Only the Democratic Party can fix US Economy

Posted on October 09, 2020, 11:27 am
57 mins

The economy is not working for the American people. In a matter of weeks, the abject failure of President Trump and his Administration to competently respond to the COVID-19 pandemic erased all the job gains made since the Obama-Biden Administration pulled the country out of the Great Recession, and plunged the economy into recession once more.

President Trump inherited the longest economic expansion in American history from the Obama-Biden Administration, and he squandered it. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump was presiding over a recession in the manufacturing sector, after years of growth in the Obama-Biden Administration. He had the audacity to pay for a permanent tax cut for big business by raising taxes on working families. He launched a reckless trade war with China that cost more than 300,000 American jobs and sent farmers into bankruptcy, decimating the American heartland. He has left our communities vulnerable and exposed to the impacts of climate change, let other countries outpace us in the clean energy revolution America should be leading, and completely failed to fulfill his campaign promise to the American people to invest in rebuilding and modernizing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

But our economy was rigged against working families and the middle class even before the novel coronavirus sickened millions and killed more than 150,000 Americans and counting. Working families’ incomes have been largely stagnant for decades, while the cost of basic needs—from housing to health care, higher education to child care—keep rising at precipitous rates. Meanwhile, the rich have been capturing a larger and larger share of the economic pie, with incomes for the top one percent growing five times faster than those of the bottom 90 percent.

America bills itself as the land of opportunity, but intergenerational mobility has plummeted; children born in the United States are less likely to move up the income ladder than those in Canada, Denmark, or the United Kingdom. Women still earn just 82 cents to every dollar men earn, with even greater disparities for women of color. Median incomes are lower and poverty rates are higher for Black Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and certain Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, compared to median white households. And there is a persistent, pernicious racial wealth gap that holds millions of Americans back, with the typical white household holding six times more wealth than the typical Latino family and 10 times more wealth than the typical Black family. President Trump’s recession threatens to deepen existing inequities, as Black and Latino workers are less likely to work in jobs that can be done safely from home, less likely to have savings to fall back on, and less likely to be able to access unemployment insurance and other emergency programs electronically.

That’s bad for our economy, bad for our democracy, and bad for the soul of our nation.

That is why Democrats commit to forging a new social and economic contract with the American people—a contract that invests in the people and promotes shared prosperity, not one that benefits only big corporations and the wealthiest few. One that affirms housing is a right and not a privilege, and which makes a commitment that no one will be homeless or go hungry in the richest country on earth. A new economic contract that raises wages and restores workers’ rights to organize, join a union, and collectively bargain. One that at last supports working families and the middle class by securing equal pay for women and paid family leave for all. A new economic contract that provides access for all to reliable and affordable banking and financial services. A new social and economic contract that at last grapples honestly with America’s long and ongoing history of racism and disenfranchisement, of segregation and discrimination, and invests instead in building equity and mobility for the people of color who have been left out and left behind for generations.

Democrats stand ready to take immediate, decisive action to pull the economy out of President Trump’s recession by investing in infrastructure, care work, clean energy, and small businesses to put Americans to work in good-paying jobs; shoring up state and local budgets to save jobs and protect public health in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; and enacting fundamental reforms to address structural and systemic racism and entrenched income and wealth inequality in our economy and our banking system.

Protecting Workers and Families and Creating Millions of Jobs Across America
Americans deserve an economy that works for everyone—not just for the wealthy and the well-connected. But our system has been rigged against the American people. Democrats believe that it is a moral and an economic imperative that we support working families by rebuilding the American middle class for the 21st century, making sure this time that everyone can make it and thrive, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, national origin, age, or ZIP code.

