Tag Archives: Election 2020

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Warren Releases Plan to Protect Our Communities from Gun Violence

Senator Elizabeth Warren, running to be the Democratic candidate for president, released her plan to protect communities from gun violence © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan to protect communities from gun violence. This is from the Warren2020 campaign (Read it here).

“The conversation about gun violence in America is shifting — but not just because we’ve seen a spike in violence fueled by the NRA and the Trump administration’s dangerous policies and extremist rhetoric. It’s also because of the tireless work of activists, organizers, and community leaders who have been fighting for reform at the state and local level.

“If you need proof that the majority of Americans support common sense gun reform, look at what’s happening in state legislatures and city councils across the country. Moms, students, and faith leaders have been packing hearing rooms and taking back spaces formerly reserved for NRA lobbyists. Survivors of mass shootings are doing the critical work of turning our attention to the daily gun violence in cities that doesn’t make headlines.

“And it’s working. States that pass expanded background checks see lower rates of gun-related deaths and gun trafficking. States that disarm domestic abusers see lower rates of intimate partner gun violence. States with extreme risk laws have been successful in reducing gun suicides and have used them to prevent potential mass shootings. Community-based violence intervention programs are popping up in cities across the country.

“Together, we can build on this momentum. We can build a grassroots movement to take back the Senate, eliminate the filibuster, and pass federal gun safety legislation that will save lives. And from the White House, I’ll make sure that the NRA and their cronies are held accountable with executive action. If we turn our heartbreak and our anger into action, I know we can take the power from the NRA and the lawmakers in their pockets and return it to the people.”

Charlestown, MA – Prior to her appearance at the Everytown presidential forum, Elizabeth Warren released her plan to confront gun violence in America. Yesterday, she called on Walmart to stop selling guns — one of the largest gun retailers in the world. 

Elizabeth will set a goal of reducing gun deaths in this country by 80%, starting with an ambitious set of executive actions she will take as president. In order to break the hold of the NRA and the gun lobby, she will pass her sweeping anti-corruption legislation and eliminate the filibuster to pass gun legislation in her first 100 days. She supports federal licensing, universal background checks, a military-style assault weapon ban, higher taxes on guns and ammunition, and closing the loopholes to make it harder for someone violent to get a gun. 

We know that Black and Latinx Americans have borne the brunt of the gun violence tragedy in our country. Instead of focusing solely on law enforcement and incarceration, Elizabeth will invest in interventions designed to stop gun violence before it occurs by piloting evidence-based community violence intervention programs at scale.

She will call on Congress to repeal the liability shield that protects the industry – and then go further, by establishing a federal private right of action to allow survivors of gun violence to get their day in court. Her plan also includes $100 million annually for gun safety research, and commits to study the reforms we enact to see what’s working, and send Congress updated reform proposals on an annual basis.

Read more about her plan here and below: 

Columbine.

Sandy Hook.

Charleston.

Pulse.

Las Vegas.

Parkland.

Pittsburgh.

Now El Paso. Dayton.

These are just a few of the names etched into the American consciousness, synonymous with senseless loss and enduring grief.

It’s been a week since these latest attacks, and on average every day 100 people are killed in the U.S. by a gun — in shootings that occur in our homes, on our streets, at our playgrounds.

The victims are our neighbors and our friends. Someone’s mother, someone’s child, someone’s sibling.

There is no shortage of horrifying statistics about our gun violence epidemic.

Our firearm homicide rate is 25 times higher than other comparable countries.

Our firearm suicide rate is nearly 10 times higher.

Women in the U.S. are 21 times more likely to be shot to death than women in other high-income countries, most killed by an intimate partner.

21 children and teenagers are shot every day.

The list goes on.

And while the majority of Americans — including a majority of gun owners — support sensible gun legislation, even the most basic proposals, like universal background checks, are consistently blocked by far-right ideologues in Congress who are bought and paid for by the gun industry, their NRA partners, and a supporting army of lobbyists and lawyers.

Faced with a complex and entrenched public health crisis, made worse by the ongoing inability of a corrupt government to do anything about it, it’s easy to despair. But we are not incapable of solving big problems. We’ve done it before.

In 1965, more than five people died in automobile accidents for every 100 million miles traveled. It was a massive crisis. As a nation, we decided to do better. Some things were obvious: seatbelts, safer windshields, and padded dashboards. Other things only became clear over time: things like airbags and better brake systems. But we made changes, we did what worked, and we kept at it. Over fifty years, we reduced per-mile driving deaths by almost 80% and prevented 3.5 million automobile deaths. And we’re still at it.

In 2017, almost 40,000 people died from guns in the United States. My goal as President, and our goal as a society, will be to reduce that number by 80%. We might not know how to get all the way there yet. But we’ll start by implementing solutions that we believe will work. We’ll continue by constantly revisiting and updating those solutions based on new public health research. And we’ll make structural changes to end the ability of corrupt extremists to block our government from defending the lives of our people — starting with ending the filibuster.

Here’s what that will look like.

As president, I will immediately take executive action to rein in an out-of-control gun industry — and to hold both gun dealers and manufacturers accountable for the violence promoted by their products.

I will break the NRA’s stranglehold on Congress by passing sweeping anti-corruption legislation and eliminating the filibuster so that our nation can no longer be held hostage by a small group of well-financed extremists who have already made it perfectly clear that they will never put the safety of the American people first.

I will send Congress comprehensive gun violence prevention legislation. I will sign it into law within my first 100 days. And we will revisit this comprehensive legislation every single year — adding new ideas and tweaking existing ones based on new data — to continually reduce the number of gun deaths in America.

Executive Action to Reduce Gun Violence

Reform advocates are engaged in a valuable discussion about gun reforms that can be achieved by executive action. We must pursue these solutions to the fullest extent of the law, including by redefining anyone “engaged in the business” of dealing in firearms to include the vast majority of gun sales outside of family-to-family exchanges. This will extend requirements — not only for background checks, but all federal gun rules — to cover all of those sales. This includes:

Requiring background checks. We will bring the vast majority of private sales, including at gun shows and online, under the existing background check umbrella.

Reporting on multiple purchases. We will extend the existing requirement to report bulk sales to nearly all gun sales. And I’ll extend existing reporting requirements on the mass purchase of certain rifles from the southwestern border states to all 50 states.

Raising the minimum age. We will expand the number of sales covered by existing age restriction provisions that require the purchaser to be at least 18 years old, keeping guns out of the hands of more teenagers.

