The Progressive Agenda: 9 things progressives should focus on now that the election is over - Pt. 2

Please find Part 1 of this 2-part series here.

 

By Jeff Waldorf

 

4. Oil Subsidies

I have no idea how on Earth anyone can justify sending $7 billion dollars in tax subsidies annually to the wealthiest energy corporations that have ever existed, while also allowing companies like Exxon Mobil to pay a 17.6% effective tax rate. That's literally highway robbery.

So how do they justify it? Simple: they don't even admit the subsidy exists.

Former Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts argued that oil companies don't receive any form of subsidy. It's helpful to know that Brown was one of the biggest brownnosers to the energy industry and in return received money directly from the Koch brothers and one of their PACs. It's political contributions like these that not only go to Republicans but also to Democrats, and need to be stopped in order to pursue the Progressive agenda. If we're going to be successful in ending the dominance of big oil, big coal, and natural gas over our nation's energy policy and make us truly energy-independent and sustainable, we have to first remove the influence of money in politics (see item #1) get rid of bought politicians, and end these wasteful subsidies to the fossil fuel cartels and instead fund clean, sustainable energy solutions. 

5. Tax Policy

Throughout this campaign, we have heard President Obama on the campaign trail promising to make the wealthy pay their fair share. As progressives, we should push to make President Obama honor that promise to close loopholes and deductions and increase tax rates for those making over $1 million a year back to the Clinton tax rates of 39%. Putting a small tax on financial transactions and increasing the taxes on capital gains has the promise to also bring in increased revenue, estimated to be around $386 billion over the next 10 years. Keeping taxes low for the middle class and the poor should also be a focus in the Progressive agenda. Lower taxes on the middle class will help spur demand and increase job growth. More middle class jobs leads to a broadening of the tax base and in turn that can go towards...

6. The Debt

Tackling the debt is a major concern for everyone. We can't always operate on borrowed money. The last Democratic president, Bill Clinton, knew a few things about how to balance a budget. A good share of the money raised by new revenues should go toward new investments (to create jobs) and debt reduction. Medicare and Social Security can also be tweaked without cutting any benefits so they will remain solvent for future generations. 

7. Entitlement Spending

The progressive agenda should be to retain and expand the social contract of America. The healthcare law Obama passed makes a great start by saving $716 billion in Medicare spending by cutting waste and reimbursements to private Medicare advantage plans and instead puts it back into Medicare itself. The healthcare law, though, should be expanded into a full single payer system to meet the progressive value of making sure everyone gets full coverage, and the insurance companies can no longer profit or serve as middlemen when it comes to people's health and well-being.

As of right now, since the states are able to opt out of the expanded medicaid provision, the poorest among us may still go without insurance. That is unacceptable. Progressive values state that healthcare is a human right. Social Security should also strengthened, and the most simple way to do that is to make it so the wealthy are not eligible for benefits, as well as increasing the tax that goes to social security for people making over $500,000 a year. If you're making that much, why do you need a supplemental retirement income? These fixes will help strengthen our social contract and ensuring that the programs remain solving without cutting benefits.

Union_membership_in_us_1930-2010.jpg

8. Labor Rights

Labor rights are one of the most fundamental values of being a progressive. Fair wages, 40-hour work weeks, equal pay and benefits, and the creation of a strong middle class are all things that have resulted from the progressive movement. The sad truth now is that all of those things are in grave danger. Today, union workers represent around 12% of the workforce and only 7% of private workers. Only 37% of government workers are unionized, yet they are blamed by conservatives for job losses and deficits. Public opinion of unions dropped in 2010 to 48%, probably in response to the harsh anti-union rhetoric and right-to-work laws put in place and championed by wealthy conservative business-owners that see unions as a hamper to increasing their bottom lines. We should renew our support for labor because fair wages and benefits will help to regrow a strong middle class that in the end will help ensure that businesses prosper as well. 

9. Civil Liberties

This is a huge, huge issue. As progressives, we should be the champions of civil liberty. Which is why the NDAA, the Patriot act, torture, and other abuses of civil liberties should be done away with. Trapwire, CISPA, ACTA and other other legislation that would stop the internet from being free and open should be fought tooth and nail no matter who is president. That is why the progressive agenda should focus on putting pressure on legislators to shoot down these blatant violations of our rights. And if they approve these things, they should be primaried from the left until they understand that our rights need to be left alone. Not only that, but also torture should never be the American way of doing things; we are better than that. 

These are just some of the major issues we need to fight for as progressives. In order to accomplish these goals we will need to remove money from politics and end gerrymandering, so that Democrats and Republicans will no longer have "safe" districts that will vote them in due to party affiliation but, instead, they'll have to make their cases based on their records and policies.

In 2014, we will have mid-term elections in the House, and you better believe the conservatives will be ready and come armed with big money. We need to fight to get real progressives elected to the house to give us a majority in order to push President Obama to the left. We should define the word "liberal" again with it's true meaning:

Liberal-JFK.jpg

With these goals in mind, we can bring America forward and return back to the shining city on the hill, with liberty and justice for all. 

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@talyn04 tweeted link to this page. 2012-11-16 13:32:14 -0500
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@element_truth tweeted link to this page. 2012-11-14 13:15:51 -0500
9 things progressives should focus on now that the #election is over - Pt. 2 http://t.co/yRblWOZw #getmoneyout... http://t.co/3Tsj0Fze
@talyn04 tweeted link to this page. 2012-11-14 12:52:23 -0500
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9 things progressives should focus on now that the #election is over - Pt. 2 http://t.co/yRblWOZw #getmoneyout... http://t.co/3Tsj0Fze
@WolfPAChq tweeted link to this page. 2012-11-14 12:10:19 -0500
9 things progressives should focus on now that the #election is over - Pt. 2 http://t.co/yRblWOZw #getmoneyout... http://t.co/3Tsj0Fze
@WolfPAChq tweeted link to this page. 2012-11-14 12:10:18 -0500
9 things progressives should focus on now that the #election is over - Pt. 2 http://t.co/yRblWOZw #getmoneyout #democracy4sale

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