Raising Wages and Promoting Workers’ Rights
Democrats will fight to raise wages for working people and improve job quality and security, including by raising the federal minimum wage so it reaches $15 an hour by 2026. Raising the federal minimum wage, so fewer workers are forced to hold down multiple jobs to make ends meet, will significantly decrease risks of infection from COVID-19 and in the future. We know that strong American labor unions help increase wages and job standards for workers across the economy, which is why Democrats will prioritize passing the PRO Act and restoring workers’ rights, including the right to launch secondary boycotts. We will repeal so-called “right to work” laws that undermine worker power and lead to lower wages and less protection for workers across the economy, and ensure those who have been left without wage and hour protections for decades—including domestic workers and farmworkers—have the same rights as other workers. Democrats will support legislation to strengthen whistleblower and anti-retaliation protections for workers who speak for themselves or their coworkers. And we will take action to rein in anti-competitive corporate power by rewriting the rules that have undermined workers’ ability to advocate for themselves, including non-compete clauses, no-poaching agreements, and contracts that force workers into mandatory arbitration to resolve violations of employment laws.

Democrats will recognize unions with majority sign-up—via “card check” processes—and ban captive audience meetings, which employers use to bully and browbeat workers. We will hold executives personally accountable if they interfere in workers’ efforts to organize, including issuing criminal penalties for intentional obstruction. We will take action to guarantee that when workers come to the table, they are able to bargain with the employers who actually hold the power, including franchisors, and penalize companies that bargain in bad faith with their workers. Democrats will vigorously protect all private-sector workers’ right to strike without fear of coercion, interference, and undue delay. We will also establish the federal government’s role in promoting and facilitating collective bargaining and helping the parties bring their negotiations to a rapid and successful conclusion, committing to a high standard for intervening in strikes, including under the Railway Labor Act.

The right of workers to come together and form a union is under attack. We must unrig the rules that block workers from having the union they want and update our labor laws to make it more possible. We must change labor law so that it is easier for unions and employers to enter into multi-employer agreements establishing minimum workplace standards related to wages, benefits, and working conditions.

Democrats believe taxpayer dollars should never flow to employers who steal workers’ wages, violate labor laws, engage in union-busting, or exploit immigrant workers to depress working conditions for all workers. We will increase funding and staffing at the Department of Labor to aggressively enforce wage, hour, health, and safety rules across the economy. Democrats believe employees who are being misclassified, including gig and platform workers, deserve wage and workplace protections including minimum wage and overtime pay, and we support using the ABC test to determine employee status. Democrats believe that all workers should be able to hold their employers accountable for unpaid or underpaid wages, regardless of corporate structure. We support using grants and collaborative relationships with community organizations to ensure that workers know their rights and responsibilities under the law.

Democrats will strengthen labor rights for the more than 20 million public-sector employees in the United States by passing the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, which would provide a federal guarantee for public-sector employees to bargain for better pay and benefits and the working conditions they deserve.

We cannot hope to raise wages without taking on the profound racial biases at work in our employment system. The wage gap between Black workers and white workers is higher today than it was 20 years ago. It takes a typical Black woman 19 months to earn what a typical white man earns in 12 months—and for typical Latinas and Native American women, it takes almost two years. Democrats believe we need to be much more proactive and aggressive in rooting out discrimination in our employment system. We will increase funding to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and increase its authority to initiate directed investigations into civil rights violations, violations of the rights of people with disabilities, and violations against LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender women of color. Federal contractors should be required to develop and disclose plans to recruit and promote people of color, women, LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, and veterans—and be held accountable for delivering.

Enacting Robust Work-Family Policies
The United States is alone among advanced economies in guaranteeing neither paid sick leave nor paid family leave for all workers. This puts excessive burdens on working families, and especially working mothers, even in the best of times, and is catastrophic for public health in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Democrats will implement paid sick days and a high-quality, comprehensive, and inclusive paid family and medical leave system that protects workers from the unfair choice between attending to urgent health or caretaking needs and earning a paycheck. We will fight to ensure workers are guaranteed at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for all workers and family units, to enable new parents to recover from childbirth and bond with their newborns, foster or adopted children, and allow all workers to take extended time off to care for themselves or ailing loved ones..

