Relief, Recovery and Reform
The work of the Progressive Caucus of the NC Democratic Party is to support a New Deal for a New Reality; to ensure that government spending is driven by the needs of the people instead of corporations and special interests. We need Medicare for All to provide healthcare to all, whether employed, unemployed or underemployed. We need a Green New Deal to restructure our economy, rebuild America, and support our people. Our goal is to achieve racial, social, and economic justice for the people of North Carolina and the country by fighting concentrations of economic and political power, and the laws, practices, and systems enabling them.
We are modeling our efforts on the tenets of FDR’s New Deal and his targets of Relief, Recovery, and Reform. We defined Relief tasks as happening immediately, Recovery tasks as coming in the near future, and Reform tasks as something which we begin working on now and come to fruition after Recovery.
Americans, especially the poor, ethnic/racial minorities, women, the disabled, elders, non-Christians, immigrants, and transgender/gender non-conforming people are losing our rights and liberties. Bias, discrimination and hate crimes must be stopped, and civil liberties and equal protection must be restored and enhanced. Criminal justice reform must be enacted to protect minorities from undue targeting, imprisonment and death.
Economy and Employment
The crises created by COVID19 have shown clearly that the policies of deindustrialization and government austerity have destroyed the ability of our society to respond effectively and equitably to national catastrophes and challenges. We must immediately provide medical testing and treatment to every person who needs it, especially for essential workers. Providing a basic income, without means or employment testing, will help keep our economy alive into a recovery phase. When we begin to rebuild our economy and industrial base it should be with the goal of finally fulfilling President Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear. We believe that implementing a Green New Deal is the best way to create tens of millions of new and well paying jobs, return Wall Street to its proper role of supporting Main Street, and end our dependence on fossil fuels. We must build a future for which our children and grandchildren will thank us.
Schools are the backbone of our society, and the federal government should supply adequate funding to states to support schools and the changes needed to cope with the current pandemic. Money allocated by the taxpayers should not go to line the pockets of the wealthy and/or encourage charter school fraud. NC charter schools have lower accountability standards than public schools, and provide false narratives when suggesting that they have the same or better outcomes as public schools. Charter schools and voucher programs drain resources from public schools, re-segregate schools, exclude minorities and high-cost or challenged students and are only required to have 50% of their teachers certified. Charter and private schools are not required to follow and be held accountable to NC state-required curriculum standards to the same degree as traditional public schools. These efforts have resulted in lower standing for public education and lower student performance over the years.
Elders and Disabled
Many North Carolinians suffer discrimination and lack of support due to age or disability- and many of these are persons of color and/or living in poverty. Twenty-seven percent of NC residents have a disability and by 2025, 20% of our state will be 65 and older. In the workplace, elders and the disabled, including veterans with service-related injuries, must be given equal opportunities and accommodation to be valuable members of the workforce. Caregivers, including family caregivers, must be paid fairly. Professional caregivers must be trained comprehensively. Medicare/Medicaid must cover all expenses and be accessible, and include mental health, vision, hearing and dental needs. In order to thrive, our elders and disabled must be empowered, as well as protected from abuse, neglect and discrimination, and treated with compassion and respect.
COVID-19 will will make it unsafe and unwise for many voters, especially people in high-risk groups, to congregate for in-person voter registration and voting. North Carolina allows no-excuse absentee voting, but requires printing and mailing (or emailing) ballot requests, having a witness sign the ballot, and providing return postage. County-funded election boards, especially in rural areas, will be unable to afford to satisfy demand for absentee ballots and postage. The solution is immediate funding and implementation of no-excuse, free, no-witness mail-in voting across North Carolina based on the successful experience of Washington, Oregon, and other states. We must start immediately to be ready for the November election.
Energy And Environment
Climate change is the existential problem of the 21st century. To slow climate change and recover from the Covid-19 crisis, we need substantial stimulus and job creation. We can put Americans back to work in well-paying jobs transforming our energy systems - jobs moving our electricity, transportation, industry and agriculture systems away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy, energy efficiency and energy storage, and clean transportation. These will be the jobs of the 21st century to help us to a better shared future.
This pandemic clearly demonstrates that what happens in one country can powerfully affect the lives of people in another. We must resist the desire to turn inward and focus only on our own problems, or try to shift blame outwards. While resisting isolationists, we also need to recognize that US security has been weakened, not strengthened, by projecting US military force abroad and US covert and direct interventions. We need to restore the power of international law by ensuring it favors national sovereignty over the demands and profits of global corporations, and any single or bloc of hegemonic powers.
We need a new era of international relations based on all the world’s nations cooperating to reduce military spending, eliminating all nuclear weapons and shifting their economies to a post-fossil fuel standard of renewable energy and sustainable industry and agriculture. We must come together as global citizens to end human rights abuses everywhere that they occur. Global trade and economics must be shifted from exploiting unprotected labor to produce cheap consumer goods to national economic development that ensures all nations' populations have dependable electricity, clean water, sanitation, and public transportation. We want to replace the escalating conflicts over fixed amounts of resources with a Global Green New Deal that requires investing tens of trillions of dollars and hundreds of millions of new jobs to create new wealth based on new science and technology that expands the scope of resources and makes their use more efficient and sustainable.
