Pledge to fight for
the SOLIDARITY AGENDA.
URGENT WARNING from 100 US leaders + 25,000 activists:
The biggest threat to good jobs, stable prices, democracy, and a healthy planet: A REPUBLICAN TAKEOVER OF CONGRESS!
Donald Trump won the 2016 election (in part) by claiming he would fix big economic problems. But during four disastrous years, Trump plunged the US into chaos, fomented racial strife to divide working people, ignored and worsened the COVID pandemic, and attacked our democracy and our rights, while accomplishing little—except handing tax giveaways to the already rich. His failure to invest in infrastructure became a standing joke. But in a less visible way, Trump (and Republicans) also allowed the giant corporations and billionaires to take even larger control of the US economy, our financial system—and they steadily dismantled the fragile systems Americans have built to achieve tax fairness, labor rights, racial justice, health care and a sustainable environment.
In the two years after President Biden won the White House, we have made significant economic progress—despite very narrow Democratic majorities in Congress. Grassroots organizers and leaders helped Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress hit the ground running, 1. mobilizing to pass legislation to fight the deadly COVID pandemic and revive the economy, and 2. passing a big public infrastructure plan. These emergency policies created jobs and put money in people’s pockets, powering a robust economic recovery and growing American wages. Without this bold action, Americans would still be struggling with the high unemployment and low wages during the worst recession since the Great Depression.
And then, on August 6, another victory: the Senate voted to pass the Inflation Reduction Act (which will invest in alternative energy, reduce drug prices, lower premiums for public health insurance, and raise taxes on large corporations and the wealthy). As Kamala Harris explained the challenge of dealing with today’s Senate: “The yeas are 50; the nays are 50. The Senate being equally divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative, and the bill, as amended, is passed.”
In the context of this closely divided Congress, the leaders of one political party—the Republicans—have systematically tried to block progress on rebuilding a healthy economy for working Americans. No Republicans voted for Biden’s American Rescue Act (with $1.9 trillion for fighting COVID while spurring economic recovery). On the Infrastructure Bill, only 13 House and 19 Senate Republicans voted yes. The CHIPS and Science Act got only 17 House and 24 Senate Republican votes. And the Inflation Reduction Act, with historic investments in renewable energy, measures to reduce health costs and to control drug prices—and taxes on corporations and the rich—got NO SUPPORT from Republicans.
Yet with without irony, Republicans (who have only a negative agenda) have attacked Biden for failing to pass his more ambitious plan to “Build Back Better.” Yes, two Democrats, backed by corporate lobbyists, watered down or forced removal of some important things Democrats wanted: investments to build a care economy for families, expanding Medicaid and Medicare, reducing child poverty, and a more ambitious plan for reducing carbon emissions—paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations. But it was the lock-step opposition to progress by 50 Republicans wielding the filibuster threat that allowed them to force those revisions.
Americans want to work together to create jobs, improve life for working families, and protect our democracy, our rights, and our planet.
After a good start, we need a Solidarity Agenda.
Despite Republican obstruction, we have made impressive progress. And it will take even bigger changes to break the power of the wealthy and corporations—so we can empower working people build a better life.
Since 2018, thousands of activists and civic leaders have been agitating for a constructive plan for growth, environmental sustainability, and equality—now called the Solidarity Agenda—a name that stresses the need for all working Americans to unite to make big structural changes to build an economy that works for us all. Here is the outline of the Solidarity Agenda (details below):
Key elements of the Solidarity Agenda have been promoted by the 100 leaders and over 25,000 activists who originally signed the Pledge—and by the Progressive Caucus. And polling consistently finds that all elements of the Solidarity Agenda are very popular with voters. We pledge to win larger majorities so we can move this agenda.
Leaders of one political party—Republicans, funded by corporate money—are working to sabotage the changes America needs.
At a time when Americans want action, Republicans are now the Party of No. Republicans seek to dismantle democratic institutions and constitutional rights—and, at every opportunity, to reward the wealthy and corporations, whose dark money political contributions keep them in office.