My administration will use all the authorities at the federal government’s disposal to investigate and prosecute all those who circumvent or violate existing federal gun laws. This includes:

Prosecuting gun traffickers. Gun trafficking across state lines allows guns to move from states with fewer restrictions to those with strict safety standards, and gun trafficking across our southern border contributes to gang violence that sends migrants fleeing north. I’ll instruct my Attorney General to go after the interstate and transnational gun trafficking trade with all the resources of the federal government.

Revoking licenses for gun dealers who break the rules. Only 1% of gun dealers are responsible for 57% of guns used in crimes. My Administration will direct the ATF to prioritize oversight of dealers with serial compliance violations — and then use its authority to revoke the license of dealers who repeatedly violate the rules.

Investigating the NRA and its cronies. The NRA is accused of exploiting loopholes in federal laws governing non-profit spending to divert member dues into lavish payments for its board members and senior leadership. I’ll appoint an attorney general committed to investigating these types of corrupt business practices, and the banks and third-party vendors — like Wells Fargo — that enabled the NRA to skirt the rules for so long.

To protect the most vulnerable, my administration will use ATF’s existing regulatory authority to the greatest degree possible, including by:

Protecting survivors of domestic abuse. We will close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” by defining intimate partner to include anyone with a domestic violence conviction involving any form of romantic partner.

Reversing the Trump administration’s efforts to weaken our existing gun rules. We will rescind the Trump-era rules and policies that weaken our gun safety regime, including rules that lower the standards for purchasing a gun, and those that make it easier to create untraceable weapons or modify weapons in ways that circumvent the law. This includes overturning Trump-era policies enabling 3-D printed guns, regulating 80% receivers as firearms, and reversing the ATF ruling that allows a shooter to convert a pistol to a short-barreled rifle using pistol braces.

Restrict the movement of guns across our borders. We will reverse the Trump administration’s efforts to make it easier to export U.S.-manufactured weapons by transferring exports of semi-automatic firearms and ammunition from the State Department to the Commerce Department, and we will prevent the import of foreign-manufactured assault weapons into the United States.

The shooting in El Paso also reminds us that we need to call out white nationalism for what it is: domestic terrorism. Instead of a president who winks and nods as white nationalism gets stronger in this country, we need a president who will use all the tools available to prevent it. It is completely incompatible with our American values, it is a threat to American safety and security, and a Warren Justice Department will prosecute it to the fullest extent of the law.

Structural Changes to Pass Gun Safety Legislation

The next president has a moral obligation to use whatever executive authority she has to address the gun crisis. But it is obvious that executive action is not enough. Durable reform requires legislation — but right now legislation is impossible. Why? A virulent mix of corruption and abuse of power.

Big money talks in Washington. And the NRA represents a particularly noxious example of Washington corruption at work. Over the last two decades, the NRA has spent over $200 million on lobbying Congress, influencing elections, and buying off politicians — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The NRA spends millions poisoning our political discourse with hateful, conspiracy-fueled propaganda, blocking even modest reforms supported by 90% of American voters.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, the American people rallied for reform. President Obama suggested several serious legislative changes. The Senate voted down an assault weapons ban. It rejected a background checks proposal, even though 54 Senators from both parties voted for it, because of a right-wing-filibuster. These were the bare minimum steps we needed to take. And six years later, Congress still hasn’t done a thing.

This pattern repeats itself throughout our government. When money and influence can override the will of a huge majority of Americans, that is corruption, pure and simple.

It’s time to fight back. I have proposed the most sweeping set of anticorruption reforms since Watergate — a set of big structural changes that includes ending lobbying as we know it and slamming shut the revolving door. My first priority when I’m elected President is to enact this package to get our government working for everyone again.

But anti-corruption legislation alone won’t be enough to get gun safety legislation done. After decades of inaction, Democrats have rallied behind a number of important gun reforms. If we continue to allow bought and paid for extremists in the Senate to thwart the will of the people, we will never enact any of them.

Enough is enough. Lasting gun reform requires the elimination of the filibuster.

Legislation to Reduce Gun Violence

When I am president, I will send Congress comprehensive legislation containing our best ideas about what will work to reduce gun violence.

It starts by ensuring that safe, responsible ownership is the standard for everyone who chooses to own a gun. We’ll do that by:

Creating a federal licensing system. States with strict licensing requirements experience lower rates of gun trafficking and violence. A license is required to drive a car, and Congress should establish a similarly straightforward federal licensing system for the purchase of any type of firearm or ammunition.

Requiring universal background checks. I’ll expand background checks via executive action — but Congress should act to permanently mandate universal background checks. And I’ll push Congress to close the so-called “Charleston loophole” that allows a sale to proceed after three days even if the background check is not complete.

Increasing taxes on gun manufacturers. Since 1919, the federal government has imposed an excise tax on manufacturers and importers of guns and ammunition. Handguns are taxed at 10% and other guns and ammunition are taxed at 11%. These taxes raise less in revenue than the federal excise tax on cigarettes, domestic wine, or even airline tickets. It’s time for Congress to raise those rates — to 30% on guns and 50% on ammunition — both to reduce new gun and ammunition sales overall and to bring in new federal revenue that we can use for gun violence prevention and enforcement of existing gun laws.

Establishing a real waiting period. Waiting periods prevent impulsive gun violence, reducing gun suicides by 7–11% and gun homicides by 17%. Over the past 5 years, a national handgun waiting period would have stopped at least 4,550 gun deaths. The federal government should establish a one-week waiting period for all firearm purchases.

Capping firearms purchases. About one out of four of firearms recovered at the scene of a crime were part of a bulk purchase. Congress should limit the number of guns that can be purchased to one per month, similar to a Virginia law that successfully reduced the likelihood of Virginia-bought guns being used in criminal activity.

Creating a new federal anti-trafficking law. Congress should make clear that trafficking firearms or engaging in “straw purchases” — when an individual buys a gun on behalf of a prohibited purchaser — are federal crimes. This would give law enforcement new tools to crack down on gun trafficking and help keep guns out of the wrong hands.

Raising the minimum age for gun purchases. I’ll extend existing age requirements to virtually all sales, but federal law is currently conflicting — for example, a person must be 21 to purchase a handgun from a federally licensed dealer, but only 18 to purchase a rifle. Congress should set the federal minimum age at 21 for all gun sales.

We can also do more to keep military-style assault weapons off our streets. We’ll do that by:

Passing a new federal assault weapons ban. The 1994 federal assault weapons ban successfully reduced gun deaths but was allowed to expire ten years later. Congress should again ban the future production, sale, and importation of military-style assault weapons, and require individuals already in possession of assault weapons to register them under the National Firearms Act. Just as we did successfully with machine guns after the passage of that law, we should establish a buyback program to allow those who wish to do so to return their weapon for safe disposal, and individuals who fail to register or return their assault weapon should face penalties.

