Robert Reich Prof. Public Policy University of California at Berkeley; Former Secretary of Labor Wednesday, March 9, 2011
The following was sent to me by someone in Madison, Wisconsin, who found it in the Capitol building last week. It was obviously written in a hurry, and it carries the label “first draft.”
It’s emerging from the heartland – from Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and Iowa — and it is spreading across the nation. It doesn’t have a formal organization or Washington lobbyists beyond it, but it’s gaining strength nonetheless. Like the Tea Party did with Republicans in 2010, the People’s Party will pressure Democrats in primaries and general elections leading up to 2012 and beyond to have the courage of the party’s core convictions. But unlike the Tea Party, which has been co-opted by the super-rich, the People’s Party represents the needs and aspirations of America’s vast working middle class, along with the less fortunate.
The People’s Party is dedicated to the truth that America is a rich nation – richer by far than any other, richer than it’s ever been. The People’s Party rejects the claims of plutocrats who want us to believe we can no longer afford to live decently – who are cutting the wages and benefits of most people, attacking unions, and squeezing public budgets. The People’s Party will not allow them to turn us against one another – unionized against non-unionized, public employee against private employee, immigrant against native born. Nor will the People’s Party allow the privileged and powerful to distract us from the explosive concentration of income and wealth at the top, the decline in taxes paid by the top, and their increasing and untrammeled political power.
We have joined together to reverse these trends and to promote a working people’s bill of rights. We are committed to:
1. Increasing the pay and bargaining power of average working people. We’ll stop efforts to destroy unions and collective bargaining rights. Protect workers who try to form unions from being fired. Make it easier for workers to form unions through simple up-or-down votes at the workplace.
2. Requiring America’s super-rich to pay their fair share. Increase top marginal tax rates and the number of tax brackets at the top. Treat income from capital gains the same as ordinary income. Restore the estate tax. Revoke the citizenship of anyone found to be sheltering income abroad.
3. Protecting and expanding government programs vital to the working middle class and the poor. These include Social Security, K-12 education, Pell Grants for disadvantaged students, public transportation, Medicare and Medicaid, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
4. Ending corporate welfare and cutting military outlays. Trim defense spending. End special tax subsidies for specific corporations or industries – at both state and federal levels. Cut agricultural subsidies.
5. Saving Social Security while making it more progressive. Exempt the first $20,000 of income from Social Security taxes. Make up the difference – and any need for additional Social Security revenues – by raising the ceiling on income subject to the Social Security payroll tax.
6. Ending Wall Street’s dominance of the economy and preventing any future taxpayer-funded bailout. Break up Wall Street’s largest banks and put a cap their size. Link pay on the Street to long-term profits rather than short-term speculation. Subject all financial transactions to a one-tenth of one percent transactions tax.
7. Fully enforcing regulations that protect workers, consumers, small investors, and the environment. Raise penalties on corporations that violate them. Expand enforcement staffs. Provide more private rights of action.
8. Providing affordable health care to all Americans. The new health law isn’t enough. We’ll fight for a single payer – making Medicare available to all. End fee-for-service and create “accountable-care” organizations that focus on healthy outcomes.
9. Slowing and eventually reversing climate change. We’ll fight to limit carbon emissions. Impose a ceiling on emissions or a carbon tax on polluters. Return the revenues from these to the American people, in the form of tax cuts for the working middle class.
10. Getting big money out of politics. We’ll fight to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overrule Citizens United v. FEC. Require full disclosure of all contributions for or against any candidate. Provide full public financing for all presidential, gubernatorial, and legislative candidates in all general elections.
A few of the places it’s happening:
* Madison (ongoing). * Des Moines (ongoing). * March 10: Indianapolis. Gather at 10am and rally at 11:30am at Statehouse, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis. Rallies will continue at the capitol until the impasse is over. * March 11: St. Louis. Downtown at 3:30 pm at Kiener Plaza. SB 1 is expected to be voted on in the Senate the week of 3/7 or 3/14. * April 4: In cities across America. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Demonstrations to show that “We Are One.”