Finding and paying for high-quality child care is an emotional, logistical, and financial tightrope for too many parents, and that needs to change. Working parents shouldn’t have to choose between keeping their kids safe and earning a paycheck. Democrats will make major investments in quality, affordable child care, including by significantly increasing the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and providing access to affordable, high-quality child care on a sliding scale by boosting funding for grants to states to help low-income and middle-class families afford child care. We will improve compensation and benefits for child care providers and enact universal, high-quality pre-K programs for three- and four-year-olds. We will also invest in expanding long-term services and supports and home and community-based care for seniors and people with disabilities. Democrats will increase wages and benefits for paid caregivers in all settings, which will improve working conditions and quality of care while enabling family members to rejoin the workforce.

Investing in the Engines of Job Creation
Democrats believe the COVID-19 pandemic, and President Trump’s recession, demand unprecedented, transformational federal investments to create family-sustaining and union jobs.

We believe that the world’s richest nation should have the world’s best infrastructure system. That’s why we will invest in resilient, sustainable, and inclusive infrastructure. Democrats will launch a clean energy revolution through historic investments in clean energy, clean transportation, energy efficiency, and advanced manufacturing.

We will repair, modernize, and expand our highways, roads, bridges, and airports, including by installing 500,000 public charging stations for electric vehicles, ensuring our passenger transportation systems are resilient to the impacts of climate change, and using safe, modern design approaches that allow drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and others to safely share the road. We will launch our country’s second great railroad revolution by investing in high-speed rail and passenger and freight rail systems, and commit to public transportation as a public good, including ensuring transit jobs are good jobs. This railroad revolution will reduce pollution, connect workers to good union jobs, slash commute times, and spur investment in rural communities that will now be better linked to major metropolitan areas. Democrats will invest to ensure passenger transportation, including public transit, is affordable to all and accessible to people with disabilities. We will help transform Amtrak from a laggard to a leader in passenger rail accessibility and ensure people with disabilities can receive compensation when disability equipment, like wheelchairs, are lost or damaged by transportation carriers.

Democrats will upgrade our nation’s ports, lock and dam systems, and freight infrastructure to accommodate 21st century cargo, reduce air and water pollution, and create and maintain high-quality, good-paying jobs. We will increase demand for American-made ships by ensuring U.S. cargo is carried on ships flying our flag. We will make sure that every community in America has access to clean, reliable drinking water and safe wastewater systems in their homes, including by replacing dangerous lead pipes. We will increase investment in innovative water technologies, including water use efficiency, water conservation, and water reuse and recycling, that reduce water waste and consumer bills. We will modernize and green our public schools, and ensure they are accessible to students with disabilities. And Democrats will close the digital divide that deprives more than 20 million Americans of high-speed internet access by investing in broadband and 5G technology, including rural and municipal broadband, while ensuring those investments support good jobs and include strong protections for workers’ rights to organize, and restoring the FCC’s authority to take strong enforcement action against internet service providers who violate net neutrality principles.

Democrats support the creation of an infrastructure bank, a public bank that will leverage public and private resources to build infrastructure projects of national or regional significance, including in rail and transit, clean energy and water infrastructure, broadband, and affordable housing. Projects that receive assistance from the bank will be required to follow Buy America and Buy Clean provisions, pay Davis-Bacon prevailing wages, utilize project labor agreements, and ensure employers remain neutral in workers’ organizing efforts.

All federally supported infrastructure projects, whether existing or newly developed, financed through grants, loans, tax incentives, or a national infrastructure bank, should create good, union jobs that expand the middle class. That is why Democrats will ensure labor protections, Davis-Bacon wage standards, project labor agreements, collective bargaining neutrality, and domestic sourcing requirements are included in any infrastructure legislation, and will block anti-worker provisions, including forced arbitration. As we expand the clean energy technology and infrastructure industry; we will fight to enact legislation that will drive the creation of family sustaining jobs, with the high road labor standards with the provisions defined in the Good Jobs for the 21st Century Energy Act. Democrats support transparent, accountable, and sound management of publicly owned infrastructure and assets, and will ensure that local jurisdictions are adequately protected from partisan power grabs seeking to strip them of those assets. We will ensure robust federal oversight of any proposed transfers of ownership or operations, and will oppose any policy that promotes the privatization of public services or infrastructure.

