2020 DA Platform Action - by June 5, 2020


2020 DA Platform Action - by June 5, 2020

As we prepare for the DPCA Global Convention on June 6th and 7th, work on our DA platform continues.  proDA encourages all members to  read the draft platform and offer feedback. The online feedback option is open until June 5th but you’ll have more impact by submitting earlier.  The clock is ticking! 

Specific feedback suggestions to support policies likely to be popular among proDA membership appear below. The suggestions are organized according to the ‘planks’ (or sections) in the platform. When you submit feedback, the feedback form requires that you indicate which plank your feedback concerns. Just pick the relevant plank from the pull-down menu in the feedback form.  When you share your suggestion for the platform, it helps the Platform committee if you include the relevant page numbers and sub-topic (if there is one), so both of those are included in the list of topics below. If you wish, you could copy specific suggestions and paste them into the feedback form. You can also make several suggestions in one feedback submission form, as long as they all pertain to the same plank, for instance, submit both Taxation improvements, or all three Economic Policy improvements.

Why this matters: The 2020 DA platform expresses our priorities for the DNC platform and Democratic legislative work for the next four years. It can be used to pressure our DNC members to support certain initiatives in their DNC work, and help determine where DA deploys volunteer resources. It can help attract and retain progressive-minded new members to DA.

Plank: Criminal Justice

Page 14 Restoring the Federal Judiciary: The platform should demand an ethically rigorous federal judiciary. Everyone should be treated equally under the law, including judges at all levels. DA should call for fundamental reform of the Supreme Court by placing stricter restrictions on any federal judge who may hold a conflict of interest, and an independent body should be created by Congress to assess and manage these affairs so we can always have a fully functioning judiciary held to the highest standard to reflect the power held by the third branch of government. 

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Plank: Democracy and Elections

Page 15 Public Funding of Campaigns: After section “Ending Citizens United and Lobbying,” add a new section supporting increased public funding of political campaigns. Elected and appointed officials should work primarily on behalf of their constituents and not on behalf of people, lobbyists, or companies that make large donations. The platform should also emphasize that the U.S.  will study, establish, and use public funding programs that allow candidates to fundraise small sums of money from each person who supports the candidate and encourage people who would not normally make donations to do so. 

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Plank: Economic Policy

Page 19 Add Support of an Economic Bill of Rights. Delete the current text “Democrats Abroad supports economic policy that protects, preserves, and grows our economy sustainably and inclusively. Our Government must provide support mechanisms so that American workers can succeed and build happy and prosperous lives. Free and open markets can coexist with social welfare systems. The United States can simultaneously embrace the principles of capitalism and fulfill our collective responsibility to care for each other’s well-being.” and replace with language asserting our economy should work for all, substantially improving the lived experience of all Americans, such as "Democrats Abroad supports economic policy that advances the well-being of all Americans and envisions an economic policy that works for all. Our Government can and should move towards providing and improving the lived experience and real economic well-being so that American workers can succeed and build happy and prosperous lives. Crucial to the sustainability of our democracy and well-being is pursuing an Economic Bill of Rights – that all are afforded the decency of self-actualization as we have a collective responsibility to care for each other’s well-being. To achieve this aim, we can implement monetary policy that works for both the public and private sectors, to expand innovation as well as economic justice rather than pit one against the other." 

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Page 21 Labor Unions: Add language asserting our support for: (1) the right to organize and join unions, (2) certification of a union through a simple majority sign-up process, (3) enactment of “first contract” provisions to ensure companies cannot prevent a union from forming by denying a first contract, (4) elimination of “Right to Work for Less” laws, (5) establishment of federal protections against the firing of workers for any reason other than “just cause,” (6) ratification of the ILO core conventions on freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collectively bargain, (7) elimination of forced or compulsory labor, (8) the abolition of child labor and (9) the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.”  

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Page 22 Fiscal Policy
Current Draft Platform Text: ‘Fiscal Prudence - Trickle down economic theory and promises that “tax cuts pay for themselves” – repeatedly offered by Republicans to advance tax-cut legislation – have actually exacerbated income inequality, and ballooned budget deficits and the national debt, serving then only as an excuse for cutting Government services. The Government’s financial choices with respect to revenue and debt should reflect the discipline of a well-run business or household, while recognizing that sustainable debt levels reflect the commercial capacity and direction of the U.S. economy.’ 
Proposal: ALTER a portion of the draft platform.
Proposed Text: Our Platform should promote accurate and equitable approaches to utilize strategic deficit spending to ensure a sustainable future and the well-being of all Americans. This section should be re-titled “Fiscal Policy”; as it stands, it is supporting right-wing ideology. Governments are not a household or business as the US government is a currency issuer, not a user. DA should promote fiscal approaches here that call upon the US Government to ensure strategic investment in new, innovative and sustainable emerging sectors, such as those called for in the Green New Deal.  

