in homes with lead, rats and roaches, and black
mold that jeopardize their health. Tenants who receive HUD rental assistance
are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions or go to an
emergency room than other similarly situated renters. Children in these
households are more likely to have asthma and face an acute risk of lead poisoning.
Public housing is also failing in meeting the needs of Section 8 eligible
renters who have disabilities. About 41% of all public housing units are home to a disabled person,
but only about 3% of those units actually have accessibility features.
The federal government’s decision to scale back or not match inflation when
funding public housing has resulted in a national public housing capital repair
backlog of $70 billion, leading to inaccessible housing for people with
disabilities and substandard living conditions. Because units have
been demolished or removed due to uninhabitable conditions, the total number of
public housing units has fallen by more than 250,000 since the mid-1990s. And with a median
public housing waiting list of 9 months, and in some cases, as long as 8 years, we can’t afford to lose a single unit.
As climate change makes summer heat waves and winter cold snaps more severe and
disasters more frequent, the number of habitable units could fall even further,
and public housing across the country is at risk. Last winter, nearly 90% of New York City Housing Authority units lost heat because
of boiler system breakdowns. Some of those same residents dealt with extreme heat in the summer, which can be particularly
dangerous to the elderly and residents with disabilities. In Charleston, South
Carolina, which is facing rising sea levels, 7 of the PHA’s properties are only a few feet above the high
tide level, and across the country, nearly half a million HUD-assisted housing units are in flood
We must invest in safe, healthy, and green homes. I’ll start by
repealing the Faircloth Amendment, which has prohibited
the use of federal funds for the construction or operation of new public
housing units with Capital or Operating Funds, effectively capping the number
of public housing units available at 1999 levels. I’ll fight to
completely close the national public housing capital repair backlog,
expand disability accessibility, and for 1:1 replacement of any units that have
to be removed or demolished. And I’ll fight for investments in new public
I’ll also update the rules of major federal housing funding programs, like
the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, Housing Trust Fund,
Capital Magnet Fund, and Home Grant program, to allow PHAs or other public
institutions to use these funds to develop properties and Section 811 PRA
housing themselves and maintain public ownership. Under current rules, states
are required to contract with private developers. With this change, PHAs and
other public institutions will also be able to benefit from the massive
investment of my Housing plan. Like existing developments under these programs,
these projects would be subsidized to allow low-income tenants to live
alongside market rate tenants. And I’ll encourage PHAs to develop a
participatory budgeting process with residents on how capital dollars are
I believe that every renter has the right to a healthy home. I have
called for retrofitting 4% of our existing building stock each year in my
100% Clean Energy for America plan. I will
ensure that public housing units and public schools are prioritized for
retrofitting because more efficient homes mean lower energy bills, and the cost
of energy should not hold any family back. And I will work across federal
agencies to eliminate toxic substances like mold and lead from all
housing and drinking water sources by investing in toxic mold removal,
establishing a lead abatement grant program to remediate lead in all federal
buildings, and providing a Lead Safety Tax Credit to incentivize landlords to
invest in remediation for their tenants. I’ll fully fund CDC’s environmental
health programs like the Childhood Lead Prevention program, and fully
capitalize the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State
Revolving Fund to ensure that nobody’s drinking water is poisoned because of
crumbling infrastructure. And I will immediately roll back the amended timeline
of the EPA draft rule on lead pipe replacement, which the Trump administration
has tried to relax from 13 to 33 years.
For all new affordable rental units, I will ensure that the project
undergoes an environmental equity screen during both the siting and
construction phases so that we do not continue to subject low-income
communities to environmental racism through our housing policies. I will direct
the Department of Energy to provide technical assistance to utilities to better
support and incentivize on-bill financing to further adoption of clean energy,
no matter the income, credit, or renter status of each customer.
And as we modernize our public housing units, we will build livable communities
starting with a new Green Public Housing program that will create
millions of jobs and provide climate smart housing. Because of the massive
maintenance backlog in America’s public housing, and because the federal
government hasn’t funded new public housing construction in decades, manypublic housingbuildings aren’t equipped to withstand the
increasingly harsh realities of climate change. I am a proud supporter of the
Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, which will create grant programs for
public housing authorities to conduct deep energy retrofits, prioritize
workforce development, upgrade the facilities’ energy efficiency and water
quality, allow for community renewable energy generation, and encourage
recycling, community resiliency, and climate adaptation. My 100% Clean Energy
for America plan calls for all new commercial and residential buildings to have
zero carbon pollution by 2028, and this applies to any new public housing
development as well. Nobody should have to face substandard living conditions,
and through the Green Public Housing program, we will ensure that we raise the
standard of living for all renters.