Democrats believe more products in our homes, stores, workplaces, and communities should be stamped “Made in America” and will expand support for American manufacturing. We will end policies that incentivize offshoring, and instead accelerate onshoring of critical supply chains, including in medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. We will expand effective tax credits that support domestic manufacturing and grow rural manufacturing jobs through investments in bio-based manufacturing. We will invest in innovation hubs and government programs to provide small manufacturers with technical and business expertise so they can grow their revenues and their workforces. Democrats support robust Buy America and Buy Clean standards for federally supported projects, which help increase demand for domestically produced and low-pollution raw materials.

To ensure all workers can access the good jobs that will be created and supported by these investments and build a diverse pipeline of talent across the economy, Democrats will invest in career and technical education and high-quality job training programs with formal worker representation in program development, including pre-apprenticeship opportunities and registered apprenticeships. We believe in the value of lifelong learning, and will increase investments to support adult literacy and other skills development programs.

Democrats know that small businesses are among the best job creators in our country. We will significantly boost funding for state small business grant and lending initiatives that generate tens of billions of dollars of private-sector investment, especially for small businesses owned by women and people of color. We will increase access to credit for small businesses in low-income and rural areas, including for unbanked or underbanked businesses. And we will increase funding for programs supporting businesses owned by women and people of color, including ending the Trump Administration’s effort to starve the Minority Business Development Agency, improving and expanding Small Business Administration (SBA) programs that most effectively support women- and minority-owned businesses, and increasing opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses to obtain or participate in federal contracts.

Democrats will invest in the American heartland and rural communities. We will make it easier for new and beginning farmers, aquaculture farmers, ranchers, and foresters, including returning veterans, to start and grow their operations by expanding U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ownership and operating loan programs. Recognizing the history of racial discrimination in USDA’s core farming programs, Democrats will continue the reform efforts started under the Obama-Biden Administration to ensure USDA takes a more proactive approach to supporting training and resources for farmers of color. We will protect family farms and promote food security, including by taking steps to limit foreign ownership of U.S. farmland and reforming agricultural subsidies to better support small- and mid-sized farms. Democrats believe farmers should have the right to repair their own farming equipment, rather than being forced to rely on large corporations for even the simplest fixes. And we will expand domestic markets for family farmers and ranchers by developing and growing regional food systems to deliver fresh, American-grown produce to schools, hospitals, Department of Defense installations, and other major public institutions, so small, mid-size, and traditional farmers can stay competitive.

Democrats will partner with America’s farmers, ranchers, and foresters to make the U.S. agriculture sector the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, which will spark a revolution in agriculture and open up new revenue streams for farmers in energy and waste products, and grow bio-based manufacturing jobs. We will grow the nation’s biofuels manufacturing sector, including by strengthening the Renewable Fuel Standard, supporting E15 blends, and supporting research, development, and deployment of advanced biofuels. We will expand popular, voluntary programs for sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices that help protect clean air and water and support wildlife habitats, including for threatened pollinators. Democrats will invest in research and development to support climate-resilient, sustainable, low-carbon, and organic agricultural methods.

America’s farmworkers are essential to our economy, our communities, and our security. We will enforce labor and environmental protections for farmworkers, including overtime and safety rules protecting workers from exposure to pesticides and extreme heat, and ensure farmworkers are able to exercise their right to bargain collectively. Democrats will empower small and mid-size family farms by tackling market concentration in agriculture, including by strengthening enforcement of the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts and the Packers and Stockyards Act. We will also review federal guidelines to improve workers safety at facilities that raise and process meat for consumption, and use the federal government’s procurement power to incentivize the humane treatment of farm animals in accordance with commercially-recognized animal welfare standards.

The United States has long been a world leader in science, technology, research, and innovation. Democrats oppose the Trump Administration’s efforts to undermine federal scientific research institutions, apply political screens to research grants, and interfere with the work of career scientists—actions which have a chilling effect on scientific discovery and are damaging to America’s economic competitiveness. Democrats will support historic federal investments in research, development, demonstration, and deployment, which will break new frontiers of science and create jobs across the country in aerospace, artificial intelligence, advanced materials, biotechnology, and clean energy and clean vehicles. Democrats support public investments in technology and innovation that help create a stronger economy for all Americans. We will support women innovators and innovators of color, encourage diversity in technology, and promote business models that reinvest in low-income communities and communities of color.

