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At Last. Progressive Power Assets Itself.

| Steve Clark |

Clark’s essay was first published on his GlobalTalk blog.

Perhaps, I should quit being surprised by Biden’s acumen. He has a next-to-nothing Democratic majority in the Senate, and critical pieces of that majority are reluctant allies. Yet, he’s playing it like a violin.

Or, to mix metaphors, he’s playing from a deck stacked by broad, energized, progressive-driven, public opinion.

Either way and both ways, the American people seem to have found a leader who will pursue our demands.

The bi-partisan deal that Biden announced yesterday with 11 Republican Senators (enough to overcome the threat of a filibuster) has two key pieces:

First is $570 billion in new infrastructure spending (roads, bridges, water system, electric grid, broadband, etc.) with no “pay-for” restrictions. This is part of a $1.2 trillion, eight-year infrastructure investment plan. Because 11 Republicans support it, the infrastructure plan will get and win an eventual floor vote in the Senate.

Second is $2-6 trillion in additional federal allocations for childcare, education, healthcare and the green new deal (details to be decided), none of which are supported by any Republican Senators (though a few may eventually go along). Because of the filibuster rule, this family care package cannot get a floor vote in the Senate, but the same 11 Republicans (above) stood quietly, then spoke heartily of bi-partisanship (see, some of us Republicans can get things done), after Biden explained that these family care matters may be included in September’s “reconciliation bill” when the official FY 2022 Budget is approved by a simple majority vote of the Senate (thus, avoiding a filibuster).

With a summer of negotiations ahead over the actual content of these bills, plenty of time remains for political defections. It’s been less than 24 hours, and, already, some of the 11, feeling rolled by the direct linkage of the two bills, are threatening to pull out. But the threat of House progressives (supporting progressive allies in the Senate) to refuse the stand-alone infrastructure bill and, instead, put them both in reconciliation and pass it without any Republican support (and leaving the 11 hanging) may have set the deal in stone.

The decision (when final) of the 11 Republicans to go along with Biden’s deal is a concession to the political reality that the Trump era is over, and the nation will continue its political life in traditional democratic, two-party fashion, finally rebuking Reagan’s long-ago, fool-hearty assertion that government IS the problem. Going forward, they agree that government is part of the solution… and, at least as far as physical infrastructure goes, they’re putting their toes back in the water.

After the deal’s announcement, Bernie Sanders, chair of the Senate Budget Committee (that will draft and approve the specifics of the Senate’s reconciliation bill), expressed the gleeful opinion that the Senate would soon pass the “most important piece of legislation for working people in America since the 1930s.”

This deal ensures that money will flow and the economy will pick-up all next year when the midterm elections roll. This should produce a landslide for Democrats and a big haul for progressives.

But this deal is not enough, and many progressives in and out of Congress are saying as much. It is a “down payment” on the trillions that must still be spent…and, after 2022, heading into 2024, progressives will be advancing and passing additional legislation in a host of areas. Indeed, 2022 through 2028 is likely to be the most creative, active period of progressive legislative action in the history of the nation.

This week’s deal sets a basic framework for the coming social contract, but key features are still big blanks: reparations for slavery and indigenous dispossession; financial democracy and public investment; and international financial justice/opportunity for the Global South.

We’ve entered the last, fateful phase of this Fourth Turning. Now, codifying and institutionalizing programs to rectify these remaining injustices — while moving ahead with public investments in infrastructure, education, healthcare, climate justice and a federal job guarantee — is this revolution’s practical next steps.

For this, progressives have three jobs: (a) designing constructive problem-solving programs to achieve social justice and avert climate change; (b) educating and mobilizing Americans to pursue the progressive agenda; and (c) electing enlightened progressives to public office to enact our agenda.

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Commentary Global Peace & Collaboration

Like It or Not, Space Force is a Thing…

| Steve Clark |

At one of her first press conferences, Biden’s Press Secretary Jen Psaki chuckled derisively when a reporter asked about the new President’s plans for the Space Force, but she said she’d check into it and get back. A couple days later, she corrected herself, saying the new command, established in the last year of the Trump Administration, “absolutely” has the “full support” of the Biden Administration.

Meanwhile, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the command could be headquartered — and where matters of space and aliens are often top-of-mind — Bob Anderson is a vigilant critic.

“I have been trying to get the local peace community educated to the fact that what is going on here in NM is far worse than the nuclear weapons programs on which they are fixated,” Bob writes. “I like space and technology, but what is going on here is a wild ride pushed by the war profiteers and imperialist policies. They’re looking for ways to make money by raising American anxiety about other nations’ intentions. This is a good article on what is in the mix for now on developing a space policy. The first graphic is breathtaking; this could doom humans to never leave the planet!”

