America is moving forward from the dark days of Donald Trump’s presidency. A critical number of workers of all races joined young, black, brown, and indigenous voters to lead us to victory. We organized Progressives in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan to help win those states back. Thanks to decades of local organization in Georgia and Arizona, we’ve turned these states blue. And we’ve held our gavel in the House of Representatives through notable turnout, including in swing districts where eight incumbents ran and won while sponsoring Medicare for All and four ran and won while sponsoring the Green New Deal.
Progressive election initiatives have also won across the country. Florida overwhelmingly exceeded a minimum wage of $ 15. Colorado voters took 12 weeks of paid family vacation while rejecting an abortion ban. Four states, red and blue, legalized recreational marijuana. And Arizona raised taxes for the wealthy to raise funds for public education. Make no mistake: voters agreed to a progressive agenda. We have also given President-elect Joe Biden a clear mandate to fight for us, to respond to the causes of suffering, and to transform this country so that the people can thrive, not just survive.
Even as we celebrate our tremendous victories, we need to pay attention to why more than 74 million people voted for Trump’s re-election. We also need to understand why Democrats lost seats in the House of Representatives and were unable to gain a foothold in the Senate. It is clear that too many people no longer believe that the government has done enough to raise all boats. Worse, they see that both the Democratic and Republican governments have allowed and promoted policies that benefit the richest. Working people have watched their incomes stagnate and fall as the income of the richest people rose. You saw Grandma cut her pills in half because she couldn’t afford her prescription. They cried when their families were torn apart because of cruel immigration laws and criminal injustice. And they sat in smoke-filled houses when the planet burned.
The solution to this is clear: a progressive agenda that will change people’s lives. Biden’s platform was the most progressive of all the recent nominees as our movement partnered with his campaign to advance bold guidelines. Now is the time to deliver. With President Biden, Congress must take immediate action on critical priorities. The Progressive Caucus of Congress, which I chair, stands ready to make this happen, and that is why our members have overwhelmingly passed reforms that will make us more organized, effective and ready to face this government moment. We work inside and outside of Congress and we are ready to fight for an agenda that lifts the people.
First, we need to provide comprehensive Covid-19 aid that is fair to the scale of the crisis and directly takes on the various damage it has caused black, indigenous and other vulnerable communities, starting with the 140 million poor and low-income people of the Country. That relief should remain in place until the economy recovers, and it needs to put money straight into your pocket through generous economic reviews, expanded unemployment insurance and other social security benefits that are everyone, regardless of immigration status. It must also include rental and mortgage assistance, the settlement of student debt, and an immediate increase in the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour.
The aid package needs to invest heavily in state and local infrastructure, as well as direct state aid to small and medium-sized businesses, under a program like my Paycheck Recovery Act, so they can receive aid and keep workers on payroll. We also need to make sure everyone has access to free testing, contact tracing and vaccines, while creating 200,000 new public health jobs.
Second, we need to get people back to work, give workers more power and move to a clean energy economy. Now is the time to create millions of new clean energy jobs. We can invest in a clean energy infrastructure package that will transform our grid, support public transportation, and repair crumbling roads and bridges – all while building our communities through new and better schools, water systems, and broadband. We can drastically reduce air, water, land and climate pollution and invest in resilience jobs that enable communities to prepare for and respond to climate-related disasters.
We should negotiate or renegotiate fair trade policies that protect domestic production, empower workers and protect the environment, and develop democracy in the workplace. We must finally invest in a family infrastructure that builds a strong care industry with living wages, benefits and rights for childcare, public education and domestic workers.
Third, we must absolutely guarantee health care for everyone. It used to be unacceptable, but it is outrageous that at least 87 million people are uninsured or uninsured during a pandemic. As we work towards a Medicare for All single-payer healthcare system, we can immediately accomplish some fundamental aspects while improving Medicare coverage by automatically enrolling in Medicare when everyone loses their job and expanding Medicare to include the Eligibility Age Cut 50 years and insure everyone up to the age of 25 and lower prescription drug prices by negotiating critical drugs across all payers. We also need to increase funding for community health centers and rural hospitals while protecting women’s health care opportunities.
Fourth, we need to expand voting rights and get money out of politics. We have just seen the suppression of voters at work and we need to get the vote and vote back to the people. By building on HR 1, which the House passed in 2019, we can establish and expand voting rights in America and give statehood to the District of Columbia.
Fifth, we have to address racism in all of our institutions. From the enslavement of blacks to federal policies that deliberately excluded blacks, indigenous peoples and other colored people from programs that built the middle class, we cannot look the other way. We must face racism in America and fill the racial prosperity gap by establishing a Truth Commission and a Reparations Investigation Commission. We need to enact reforms for justice in the police force, legalize cannabis at the federal level, and fully respect tribal sovereignty and contractual obligations. And we need to create a fair and humane system that recognizes the worth and worth of immigrants, strengthens refugee and asylum protection, and enacts laws that criminalize immigrants and restrict their access to central security nets.
Sixth, we must end our endless wars and invest in diplomacy. Massive Pentagon budgets not only fuel these wars, but also destroy our investment communities. It is time to lift the decade-old authorization to use military force, require Congress approval for all acts of war, and end the wars in Afghanistan and Yemen. It’s time for Congress to cut defense spending by at least 10 percent while investing in diplomacy and restricting the revolving door between the military and defense corporations.
After all, it is absolutely crucial that we take over our rigged economy. It is unacceptable that big corporations and the richest get wealthier while poor and working people get poorer. Congress can implement standards for companies that receive government funding. We can focus on promoting good jobs with benefits. And we can narrow the pay gap between CEOs and employees while promoting gender and racial diversity in top management. We also need to restructure our tax system so that Wall Street and the richest companies pay their fair share. In addition, Congress must finish the work we started in this session to end monopoly practices so that we can protect consumers and small businesses.
This is a bold and just agenda. It’s the way forward. And progressives inside and outside of Congress are ready to make that happen.