Democrats continue to support the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and are committed to continuing space exploration and discovery. We believe in continuing the spirit of discovery that has animated NASA’s human space exploration, in addition to its scientific and medical research, technological innovation, and educational mission that allows us to better understand our own planet and place in the universe. We will strengthen support for the United States’ role in space through our continued presence on the International Space Station, working in partnership with the international community to continue scientific and medical innovation. We support NASA’s work to return Americans to the moon and go beyond to Mars, taking the next step in exploring our solar system. Democrats additionally support strengthening NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth observation missions to better understand how climate change is impacting our home planet.

Building A Fair System of International Trade for Our Workers
For too long, the global trading system has failed to keep its promises to American workers. Too many corporations have rushed to outsource jobs, and too many countries have broken their promises to be honest and transparent partners. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the risks of relying too heavily on global supply chains, as shutdowns and shortages have created chaos for workers and consumers and made our public health response even more challenging. The Trump Administration has failed time after time to deliver for American workers on this crucial issue, siding with corporate interests over our workers and launching a trade war with China that they have no plan for winning—creating incredible hardship for American farmers, manufacturers, workers, and consumers in the process.

Democrats will pursue a trade policy that puts workers first. We will negotiate strong and enforceable standards for labor, human rights, and the environment in the core text of our trade deals. Future trade agreements should build on the pro-labor provisions added to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) by Democratic members of Congress.

Democrats will take aggressive action against China or any other country that tries to undercut American manufacturing by manipulating their currencies and maintaining a misaligned exchange rate with the dollar, dumping products like steel and aluminum in our markets, or providing unfair subsidies. Unlike President Trump, we will stand up to efforts from China and other state actors to steal America’s intellectual property and will demand China and other countries cease and desist from conducting cyberespionage against our companies.

We will eliminate President Trump’s tax and trade policies that encourage big corporations to ship jobs overseas and evade paying their fair share of taxes. If companies shut down their operations here and outsource jobs, we’ll claw back any public investments or benefits they received from taxpayers. And we will take immediate action to repair the damage President Trump’s reckless policies have done to American farmers, by working with our allies to stand up to China and negotiate from the strongest possible position.

Putting Homeownership in Reach and Guaranteeing Safe Housing for Every American
Homeownership is at the center of the American Dream—and yet it has never been in reach for all. Decades of red-lining, rising income inequality, and predatory lending practices targeting low-income families and people of color have made homeownership all but impossible for millions of working families. Homeownership has long been central to building generational wealth, and expanding access to homeownership to those who have been unfairly excluded and discriminated against is critical to closing the racial wealth gap. We have a nationwide shortage of affordable housing units, and tens of millions of Americans live in homes that pose risks to their health and safety. Homelessness has reached crisis proportions in a growing number of states, and housing costs that rise faster than wages have put the squeeze on renters in many of our biggest cities.

Housing in America should be stable, accessible, safe, healthy, energy efficient, and, above all, affordable. No one should have to spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, so families have ample resources left to meet their other needs and save for retirement.

Democrats believe the government should take aggressive steps to increase the supply of housing, especially affordable housing, and address long-standing economic and racial inequities in our housing markets. We support innovative approaches to eliminating the racial wealth gap in America. Rehabilitating housing and expansion of housing owned by land trusts will increase the amount of housing available for secure homeownership. We will equalize access to affordable credit and improve access to down payment assistance to help families of color, low-income families, and rural buyers purchase homes. We will increase funding for assistance to first-time purchasers and homeowners to navigate the financing and servicing of their homes. We will create a new tax credit of up to $15,000 to help first-time homebuyers, and will make the tax credit refundable and advanceable, so buyers can get assistance at the time of purchase, instead of having to wait until they file their taxes.

