Raising Workers’ Wages
Democrats believe that the current minimum wage is a starvation wage and must be increased to a living wage. No one who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty. We believe that Americans should earn at least $15 an hour and have the right to form or join a union and will work in every way we can—in Congress and the federal government, in states and with the private sector—to reach this goal. We should raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over time and index it, give all Americans the ability to join a union regardless of where they work, and create new ways for workers to have power in the economy so every worker can earn at least $15 an hour. We applaud the approaches taken by states like New York and California. We also support creating one fair wage for all workers by ending the sub- minimum wage for tipped workers and people with disabilities.
Supporting Working Families
We will fight to secure equal pay for women, which will benefit all women and their families, particularly women of color who are disproportionately impacted by discriminatory pay practices, and against other factors that contribute to the wage gap. And we will combat the discrimination they face on and off the job. Democrats will make sure that the United States finally enacts national paid family and medical leave by passing a family and medical leave act that would provide all workers at least 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child or address a personal or family member’s serious health issue. We will fight to allow workers the right to earn at least seven days of paid sick leave. We will also encourage employers to provide paid vacation.
We will ensure that family caregivers have the support, respite care, and training they need to support their loved ones. We will create a strong stable paid caregiving workforce to help meet families’ needs, by raising wages, improving access to training, and giving workers the opportunity to come together to make their voices heard in support of a stronger system. We will address the conditions that make it hard for workers with unpredictable or inflexible schedules to meet caregiving responsibilities. We will take steps to expand and strengthen the home care workforce. We will increase investments to make quality childcare more affordable, boost wages for childcare workers, and support the millions of people paying for, coordinating, or providing care for aging relatives or those with disabilities.
Helping Workers Share in Corporate Profits
Corporate profits are at near-record highs, but workers have not shared through rising wages. Profit-sharing is linked to higher pay and productivity. That is why, working with business, labor, and other stakeholders, we will incentivize companies to share profits with their employees on top of wages and pay increases, while targeting the workers and businesses that need profit-sharing the most.
Small Business Loan Reforms
Would you sign a contract allowing a company to sue you and take your money whenever it wanted, with no proof, warning or legal recourse? Bizarre as it may seem, aggressive lenders are using precisely such agreements to terrorize and often bankrupt small businesses across the country.
The revival of an obscure legal document known as a confession of judgment, it’s supposed to act as a form of security on a loan, gives the lender the right to unilaterally drain a borrower’s bank account if the latter fails to pay. But for a particular group of unscrupulous lenders — who use the term “merchant cash advance” to skirt usury rules — it also creates an opportunity to profit by prematurely collecting debts.
This form of predation has found a lucrative base in New York, where state law is uniquely amenable to confessions of judgment. In a matter of days, a lender can get a county clerk to sign a judgment and a New York City marshal to confiscate cash from any bank with an office in the city — all before the borrower has a clue what’s going on. In this way, cash-advance companies have extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from thousands of small businesses over the past several years, afflicting the likes of car washes, real-estate agencies and pizzerias nationwide. Even if documents are forged or defaults fabricated, fighting back can be useless: The judgments are extremely difficult to overturn, and businesses can be destroyed before their owners even get a chance to try.
Expanding Access to Affordable Housing and Homeownership
We will help those who are working toward a path of financial stability and will put sustainable home ownership into the reach of more families. Democrats will also combat the affordable housing crisis and skyrocketing rents in many parts of the country, which is leading too many families and workers to be pushed out of communities where they work.
We will preserve and increase the supply of affordable rental housing by expanding incentives to ease local barriers to building new affordable rental housing developments in areas of economic opportunity. We will substantially increase funding for the National Housing Trust Fund to construct, preserve, and rehabilitate millions of affordable housing rental units. Not only will this help address the affordable housing crisis, it will also create millions of good-paying jobs in the process. Democrats believe that we should provide more federal resources to the people struggling most with unaffordable housing: low- income families, people with disabilities, veterans, and the elderly.
Building 21st Century Infrastructure
If we are serious about reversing the decline of the middle class, we need major federal investments to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and put millions of Americans back to work in decent paying jobs in both the public and private sectors. The climate emergency and the need to expand the middle class demand that we make the most ambitious investment in American infrastructure since President Eisenhower created the interstate highway system. We will put Americans to work updating and expanding our roads, bridges, public transit, airports, and passenger and freight rail lines.
We will build 21st century energy and water systems, modernize our schools, and continue to support the expansion of high-speed broadband networks. We will protect communities from the impact of climate change and help them to mitigate its effects by investing in green and resilient infrastructure. We will address the backlog of deferred maintenance in our four key public land management agencies. And we will protect public health and safety by modernizing drinking and wastewater systems.
These investments will create secure, good-paying middle-class jobs today and will substantially increase demand for American-made steel and other products manufactured in the United States. And by boosting economic growth in a fair and equitable way, and strengthening our long-term competitiveness, these investments will create many more jobs in the years to come.
Pursuing Our Innovation Agenda: Science, Research, Education, and Technology
Democrats support ambitious public and private investments in science, technology, and research. We are focused on creating good jobs in communities across America. Entrepreneurship and innovation are fundamental to our future economic growth—in the information technology (IT) industry as well as energy, manufacturing, transportation, health, retail, services, and countless other sectors. We will nurture the next generation of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs, especially women and people of color, to make sure America continues to out-compete and out-innovate the rest of the world with our bold innovation agenda.
New technologies are already transforming our economy, and they have the power to generate trillions in economic output. We must harness these forces so that they create higher-paying jobs across the country, bring more people into the workforce, and reduce inequality. To do this, we need to educate our people and train our workforce; support entrepreneurship and promote inclusion in the digital economy; attract and retain talented people from all over the world; and invest in research and development, innovation hubs, as well as in getting ideas to market. We also need to ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn computer science by the time they graduate from high school.
Promoting Competition by Stopping Corporate Concentration
Large corporations have concentrated their control over markets to a greater degree than Americans have seen in decades—further evidence that the deck is stacked for those at the top. Democrats will take steps to stop corporate concentration in any industry where it is unfairly limiting competition. We will make competition policy and antitrust stronger and more responsive to our economy today, enhance the antitrust enforcement arms of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and encourage other agencies to police anti-competitive practices in their areas of jurisdiction.
We support the historic purpose of the antitrust laws to protect competition and prevent excessively consolidated economic and political power, which can be corrosive to a healthy democracy. We support reinvigorating DOJ and FTC enforcement of antitrust laws to prevent abusive behavior by dominant companies, and protecting the public interest against abusive, discriminatory, and unfair methods of commerce.
Promoting Trade That is Fair and Benefits American Workers
Democrats acknowledge that for millions of Americans, global trade has failed to live up to its promise— with too many countries breaking the rules and too many corporations outsourcing jobs at the expense of American workers and communities.
Over the past three decades, America has signed too many trade deals that have not lived up to the hype. Trade deals often boosted the profits of large corporations, while at the same time failing to protect workers’ rights, labor standards, the environment, and public health. We need to end the race to the bottom and develop trade policies that support jobs in America. That is why Democrats believe we should review agreements negotiated years ago to update them to reflect these principles. Any future trade agreements must make sure our trading partners cannot undercut American workers by taking shortcuts on labor policy or the environment. They must not undermine democratic decision-making through special privileges and private courts for corporations, and trade negotiations must be transparent and inclusive.