And I will make sure we’re supporting those who have been displaced by
disaster. Renters are particularly vulnerable in the wake of natural disasters. But
for too long, renters have been overlooked in government post-disaster response
and recovery. That’s why I introduced the Housing Survivors of Major Disaster Act, which will require
FEMA to work with HUD to immediately set up the Disaster Housing Assistance
Program (DHAP) for temporary rental assistance and wraparound services to
disaster survivors. This will also support those who might not have residence
documentation, to ensure renters without leasing documents and people who are
homeless have access to these critical services.
Fight the exploitation of renters by corporate landlords.
Since the mortgage crisis, large private equity firms have become some of the
country’s biggest landlords — a big win for Wall Street, but a huge
loss for America’s renters. Take Blackstone, one of the largest private equity firms in the world. Since
2016, more than 600 complaints have been filed against Blackstone
subsidiary Invitation Homes with the Better Business Bureau, and Invitation
Homes is currently facing a class action lawsuit in California for
subjecting tenants to excessive and illegal late fees.
The problems extend to other private equity landlords too. Colony Capital, the
third-largest single family landlord in the country, evicted more than 30% of tenants living in its Atlanta
rentals. In Memphis, Firstkey Homes, a property management company owned by
Cerberus Capital Management, files for eviction at twice the rate of other property managers.
We can’t keep letting these firms loot the economy to pad their own pockets
while working families suffer. My plan to Rein in Wall Street will hold private equity firms
accountable and prevent private equity funds from snatching up properties and
dramatically raising rents, allowing more people to stay in their homes..
My Excessive Lobbying Tax will make it more costly for these firms
to lobby against policies that protect renters.
But we can do more. I’ll stop federal dollars from going to predatory
landlords and lenders with a long history of harassing tenants, forcing tenants
to live in dangerous or indecent conditions, or redlining our communities. I’ve
already committed to strict new requirements for Fannie
Mae and Freddie Mac, limiting the situations in which the agencies can sell
mortgages and imposing new requirements on Wall Street buyers to protect
I’ll also direct the Federal Housing Administration to deny
federal support to landlords that violate tenants’ rights. My FHA will
develop rules that prohibit federal agencies from insuring, guaranteeing, or
lending to landlords with a history of harassing tenants, violating housing
codes, unjust evictions, violating fair housing law, or engaging in
unconscionable rent increases. That means no federal support for landlords that
violate tenants’ rights — like Jared Kushner’s family firm, which is under investigation for harassing tenants out of
I’ll go further and allow all suits for violations of the Fair Housing Act
and Federal, state or local housing protections to reach to the private equity
firm and its general partners. After the housing crisis, private
equity firms gobbled up hundreds of thousands of Real Estate
Owned (REO) properties and troubled mortgages from FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.
In the years since, private equity firms have expanded their portfolios in
housing and have taken a particularly aggressive position in the market
for manufactured home parks. In the midst of the financial crisis, private equity firms
exploited legal loopholes and used shell companies to ensure tenants were
unable to get justice when they’re wronged and removing all disincentive for
My housing plan would end the pipeline of foreclosed homes from Federal
agencies to private equity firms, and My Wall Street plan allowed extended
liability for actions at a private equity portfolio company to the private
equity firm and its general partners in the case of a government enforcement
I’ll rein in payday lenders who take advantage of renters. Payday
lenders cluster in low-income areas, like around government-subsidized housing, and target communities of color. I’ve called out the unscrupulous, exploitative practices
for more than a decade. As President, I’ll direct the CFPB to issue a
comprehensive package of regulations on payday lenders, including limiting the
proximity of payday lenders near public housing. I’ll call for Congress to
repeal the Dodd-Frank provision that prohibits the CFPB from capping interest
rates, empowering the CFPB to effectively regulate these bad actors.
And I’ll take on “land contracts” agreements, predatory loans that are
frequently targeted at communities of color. Land contracts are high-interest loans that are often marketed as a path to
homeownership. Tenant-buyers make payments towards a lender over a long period
of time, and the lenders that own the homes are only required to turn over
legal title to the home after the renter has completely paid it off. But homes
— often houses lost in the foreclosure crisis — can be in such bad
condition they’re basically uninhabitable, and the contracts shift the costs of
fixing them up away from banks and onto unsuspecting families.
Worse still, these contracts are built to fail: If tenants fall behind on these unregulated,
high-interest loans, predatory lenders can seize the property — and keep would-be buyers’ money
— so they make it hard for families to keep up with payments by inflating
the prices, disguising debts, and hiding unfair terms in the fine print of
their land contracts. Predatory lenders target communities of color for land
contracts, including the same families displaced by rising rents. I’ll choose a
CFPB Director committed to reigning in land contracts.