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Plank: Education

Page 25 Student Loans
Current draft platform text: We support simplified, automated, income-based student loan repayment plans, with payments capped as a percentage of income, and the balance forgiven after a reasonable period of time. Unlike other consumer debt, such as credit card and mortgage debt, student loans cannot currently be discharged in bankruptcy. We support the discharge of student loan debt in the event of bankruptcy. The Federal Government must reduce the interest burden on Government-guaranteed student loans to zero and must require private student lenders to abolish prepayment penalties, to ease refinancing through third parties, and to provide pricing transparency.” [...] “The Federal Government must especially support colleges and universities that play unique and vital roles in their communities, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions.”
Proposal: ALTER a portion of the draft platform.
Proposed Text: “Democrats Abroad supports the cancellation of all current federally-backed student debt from tuition. Unlike other consumer debt, such as credit card and mortgage debt, student loans cannot currently be discharged in bankruptcy. We support the discharge of both public and private student loan debt of any kind in the event of bankruptcy. Profiteering off a student's education is unacceptable at public institutions. The Federal Government must also reduce the interest burden on government-guaranteed student loans for non-tuition related college expenses to zero as many other countries do. All remaining costs should be simplified, automated, income-based student loan repayment plans, with payments capped at a low percentage of discretionary income, and the balance forgiven after 10 years regardless of principal due. Private student lenders must be regulated to the same standard and abolish student exploitation in the form of prepayment penalties, refinancing restrictions, and non-transparency in pricing. Pell Grant eligibility requirements should be loosened, and grants expanded, to help cover any non-tuition related expenses a student may acquire while building their life and career. The Federal Government must especially support colleges and universities that play unique and vital roles in their communities, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions, by providing for debt-free education and related expenses at these institutions.“  

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Plank: Environment and Energy

Page 27
Current draft platform text: “Environmental and economic policy should work together to ensure that we evolve towards a healthy economy which has a positive environmental impact.”
Proposal: ADD an element to the draft platform.
Proposed Text: Add a final sentence to reflect the resolution passed by DA in 2019 on the Green New Deal and its specific goals. Suggested text as follows: “Environmental and economic policy should work together to ensure that we evolve towards a healthy economy which has a positive environmental impact. With this in mind, Democrats Abroad supports a Green New Deal, similar in its goals and scope to H.R. 109 and S. Res. 59.” More focus should be on the goals of the Green New Deal, specifically in H.Res 109, achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions; establishing millions of high-wage jobs and ensuring economic security for all; investing in infrastructure and industry; securing clean air and water, climate and community resiliency, healthy food, access to nature, and a sustainable environment for all; and promoting justice and equality.  

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Plank: Foreign Policy

Page 32 Living Our Values: Supporting Democracy
Current draft platform text: The United States should stand with those seeking to advance personal liberty, freedom of expression, and democratic political representation. We cannot abide by hate crimes or discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sexuality, or religious belief.
Proposal: ALTER a portion of the draft platform
Proposed Text: 2019 was the year of the protestor, and we have witnessed the effectiveness of these movements and should incorporate their tools into our own political movements. When human beings are stricken by circumstances that lead them to protest, they are defending or calling for a change in their way of life, and we encourage the freedom of peaceful assembly and political association worldwide we enjoy at home. These direct actions are the basis and reference for all political change, and an essential piece of democracy in any democratic organization or nation. Democrats Abroad supports democratic movements and protesters around the world in asserting their full liberties guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Democrats Abroad condemns all acts of violence against those peacefully seeking to further their democratic rights.

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Page 36 International Organizations - Remove mention of World Trade Organization
Current draft platform text: “We must strengthen institutions such as the World Trade Organization that the current Administration has attempted to derail. We call on all nations to return to full engagement with these organizations, and we denounce unilateral actions that defy U.N. directives or other treaty obligations.“
Proposal: ALTER
Proposed text:  Remove reference to the World Trade Organization as an international organization that DA wishes to strengthen.  

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Plank: Healthcare

Page 40 Preamble/Healthcare-- Inclusion for All in Proposed Healthcare Policy
Current draft platform text: Preamble/Healthcare
Proposal: ADD an element to the draft platform.
Proposed Text: The need for equitable access to all and for rural and underserved areas is crucial and must be named to ensure that those most disadvantaged are explicitly represented in this Platform. Suggested revised text: "We support coverage for everyone, regardless of age, color, class, ethnicity, family status, gender identity, labor union membership, military status, nationality, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, ability, pre-existing condition, and/or any other inappropriate factor.” and “We support equitable resourcing for underserved, rural, homeless, and immigrant communities.”  