Banning high-capacity ammunition magazines. High-capacity magazines were used in 57% of mass shootings from 2009 to 2015, allowing the shooters to target large numbers of people without stopping to reload. Congress should enact a federal ban on large-capacity magazines for all firearms, setting reasonable limits on the lethality of these weapons.

Prohibiting accessories that make weapons more deadly. Gun manufacturers sell increasingly deadly gun accessories, including silencers, trigger cranks, and other mechanisms that increase the rate of fire or make semi-automatic weapons fully automatic. Congress should ban these dangerous accessories entirely.

We should also do everything possible to keep guns out of the hands of those at highest risk of violence. We’ll do that by:

Passing extreme risk protection laws. Extreme risk protection orders allow families and law enforcement to petition to temporarily restrict access to firearms for individuals in crisis or at elevated risk of harming themselves or others. Congress should pass a federal extreme risk law and create a grant system to incentivize states to enact their own laws that clearly define extreme risk.

Prohibiting anyone convicted of a hate crime from owning a gun. Too often, guns are used in acts of mass violence intended to provoke fear in minority communities; more than 10,000 hate crimes involve a gun every year. Any individual convicted of a hate crime should be permanently prohibited from owning a gun, full stop.

Protecting survivors of domestic abuse. Domestic violence and gun violence are deeply connected — in an average month, more than 50 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner. I’ll close the boyfriend loophole, but Congress should make that permanent, and expand the law to include individuals with restraining orders or who have been convicted of stalking.

Securing our schools. Parents shouldn’t have to buy bullet-proof backpacks for their children — guns have no place on our campuses or in our schools. Congress should improve the Gun-Free School Zones Act to include college and university campuses, and apply to individuals licensed by a state or locality to carry a firearm.

If we want real, long-lasting change, we must also hold the gun industry accountable, including online sites that look the other way when sellers abuse their platforms. We’ll do that by:

Repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Nearly every other industry has civil liability as a check on irresponsible actions, but a 2005 law insulates firearms and dealers from civil liability when a weapon is used to commit a crime, even in cases when dealers were shockingly irresponsible. No one should be above the law, and that includes the gun industry. Congress should repeal this law, immediately.

Holding gun manufacturers strictly liable for the harm they cause through a federal private right of actionGun manufacturers make billions in profit by knowingly selling deadly products. Then they are let completely off the hook when people take those deadly products and inflict harm on thousands of victims each year. State tort law already recognizes that certain types of products and activities are so abnormally dangerous that the entities responsible for them should be held strictly liable when people are injured. Congress should codify that same principle at the federal level for guns by creating a new private right of action allowing survivors of gun violence to hold the manufacturer of the weapon that harmed them strictly liable forcompensatory damages to the victim or their family.

Strengthening ATF. The NRA has long sought to hobble the ATF, lobbying against staffing and funding increases for the agency and getting its congressional allies to impose absurd restrictions on its work even as the agency struggled to meet its basic responsibilities. Congress should fully fund ATF’s regulatory and compliance programs and remove the riders and restrictions that prevent it from doing its job.

Regulating firearms for consumer safety. Today there are no federal safety standards for firearms produced in the United States. We can recall unsafe products from trampolines to children’s pajamas — but not defective guns. Congress should repeal the provision of law that prevents the Consumer Product Safety Commission from regulating the safety of firearms and their accessories.

Tightening oversight for gun dealers. Today there is no requirement for federally-licensed gun shops to take even simple steps to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. Congress should pass basic safety standards for federally-licensed gun dealers, including employee background checks, locked cabinets, and up-to-date inventories of the weapons they have in stock.

Holding gun industry CEOs personally accountable. I’ve proposed a lawthat would impose criminal liability and jail time for corporate executives when their company is found guilty of a crime or their negligence causes severe harm to American families — and that includes gun industry CEOs.

Tragedies like the shootings we witnessed in El Paso and Dayton capture our attention and dominate the conversation about gun reform. But they’re just the tip of the iceberg of gun violence in America. Everyday, we lose one hundred Americans to gun violence, with hundreds more physically injured and countless more mentally and emotionally traumatized. And Black and Latinx Americans have borne the brunt of the gun violence tragedy in our country.

In the past, those statistics have been used to justify increased policing and strict sentencing laws. Communities already traumatized by gun violence were doubly victimized by policies that locked up their young people and threw away the key. We’ve got a chance to show that we’ve learned from the past and to chart a new path. It starts by acknowledging that gun violence is a public health crisis, one that cannot be solved solely by the criminal justice system.

We can start to do that by investing in evidence-based community violence intervention programs. Federal grant funding today focuses significantly on law enforcement and incarceration, rather than interventions designed to stop gun violence before it occurs. The data in urban communities indicate that the majority of violence is perpetrated by a small number of offenders, and many cities have found success with programs that identify those at highest risk of becoming the victim or perpetrator of a violent gun crime, then employing strategies to interrupt the cycle of violence before it escalates. Programs that engage the surrounding community, employ mediation to prevent retaliation, build trust with law enforcement, and provide needed long-term social services have been proven to de-escalate tensions and dramatically reduce violence. As president, I’ll establish a grant program to invest in and pilot these types of evidence-based intervention programs at scale.

Annual Research and Annual Reauthorization

Historically, when Congress works to address big national issues, we don’t simply pass one law and cross our fingers. Instead, we continue the research — into new policies and around the consequences of our existing policies — and then come back on a regular basis to update the law.

We don’t do this with guns. Not only have we not passed meaningful legislation in almost a generation, but thanks to the NRA, for decades Congress prohibited federal funding from being used to promote gun safety at all, effectively freezing nearly all research on ways to reduce gun violence. Last year, Congress finally clarified that the CDC could in fact conduct gun violence research — but provided no funding to do so.

This ends when I’m President. My budget will include an annual investment of $100 million for DOJ and HHS to conduct research into the root causes of gun violence and the most effective ways to prevent it, including by analyzing gun trafficking patterns, and researching new technologies to improve gun safety. These funds will also be used to study the reforms we enact — to see what’s working, what new ideas should be added, and what existing policies should be tweaked. And every year, I will send Congress an updated set of reforms based on this new information. That’s how we’ll meet our goal.