Most Americans know we need to do much more. In the spirit of solidarity, we want to make the economy work for everyone—and for the planet.
But Republicans are saying NO to democracy—and NO to the rights of women to make their own reproductive choices. And they say NO to stopping gun violence.
WE WHO WANT ECONOMIC CHANGE
MUST WORK FOR A PROGRESSIVE MAJORITY
IN THE HOUSE AND SENATE.
Who are we? More than 100 well-known Americans—and over 25,000 grassroots activists—came together in 2018 to sign a Pledge to Fight for Good Jobs, Sustainable Prosperity, and Economic Justice.
Now known as the Solidarity Agenda, the pledge has been important in giving people a vision of the future we are fighting for. It was designed to get us all working for bold public action that rejects neoliberal economics and aims at transforming the economic system to empower working people and to limit the influence of corporate interests and the wealthy. Over the past four years, signers have been crucial to pushing for the most far-reaching economic recovery and rebuilding and anti-inflation program that could possibly get passed, given the narrowly divided Senate and House. And many of the signers have been active in trying to expose and overcome the onslaught of dark political money directed at defeating progressive Democrats and replacing them with candidates more amenable to corporate interests. We know it is important to prevent a Republican takeover of Congress, but we also need to win a progressive majority for fundamental change.
We are re-launching the Solidarity Agenda now because it is important that progressive activists and working class and middle-class voters understand that if we want a better life for all Americans, we have to get to work hard to prevent a takeover of Congress by the “Party of No.” Our job is to mobilize public support for big change. And now, as we approach Congressional elections, our job is to help Americans understand that today’s serious economic crises can only be solved by an economic program based on Solidarity.
If you haven’t already joined this campaign, please
SIGN THE PLEDGE to Fight for the SOLIDARITY AGENDA.
And let’s get to work—to get a Congress that will make the changes we need.
I. Invest in Economic Recovery, Sustainable Growth and Green Jobs
Jobs for All– Created by Rebuilding America
Today’s massive increase in unemployment, on the scale of the Great Depression, is not likely to go away anytime soon – even if the terrible impact of the COVID19 pandemic declines or a vaccine is developed. Our bi-partisan public policy shut down the economy, and many of the jobs that were lost will not just come back if we just “reopen” the economy – especially as Trump and governors screw up the reopening and Trump and Republican legislators refuse to adequately fund a stimulus plan and fail to help states and cities.
We should commit ourselves to providing a livable wage or a high quality job (with good wages and benefits) for everyone who needs them. If we don’t do this, millions of people will face homelessness and hunger and worse in what used to be called the richest economy in the world.
Tax cuts for the rich will not revive a stagnant economy. Instead we need ways to spur sustainable growth and new industries. We support a large national investment program to put millions of Americans to work rebuilding America, creating useful employment for young people and for the millions of workers made unemployed by today’s crisis and long-term de-industrialization of America.
Investing in rebuilding and modernization of our basic infrastructure — from roads to rail to water and energy systems —will stimulate robust growth and it will make our economy more productive. This initiative should be linked to public service jobs — in everything from national service to cleaning up parks and cities. As a first step, the next administration should guarantee that every young person graduating from school can get a decent job.
Invest in a Green Economy for a Sustainable Economy
The massive shutdown of the world economy resulted in an amazing reduction of many kinds of pollution. We’ve had the largest possible test of what would happen if we all individually stopped using energy – and, while energy use fell 17 percent, the temperature of the earth has continued to rise, demonstrating that individual action, while important, will not solve the problem of global warming. While we need to break the power of the oil industry and utilities to keep our society dependent on polluting fuels, we also need to create a whole new non-carbon system for producing and consuming energy.
To stop the earth from warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius in this century, the limit set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we must not only end public subsidies for the oil companies, we must also quickly transition to a clean electricity system based on renewable sources, the US should cut our carbon emissions by half by 2030 and achieve the goal of cutting greenhouse emission to zero by 2050.