Page 40 Medicare for All
Current draft platform text: “We support Medicare for All as the preferred method for achieving these goals. Healthcare coverage should include preventive care and holistic health promotion, reproductive health and abortion services; pre- and post-natal care, pediatric and gender affirming care, dental, vision, and mental health care, and rehabilitation and end-of-life palliative care...”
Proposal: SUPPORT a portion of the draft platform.
Proposed Text: DA’s Platform should support the inclusion of Medicare for All, as healthcare is a fundamental human right and Medicare for All is the best way to achieve true, universal healthcare.  

Page 40 Support for transitioning “healthcare administrative workers”
Current draft platform text: “We support retraining and a just transition for insurance administrators whose jobs might be at risk from such reform.”
Proposal: ALTER a portion of the draft platform.
Proposed Text: The DA Platform must support those who will be transitioned by a Medicare for All reform and that “insurance administrators” must be changed to “medical administrators” or “healthcare administrative workers” to ensure concerns are met around retraining include administrators not employed by insurance companies (hospital billing staff, for example).   

Page 40 “Undocumented immigrants” instead of “legal immigrants”
Current draft platform text: “Understanding that healthcare is the highest concern for many Americans – including many of our families and friends living in the United States, Democrats Abroad advocates for high quality, equitable, and affordable healthcare for all Americans and legal immigrants, which we regard as a fundamental human right. We advocate a comprehensive reform that can withstand assault from for-profit interests, in particular insurance and pharmaceutical companies; and avoiding patchwork solutions that are more vulnerable to piecemeal attack and dilution.”
Proposal: ALTER a portion of the draft platform.
Proposed Text: The reference to ‘legal immigrants’ in the first paragraph is out of sync with earlier responses from both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, who both stated that undocumented immigrants would be covered within their policies. The GPC should include provisions to protect undocumented immigrants.   

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Plank: Security

Page 53 Cybersecurity and Privacy
Current draft platform text: Democrats Abroad has members who have experienced being surveilled and understand the danger in mass surveillance. We believe that when it comes to policy on digital communications, balance is needed between cyber security and protection of private communications. Safe private communications are fundamental to the ability of people around the world both to protest and to advocate for and support democratic governments. Placing backdoors into hardware or software increases the likelihood that authoritarian governments, hackers, illegitimate non-state actors, and criminals can compromise communications.
Proposal: SUPPORT a portion of the draft platform.
Proposed Text: Support the text as written or stronger commitments to encryption, as this is the most important tool our members will have if the world continues an authoritarian trend, and that Americans will need to organize safely if Donald Trump wins again.  

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Plank: Taxation

Page 57 Equitable Taxation
Current draft platform text: In line with our support for equitable taxation of all Americans and the redistribution of wealth concentrated to the degree that 0.003% of the population holds 13% of all wealth, we support a wealth tax.
Proposal: SUPPORT a portion of the draft platform.
Proposed Text: Preserve support of a wealth tax, and resist organized effort to have the wealth tax removed from the DA platform.  

Pages 60, 57 to top of 59 Wealth Tax 2

Current draft platform text:  p. 60 Tax Code Priorities for our 21st Century Economy or p. 57 to top of 59 CBT Vs RBT  Leave it to the Platform Committee to decide which one.
Proposal: ADAPT a portion of the draft platform.
Proposed Text:  “A policy to support a U.S. wealth tax and allow the treasury access to trillions from the super rich while providing relief from Citizen Based Taxation for all but a few handfuls of very wealthy Americans Abroad. 

  1. Raise the foreign earnings exclusion from around $100,00 US to $1.75 million US so that double taxation would be eliminated for nearly all citizens outside the US.
  2. Those who fall under this exclusion need only submit a one line tax return stating this, accompanied by a copy of your residence country tax return. (Note:  A similar resolution was adopted by DA a few years ago.)
  3. Given that citizens outside the US have not benefited from years of mortgage interest deduction tax credits, citizens outside the US shall not pay tax on the “profits” from home sales in the country of residence.
  4. FATCA reporting under $35 Million in institutions in countries of residence should  be eliminated. The exception to this would apply if the country of residence holdings contribute to a total wealth of over $50 million. All holdings outside of the country of residence will be reported.
  5. This shall not apply to residents of, or to, financial holdings in countries deemed tax havens. All figures will be indexed to inflation/deflation.  

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More platform background and ideas: Electors considered platform resolutions at our mid-May 2020 regional meetings.  Here you can see information about their work:

Asia and Pacific--includes text of resolutions, most of which were adopted

Americas--includes proDA platform resolution package, which passed in full.

EMEA--The electors referred the resolutions to the Global Platform Committee, requiring Town Hall meetings for their consideration.