We must restore faith in government. “The public’s ire is focused on the electoral system in the U.S. and on Congress — and the way members of the Senate and House do their jobs. About three-quarters (74%) say elected officials don’t “care what people like me think” and “put their own interests first.” We support ending the corrosive role of money in politics. We support holding special interests accountable, ending the revolving door between the private sector and public service, and public financing for federal and state elections. And because we do not believe corporations are people, we support a constitutional amendment to overturn the wrongly-decided Citizens United.
The current pandemic has laid bare the ugly truth about our for-profit health care system in America — that we have health care for those who can afford it, poor or no care for those who can’t, and unequal care for people of color and the LGBTQ communties. This disparity has been here all along; it’s just more noticeable now that people are dying quickly and in large numbers from inadequate health care. COVID-19 has disproportionately affected America’s poor, and people of color. Insurance companies, Healthcare Industry CEOs and pharmaceutical companies reap billions while those at the bottom suffer. Those with employer-linked health care have lost their insurance with their jobs. Now is the time we must provide health care to all.
The availability, quality, cost, and location of housing matter to all Americans. Where people live affects the jobs they can get, the schools their children can attend, and the kind of community they live in. U.S. rents rose faster over the previous year than they have in the past 20 years, leaving many low and medium income renters priced out of their homes. Housing policy goals include safe housing that is lower than 30% of their income, with limited environmental impact; easy access to public transportation; access to housing in high-opportunity neighborhoods; and transparent leases and mortgages. Statistics on housing needs in North Carolina are available from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Our national immigration system is broken. It is a disgrace to warehouse undocumented immigrants and those seeking asylum under harsh conditions in detention facilities. It is a disgrace to separate children from their families. It is also unconscionable to leave millions of immigrants in legal limbo without a clear, simple path to citizenship. We must enact the Dream ACT and the New Way Forward Act.
Justice and Law Enforcement
Policing has never been a neutral institution, applied equally to all. In the South, policing started with slave patrols in the 18th century and became the main tool to surveil Black people and prevent any collective resistance. In 19th century London, the model for NYC and Boston, the police were created to manage the effects of mass industrialization, particularly to put down strikes and riots, and to prevent industrial action. In NYC and Chicago, in addition to preventing labor unrest, professionalized departments enforced vice laws created to criminalize the activities of non-protestant immigrant communities (drinking, gambling, vagrancy, prostitution).
Piecemeal attempts at reform have never addressed the original purpose of policing but instead have tasked the police with creating a “kinder, gentler” police force — a social services mission that does not conform well with the original purpose of the police as an institution of state-sanctioned violence, legitimate or otherwise.
As a result, procedural reforms and training (better minority representation, de-escalation, implicit-bias, duty-to-intervene, etc) have proven mostly ineffective in solving the problem of police violence against black and brown people. The Obama Administration sank millions of dollars into the 21st Century Policing task force to provide these types of training to the Minneapolis Police Department so that the officers who murdered George Floyd had received some of the best training available to police anywhere in the country.
We see the call for police reforms—a call that goes back as far as the 1968 Kerner commission report—and are skeptical that technical and procedural reform alone will prove effective without addressing the structural and institutional problems in policing.
We need an understanding of the discrimination that Blacks have suffered throughout the past 400 years, from slavery to today’s police violence, mass incarceration, economic, environmental and racial discrimination, access to and quality of health care, wealth suppression and voter suppression. No matter how much those who have benefitted from preserving systemic racism and white privilege try to outlaw, ignore and distract us, racial inequality has reared its head and is not going away. The time has come to fix it, and to guarantee equality for ALL people of color.
Both North Carolina and the Federal government have been shifting more of the tax burden onto individuals and lightening or eliminating the burden on corporations: More than half (53%) of North Carolina and half of Federal Tax revenue comes from individual income tax, with only 6.4% of NC and 6% of Federal revenue coming from corporations. The NC income tax is regressive because it is a flat-rate tax with many deductions that only benefit higher income earners. Additionally, 31% of NC revenue comes from sales and use taxes and 35% of Federal revenue comes from payroll taxes, both highly regressive taxes. Much local funding comes from property taxes, also regressive. The changes to the NC tax system instituted by the legislature since 2013 need to be reversed to move toward a fairer income tax distribution. Likewise, at the Federal level, the misleadingly-named “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017” provided massive tax cuts to the wealthy and to corporations and minor tax cuts or even increases to lower-income individuals. We must undo most of the changes from TCJA, and reduce and eliminate the many tax breaks for the wealthy in the Federal tax system.
Women and Families
In North Carolina and across the United States women, and especially women of color, confront workplace discrimination, health care inequities, lack of reproductive care, disparate rates of poverty, and sexual and domestic violence. Anti-discrimination laws are not uniform or comprehensive, and federal anti-discrimination laws can be repealed or overturned. Single-parent families, regardless of the family make-up, face difficult choices. They need quality child care and family leave policies that address challenges faced by all caregivers.