We will fight to make the United States a world leader by instituting a bold Green New Deal by investing renewable energy and energy efficiency that will replace today’s carbon-based economy with a clean and sustainable energy system. A green industrial revolution will create whole new export industries for the US – and deploying these technologies in America will build strong and resilient communities. If done correctly, we will create a new generation of jobs and opportunity – with a priority focus on guaranteeing jobs or income for workers displaced by the transition – and in communities of color which have borne the worst consequences of toxic corporate practices.
II. Fight Inequality
Dismantle Racism, Tax the Rich, and Empower Workers and Women.
Inequality in the US has reached new extremes, as millions have lost incomes while the rich have seen the value of their investments soar. The ultimate inequality was institutionalized in the US slave economy in which terrible violence was meted out upon enslaved people forced to work for no pay whatsoever. The threat of violence played a similar role during the 100 year period of Jim Crow which intimidated Black people to labor at low wages – and used racism to encourage poor white people to be satisfied with low wages, assured that they were somehow superior. It took the combined efforts of labor unions, the civil rights movement, and the New Deal economic policies to give working people enough power to consistently raise wages, improve benefits and expand opportunity through education and economic growth.
But over the past 60 years, corporate America fought back, undermining unions, once again exploiting racism and transforming corporations into vehicles to extract profits from workers and communities without any thought for improving living conditions.
Today the corporate elite enjoys wealth, benefits and tax breaks beyond the imaginations of kings, while wages for the rest of us have stagnated or declined since the 1970s — and more and more jobs have become contingent and part-time, with low pay and few benefits. For a while, families were able to keep incomes propped up by putting more family members into the workforce. But that strategy for keeping up reached its limit decades ago.
Robust economic growth and full employment, if we can achieve it, will force employers to bid up wages. But an important key to reversing inequality is strong unions. We pledge to fight for the rights of workers to form unions and bargain collectively for better wages and benefits. In the US unions negotiate contracts company by company – and often in the public sector, community by community. A new system of “sectoral bargaining” should establish basic wage and other workplace standards through national or state-wide bargaining by sector – for all steelworkers, or all teachers, for example. This would make it harder for companies making cars, for example, in Kentucky, to undermine wages and standards in Michigan – while giving unions a voice in national economic policy.
Guaranteed labor rights should also lift the floor under every worker by guaranteeing a living wage, paid sick and vacation days, and affordable health care. We must curb CEO compensation policies that give executives personal incentives to plunder their own companies. And we should use the tax system to reward companies that pay their workers a decent proportion to what they pay their executives.
Opportunity and Justice for All – With Focus on Communities Harmed by Racism
Full employment should provide opportunity for all. But even the strongest macroeconomic growth, while it has helped all workers, has never gotten rid of the racial wealth and income gap. Americans must commit our country to rooting out systemic racism in every part of our economy. Public investment in jobs, housing and social services must be targeted to those communities harmed by the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, discrimination, deindustrialization, and decades of conservative destruction of the public sector.
We declare that Black Lives Matter, and that means:
– Economic justice and investment in opportunity for Black People.
– Transforming policing while investing in Black communities,
and ending qualified immunity for police who violate human rights.
– The Federal government should explore repair for past slavery and
Jim Crow and continuing harms to Black Americans.
– Fundamental reform of our criminal justice system, an end to mass
incarceration, and targeted investment to areas of need are all
central to meeting the promise of economic justice and real equality.
We will help Americans understand how racism and gender bias have been used to prevent working and poor people from joining together to challenge the wealthy and corporations from demands economic change that would benefit all of us.
Establishing a fair and humane immigration policy that stops the criminalization of communities of color should be a top priority. Our immigration policy should put the sanctity of families at the forefront – grounded in human, civil, and labor rights. We cannot allow our communities to be divided by anti-immigrant and xenophobic hysteria. And we must all work hard to end the racism and xenophobia that have historically been used to divide America’s working class majority from working together to win economic justice and prosperity for all.