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Klobuchar Releases Plan to Combat Hate, Domestic Terrorism

On August 8, immediately after the back-to-back massacres in El Paso and Dayton, US Senator Amy Klobuchar, seeking the Democratic nomination for president, released her plan to keep communities safe from the rising tide of domestic terrorism and hate crimes © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. On August 8, immediately after the back-to-back massacres in El Paso, Dayton and Gilroy, US Senator Amy Klobuchar released her plan to keep communities safe from the rising tide of domestic terrorism and hate crimes. This is from the Klobuchar campaign: 

“The events of the last week have served as a disturbing reminder that hate crimes and domestic terrorism are on the rise in our country,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar. “As President, I will end the hateful rhetoric that has become all too routine during the Trump Administration and make combating domestic terrorism and hate-motivated violence a priority. We will strengthen enforcement against those who commit acts of hate – including white nationalist hate crimes – and work with law enforcement and communities around the country to increase protections and not only combat these threats, but to address the root causes of domestic terrorism.” 

Senator Klobuchar has been taking on hate crimes and combating hate since she was the Hennepin County Attorney. She has seen firsthand the terrible trauma that hate crimes can inflict – not just on individual victims, but on whole communities. And because of her work on this issue as County Attorney, she was invited to the White House when President Bill Clinton proposed the Matthew Shepard federal hate crimes bill.

As County Attorney, she vigorously prosecuted hate crimes. Her office prosecuted defendants responsible for crimes against a 14-year-old boy who was shot while riding his bike on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in a Minneapolis suburb because of the color of his skin, a Minneapolis middle school that was terrorized with burning crosses placed on its grounds, a Korean church in Minneapolis that was desecrated with spray-painted hate messages targeted against blacks, women and gays, and a Hispanic man who was assaulted and severely injured simply because he was speaking Spanish.

In the Senate, Senator Klobuchar has been a leader when it comes to combating hate. She supported the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and she has pushed to provide additional grant funding to safeguard all faith-based community centers and to protect religious institutions in the face of rising threats of violence. She has been a champion when it comes to securing federal resources to help heal distressed communities after hate crimes. She has also urged the Trump Administration to strengthen measures to combat the threat of white supremacist violence.

As President, Senator Klobuchar will take the following actions to combat hate and domestic terrorism: 

Domestic Terrorism

Prioritize combating domestic terrorism and empower law enforcement to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of hate-motivated violence, including against minorities, people of color, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community.

Direct the Department of Homeland Security to resume its work tracking right wing extremism, including white nationalism. 

Require federal law enforcement agencies to regularly assess the threat of domestic terrorism and increase training and resources for state and local law enforcement to address it.

Law Enforcement

In addition to the gun safety proposals the Senator has previously outlined, prevent people convicted of violent misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing or possessing firearms.

Strengthen enforcement of hate crimes, including white nationalist hate crimes.  

Make lynching a federal hate crime. 

Work with Communities

Require the Justice Department and the Department of Commerce to assess how current forms of communication are being used to spread hate and recommend ways to combat threats. 

Better coordinate efforts to focus on combating domestic terrorism not only through law enforcement but also by addressing the root causes of domestic terrorism.

Increase protections for places of worship and schools.

Restore the Voting Rights Act protections for voters immediately in states with a recent history of discrimination. 

Fully staff and fund the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service, which provides communities facing racial and other conflict with services.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A New Approach to Trade

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

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

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

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

A Trade Negotiation Process that Reflects America’s Interests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My preconditions are that a country must:

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

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

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

Comply with minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.  

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

Eliminate all domestic fossil fuel subsidies.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Delivering for American Families with Stronger Enforcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I. FUNDAMENTALLY REVITALIZE RURAL ECONOMIES

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

Strengthen our agricultural sector by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep our rural hospitals open by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——  

Previously Released Biden Plans & Rural America  

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

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Klobuchar Plan for Affordable Housing, Revitalizing Neglected Neighborhoods

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, in the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, is proposing a plan to bridge the rural-urban divide, expand affordable housing opportunities and revitalize neglected neighborhoods © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Amy Klobuchar’s plan to address the need for affordable housing seeks to bridge the rural-urban divide, expand housing opportunities and revitalize neglected neighborhoods. This is a summary from the Klobuchar campaign:

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Senator Klobuchar is proposing a plan to bridge the rural-urban divide, expand affordable housing opportunities and revitalize neglected neighborhoods.

Stable and affordable housing is out of reach for too many American families. Both rural and urban areas struggle with a shortage of affordable rental housing, homelessness and neglected neighborhoods. Racial disparities and discrimination persist in housing and many families face significant obstacles to buying a home. As President, Senator Klobuchar will tackle these challenges to make a safe and affordable home a reality for more Americans.

Highlights of Senator Klobuchar’s Plan:

Expanding Access to Justice and Fighting Discrimination

  • Provide access to counsel. ​Senator Klobuchar will create a new federal grant program with the goal of eliminating the unmet need when it comes to​ ​providing access to counsel in civil cases involving basic human needs, which means providing counsel for people who are dealing with evictions, being denied access to health care and having wages unfairly taken.
  • Prohibit landlords from unfairly discriminating against renters. ​Senator Klobuchar will ban all landlords from discriminating against people based on their income, including housing vouchers or disability benefits. She will also protect renters by preventing the blacklisting of people who have been to court over eviction or discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or veterans status.
  • Combat segregation in housing.​ Senator Klobuchar will suspend the Trump Administration’s proposals to weaken fair housing rules. As previously announced, in her first 100 days as President Senator Klobuchar will suspend the Trump Administration’s attempts to weaken efforts to combat segregation in housing by modifying the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule.
  • Reinstate the Office of Fair Lending and Opportunity’s enforcement and oversight powers.​ ​The Trump Administration has significantly weakened the Office of Fair Lending and Opportunity,​ ​stripping the office of its ability to ensure fair and equitable access to credit. As President, Senator Klobuchar will restore all enforcement and oversight powers to the Office of Fair Lending and Opportunity to monitor fair lending practices and coordinate with the Department of Justice to prevent lending discrimination before it happens.

Addressing the Rural Housing Crisis

  • Increase affordable rental housing in rural communities. ​54 million​ Americans live in rural areas with a severe need for more affordable rental housing. Senator Klobuchar will strengthen rural rental assistance programs and significantly increase investments in the rural housing supply, which includes expanding affordable housing programs serving Native Americans.
  • Improve access to information about rural housing programs. ​To take advantage of federal support for new rural housing, developers must first know about the programs available to them. Senator Klobuchar will improve training for state, local and federal agencies so communities and developers can better access housing opportunities. Senator Klobuchar will also improve and expand programs that provide technical assistance to rural nonprofits to connect rural communities with resources to develop housing.
  • Encourage innovative strategies to attract private investment. ​Senator Klobuchar will use the loan purchasing power of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to ask lenders to create new ways to meet the mortgage credit needs for rural markets based on evidence from their existing portfolio data. Senator Klobuchar will also provide incentives for community financial development institutions to provide access to credit in rural communities using the expertise of local financial institutions. 