Democrats will supercharge investment in the Housing Trust Fund to greatly expand the number of affordable, accessible housing units on the market. We will expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to incentivize private-sector construction of affordable housing, and make sure urban, suburban, and rural areas all benefit. We will make energy efficiency upgrades for millions of low-income households, affordable housing units, and public housing units in metropolitan and rural areas to save families money on their energy bills and provide safe and healthy homes. And Democrats will leverage existing programs, including at USDA, to build more affordable, accessible housing and retrofit existing housing in rural areas. We will ensure all federally supported housing projects, from new builds to retrofits, include mandatory requirements for labor standards, accessibility, and civil rights protections.

Democrats are committed to ending homelessness in America. Democrats commit to providing Section 8 housing support for every eligible family, and will enact protections to keep landlords from discriminating against voucher recipients. We will increase investments in public housing to expand availability for the first time since the 1990s, and improve and upgrade existing public housing to ensure safe living conditions for residents, protecting tenants’ rights to return if extensive renovations are needed. Democrats support a housing-first approach to ending homelessness, because having a stable and safe place to live is essential to helping a person tackle any other challenges they may face, from mental illness to substance use disorders to post-traumatic stress disorder. We will act swiftly to end homelessness among veterans and will enact strong protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth, especially Black, Latino, and Native American LGBTQ+ youth, who too often find themselves on the streets.

Democrats will enact a new Homeowner and Renter Bill of Rights to protect families from abusive lenders and landlords. We will empower renters by working to establish a national tenant right to organize, and support outreach and education to help tenants advocate to preserve and expand affordable housing. And Democrats will provide legal support to fight wrongful evictions.

America’s history of using public policy and private lending restrictions to close neighborhoods off to Black families and other people of color and strip equity from their communities is long, painful, and unresolved to this day. The Trump Administration has made matters worse by gutting fair lending and fair housing protections for homeowners. Democrats will vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, and the disparate impact standard, and hold lenders accountable for discriminatory practices. We will also ensure that federal housing programs are better designed to affirmatively further fair housing. We will use the federal government to enforce settlements against discriminatory lenders, and require communities to proactively review housing patterns and remedy local policies that have a discriminatory effect. We will work to ensure that residential property and mortgage ownership records are publicly available and easily accessible, so that homeowners can always know who services their mortgage and who truly owns their debt. Democrats will give local elected officials tools and resources to combat gentrification, penalize predatory lending practices, and maintain homeownership, including exploring targeted rental relief when exorbitant rent increases force long-term residents from their communities and tackling persistent racial bias in appraisals that contributes to the racial wealth gap.

Leveling the Economic Playing Field
The U.S. economy is rigged against the American people. Time after time, President Trump and the Republicans have rewarded big corporations and their wealthy donors, and left working families behind. Democrats will take decisive action to level the playing field for people of color, working families, women, small business owners, and others who have been left on the sidelines.

Reforming the Tax Code to Benefit Working Families
Our tax system has been rigged against the American people by big corporations and their lobbyists, and by Republican politicians who dole out tax cuts to their biggest donors while leaving working families to struggle.

Democrats will take action to reverse the Trump Administration’s tax cuts benefiting the wealthiest Americans and rewarding corporations for shipping American jobs overseas. We will crack down on overseas tax havens and close loopholes that are exploited by the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations. We will make sure the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes. We will make sure investors pay the same tax rates as workers and bring an end to expensive and unproductive tax loopholes, including the carried interest loophole. Corporate tax rates, which were cut sharply by the 2017 Republican tax cut, must be raised, and “trickle-down” tax cuts must be rejected. Estate taxes should also be raised back to the historical norm.

Democrats will reform the tax code to be more progressive and equitable, and reduce barriers for working families to benefit from targeted tax breaks, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. Our program of reform will provide immediate, marked relief for working families, including more generous, refundable tax credits to benefit low- and middle-income families, and easier and more equitable access to tax provisions that help working families build wealth, including by equalizing tax benefits for retirement contributions and providing more accessible tax breaks for homeownership.

