This is what a real progressive agenda for America looks like. In a U.S. Senate floor speech and related op-ed piece, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Tuesday presented a 12-point economic agenda designed to “reverse a 40-year decline of the American middle class and the growing gap between the very rich and everyone else in the United States.”
Sanders’ sweeping plan focuses on investing in both the country and its people by making a big commitment to education, infrastructure, health care and new technology. Sanders also called for reforms to the banking system, labor laws, the tax code and trade policies in ways that he thinks will favor working Americans and reverse what he sees as an overall deterioration of the country and its economy .
“We once led the world in terms of the percentage of our people who graduated college, but we are now in 12th place,” Sanders said. “Our infrastructure, once the envy of the world, is collapsing. Real unemployment today is not 5.8 percent, it is 11.5 percent if we include those who have given up looking for work or who are working part time when they want to work full time. Youth unemployment is 18.6 percent and African-American youth unemployment is 32.6 percent.”
The 12 points, as summarized by Sanders' office, are:
• Invest in our crumbling infrastructure with a major program to create jobs by rebuilding roads, bridges, water systems, waste water plants, airports, railroads and schools.Watch the speech below:
• Transform energy systems away from fossil fuels to create jobs while beginning to reverse global warming and make the planet habitable for future generations.
• Develop new economic models to support workers in the United States instead of giving tax breaks to corporations which ship jobs to low-wage countries overseas.
• Make it easier for workers to join unions and bargain for higher wages and benefits.
• Raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour so no one who works 40 hours a week will live in poverty.
• Provide equal pay for women workers who now make 78 percent of what male counterparts make.
• Reform trade policies that have shuttered more than 60,000 factories and cost more than 4.9 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs.
• Make college affordable and provide affordable child care to restore America’s competitive edge compared to other nations.
• Break up big banks. The six largest banks now have assets equivalent to 61 percent of our gross domestic product, over $9.8 trillion. They underwrite more than half the mortgages in the country and issue more than two-thirds of all credit cards.
• Join the rest of the industrialized world with a Medicare-for-all health care system that provides better care at less cost.
• Expand Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and nutrition programs.
• Reform the tax code based on wage earners’ ability to pay and eliminate loopholes that let profitable corporations stash profits overseas and pay no U.S. federal income taxes.