Guarantee Women’s Economic Equality
The near-complete shut-down of the economy in 2020 has made a public issue out of the reality that confronts most women at home and in the workplace. We live in a society in which women are expected to earn money in the workplace — and still take care of home, children, and family. We should guarantee that women earn the same pay, protections and opportunities as men in the workplace and in society – including strengthened laws for reporting and preventing sexual violence and harassment. Women must also be guaranteed affordable health care and the right to make choices about their own health and reproduction. Families must have access to high-quality child care, and all women must be guaranteed paid leave from the workplace for childbirth, illness and vacation, and a secure retirement — with Social Security credit for work in the household.
III. A New Social Contract
Medicare for All, Free Education, Justice and Democracy
The mounting homelessness, poverty and even mass hunger brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the recession it triggered reminds us that most Americans have little savings and few social supports to see them through large or small jolts in life, whether it be the loss of a job, a serious illness or accident, or an unpredictable pandemic and recession. And most families, especially people with few assets or trapped in poor neighborhoods, cannot improve education outcomes for their kinds. We all need a new, stronger and more reliable Social Contract – something as ambitious as Roosevelt’s uncompleted Economic Bill of Rights.
Every young person must have the right to high-quality, free public education from preschool through college. Public education must be controlled by the public — not by corporations — and not by charter school hucksters who take public subsidies without assuming the responsibility to educate all kids, regardless of special needs.
This requires that every community, in partnership with the Federal Government must have the financing necessary to strengthen public schools, providing the necessary basics – preschool, smaller classes, summer and after-school programs, and skilled, well-paid teachers with rights on the job. College education or skills training should be available without tuition at all public universities as a right of civic membership — as was the policy in many states in the 1950s and 1960s.
Education should be a public good that benefits all of society, not a commodity that indentures students to debt. We call for a national policy that will cancel the burden of student debt imposed upon several generations of Americans. Free college and debt cancellation will not only allow students and former students to live their lives without that burden, but it will also stimulate economic growth and unleash new civic activism.
Medicare for All – And Shared Economic Security
Health care is a right, not a privilege. And this horrible pandemic has taught us that securing that fundamental right requires moving to a Medicare for All universal public health care system. Our fight to defend Obamacare from Trump and his allies is a crucial first step to a promise of quality health care for everyone. In addition, America needs a more robust social insurance system. Every worker deserves a secure retirement— and we will work to create new pension systems, while we expand and strengthen Social Security by “lifting the cap” that now exempts wealthy people from paying their fair share of Social Security taxes. We will strengthen America’s shared security programs — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment, food support and housing assistance. No one in America should go hungry or homeless. Greater shared security makes the economy more robust by making our society more fair – and giving all people the confidence that comes from solidarity.
Democracy is Essential to a Strong Social Contract
The fight for a progressive and just social contract has always been part of the larger struggle for equality and democratic rights for all people. When the peasants stood up to kings and emperors, when colonialized people demanded their independence, when workers demand union rights, when enslaved people demanded freedom from enslavement, each victory had to be institutionalized via Magna Cartas, Declarations of Independence, guarantees of human rights, and the laws and rules of Congress. These safeguards of freedom are fundamental to democracy – and expanding democracy is essential to strengthening the social contract. Our right to elect representatives and pass legislation that expands the social contract depends on who is setting the rules of the game. Today Donald Trump and his allies are going after the rules that determine who can vote, and in the middle of a terrible pandemic, they are crippling institutions like the Postal Service to make it harder and more dangerous to exercise that right. It is no accident that the fight to expand the franchise to all has been crucial to social progress in America.
Likewise, those who oppose the bold economic changes we discuss in this Solidarity Agenda have always used anti-democratic rules of the US Senate to make it difficult or impossible to pass society-shaping legislation. So if we want to strengthen the economy, save the planet, and expand the social contract for all Americans, we must expand the right to vote, AND we must democratize the rules of the US Senate to pass major legislation with a majority and eventually change the rules to get rid of the filibuster, which allows the minority to paralyze the majority.