Increasing Access to Affordable Housing

  • Invest in Housing Choice Vouchers.​ The Housing Choice Voucher program helps provide the stable homes families need to succeed, but demand far exceeds the number of vouchers available. Senator Klobuchar will make a major investment to make vouchers available to all qualifying households with children.
  • Promote effective zoning rules. ​Outdated zoning rules can make it harder to build affordable housing in many areas. Some cities are beginning to update their zoning policies through initiatives like Minneapolis 2040 to increase affordable housing opportunities. Senator Klobuchar will prioritize areas that have updated their zoning rules when awarding federal housing and infrastructure grants.
  • Give renters access to emergency funds for rent. ​The path toward eviction can start with an unexpected emergency expense. As she has previously announced, Senator Klobuchar will work to create innovative, portable personal savings accounts called UP Accounts that can be used for retirement and emergencies — including non-routine expenses like rent payments in situations like a lapse in earnings, a car accident, or family leave. [This proposal is modeled after the ​Saving for the Future Act​, which was introduced by Senators Coons and Klobuchar.] Under her plan, employers will set aside at least 50 cents per hour worked, helping a worker build more than $600,000 in wealth over the course of a career.
  • Support housing for people with disabilities.​ Senator Klobuchar will strengthen housing programs that assist people with disabilities. She will also invest in the successful Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program.
  • Promote climate change mitigation and resilience.​ Residential buildings are a significant source of carbon emissions. Senator Klobuchar will ensure that all federal housing programs implement strong standards to reduce carbon emissions and she will invest in retrofitting so existing housing is more energy efficient. 

Providing Access to Opportunity

  • Encourage mobility for renters. ​An ​effective​ way to break the cycle of poverty is to move to a neighborhood that provides greater opportunity.​ ​Senator Klobuchar will expand the pilot for mobility housing vouchers that allows families to use their vouchers in higher opportunity neighborhoods. She will expand incentives to encourage relocation and work with regional and federal housing agencies to reduce obstacles that can make these relocations difficult.
  • Increase the supply of affordable housing in high opportunity neighborhoods. ​The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is a critical tool for developing affordable rental housing.​ ​Senator Klobuchar will push to expand the current allocations to support the construction of additional units. She will also work to encourage construction in high opportunity neighborhoods.
  • Reduce homelessness. ​Over half a million Americans experience homelessness every night. Senator Klobuchar will make a major investment in homeless assistance grants that provide emergency and long-term housing and build on her work in the Senate increasing access to case management services like counseling and job training. This also means addressing the unique challenges of specific homeless populations including those living in rural areas, domestic violence victims, and the formerly incarcerated.
  • Help seniors age in place.​ By 2040, one in five Americans will be over 65, but the current supply of rental housing is not equipped for this Silver Surge. In the first 100 days of her Administration, Senator Klobuchar will reverse the Trump Administration’s proposed changes to federal housing subsidies that could triple rent for some households and would be particularly harmful for seniors. In addition, she will update regulations for reverse mortgages to make sure seniors have access to safe products that make it easier to stay in their homes, as well as expand support for affordable senior housing. She will direct affordable housing programs to allow retrofitting of rental housing and encourage a share of new rental housing to be built in a senior friendly way.

Increasing Access to Homeownership

  • Revitalize and build value in neglected neighborhoods.​ In some neighborhoods, neglected properties make investments to improve living conditions or build property value economically infeasible. Neighboring blighted and abandoned properties further reduce the possibility of investment, leading to downward spiral. Senator Klobuchar will advocate for a new federal tax credit, similar to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, to encourage investment in family-owned homes in distressed neighborhoods.
  • Promote homeownership through down payment assistance and credit development. Saving for a downpayment and building a credit history are two of the largest obstacles new homebuyers face. Senator Klobuchar will build on programs that allow certain types of rental housing assistance to be used for home ownership expenses. She will also work to pass legislation that expands access to capital for down payments and makes it easier to build a credit history by allowing credit bureaus to use on-time payment data from cell phone bills, utilities, and rent in calculating credit scores.
  • Protect the Community Reinvestment Act. ​During the first 100 days of her presidency, Senator Klobuchar will direct financial regulators to strengthen C​ommunity Reinvestment Act​ protections, develop policies to encourage financial institutions to make loans and investment in local communities, especially communities in need, and conduct greater outreach to assess the true credit needs of certain areas.
  • Improve education for homebuyers. Buying a home can be confusing, especially for first-time homebuyers. Senator Klobuchar will strengthen federal homebuyer education programs including targeted programs for communities with low levels of homeownership.

To pay for these policies, Senator Klobuchar will raise the capital gains rate to the income tax rate for households making over $400,000, and as announced in her infrastructure plan, which included plans for housing, raising the corporate tax rate to 25%.

Democratic Candidates for 2020: The Biden Plan for Older Americans

Vice President Joe Biden, campaigning to be the 2020 Democratic nominee for president, released his plan for seniors to have secure retirement © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. This is from the Biden 2020 campaign:

THE BIDEN PLAN FOR OLDER AMERICANS

The moral obligation of our time is rebuilding the middle class. The middle class isn’t a number, it’s a value set. And, a key component of that value set is having a steady, secure income as you age so your kids won’t have to take care of you in retirement. This means not only protecting and strengthening Social Security, but also helping more middle-class families grow their savings. 

A dignified retirement also means having access to affordable health care and support. Too many Americans – and too many older Americans – cannot afford their prescriptions or their long-term care. Their families are faced with saving for their own retirement or taking care of their aging parents. It’s not right. 
 
Working- and middle-class Americans built this country. And, they deserve to retire with dignity – able to pay for their prescriptions and with access to quality, affordable long-term care. 