Next, I’ll require large corporate landlords to publicly disclose data. I’ll
create a national public database of information about large corporate
landlords, by requiring them to report key data to HUD. The database will
include information like corporate landlords’ median rent, the number and
percentage of tenants they evicted, building code violations, the most recent
standard lease agreement used, and the identity of any individuals with an
ownership interest of 25% or more, either directly or indirectly, in large
landlords’ corporations, LLCs, or similar legal entities. And I’ll direct HUD
to study the impact that these kinds of landlords have on local rental markets.
Several thousand people turned out to Times Square in New York City on Tuesday, December 17, despite a cold rain to protest for the impeachment of Donald Trump. It was one of about 600 such protests and rallies organized by a coalition of more than 100 organizations including Rise and Resist, Moveon.org, and Indivisible, held across the country, in all 50 states, on the eve of the House debate and vote to make Trump only the third president in history to be impeached. Over 160,000 had responded their intention to participate in the historic mobilization.
This is what the #ImpeachmentEve #ImpeachandRemove
protest and march looked like in New York City (for a national overview, see New York Times, Rallies Spread on Eve of House Impeachment Votes).
The vigorous contest of Democrats
seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy
proposals to address major issues. Senator Bernie Sanders, along with
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, presented the Green New Deal for Public
Housing Act to address the shortage of public housing in a way that also
attacks climate change by transitioning to sustainable buildings. Here is the
plan from the Sanders campaign:
WASHINGTON – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria
Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), in an event outside the Capitol Building, announced the
introduction of the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act in partnership with
public housing residents, affordable housing advocates, and climate change
activists. The sweeping legislation they will unveil aims to retrofit,
rehabilitate, and decarbonize the entire nation’s public housing stock.
The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act invests up to $180 billion over ten
years in sustainable retrofits that include all needed repairs, vastly improved
health, safety and comfort, and eliminate carbon emissions in our federal
public housing. The legislation also provides funding to electrify all
buildings, add solar panels, and secure renewable energy sources for all public
housing energy needs. The bill dramatically improves living conditions for
nearly 2 million people living in roughly 1 million public homes.
“Faced with the global crisis of climate change, the United States must lead
the world in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel to
sustainable energy,” said Sanders. “But let us be clear: as Congresswoman
Ocasio-Cortez understands, the Green New Deal is not just about climate change.
It is an economic plan to create millions of good-paying jobs, strengthen our
infrastructure, and invest in our country’s frontline and vulnerable
communities. This bill shows that we can address our climate and affordable
housing crises by making public housing a model of efficiency, sustainability
and resiliency. Importantly, the working people who have been most impacted by
decades of disinvestment in public housing will be empowered to lead this
effort and share in the economic prosperity that it generates for our country.”
“Climate change represents both a grave threat and a tremendous opportunity,”
said Ocasio-Cortez. “The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act will train and
mobilize the workforce to decarbonize the public housing stock and improve the
quality of life for all residents. I am proud to begin the hard work of
codifying the Green New Deal into law with my friend and colleague, Senator
About 40 percent of
total U.S. energy consumption is attributable to residential and commercial
buildings. With its focus on transforming 1 million units of federally owned
housing, the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act will spur economies of scale
for weatherization, retrofitting, and renewable energy, making them more cost
effective and attractive throughout the country. The legislation is expected to
create nearly 250,000 good-paying, union jobs per
year across the country while reducing carbon emissions on the scale of taking
1.2 million cars off the road over the next ten years. Public housing costs
would also be reduced by $97 million per year, or 30 percent, and energy costs
would be slashed by $613 million, or 70 percent.
The legislation envisions a federal-state partnership, creating new grant
programs to swiftly and efficiently transition public housing, tribal housing,
and Native Hawaiian housing to zero-carbon, energy efficient housing. The bill
creates sustainable communities for families by building new childcare and
senior centers, expanding access to clean transit, and creating community
gardens and other community amenities. Under the legislation, public housing
will receive deep energy retrofits, build community-generated renewable
electricity, and upgrade unsafe and unsanitary infrastructure, including
buildings’ water and electrical systems.
The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act requires that the hundreds of
thousands of jobs created by this investment be high-road, family-sustaining
jobs by requiring strong labor standards, prevailing wages, and “Buy America”
requirements. Public housing residents will lead the decision-making process for
these investments and receive jobs training for the newly created jobs from
The bill is cosponsored in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen.
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and endorsed by more than 50 organizations.