The Democratic Party is supposed to be the party of the left. It’s supposed to be the party of progressives. It’s supposed to be the party of FDR. It’s supposed to be the party of the working class. Even in Texas, a state said to be one of the most conservative in the country, a solid 59% of the Democratic Party’s primary voting base identified as ‘liberal’ in the 2016 presidential primary.
It’s true that larger numbers of Americans self-identify as ‘conservative’ or ‘moderate’ than as liberal. However, If you actually dig into the issues, poll by poll, American people are generally center left. The right consistently berates the Democratic Party as “socialist.” If democratic legislators are so left, one would expect them to throw their support behind progressive legislation.
Our Revolution, a non-profit, 501(c)4, aimed at championing progressive legislation, compiled a list of eight bills which are currently introduced in the house. Members of the Texas Democratic Party have largely failed to throw their support behind these bills, with an aggregate cosponsorship rate of 25%. If you’re a progressive, these bills are mostly common sense legislation. They do have some problems (mainly that they don’t go far enough) – but they would still be monumental leaps forward from what we currently have in place.
H.R. 676– the Medicare For All Act. This bill would make universal healthcare coverage a reality by expanding Medicare coverage to everyone under the age of sixty five. It should be noted, Beto O’Rourke does have a valid critique of this bill: it doesn’t reimburse for-profit healthcare establishments. It’s difficult to know how big of a hole this would leave in the healthcare system without a CBO estimate. It could be large, or it could be small.
H.R.1880 – College for All Act of 2017. This bill would eliminate college tuition for those coming from households making less than $125,000.00 a year. This bill could be improved by simply eliminating college tuition from all income brackets. The cost of room and board also needs to be accounted for.
H.R. 15– Raise the Wage Act. This bill would make the minimum wage a living wage. The living wage would be adjusted to $15.00/hour over the course of seven years. What’s lacking from this bill is adjusting the living wage based off of inflation. It would also be appropriate to perhaps adjust the living wage based off of the cost of living in each area. $15.00/hr would be adequate in most rural areas, but it wouldn’t get you very far in states like Hawaii, California, or New York.
H.R. 771 – Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance. Twenty five states currently prohibit insurance plans from covering abortion services. Due to the Hyde amendment, Federal funds may not be used to fund abortion services. This bill would effectively end both of these measures. The bill could be improved by enacting measures to prevent states from implementing draconian restrictions on providers like Planned Parenthood.
H.R. 2840 – Automatic Voter Registration Act. This bill requires states to give citizens the opportunity to register to vote when they get a driver’s license (or other state identification). This bill could be improved by taking measures to end gerrymandering, and getting ‘big money’ out of politics.
H.R. 3227 – Justice is Not For Sale Act of 2017. This bill would eliminate the use of private prisons, and reform some sentencing guidelines. This bill could be improved by federally legalizing recreational marijuana, retroactively giving non-violent drug offenders clean criminal records, and preventing non-violent drug offenders from becoming entrenched in the criminal justice system in the future.
H.R. 1144 – Inclusive Prosperity Act of 2017. This bill would enact a tax on wall street transactions for individuals making more than $50,000 annually ($75,000 for married couples filing a joint return). This bill could be improved by taking measures to close loopholes in the corporate income tax. To put into perspective how big of a problem this is, consider the fact that twenty six companies (all of whom made large profits) of Fortune 500 companies paid no federal income taxes from 2008 to 2012.
H.R. 2242 – Keep It In The Ground Act of 2017. This bill would end new leases on federal lands, as well as the coast of the United States. In order for this bill to work as intended, it also needs to fund the widespread development of green energy.
Without further ado, here is each congressperson’s People’s Platform scorecard.
If you wonder who your congressional representative is, you can find that out here.
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