I. STAND UP TO THE ABUSE OF POWER BY PRESCRIPTION DRUG CORPORATIONS

Too many Americans cannot afford their prescription drugs, and prescription drug corporations are profiteering off of the pocketbooks of sick individuals. The Biden Plan will put a stop to runaway drug prices and the profiteering of the drug industry by:

  • Repealing the outrageous exception allowing drug corporations to avoid negotiating with Medicare over drug prices. Because Medicare covers so many Americans, it has significant leverage to negotiate lower prices for its beneficiaries. And it does so for hospitals and other providers participating in the program but not drug manufacturers. Drug manufacturers not facing any competition, therefore, can charge whatever price they choose to set. There’s no justification for this except the power of prescription drug lobbying. The Biden Plan will repeal the existing law explicitly barring Medicare from negotiating lower prices with drug corporations.
  • Limiting launch prices for drugs that face no competition and are being abusively priced by manufacturers. Through his work on the Cancer Moonshot, Biden understands that the future of pharmacological interventions is not traditional chemical drugs, but specialized biotech drugs that will have little to no competition to keep prices in check. Without competition, we need a new approach for keeping the prices of these drugs down. For these cases where new specialty drugs without competition are being launched, under the Biden Plan the Secretary of Health and Human Services will establish an independent review board to assess their value. The board will recommend a reasonable price, based on the average price in other countries (a process called external reference pricing) or, if the drug is entering the U.S. market first, based on an evaluation by the independent board members. This reasonable price will be the rate Medicare and the public option will pay. In addition, the Biden Plan will allow private plans participating in the individual marketplace to access a similar rate.
  • Limiting price increases for all brand, biotech and abusively priced generic drugs to inflation. As a condition of participation in the Medicare program and public option, all brand, biotech and abusively priced generic drugs will be prohibited from increasing their prices more than the general inflation rate. The Biden plan will also impose a tax penalty on drug manufacturers that increase the costs of their brand, biotech or abusively priced generic over the general inflation rate.
  • Allowing consumers to buy prescription drugs from other countries. To create more competition for U.S. drug corporations, the Biden Plan will allow consumers to import prescription drugs from other countries, as long as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has certified that those drugs are safe.
  • Terminating pharmaceutical corporations’ tax break for advertisement spending.Drug corporations spent an estimated $6 billion in 2016 alone on prescription drug advertisements to increase their sales, a more than four-fold increase from just $1.3 billion in 1997. The American Medical Association has even expressed “concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially driven promotions, and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices.” Currently, drug corporations may count spending on these ads as a deduction to reduce the amount of taxes they owe. But taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for these ads. As president, Biden will end this tax deduction for all prescription drug ads, as proposed by Senator Jeanne Shaheen.
  • Improving the supply of quality generics. Generics help reduce health care spending, but brand drug corporations have succeeded in preserving a number of strategies to help them delay the entrance of a generic into the market even after the patent has expired. The Biden Plan supports numerous proposals to accelerate the development of safe generics, such as Senator Patrick Leahy’s proposal to make sure generic manufacturers have access to a sample.

II. PROTECT AND STRENGTHEN MEDICARE AS WE KNOW IT AND ENSURE QUALITY, AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL OLDER AMERICANS 

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, with Vice President Biden standing by his side, and made history. It was a victory 100 years in the making. It was the conclusion of a tough fight that required taking on Republicans, special interests, and the status quo to do what’s right. But the Obama-Biden Administration got it done.
 
Today, the Affordable Care Act is still a big deal – especially for older Americans. Because of Obamacare, over 100 million people no longer have to worry that an insurance company will deny coverage or charge higher premiums just because they have a pre-existing condition – whether cancer or diabetes or heart disease or a mental health challenge. Insurance companies can no longer set annual or lifetime limits on coverage. The law limited the extent to which insurance companies may charge you higher premiums just because of your age. And, the Affordable Care Act strengthened Medicare by extending the life of the Medicare Trust Fund; giving Medicare beneficiaries access to free recommended preventive services, such as an annual wellness visit; and closing the prescription drug coverage gap, often referred to as the “donut hole.”
 
But, every day over the past nine years, the Affordable Care Act has been under relentless attack.

Immediately after its passage, Congressional Republicans began trying again and again to repeal it. Following the lead of President Trump, Republicans in Congress have only doubled down on this approach since January 2017. And, since repeal through Congress has not been working, President Trump has been unilaterally doing everything he can to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. Now, the Trump Administration is trying to get the entire law – including protections for people with pre-existing conditions – struck down in court.
 
As president, Biden will protect the Affordable Care Act from these continued attacks. He opposes every effort to get rid of this historic law – including efforts by Republicans, and efforts by Democrats. Instead of starting from scratch and getting rid of private insurance, he has a plan to build on the Affordable Care Act by giving Americans more choicereducing health care costs, and making our health care system less complex to navigate. You can read Biden’s full health care plan [here]. In addition, to improve older Americans’ access to affordable, quality health care, Biden will:

  • Protect Medicare as we know it. Today, Medicare provides health insurance coverage to over 60 million older Americans and people with disabilities.  As president, Biden will continue to defend our nation’s commitment to older Americans and people with disabilities through Medicare, and he will keep Medicare as a separate and distinct program, and ensure there is no disruption to the current Medicare system.
  • Protect Medicaid and ensure its beneficiaries can access home and community-based long-term care when they want it. Medicaid pays for more long-term care than any other insurer in the country. In fact, roughly 6 in 10 individuals residing in nursing homes are enrolled in Medicaid, including many older Americans. Yet, the Trump Administration is reportedly considering a plan to cut Medicaid funding by turning it into a block grant. And Republican leadership in states like Iowa, where Medicaid has been privatized with devastating results for some of its most vulnerable residents, are not fulfilling their obligations under the program. The Biden Plan will protect Medicaid funding and make sure the program gives those on Medicaid who need long-term care the flexibility to choose home- and community-based care. In addition, the Biden Administration won’t let states skirt their duties under Medicaid and will take enforcement action against any state that allows profiteering to get in the way of Medicaid beneficiaries’ health.
  • Provide tax relief to help solve the long-term care challenge. The Biden Plan will also help Americans pay for long-term care by providing relief for Americans needing long-term care by creating a $5,000 tax credit for informal caregivers, modeled off of legislation supported by AARP. These informal caregivers – whether family members or other loved ones – have for too long been doing tireless work without any financial support. In addition, Biden will increase the generosity of tax benefitsfor older Americans who choose to buy long-term care insurance and pay for it using their savings for retirement.
  • Care for our caregivers. The physical, emotional, and financial challenges of caring for a loved one is enormous. As president, Biden will work to enact at the federal level the AARP-endorsed Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act, which has already been passed in 39 states. This legislation will help our caregivers by ensuring hospitals equip them with instructions and information when their loved ones are discharged. Biden also supports additional proposals to support caregivers, such as funding to give them access to respite care.

