Team Biden Deep Dive, July 24, 2020

DEMOCRATIC PARTY PLATFORM

The Democratic Convention is less than four weeks away. As part of the convention process, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) will adopt the party platform as one of its first orders of business. The platform is crafted to outline the guiding principles of the Democratic Party for the next four years. It is largely a messaging tool, designed to bridge the differences between multiple party factions with sizable influence. Some parts of the platform have already been announced as policy priorities by the Biden campaign. Usually, the platform does not garner much press or public attention.

The draft platform was released earlier this week. Summaries of the key sections follow. The full draft platform can be found here.

  1. Protecting Americans and Recovering from the COVID-19 Pandemic
    The Platform outlines the need for a different approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, to solve our current challenges and to ensure better preparedness for future global health emergencies. It highlights the need to restore American leadership and ensure a coordinated global health and economic response. The Platform lays out the path to improve the domestic response to COVID, including free and widely available testing, strengthening funding for state and local health departments, ensuring availability of health insurance, and investment in the CDC. To ensure U.S. economic recovery, the Platform outlines ambitious investments to be made to create jobs, address state and local government shortfalls, ensure that educational settings have the ability to meet appropriate health and safety standards, and support small businesses that have suffered through the pandemic.
  2. Building a Stronger, Fairer Economy
    The Platform commits to forging a new social and economic contract with the American people that would invest in people and promote shared prosperity. It affirms housing as a right, making a commitment to ensure that no one is homeless or hungry. It commits to raising wages and restoring workers’ rights, supporting working families and the middle class through equal pay and family leave, and investing in building equity and mobility for people of color. To recover from the current economic downturn, it proposes investments in infrastructure, care work, clean energy, and small businesses. It also highlights the need for reforms to address structural and systemic racism as well as entrenched income and wealth inequality.
  3. Achieving Universal, Affordable, Quality Health Care
    The Platform identifies policies intended to increase the number of uninsured and lower prescription drug costs, while acknowledging – but not embracing – the Medicare for All movement.  The platform incorporates a public option, which would be made available at no cost to Medicaid expansion-eligible consumers in states that did not expand Medicaid. The platform also includes several provisions specific to drug costs, including providing CMS with the authority to negotiate with prescription drug companies, a long-standing priority, cap out of pocket costs for seniors, and limit drug price increases to the rate of inflation. The platform also discusses a range of broader issues, including health care workforce; access to mental health care and substance abuse treatment; disparities based on gender, race, and geography; access to reproductive rights; and research funding.
  4. Protecting Communities and Building Trust by Reforming our Criminal Justice System
    The Platform aims to reduce incarceration and crime rates through an overhaul of the criminal justice system. To prevent people from entering the system in the first place, it proposes to fix the school-to-prison pipeline by handling misbehavior in the principal’s office, creating what it calls “a school-to-opportunity pipeline.” To lower police brutality, the Platform outlines strict national standards governing the use of force and increased accountability for individual and systemic misconduct. It highlights various other ways to reform the criminal justice system, such as eliminating cash bails; decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level; reinforced investigations into misconduct; public access to related data; abolishing the death penalty; eliminating private profit; and creating a system to help previously incarcerated people have a productive future.
  5. Healing the Soul of America
    The Platform commits to fighting the deepest inequities in our society, including structural racism, misogyny, and discrimination. It commits to the appointment of U.S. Supreme Court justices and federal judges that will uphold civil rights and liberties. To achieve equity in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, accessibility, and sexuality, the agenda seeks to embed justice into every element. Gun violence will be confronted by funding universal background check systems, ending online sales of guns and ammunition, and closing loopholes that allow stalkers and individuals convicted of assault to buy weapons.
  6. Combating the Climate Crisis and Pursuing Environmental Justice
    The Platform aims to combat the climate crisis by rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, restoring protections for public lands and waters, and reducing harmful methane and carbon pollution. Its goal is to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, and no later than 2050, by eliminating carbon pollution from power plants; expanding solar and wind energy; and decarbonizing the power sector. It commits to build up the clean energy economy, ensuring clean air and water for all Americans, creating new jobs, and building out our infrastructure.
  7. Restoring and Strengthening our Democracy
    The Platform commits to restoring and protecting Americans’ right to vote by pushing back against Republican governors, legislatures, and state officials who have disenfranchised people of color, young people, low-income people, and people with disabilities. It guarantees strict enforcement of ethics laws and improvement of transparency across the federal government while also protecting civil servants and whistleblowers from political retribution. It promises to restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act and implement the Help America Vote Act. To enforce and strengthen federal ethics laws, it commits to establish a commission on federal ethics. It also seeks to provide voting rights to all Americans by making Washington, D.C. the 51st state, providing Puerto Rico with self-determination, and supporting the U.S. territories through self-government and self-determination.
  8. Creating a 21st Century Immigration System
    The Platform touts that a 21st century immigration system will protect immigrants while also addressing the root causes of migration to prevent and mitigate the effects of migration crises around the world. It aims to revert all actions taken by the Trump Administration on immigration, including the travel and immigration bans that disproportionately impact Muslim and African people. Protections for Dreamers and the parents of American citizen children will be reinstated, expanded, and streamlined to keep families together. The asylum system and other humanitarian protections will be expanded and protected. The Platform aims to support the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights and the Protect Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation (POWER) Act.
  9. Providing a World-Class Education in Every Zip Code
    The Platform believes that education is fundamental to the idea of America. It commits to supporting evidence-based programs and pedagogical approaches that consider the well-being of the student. It seeks to work with young people, educators, parents, and community leaders to reimagine the education system. It aims to make public colleges and universities tuition-free for students whose families earn less than $125,000, and to create a federal funding program that would direct funds to public and nonprofit colleges and universities based on the proportion of low-income students that enroll and graduate. Debt relief for student loans will be a priority, in part to help address the racial wealth gap.
  10. Renewing American Leadership
    The Platform commits to revitalizing the power and purpose of American diplomacy to compete in a more contested world. It will ensure that the U.S. remains the world’s pivotal power by reinventing alliances. It seeks to restore American leadership on key issues, such as global health and pandemics, climate change, technology, nonproliferation, terrorism, and democracy and human rights. It will work to advance American interests in the global economy and trade, and in each region of the world to protect democracy and build security and prosperity.