On the Senate floor today, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) unveiled a twelve point economic plan that if enacted would break the backs of the Koch fueled oligarchs.
Sen. Sanders said, “Are we prepared to take on the enormous economic and political power of the billionaire class or do we continue to slide into economic and political oligarchy?…Today, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the median male worker earned $783 less last year than he made 41 years ago. The median female worker made $1,337 less last year than she earned in 2007. Since 1999, household income for the median middle-class family is less than it was a quarter century ago. We once led the world in terms of the percentage of our people who graduated college, but we are now in 12th place. Our infrastructure, once the envy of the world, is collapsing. Real unemployment today is not 5.8 percent, it is 11.5 percent if we include those who have given up looking for work or who are working part time when they want to work full time. Youth unemployment is 18.6 percent and African-American youth unemployment is 32.6 percent.”
Sanders detailed a 12-point economic program to,
- Invest in our crumbling infrastructure with a major program to create jobs by rebuilding roads, bridges, water systems, waste water plants, airports, railroads and schools.
– Transform energy systems away from fossil fuels to create jobs while beginning to reverse global warming and make the planet habitable for future generations.
– Develop new economic models to support workers in the United States instead of giving tax breaks to corporations which ship jobs to low-wage countries overseas.
– Make it easier for workers to join unions and bargain for higher wages and benefits.
– Raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour so no one who works 40 hours a week will live in poverty.
– Provide equal pay for women workers who now make 78 percent of what male counterparts make.
– Reform trade policies that have shuttered more than 60,000 factories and cost more than 4.9 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs.
– Make college affordable and provide affordable child care to restore America’s competitive edge compared to other nations.
– Break up big banks. The six largest banks now have assets equivalent to 61 percent of our gross domestic product, over $9.8 trillion. They underwrite more than half the mortgages in the country and issue more than two-thirds of all credit cards.
– Join the rest of the industrialized world with a Medicare-for-all health care system that provides better care at less cost.
– Expand Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and nutrition programs.
– Reform the tax code based on wage earners’ ability to pay and eliminate loopholes that let profitable corporations stash profits overseas and pay no U.S. federal income taxes.
There is a little something in the Sanders agenda for oligarchs of all stripes to hate. Wall Street hates the idea of breaking up the big banks. The conservative billionaires and millionaires use avoiding paying their fair share of taxes as the motivation for their political activities. A Medicare for all system would put the for-profit insurance companies out of business while challenging the Big Pharma’s practice of overpricing their drugs in the United States. The thought of a large green energy sector terrifies Big Oil. Republicans oppose equal pay, raising the minimum wage, and any public project that might create jobs.
What Sen. Sanders laid out is an agenda that Democrats and the left should aspire to. Some the points in the Sanders plan are more immediately obtainable than others. Things like tax and trade policy reforms along with infrastructure investment are realistic possibilities. While issues like equal pay, and making it easier to join a union would require a Democratic president and Congress to get done.
Bernie Sanders provided the left with a rallying cry in 2016. This isn’t an economic plan full of promises that will happen. Instead, Sen. Sanders is suggesting the direction that he believes the country ought to be moving towards.
Democrats have accomplished a great deal during the Obama years, but if they can come together in victory in 2016, the Sanders agenda could provide a roadmap for the future.