III. PRESERVE AND STRENGTHEN SOCIAL SECURITY

Social Security is the bedrock of American retirement. Roughly 90% of retirement-age Americans receive Social Security benefits, and one-in-four rely on Social Security for all, or almost all, of their income. The program has not only ensured that middle-class workers can enjoy the sound and secure retirement they worked so hard for, it also lifted over 17 million older Americans out of poverty in 2017 alone.
 
The Biden Plan will protect Social Security for the millions of Americans who depend on the program. With Social Security’s Trust Fund already in deficit and expected to be exhausted in 2035, we urgently need action to make the program solvent and prevent cuts to American retirees.
 
But the Biden Plan doesn’t stop there. As president, Joe Biden will strengthen benefits for the most vulnerable older Americans – including widows and widowers, lifelong workers with low monthly benefits, and old-age beneficiaries who may have exhausted their other savings. Specifically, the Biden Plan will:

  • Put Social Security on a path to long-run solvency. The impending exhaustion of the Social Security Trust fund imperils American retirement as we know it. Waiting to act only jeopardizes the program further, and will make an eventual solution that much more difficult. The Biden Plan will put the program on a path to long-term solvency by asking Americans with especially high wages to pay the same taxes on those earnings that middle-class families pay.
  • Preserve the nature of Social Security. Social Security is one of our nation’s great public policy successes, in large part due to the fact that participation in the program is shared across almost all workers. Efforts to privatize the program – such as an approach suggested under the Bush Administration – will undermine the program’s solvency, while putting at risk individuals’ income in retirement. Similarly, proposals to make the program “means-tested” – so that only low-income retirees workers receive benefits – jeopardizes the program’s universal nature and key role as the bedrock of American retirement. Ultimately, the success of Social Security is largely due to the fact that almost all Americans can rely on the program to make their retirement more secure.
  • Provide a higher benefit for the oldest Americans. At advanced ages, Americans become more vulnerable to exhausting their savings, sometimes falling into poverty and living a life of hardship. The Biden Plan will provide the oldest beneficiaries – those who have been receiving retirement benefits for at least 20 years – with a higher monthly check to help protect retirees from the pain of dwindling retirement savings.
  • Implement a true minimum benefit for lifelong workers. No one who has worked for decades and paid into Social Security should have to spend their retirement in poverty. The Biden Plan will revolutionize the Social Security’s minimum benefit, which has deteriorated over time to the point of being entirely ineffective. Under the Biden Plan, workers who spent 30 years working will get a benefit of at least 125% of the poverty level.
  • Protect widows and widowers from steep cuts in benefits. For many couples, the death of a spouse means that Social Security benefits will be cut in half – putting pressure on the surviving spouse who still needs to make the mortgage payment and handle other bills. The Biden Plan will allow surviving spouse to keep a higher share of the benefits. This will make an appreciable difference in the finances of older Americans, especially women (who live longer on average than men), raising the monthly payment by about 20% for affected beneficiaries.
  • Eliminate penalties for teachers and other public-sector workers. Current rules penalize teachers and other public sector workers who either switch jobs or who have earned retirement benefits from various sources. The Biden Plan would eliminate these penalties by ensuring that teachers not eligible for Social Security will begin receiving benefits sooner – rather than the current ten-year period for many teachers. The Biden Plan will also get rid of the benefit cuts for workers and surviving beneficiaries who happen to be covered by both Social Security and another pension. These workers deserve the benefits they earned.

IV. EQUALIZE SAVING INCENTIVES FOR MIDDLE-CLASS WORKERS

In the modern retirement landscape, a sound retirement begins with years of diligent saving. While other aspects of the Biden Plan will help raise wages for workers and reduce costs for spending like child care and health insurance, the Biden Plan will also ensure that middle-class families get a leg up as they grow their nest egg.
 
Under current law, the tax code affords workers over $200 billion each year for various retirement benefits – including saving in 401(k)-type plans or IRAs. While these benefits help workers reach their retirement goals, many are poorly designed to help low- and middle-income savers – about two-thirds of the benefit goes to the wealthiest 20% of families. The Biden Plan will make these savings more equal so that middle class families can enter retirement with enough savings to support a healthy and secure retirement. President Biden will do so by:

  • Equalizing the tax benefits of defined contribution plans. The current tax benefits for retirement savings are based on the concept of deferral, whereby savers get to exclude their retirement contributions from tax, see their savings grow tax free, and then pay taxes when they withdraw money from their account. This system provides upper-income families with a much stronger tax break for saving and a limited benefit for middle-class and other workers with lower earnings. The Biden Plan will equalize benefits across the income scale, so that low- and middle-income workers will also get a tax break when they put money away for retirement. 
  • Removing penalties for caregivers who want to save for retirement. Under current law, people who work as caregivers without receiving wages are ineligible to get tax breaks for retirement saving. The Biden Plan will allow caregivers to make “catch-up” contributions to retirement accounts, even if they’re not earning income in the formal labor market, as has been proposed in bipartisan legislation by Representatives Jackie Walorski and Harley Rouda.
  • Giving small businesses a tax break for starting a retirement plan and giving workers the chance to save at work. As proposed by the Obama-Biden Administration, the Biden Plan will call for widespread adoption of workplace savings plans and offer tax credits to small businesses to offset much of the costs. Under Biden’s plan, almost all workers without a pension or 401(k)-type plan will have access to an “automatic 401(k),” which provides the opportunity to easily save for retirement at work – putting millions of middle-class families in the path to a secure retirement.

V. PROVIDE HELP FOR OLDER WORKERS WHO WANT TO KEEP WORKING

With longer lifespans and the changing nature of work, many Americans are choosing to stay in the workforce longer. Despite their valuable contributions, these workers often face illegal discrimination or steep tax penalties when they try to continue to earn a living. Joe Biden believes that all workers deserve an opportunity to earn a living and will fight to change the laws to allow all people – regardless of their age – to get the pay they deserve. The Biden Plan will:

  • Protect older Americans against harmful age discrimination. As president, Biden will back bipartisan legislation protecting older workers from being discriminated against in the workforce. According to an AARP survey, this practice is widespread – with more than 60% of older workers reporting discrimination because of their age. The Biden Plan will put in place workplace safeguards making it easier for older workers to prove that they were treated unfairly at work.
  • Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to older workers. The EITC is one of the most effective strategies for helping low-wage workers achieve a living wage. Unfortunately, the EITC is not available to workers once they turn 65, putting them at a distinct disadvantage relative to their younger peers. As president, Joe Biden will allow low-wage older workers to claim the tax credit they deserve.