DOD Faces Tough Decisions on Space Rules (Breaking Defense, 02 Feb 2021)

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Democracy: Rule of Law & Elections Ecological Justice Economic Justice Financial Justice Social Justice

Biden’s First 100 Days

| Steve Clark |

At the end of February (1932) we were a congeries of disorderly panic-stricken mobs and factions. In the hundred days from March to June we became again an organized nation confident of our power to provide for our own security and to control our own destiny.

Walter Lippman.

For understandable reasons, many of us could barely look past the November election, given that our nation’s democratic future seemed to ride up on it. But, we did our job well — with Georgia still to decide how well — and our anti-fascist, progressive movement will find itself in a dual power situation with neoliberalism when the new Congress and Biden Administration are installed in January.

We have to be ready for that, too. We want to hit the ground running and know which way we want to go.

First 100 Days

When FDR took office in 1933 — three years into the depths of the Great Depression — he wasted no time. Immediately, he ordered a bank “holiday” (shut-down); then, in the next 100 days, he collaborated with the new Congress to enact sweeping, structural reform of America’s languishing, Gilded Age class relations, starting with the banks and empowering working people at every turn.

Every four years since the New Deal’s launch, pundits speculate about what each President’s first 100 days will mean, but it’s been a very, very long time since a President’s first days carried the import of FDR’s. This year — in the midst of a crisis at least as grave as the Great Depression — the first 100 days will matter.

Or, they won’t. Although Joe Biden is positioned just about like FDR was in 1933, it’s fair to doubt whether he has the vision, personal energy or political capital to make his first 100 days count. It’s also important to note that, despite the New Deal’s many important advances, it did not reverse finance capital’s domination of America’s economy and its government.

Thus, as everyone on the left has noted, it is crucial that our movement provide both direction and backbone for whatever can and will be mustered in Biden’s first days and through his first term.

Come January, the real struggle for social justice, economic power and ecological regeneration begins in our country. It will be a fight over executive orders, regulatory action, new agencies, legislation, civic commissions and constitutional amendments, all propelled by the nationwide, grassroots urgency that erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

And, because the US is the world’s military hegemon and our dollar is civilization’s global reserve currency, come January, the real struggle for democratic control of the world’s financial system also kicks in.

We’ve come to the brink. As currently constituted, the corporate system is the antithesis of social, economic and ecological justice. If the present social uprising is going to be a real revolution, finance capital must be checked, remanded, taxed, and institutionally constrained.

Here in rough-draft is a revolutionary plan of attack for Biden’s first 100 days. A combination of immediate actions and starting points, it targets financial (class) justice as well as wider struggles for racial, social and environmental justice. I thank my friends who’ve contributed so far, and I look forward to incorporating additions and feedback from readers in a second draft (some aligned co-advocates are noted or linked in parentheses).

