Undoubtedly in response to my Thursday column, the Biden-Sanders camps announced a wonderful new “Unity Platform.” The task force that was charged with creating this effort was chaired by Former Secretary of State and presidential nominee, John Kerry, and Sanders’ surrogate, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The 110 page document, which can be read in its entirety through the link below, is long on traditional Democratic positions and values, but denies support of all of the egregious things I mentioned last Thursday. In short, it boldly states what the Democratic Party and Joe Biden stand for, and it is not what the radicals have wildly been shouting for months. It is thoughtful, conciliatory and fair.
Specifically, the task force’s mission was to address climate change, criminal justice reform, the economy, education, health care and immigration. Explicitly not mentioned in the document are the “Green New Deal”, defunding the police, “Medicare-for-All” or eliminating Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
To address climate change, the platform recommends a faster timetable to achieve net-zero carbon emissions. No doubt that will disappoint many in our Party who favor bolder and more in-your-face efforts to stave off the looming environmental disaster. But the plan does take significant steps forward, and more to the point, a Biden administration will take environmental concerns much more seriously than what we have.
Banning choke holds, investments in community policing and investigating patterns of police misconduct were specifically mentioned as concrete steps forward in addressing criminal justice reform. It also advances the idea of creating a “civilian corps” of social workers, trained mental health professionals and EMT's to support communities without involving the police.
The platform champions the repeal of “right-to-work” laws and a broad array of union protections. It calls for a 12 week paid family and medical leave, and a $15 per hour minimum wage. It calls for significant investment in infrastructure, housing and social security, and it advances a large-scale, government run jobs program. It also supports higher rates of taxation for the wealthiest Americans and endorses a House effort to study reparations for slavery.
In the area of education, the task force recommends tripling Title 1 funding to eliminate the differences between minority and majority district funding. It expands the free meal program for K-12. It supports banning for-profit private charter schools and private school vouchers. It would also reinstate Title IX protections for transgender students. To address looming problems of student debt, it calls for additional grants for historically black colleges and universities. It would make community colleges tuition free and forgive up to $50,000 of student debt for those in public service. It would also forgive undergraduate tuition for debt holders earning less than $125,000.
The Unity Platform calls for the establishment of a “high-quality, public option” with no deductibles and no co-pays to be administered by the federal government, and low income Americans would be automatically enrolled in this program at zero cost. It would also allow people to enroll in Medicare at age 60, instead of 65. The proposal would extended coverage to DACA kids and allow undocumented immigrants to purchase non-subsidized coverage in the ACA marketplace.
Biden and Sanders specifically call for the elimination of most, if not all, of the Trump era protocols relating to immigration. It repeals the travel bans. It ends family separations. It ends the Migrant Protection Protocols, known as the “Remain in Mexico Policy.” It opens a path for litigation relating to Trump era policies and grievances. And it calls for a 100-day moratorium on deportations, while a full study into developing recommendations for transforming enforcement policies and practices can be completed. Also for undocumented aliens in the United States, it calls for the creation of an expedited “road map to citizenship.”
For those of us who have been constantly caught in the position of explaining that we are not one of those Democrats, this is like a beautiful cool breeze on a hot summer day. The Biden-Sanders Unity Platform reestablishes who we are as Democrats and gives us a solid path forward in our march to November. Everyone of us needs to familiarize ourselves with the individual provisions of this platform so that we can be armed with the facts. Here we go team, something on which we can stand!
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