IV. Transform Corporate Power
Stop Corporations, Banks and the Wealthy from Controlling Our Economy – and Tax Justice to Pay for Public Investment
In the immediate wake of 2020’s COVID-19 health and economic crisis, decades of conservative tax ideology was thrown overboard as Republicans and Democrats rushed to carry out large scale Keynesian spending to meet basic needs and keep the economy from tipping into recession. But over the long term our public investment/growth and justice agenda requires tax revenues. It is time to insist corporations and the rich must pay their fair share in taxes — after all, they pocket the greatest benefits from public investments. Our tax code rigs the rules to favor the few.
Multinationals pay lower tax rates than small domestic businesses. Billionaire investors pay lower rates than their secretaries. Donald Trump slashed top income tax rates even as working people face ever-higher sales taxes and fees. It is time for tax fairness. Candidates in the 2020 primaries advanced many ideas to tax the wealthy and corporations – all popular with the voters. They widely approved of a new tax on wealth. It is time to shut down the tax havens and tax dodges that enable companies to avoid taxes altogether. We should lift the cap on Social Security taxes so that rich people pay the same percentage of their income as the rest of us. We should tax the income of investors at the same rates we tax income from work. We need clear, simple, progressive corporate and individual taxes, closing loopholes and exemptions. And a tax on financial transactions and produce significant revenues. A fair tax system will allow us to invest in an economy that will work for all.
Close Wall Street’s Casino
Financial deregulation has devastated our economy and protected banks that are too big to fail, too big to manage, and too big to jail. The financial casino fosters ever more dangerous speculation, while investment in the real economy lags. The resulting booms and busts devastate families and small businesses. We need to break up the big banks, levy a speculation tax, and provide low-income families with safe and affordable banking services. We should crack down on payday lenders and other schemes that exploit vulnerable working families, offering instead safe and inexpensive banking via the postal system.
Rescue Democracy from the Special Interests
Big money has corrupted our democracy. Some might say democracy is not part of an economics agenda. But the same financial elites and corporations that buy and sell politicians use that political power to rig the economy so the top .01 percent gets massively richer while incomes decline for the rest of us. The Citizens United decision gave corporations the right to spend unlimited money in politics. We pledge to reverse it, through a constitutional amendment, if necessary. We will stop the attack on voting rights which has escalated just as a new majority of people of color, young people and working women has begun to exercise new power. We will fight for public financing of elections that bans corporate and big money – and for electoral reforms, like public matching of small donations, so people’s candidates to compete with the candidates of the plutocrats. Finally, we pledge to change national and local political party structures so that progressive candidates get a fair shake in the nominating process and in general elections. And we will build a new progressive majority that can take back our democracy and our economic system.
V. A Global Economic Strategy for Working Americans
A Global Economic Strategy for Working Americans
Our global trade and tax policies have been created for and by multinational companies. The result has been massive destruction of jobs as companies export production to low-wage countries. And we discovered that tools and supplies needed to fight the COVID-19 crisis (and to protect front-line workers) were not even manufactured in the US anymore. The same is true of microchips and other essential products.
We must rethink tax policies that benefit the already-wealthy, and put a freeze on trade deals that encourage the export of whole American industries, drive down pay and worker protections, and harm the environment. We need to restore balanced trade and global standards that protect the rights of workers, consumers and the environment. That requires curbing excess demand for dollars by taxing new foreign purchases of U.S. assets, and by cracking down on tax havens and deals that allow corporations to trample basic labor rights here and abroad. Finally, we need new policies that allow us to help existing US industries, by having our government buy American, policies that are now outlawed by trade deals. And we need active investment policies that grow new cutting-edge industries, like green energy systems.
Our current national security policies commit us to policing the world. The result costs lives and drains public resources. We need a real security policy that makes military intervention a last resort, and focuses on global threats like climate change, poverty and inequality. We should reduce military budgets and properly support humanitarian programs – and invest in a Green New Deal to create good jobs and save the planet.