First 100 Days Agenda

For Presidential Edict and/or Congressional Action

  1. Temporary Emergency Aid for Pandemic Relief
    1. Extend unemployment benefits, augmented with $600/week supplemental benefits, to eligible Americans; establish immediate, federal income support payments for all others, including gig economy workers
    2. Open immediate registration for those eligible for Obamacare and Medicare; for all others, guarantee coverage for all testing, treatment and sick leave for Covid-related illness; extend Family Medical Leave Act benefits
    3. Direct federal payments, as necessary, to redeem all pandemic-provoked, revenue shortfalls of state, municipal and tribal governments
    4. Establish federal Pandemic Service Thank You! Stipends for essential healthcare workers, food production/service workers and teachers
    5. Enforce a moratorium on housing evictions and mortgage defaults imposed by corporate owners
    6. Enforce a moratorium on student, consumer and personal debt payments (principal and interest) to corporate lenders
  2. Social Justice
    1. Defund police and end the war on black people
      1. Pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (HR 7120)
      2. End the 1033 Program and other federal transfers of military equipment to local police departments
      3. Direct the Department of Justice to establish and administer a program of national block grant funding for state-coordinated, municipally-administered, community-based, alternatives-to-police, social programs
      4. Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act
    2. Defund US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); support the human right of political asylum; cease deportation of status (non-criminal) offenders; correct US policy that fosters emigration from Latin America; restore Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); provide a path to citizenship for immigrant residents
    3. Expand grants to public colleges and universities to enable free tuition and expand research to advance social and ecological problem-solving
    4. Extend statehood to the District of Columbia and the option of statehood or independence to Puerto Rico
    5. Advance a Constitutional Amendment to abolish the Electoral College
    6. Advance a Constitutional Amendment to establish an annual federal Election Holiday, specifically for voting and civic affairs
    7. Drop the filibuster and return to majority rule in the Senate
    8. Ban sale of US-made, military-grade weapons to private citizens and non-government organizations; enact “common sense” gun control
    9. Appoint a blue-ribbon Civic, Culture and Sports Commission to promote diversity appreciation, tolerance and equal rights under law:
      1. Legacy education, community-based truth & reconciliation programs; reparations for African-American slavery and Native People expropriation
      2. A welcome hand to the world’s destitute and downtrodden
      3. Respect for each individual’s unique gender and sexual identity
      4. A reappraisal of American Exceptionalism as the US joins the community of nations confronting global climate crisis
  3. Economic Power
    1. Declare a “market holiday” to suspend stock market operations and install protections for the American retirement system
      1. Suspend Federal Reserve infusions to US corporations that sustain the stock market bubble
      2. Convene a Market Bubble Deflation Task Force of bank, market, Fed, Treasury and monetary policy experts to de-escalate the bubble and protect American retirement accounts (pension funds, IRAs, etc.)
    2. Reinstate Glass-Steagall; forge a nationwide, community-based banking system for people and non-profits as well as small and family-owned businesses
    3. Advance a Constitutional Amendment to establish a Job Guarantee as the right of all American citizens
    4. Direct the Secretary of Labor to restructure the Department of Labor (DOL) to make achieving and maintaining genuine full employment its core mission
      1. Administer federal grants to states to permanently convert unemployment offices to Employment Offices
      2. Administer funding to guarantee on-demand, dignified, public service jobs (life-sustaining wages plus benefits) to every adult in every community
      3. Collaborate with state, municipal and tribal governments to source and fund jobs with community-based, non-profit, service organizations (NGOs)
    5. Raise the minimum wage to $15/hour; set and periodically update national labor standards to ensure life-sustaining wages, childcare and vacation benefits for all workers
    6. Ensure healthcare for all US residents
      1. Direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to refortify and reorient the US Public Health Service to ensure effective access to care in all American communities, including the capacity to test and trace during pandemics and the provision of full health services for women and transpersons; establish a national stockpile of vital health equipment and supplies
      2. Enact Medicare for All
      3. Empower the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to establish behavioral guidelines and standards during national health crises
    7. Advance a Constitutional Amendment to bar corporations from funding, advertising, fundraising, and otherwise participating in US elections
  4. Ecological Regeneration
    1. Proclaim a global, climate change emergency
    2. Appoint a Green New Deal Joint Task Force to include the Vice President; the secretaries of Labor, Treasury, State and the EPA; Congressional leaders (Sanders/AOC); an NGO advisory council; and public citizens to:
      1. Design and implement a federal program to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025
      2. Design and administer state and local GND programs via NGO-public partnerships at various levels
    3. Design industrial policy and implement state and local, public-private partnerships to expand jobs while revitalizing infrastructure, recycling & waste management, electrification, transportation, communication, and civic participation (voting) systems nationwide
    4. Make the Federal Emergency Management Agency a cabinet level department and augment it with an Emergency Service Corps to provide permanent, entry-level and career employment in disaster response, crisis management, emergency relief, containment and mitigation, and community re-construction services
  5. Financial Reconstruction
    1. Enact federal legislation to permanently cancel existing consumer, student, tenant and personal debt to corporations
    2. Enact a permanent federal bank tax on all corporate electronic funds transfers (EFTs) to hold the corporate sector to account for the social and ecological crises government now must mitigate
    3. Target socially and ecologically retrograde corporations (i.e., oil, guns) with higher EFT tax rates
    4. End debt ceiling resolutions and the practice of issuing US Treasury bonds to the Federal Reserve in the amount of any federal deficit
    5. Enact a permanent federal franchise fee on credit extended by corporate lenders to private sector borrowers
  6. Global Solidarity and Multilateralism
    1. Revoke restrictions on US family-planning assistance under the Mexico City Accords
    2. Rejoin the Paris Climate Accords and the World Health Organization
    3. Support creation of a Global Citizens Assembly to design and implement a Global Green New Deal and Job Guarantee (GGND&JG)
      1. Build an alliance of nation-states for the GGND&JG at the United Nations
      2. Deploy US power at International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Bank of International Settlements (BIS) to mobilize central banks to implement a GGND&JG for people and nations, everywhere
      3. Create a GGND&JG special drawing right (SDR) currency and a SDR-denominated bank tax (on corporate EFTs) to establish a GGND&JG world market
    4. Cancel foreign-denominated debts of nation-states, worldwide, to the World Bank and other corporate lenders
    5. Expand World Health Organization programs to ensure access to healthcare for everyone, worldwide
    6. Direct the Secretary of the Treasury to discontinue all US-imposed financial sanctions programs including those against Cuba, Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Nicaragua, Iraq, North Korea, Yemen, Libya and Hong Kong
    7. Direct the Secretary of Defense to reduce department spending by 10 percent per year for the first term
    8. Direct the Secretary of State to increase department spending by 10 percent per year for the first term
    9. Restrict international trade of US-made, military-grade weapons and systems
    10. Support multilateral programs of civic administration, special reparations, conflict resolution, and truth & reconciliation for regions of enduring culturally- and religiously-rooted conflict (such as Jerusalem)