Curbing Wall Street Abuses
The scars of the financial crisis that triggered the Great Recession are still present in our economy and our society. Financial institutions should never be “too big to fail.” Democrats will work to reverse the over-financialization of the American economy and curb Wall Street speculation by maintaining and expanding safeguards that separate retail banking institutions from more risky investment operations, and ensuring Wall Street investors pay their fair share in taxes.

We will strengthen and enforce the Obama-Biden Administration’s Dodd-Frank financial reform law, including the Volcker Rule, to protect American workers from the impacts of future financial crises, and will support an updated and modernized version of Glass-Steagall. And when justified by the law, we will back criminal penalties for reckless executives who illegally gamble with the savings and economic security of their clients and American communities.

Democrats will expand access to credit by creating a public credit reporting agency to provide a non-discriminatory credit reporting alternative to the private agencies, and will require its use by all federal lending programs, including home lending and student loans. And we will strengthen banking regulations, including the Community Reinvestment Act, to ensure equitable access to credit and banking products for all Americans, and reinvigorate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to ensure that banks, financial institutions, and lenders cannot prey on consumers.

We commit to revisit and repeal sections of existing bankruptcy law that frequently lead to debtors losing their home as the result of medical debt, divorce, job loss, or just bad luck. We will also give bankruptcy judges the authority to “cram down,” or modify, mortgages for primary residences during bankruptcy proceedings, so working families can benefit from the same debt relief tools currently available to those who own assets like vacation homes and yachts.

Ending Poverty
Democrats remain committed to ending poverty and enabling all Americans to live up to their God-given potential. We recognize that the official poverty rate, as measured and communicated by the federal government, fails to capture critical needs like housing, education, health care, transportation, energy, and other necessities, and therefore understates the true share of Americans living in poverty. We will support the 10-20-30 funding approach, to direct at least 10 percent of federal funding to communities where 20 percent or more of the population has been living below the poverty line for 30 years or longer. Directing more federal investment to the communities most in need will help create jobs; improve and expand housing; modernize and expand transportation, clean water, wastewater, energy, and broadband infrastructure; and promote shared prosperity.

We will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and guarantee equal pay for women, two measures that in combination will pull millions of families out of poverty. We will make it easier for working families to benefit from targeted tax breaks, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, which too often go unclaimed by the lowest-income tax filers. We will significantly expand affordable housing and build new public housing for the first time since the 1990s, and guarantee Section 8 benefits to all who qualify—all of which will help reduce housing costs and increase housing availability for low-income families.

Democrats believe health care is a human right. We will incentivize states to expand Medicaid and enroll low-income people who do not otherwise have health insurance in a new, high-quality public option without premiums. We will double investments in community health centers and rural health centers, and expand mobile health units, to make it easier for low-income people to access health care.

In the wealthiest country on earth, it is a moral abomination that any child could ever go to bed hungry. Democrats will increase funding for food assistance programs, including SNAP, WIC, and school meals. We will also remove barriers that keep the formerly incarcerated from accessing food assistance.

Cuts to the Legal Services Corporation have imperiled access to justice in civil court for low-income defendants and litigants alike in matters concerning access to public benefits and housing, eviction proceedings, and custodial cases. Democrats will significantly increase investment in the Legal Services Corporation to ensure those who cannot afford private representation can nevertheless equitably access the civil justice system and have their day in court.

Democrats will provide substantially higher levels of support for programs and institutions that boost economic development in America’s most impoverished communities, including by doubling funding for CDFIs, expanding the Community Development Block Grant, increasing the number of Rural Business Investment Companies, and expanding and making permanent the New Markets Tax Credit.

One in four American households are either unbanked or underbanked, putting them at risk of losing money due to exorbitant fees or usurious interest rates. Democrats will support and encourage efforts in Congress to guarantee affordable, transparent, and trustworthy banking services that are language-accessible for low- and middle-income families, including bank accounts and real-time payment systems through the Federal Reserve and easily accessible service locations, like postal banking.

Protecting Consumer Rights and Privacy
Consumers, workers, students, retirees, and investors who have been mistreated by businesses should never be denied their right to fight for fair treatment under the law. Democrats will support efforts to eliminate the use of forced arbitration clauses in employment and service contracts, which unfairly strip consumers, workers, students, retirees, and investors of their right to their day in court.

In the 21st century—and especially in the COVID-19 pandemic—it is all but impossible for consumers, students, workers, and people with disabilities to opt out of using the internet to shop, socialize, learn, work, bank, and live. Democrats are committed to policies that will protect individuals’ privacy and data rights while continuing to support and enable innovation and improve accessibility in the technology sector. We will update the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights proposed by the Obama-Biden Administration, including adding strong national standards to protect consumers, employees, patients, and students from data breaches, and work with Congress to pass it into law. Democrats will take additional steps to protect student data privacy, particularly in preschool and K-12 settings where most students are under 18, and ensure that data collected in schools is used only for education, not for commercial purposes. And we support updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which has not been significantly amended since the 1980s, to afford the same protections to digital content as physical content.

Tackling Runaway Corporate Concentration
Democrats are concerned that the increase in corporate concentration across a wide range of industries, from hospitals and pharmaceutical companies to agribusiness and retail chains, could be stifling competition and innovation and creating monopoly conditions that harm consumers. We will direct federal regulators to review a subset of the mergers and acquisitions that have taken place since President Trump took office, prioritizing the pharmaceutical, health care, telecommunications, technology, and agricultural industries, to assess whether any have increased market concentration, raised consumer prices, demonstrably harmed workers, increased racial inequality, reduced competition, or constricted innovation, and assign appropriate remedies. Democrats will direct regulators to consider potential effects of future mergers on the labor market, on low-income and marginalized communities, and on racial equity, as well as on consumer prices and market competition. And as a last resort, regulators should consider breaking up corporations if they find they are using their market power to engage in anti-competitive activities.

Guaranteeing a Secure and Dignified Retirement
Democrats are proud to be the party that advocates retirement security for all. We are the party that created and strengthened Social Security, and defended public and private retirement plans that provide a decent monthly income. And we are fighting to make sure that all workers have the ability to save at work for emergencies and for retirement.

Social Security is the most enduring thread in our nation’s social safety net. We will enact policies to make Social Security more progressive, including increasing benefits for all beneficiaries, meaningfully increasing minimum benefit payments, increasing benefits for long-duration beneficiaries, and protecting surviving spouses from benefit cuts. We will eliminate provisions that unfairly reduce public sector workers’ earned Social Security benefits. In light of weakened retirement security for unpaid caregivers and caregivers for family members, who sacrifice not only wages but Social Security benefits when they swap paid labor for unpaid care work, Democrats support Social Security reform which better accounts for the challenges facing unpaid caregivers—including incremental reforms to the benefit formula to mitigate the penalty for unpaid care.

Democrats will reject every effort to cut, privatize, or weaken Social Security, including attempts to raise the retirement age, diminish benefits by cutting cost-of-living adjustments, or reduce earned benefits. We will ensure Social Security will be there forever.

Democrats will protect Americans’ retirement security, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and take action to protect public and private pensions to ensure workers keep the benefits they have earned, including through multiemployer plans. Democrats oppose changes to the multiemployer pension system that would endanger workers’ and retirees’ pensions, including composite pension plans. We support amending federal bankruptcy laws to protect workers’ earned pensions from being taken away by employers going through bankruptcy.

We will also make it easier to save for retirement beyond Social Security. We will support approaches to retirement saving that enable workers and retirees to prepare for and prosper in retirement, including reforms that will allow states and municipalities to create public individual and pooled retirement account options that are easy for workers to access and understand. We will advocate federal legislation to make it easy for all workers to save, not just those in states or municipalities that have established their own programs. Democrats believe that when workers are saving for retirement, the financial advisors they consult should be legally obligated to put their client’s best interests first. We will take immediate action to reverse the Trump Administration’s regulations allowing financial advisors to prioritize their self-interest over their clients’ financial wellbeing. And Democrats will equalize the network of retirement savings tax breaks so that working people can build their nest eggs faster, while also providing more equitable access to these accounts through automatic enrollment and relaxed contribution restrictions for unpaid caregivers.

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