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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Ten Proposals for A Democratic Presidential Campaign Running An Economic Populist Platform

1. Expand Social Security and raise or eliminate the payroll cap on high income earners to finance it.
2. Raise the federal minimum wage to $15 and peg it to inflation.
3. Glass-Steagall renewal, break up too big to fail banks, micro-tax on digital financial transactions.
4. Mandating paid sick leave and family leave for workers.
5. Medicare Buy-In as the Public Option.
6. New, higher tax-rate brackets for millionaires and billionaires.
7. Student loan refinancing at radically lowered interest rates and loan forgiveness for adjuncts and low-paid workers.
8. Check cashing, savings and checking accounts and other low-cost banking services made available at all post offices.
9. Nationwide automatic voter registration, universal mail-in ballots, Election Day Holiday, pledge to reverse Citizens United.
10. Huge Green economic and employment stimulus investing in renewable energy infrastructure, burying/ruggedizing electric and communication lines, linking major cities in a continental rapid rail or maglev network, subsidizing energy efficient residential remodeling and appropriate landscaping, invest in massive tree planting, wetland restoration, and soil conservation works.

All of these proposals are already out there in Democratic policy papers and legislative language. They are all quite popular. Many have already been advocated by President Obama in some form and taking them up is only natural as Clinton has chosen to figure her candidacy less as a break from Obama than as a passing of the Obama baton moving the Democratic project forward in her vision of their shared values. I honestly do expect versions of at least some of these proposals to be coming from the Clinton campaign, but I wish all of them were. These are the sort of policies that would actually substantiate the populist rhetoric Clinton has rightly chosen to reframe herself as a presidential candidate. Again, Clinton would need the support of congressional majorities (with congressional leaders like Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi as partners) to enact such an agenda, but I think the agenda itself would inspire the kind of turnout that could provide those majorities.

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