While we're savoring yesterday's historic election, it is not to soon to start planning our strategy going forward. People across the country, in enormous numbers, repudiated the anti-labor, union busting, trickle down agenda of Ronald Reagan and voted for the 99%. Once again, we have the chance to inaugurate a 50-year-long progressive era. Let's not blow it this time. Our job is to translate our historic victory into policies that will give us what we voted for.
We will have to push President Obama. His instinct will be to reach out "across the aisle". We saw how that worked in 2010. So this time we have to do something different. For starters, we need filibuster reform in the Senate so the people's business can get done with a simple majority of 50 votes. Then, we need to push the Democrats to put together a progressive agenda, pass it in the Senate and send it to the House. When the House starts voting against these bills, we hold them accountable and replace them with better members in 2014. We then pick up our bills, pass them through the House and Senate, and have President Obama sign them.
What would the bills look like? Some ideas:
1. A big stimulus bill to create jobs, hire teachers, firefighters, police, and rebuild our infrastructure (roads, railroads, electrical grid, schools, libraries, hospitals). Make sure it is big enough this time.
2. A card-check neutrality type of bill that would encourage the unionization of the American workforce, allowing us to have a voice in our pay and working conditions and enabling prosperity to be widely shared.
3. Major investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy - wind, solar, geothermal, modernizing the electrical grid so that the renewable energy can be efficiently distributed - so that we can continue living well, but doing it in a sustainable way. Stop the Keystone XL pipeline. For good. While this won't end climate change, it will stabilize it at levels compatible with life and civilization. Pay for all this partially by ending subsidies to oil, gas, and coal companies. Their time has come and gone.
4. Increase taxes on the top 1% so they are paying their fair share. Increase taxes on corporations - our corporate tax rate is at a historically low point. Reinstate the estate tax and raise the rates, with a big enough exemption that it does not hit working families. Allow the Bush tax cuts for the top 1% to expire. Or, allow all the Bush tax cuts to expire and then propose a bill that reinstates them for the 99%. Let's watch the Republican representatives vote against that one.
5. Build on Obamacare and make it better. Wouldn't it be great if one of the options in the insurance exchanges would be for anyone to buy into Medicare. After all, if the private sector is so efficient, why would they have to worry about competing with the big, bloated, bureaucratic government health care program. Allow Medicare to bargain over the price of prescription drugs. There is much room for improvement. Most other first world nations spend half of what we do on health care and have better outcomes. The health insurance companies might not like this, but they lost the election. And, of course, all women should have full access to all aspects of health care.
6. Pass a constitutional amendment that corporations are not people.
7. Continue a diplomatic approach to dealing with other countries to avoid wars. Cut the military budget and use the money to invest in America. Twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, let's start enjoying the Peace Dividend. There is no need to look for new bogeymen.
8. No cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Period. Non-negotiable.
9. Don't be bamboozled by talk about the national debt. The best way to pay the national debt down is to have a prosperous economy so that tax revenue increases. Austerity makes the debt worse. The People's Budget introduced by the House Progressive Caucus does away with the debt without hurting working people.
10. Pass and implement serious banking regulation, like Glass-Steagall, which prevent a bank collapse for over 70 years until it was repealed. Too big to fail is too big to exist. Elizabeth Warren in the Senate will be very helpful with this.