Political conventions have two purposes: to nominate candidates and to shape agendas through party platforms. There will be no mystery this summer regarding the nomination of candidates. And the agendas of both parties are reasonably well defined. While the degeneration of the Republican brand will be confirmed in Tampa, the Democrats will evolve in Charlotte with the addition of a marriage equality plank to the party platform. The full embrace of LGBT rights by a major party comes as the culmination of a long struggle to bend the arc of history toward justice. In the same spirit, we propose six more planks for a People’s Platform—one grounded in current activism and animated by the belief that the party must define itself in a more boldly progressive direction.
§ A Robin Hood Tax. Michael Moore was right when he said, “America is not broke.” But America will act like it is as long as politicians of both parties fail to challenge the prevailing view that our resources are insufficient to maintain Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—let alone expand essential programs to meet pressing social needs.
Yes, of course it is necessary to rescind the Bush/Cheney tax cuts for the rich. But at a time when so much of our economy involves the rapid trading of financial instruments, it is also time to impose a financial transactions tax on the speculators who caused an economic meltdown that continues to inflict pain here and abroad. National Nurses United has linked with international allies to pressure G-20 countries to do just that. Key European leaders have supported a small tax on every trade to fund social services and rebuild communities. It’s time for Washington to get on board, backing these global initiatives as well as moving on the domestic level, as Senator Tom Harkin and Congressman Peter DeFazio have proposed. As the NNU frames it: “Taxpayers bailed out Wall Street. It’s time they paid us back.” Democrats should make this common-sense levy central to their agenda, part of a long-term vision for moving America from a Wall Street–driven casino capitalism to a Main Street–focused caring, clean and green economics. For more information, go to robinhoodtax.org and nationalnursesunited.org.
§ Medicare for All. The Affordable Care Act has passed constitutional muster, to the relief of the Obama administration and the millions of Americans whose access to healthcare depends on it. But the ACA is merely a first step in the direction of fixing a system rendered dysfunctional by profiteering. The regulatory and oversight framework established by the ACA must be linked to an expansion of Medicare and Medicaid, which already provide care for tens of millions. This will move us toward a system giving all Americans the care they need, at a cost the country can afford. Groups like Progressive Democrats of America and key unions have long advocated this approach, and they have a base in Congress led by Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman John Conyers. To learn more, go to sanders.senate.gov, pdamerica.org and laborforsinglepayer.org.
§ Regulation of the Banksters. We agree with Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren when she says the Dodd-Frank reform bill didn’t go far enough in addressing the challenges posed by “too big to fail” banks. Warren wants Congress to “put Wall Street reform back on the agenda” by enacting a new Glass-Steagall Act that “would separate high-risk investment banks from more traditional banking.” Yes! But as the mortgage crisis and the Libor-fixing scandal illustrate, Congress must do more. Representative Marcy Kaptur’s Return to Prudent Banking Act, which has seventy-eight co-sponsors, would crack down on the banksters and revive the New Deal boldness of the Democratic Party. For more, go to kaptur.house.gov and banksterusa.org.