Elizabeth Warren Announces Her Plan for Immigration Reform

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A Fair and Welcoming Immigration System

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

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

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

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

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

Eliminating Abusive Enforcement 

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

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

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

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

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

Significantly Reduce Immigration Detention 

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

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

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

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

Provide Rights and Due Process in our Immigration Courts 

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

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

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

Welcome Those In Need 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Address the Forces Displacing Migrants from Their Home Countries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is an overview:  

The Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution & Environmental Justice 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Biden Plan will: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biden Opens 2020 Campaign for President with Pledge to Unify Country: ‘Let’s stop fighting and start fixing’

Former Vice President Joe Biden officially launches his 2020 Campaign for President at a rally in Philadelphia. “Let’s stop fighting and start fixing.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Joe Biden, two-term Vice President under Barack Obama, officially launched his own campaign for 2020 at a rally in Philadelphia, his wife, Dr. Jill Biden’s hometown and the city where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, were birthed and for the first time, structured a government around “We the people.”

“I am running for three basic reasons,” he declared. “I want to restore the soul of this country…I want to rebuild the backbone of this country, this time bringing everyone along, the middle class — the middle class that built this country. And thirdly I want to unite the country.”

“In 1776, the Declaration of Independence: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident.’ Those words formed the American creed. Equality. Equity. Fairness. America didn’t live up to that promise for most of its people, for people of color, for women.

“But we are born of the idea that every single person in this country — no matter where you start in life — there’s nothing that’s beyond your capacity if you work hard enough for it.”

Unity – one America united around common values and a belief that each is entitled to the same opportunity – is a big theme for Biden, who blasted the divisiveness, the dysfunction of government, starting with Donald Trump.

“Some say Democrats don’t want to hear about unity. That they are angry– and the angrier you are – the better. That’s what they are saying to have to do to win the Democratic nomination. Well, I don’t believe it. I believe Democrats want to unify this nation. That’s what we’ve always been about. Unity.

“If the American people want a president to add to our division, to lead with a clenched fist, closed hand and a hard heart, to demonize the opponents and spew hatred —  they don’t need me. They already have a President who does just that. I am running to offer our country – Democrats, Republicans and Independents – a different path.”  

“I know how to make government work. I’ve worked across the aisle to reach consensus. And I can do that again with your help,” he said, often having to speak over a heckler and whistles.

“Compromise is not a dirty word; consensus is no a weakness – the founders designed constitution to require consensus – it’s what I did as Senator, what I did as vice president working with Barack Obama…

If I’m elected your president, I will do whatever to make progress on matters that matter most – civil rights, women’s rights, climate change policy that will save our children, grandchildren.

“I know there are times when only a bare knuckle fight will do –I can take on Republicans. That’s what took to pass the Affordable Care Act – it was a big… deal…

“Barack Obama was an extraordinary man…. Someone your children looked up to…I’m proud to have served as his vice president [and proudest of] passing health care. Past administrations tried and failed; it was done by Obama without a single Republican vote.

“The Recovery Act [at the time of America’s biggest economic crisis] was a big reason we have had 10 years of uninterrupted economic growth…

“Trump likes to take credit for economy and economic growth – but look at facts, not alternative facts- he inherited a strong economy from the Obama-Biden administration.

“The Recovery Act helped save the country from economic ruin –  we had to get the work done – if we hadn’t, we could have had another Great Depression . Working together matters. The American people want government to work.

“The country is sick of division, sick of childish behavior – there isn’t a single person in this country who could get away with that in their job. All people want is for their senator, their congressman to do their job, and above all, a president who measures the day by people he brings together rather than division he sows…a president obsessing over personal grievance.

“The rest of the world isn’t waiting. China not waiting – they’re building 5G, mastering AI, rewriting the rules of the internet, moving into areas that shouldn’t be abandoned by us. The rest of the world isn’t abandoning the Paris Climate Accord…

“The greatest challenge we face will be over technology, intellectual property, clean energy, a warming planet – and not a single thing that building a wall [or attacking immigrants] can address….

“We have to focus on the future .. we will invest in educational assistance our people need to succeed in 21st century because any country that out-educates us will out compete us.”

He declared. “Let’s stop fighting and start fixing,” prompting cheers of “We want Joe. We want Joe.”

On health care, he said that instead of starting over, certainly not tear down, “we need to go to the next step” with the Affordable Care Act.

On infrastructure, he said, “Highways, ports, airports need to be greener, more rational. No one should have to drink poisoned water; protect the nation from cyber attack [and bring] solar and wind energy across the same lines.

“We know what we have to do.That’s why I’m running – stop fighting, start fixing… together.

“There is not much time left,” he declared. “We need a clean energy revolution, starting now. Clean energy and jobs creation go together…

“We have to work together to get it done….We need a president who will lead.”

Getting down to brass tacks, he said, “The single most important priority on my list: defeat Donald Trump…

“I’ve watched [Trump] for 3 years instilling fear, undermining every institution designed to check abuse of power- all to solidify his base and expand power.

“Attacks on free press as the enemy of the people is nothing to be dismissed – tyrants, dictators all over the world use the same [rhetoric]. Attacking the independence of courts – saying he cannot trust a judge because of his Mexican ancestry, that’s not America, Democrat or Republican.

“Attack on Congress to legitimately engage in oversight a without whimper of Republicans in Congress who should know better…

“This undermines our standing around the world.

“Are we a nation that believes in the moral equivalent between neo-Nazis and the KKK, and those with courage to stand against them? We don’t but Trump does.

“Are we a nation who believes it’s okay to tear children from the arms of parents at the border? We don’t but Trump does.

“Are we a nation that [coddles up to] a tyrant like Kim Jong Un? We don’t but Tump does.

“Remember who we are, what we stand for, what we believe. Every day I am reminded nothing is guaranteed by our democracy, we have to fight for it, earn it.”

Biden cited Lincoln’s Gettsburg Address, saying, “the great task remaining before us, that government of, by, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

“That challenge has been handed down to every generation. That challenge is now handed to us, that future generations will measure us by. Will we be the ones to let government of, by, for the people perish from the earth?

“We will not, I will not, you will not let perish on my watch or yours.

But while we confront “the biggest threat any of us have faced in our entire lifetime,” he added, “on other hand, we‘ve never had a future more promising.

“I’m more optimistic about America’s future today, than when I was first elected, too young to be sworn in. We are in a better position to lead in the 21st century. Our workers are 3 times as productive, we have the biggest economy in the world, the strongest military in the history of the world. Entrepreneurs…there are more great research universities in this city, this state, this country than all the world combined..

“We lead by the power of example not by the example of power. The only thing to defeat America is America itself and we cannot let that happen.

“Let them know who we are, what we stand for – unity over division.”

__________

© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin