For Immediate Release
Roger Hickey 202-270-0300
Jacob Sorrells: 301-807-1459
90 Progressive Leaders and 20,000+ Activists Ask Candidates: "Do You Support Our Populist 'Economic Agenda for Good Jobs, Sustainable Prosperity and Economic Justice?"
Group says economic prosperity agenda that challenges corporate power will energize Democratic base—and win support of some Trump supporters
WASHINGTON - A large and growing number of Democratic activists and thinkers have joined together to pledge to fight for an economic agenda that can win the support of a broad majority of American voters. And they are demanding that politicians - including presidential candidates - tell voters where they stand on the 11 planks of the group's economic agenda. And they vow to share candidates' answers online.
The 90 well-known progressives – many of them leaders of the “resistance” to Trump and organizers of 2018 election victories – who wrote and signed the Agenda for Good Jobs, Sustainable Prosperity and Economic Justice represent a group that goes well beyond any one issue or activist network. They are a diverse mix of millennials, GenXers and Baby Boomers, and many of them have long histories of working on one or more of the 11 planks of their shared economic agenda. All agree that the country needs bold systemic change. And they believe that “for too long, leaders of both major political parties have allowed the wealthy and the giant corporations to exercise far too much influence over the political decisions that shape American life.”
One of the organizers of the group, Roger Hickey, Co-Director of the Campaign for America’s Future, said the Pledge represents yet another indication that the country is moving in a progressive direction. And, he said, “This economic agenda is broadly popular with strong majorities of American voters.” He cited a section of the group’s new website which assembles recent polling showing great support for the 11 planks of the economic agenda. “Most Americans – base voters, a majority of independents, and many disillusioned Trump voters – all hard-hit by growing inequality and angry about a system they see as rigged by the wealthy – will vote in great numbers for candidates who campaign for a comprehensive plan for growth, investment and economic justice.”
Another signer, Nancy Altman, President of Social Security Works, said, "Criticizing Trump is important – and there is plenty to criticize – but it's not enough. Visionary political leaders, FDR among them, have always fought for working Americans. The roadmap in the Pledge to Fight for Good Jobs, Sustainable Prosperity, and Economic Justice, of which I am a proud signer, shows the way."
Other Pledge signers include former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, economists Thea Lee, Robert Pollin and James K. Galbraith, African-American activists Rashad Robinson and Janet Dewart Bell and Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, feminist leaders Gloria Steinem, Nita Chaudhary and Toni Van Pelt, think tank directors Heather McGhee, Dorian Warren, Chuck Collins, and Angela Glover Blackwell, environmental leaders Bill McKibben, Annie Leonard and Michael Brune, labor leaders Leo Gerard, Larry Cohen, Randi Weingarten, Chris Shelton, and Bonnie Castillo, business leaders, like Leo Hindery Jr. and Charles Rodgers, activists and public intellectuals, like Manuel Pastor, Robert Borosage, Maria Echaveste, Jeff Faux, Heather Gautney, Eddie Glaude Jr., Zephyr Teachout, Richard Eskow, and Naomi Klein. Signers also include leaders of “resistance movement” groups, including MoveOn, People’s Action, Democracy for America, Solidaire, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Center for Popular Democracy Network, Public Citizen, Working Families Party, Ultra-Violet, Progressive Democrats of America, and Our Revolution.
As they release their agenda, signers made it clear that the group will not endorse candidates; however they will ask candidates – including candidates for president – to outline publicly their plan for addressing 11 planks of their Pledge. And make those answers public on a website that compares all the candidates.
They also make it clear that, no matter the outcome of the next elections, they will continue to honor their pledge to build a movement for economic change – a movement that all future office-holders will have to deal with.
Below is a simple version of the Pledge and its economic agenda – grouped into 5 broad themes – followed by the complete, detailed version that has now been signed by 20,000 people and counting.
We will (continue to) resist Trump. But resistance is not enough.
We therefore pledge that:
- We will fight for good jobs, sustainable prosperity and economic justice.
- We will work to build a movement that can make that agenda a reality.
Real change begins with a clear and coherent vision of a better America, and with citizens’ movements dedicated to bringing that world into being. We offer this agenda for economic change in that spirit. (See full Agenda here – or below – view the prominent signers.)
I. Jobs for All - by Investing in Rebuilding America and a Green New Deal
- Jobs for All - Created by Rebuilding America
- Invest in a Green New Deal
II. Fight Inequality
- Empower Workers to Reduce Inequality
- Opportunity and Justice for All - With Focus on Communities Harmed by Racism
- Guarantee Women's Economic Equality
III. A New Social Contract – for Income and Retirement Security - and Healthcare and Education for All
- Medicare for All - And Shared Economic Security
- High-Quality Public Education - Pre-K to University
IV. Stop Corporations, Banks and the Wealthy from Controlling Our Economy and Our Democracy
- Make Corporations and the Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share
- Close Wall Street's Casino
- Rescue Democracy from the Special Interests
V. A Global Economic Strategy for Working People
- A Global Economic Strategy for Working People
Full Agenda (below and online at this link):
Pledge to Fight for Good Jobs, Sustainable Prosperity and Economic Justice
I. Jobs for All – by Investing in Rebuilding America and a Green New Deal
1. Jobs for All - Created by Rebuilding America
We should commit ourselves to providing a high quality job (with good wages and benefits) for everyone willing and able to work. This cannot be achieved through tax cuts for the rich.
We support a large national investment program to put millions of American to work rebuilding America, creating useful employment for young people and for the millions of workers made unemployed by the deindustrialization of America.
The rebuilding and modernization of our basic infrastructure — from roads to rail to water and energy systems —will stimulate robust growth and it will make our economy more productive. This initiative should be linked to public service jobs — in everything from national service to cleaning up parks and cities. As a first step, the next administration should guarantee that every young person graduating from school can get a decent job.
2. Invest in a Green Economy
Catastrophic climate change is a clear and present danger. The United States should lead the global green industrial revolution that builds strong and resilient communities.
That requires strategic public investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency that will replace a carbon-based economy with a clean and sustainable energy system, creating jobs and opportunity, particularly in communities of color that have borne the worst consequences of toxic corporate practices.
Renewable energy and energy efficiency are already rapidly expanding. But we need a public commitment to meet clear goals to replace carbon-based energy sources, create new green energy industries, and meet global emission targets. The country that leads in these areas will capture jobs generated from markets across the world.
II. Fight Inequality
3. Empower Workers to Reduce Inequality
Inequality has reached new extremes. As the corporate elite pulls in incomes, perks, and tax breaks beyond the imagination of kings, wages for the rest of us have stagnated or declined – and more and more jobs have become contingent and part-time, with low pay and few benefits.
Robust economic growth and full employment, if we can achieve it, will force employers to bid up wages. But the key to reversing inequality is strong unions. We pledge to fight for the right of workers to form unions and bargain collectively for better wages and benefits. Guaranteed labor rights should be complemented by action to lift the floor under every worker by guaranteeing a living wage, paid sick and vacation days, and affordable health care. We must curb CEO compensation policies that give executives personal incentives to plunder their own companies. And we should use the tax system to reward companies that pay their workers a decent proportion to what they pay their executives.
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4. Opportunity and Justice for All – With Focus on Communities Harmed by Racism
Full employment should provide opportunity for all. But special attention must be invested in those communities harmed by the legacy of Jim Crow, segregation, discrimination, deindustrialization, and destruction of the public sector.
Scapegoating on the basis of race, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation works to the detriment of all of us and to the benefit of those minions of corporate and Wall Street power who would divide us. Neglected urban and rural communities, working people victimized by the worst economic and social effects of neoliberalism must be given targeted attention and investment. Fundamental reform of our criminal justice system, an end to mass incarceration, and targeted investment in areas of need are all central to meeting the promise of economic justice.
Establishing a fair and humane immigration policy that stops the criminalization of communities of color should be a top priority. Our immigration policy should put the sanctity of families at the forefront—grounded in human, civil, and labor rights. We cannot allow our communities to be divided by anti-immigrant and xenophobic hysteria. And we must all work hard to end the racism and xenophobia that have historically been used to divide America’s working class majority from working together to win economic justice and prosperity for all.
5. Guarantee Women’s Economic Equality
Until 1920 most women could not vote in federal and local elections. And until very recently, women’s economic rights — to own a business or even control wealth or property — were severely limited.
We have now gone from a society in which women were expected to handle home and family work to one where women are expected to earn money in the workplace — and still take care of home, children, and family.
We should guarantee that women earn the same pay, protections and opportunities as men in the workplace and in society – including strengthened laws for reporting and preventing sexual harassment. Women must also be guaranteed affordable health care and the right to make choices about their own health and reproduction. Families must have access to high-quality child care, and all women must be guaranteed paid leave from the workplace for childbirth, illness and vacation, and a secure retirement — with Social Security credit for work in the household.
III. A New Social Contract – for Income and Retirement Security—and Healthcare and Education for All
6. Medicare for All – And Shared Economic Security
Health care is a right, not a privilege. And that requires moving to a Medicare for All universal public health care system. Our fight to defend Obamacare from Trump and his allies is a crucial first step to a promise of quality health care for everyone. In addition, America needs a more robust social insurance system.
Every worker deserves a secure retirement— and we will work to create new pension systems, while we secure Social Security by “lifting the cap” that now exempts wealthy people from paying their fair share of Social Security taxes. We will strengthen and expand America’s shared security programs — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment, food support and housing assistance. No one in America should go hungry or homeless. Greater shared security makes the economy more robust by making our society more fair – and giving all people the confidence that comes from solidarity.
7. High-Quality Public Education – Pre-K to University
Every young person must have the right to high-quality, free public education from preschool through college. Public education must be controlled by the public — not by corporations — and not by charter school hucksters who take public subsidies without assuming the responsibility to educate all kids, regardless of special needs.
This requires that every community, in partnership with the Federal Government must have the financing necessary to strengthen public schools, providing the necessary basics – preschool, smaller classes, summer and after-school programs, and skilled, well-paid teachers with rights on the job.
College education or skills training should be available without tuition at all public universities as a right of civic membership — as was the policy in many states in the 1950s and 1960s. Education should be a public good that benefits all of society, not a commodity that indentures students to debt. We call for a national student debt jubilee that will cancel the debt burden imposed upon several generations seeking an education. Free college and debt cancellation will not only allow students and former students to live their lives without that burden, but it will also stimulate economic growth and unleash new civic activism.
IV. Stop Corporations, Banks and the Wealthy from Controlling Our Economy and Our Democracy
8. Make Corporations and the Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share
Our public investment/growth and justice agenda requires tax revenues. Yet the corporations and the rich do not pay their fair share in taxes—even though they pocket the greatest benefits from public investments.
Our tax code rigs the rules to favor the few. Multinationals pay lower tax rates than small domestic businesses. Billionaire investors pay lower rates than their secretaries. Top income tax rates have been lowered even as working people face ever-higher sales taxes and fees.
It is time for the rich and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. It is time to shut down the tax havens and tax dodges that enable companies to avoid taxes altogether. We should lift the cap on Social Security taxes, so rich people pay the same percentage of their income as the rest of us. We should tax the income of investors at the same rates we tax income from work. We need clear, simple, progressive corporate and individual taxes, closing loopholes and exemptions. And a tax on financial transaction can produce significant revenues. A fair tax system will allow us to invest in an economy that will work for all.
9. Close Wall Street’s Casino
Financial deregulation has devastated our economy, and it has protected banks that are too big to fail, too big to manage, and too big to jail.
The financial casino fosters ever more dangerous speculation, while investment in the real economy lags. The resulting booms and busts devastate families and small businesses.
In a new age of corporate concentration, American must revive the concept of anti-trust action to reduce corporate power. We need to break up the big banks, levy a speculation tax, and provide low-income families with safe and affordable banking services. We should crack down on payday lenders and other schemes that exploit vulnerable working families, offering instead safe and inexpensive banking via the postal system.
10. Rescue Democracy from the Special Interests
Big money has corrupted our democracy. Some might say democracy is not part of an economics agenda. But the same financial elites and corporations that buy and sell politicians use that political power to rig the economy so the top .01 percent gets massively richer while incomes decline for the rest of us.
The Citizens United decision gave corporations the right to spend unlimited money in politics. We pledge to reverse it, through a constitutional amendment, if necessary.We will stop the attack on voting rights which has escalated just as a new majority of people of color, young people and working women has begun to exercise new power. We will fight for public financing of elections that bans corporate and big money – and for electoral reforms, like public matching of small donations, so people’s candidates can compete with the candidates of the plutocrats. Finally, we pledge to change national and local political party structures so that progressive candidates get a fair shake in the nominating process and in general elections. And we will build a new progressive majority that can take back our democracy and our economic system.
V. A Global Economic Strategy for Working Americans
11. A Global Economic Strategy for Working Americans
Our global trade and tax policies have been created for and by multinational companies. We must renegotiate trade deals and rethink tax policies that benefit the already-wealthy, while they encourage the export of whole American industries, drive down pay and worker protections, and harm the environment.
We need more but balanced trade, and global standards that protect the rights of workers, consumers and the environment.
That requires a crackdown on tax havens, currency manipulation, and deals that allow corporations to trample basic labor rights here and abroad. Finally, we need new policies that allow us to help existing US industries, by having our government buy American, policies that are now outlawed by trade deals. And we need active investment policies that grow new cutting-edge industries, like green energy systems. Our current national security policies commit us to policing the world. The result costs lives and drains public resources. We need a real security policy that makes military intervention a last resort, and focuses on global threats like climate change, poverty and inequality. We should reduce military budgets and properly support humanitarian programs.
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