Thursday, July 7, 2016

Early returns: Dem platform, policies looking more Bernie-ish

The platform, and Clinton policy statements, are becoming closer and closer to Sanders' proposals - by the minute it seems. Here are some positions being taken by Clinton and the platform committee.

Wall Street reforms

The platform draft shows Democrats are willing to bite the hand that feeds them – or at least to say they will. The difference is particularly stark if you compare the Wall Street language in the current draft to the 2012 platform. Back then, the Dems did little more than pat themselves on the back for having passed the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation.

Today, they're candidly acknowledging that we still have a long way to go to fix our financial system. And they're quite specific about how they plan to do that.

Declaring that "no bank can be too big to fail," they vow to push through a 21st century version of the Glass-Steagall Act. This Depression-era law separated investment and commercial banking activities so that banks couldn't use depositors' savings to gamble in the financial casino. The Bill Clinton administration repealed this protection in 1999.

To provide an alternative to the big banks and the predatory payday lenders, the platform comes out in favor of providing some basic financial services through the postal system.

[Of course] there's the possibility that Wall Street lobbyists could succeed in watering down this draft before it's finalized and brought to the national convention at the end of the month.

But it's clear that platform drafters felt they could get away with the boldest Wall Street reform plan in many years. Let's hope this toughness doesn't fade away after the election. There should be no safe harbor for narrow, reckless Wall Street interests in either party.

Higher education costs

Bernie Sanders’s campaign may have lost steam after Hillary Clinton became the Democratic party’s presumptive nominee, but he’s still making his presence felt.

On Wednesday, Clinton’s campaign announced a set of new proposals on higher education, chief among them eliminating college tuition for families with annual incomes under $125,000. It would apply to in-state public colleges and universities. On the campaign trail, Clinton repeatedly pushed for debt-free college, but the latest move is a shift toward Sanders’s position—that the federal government assume the responsibility for providing a free college education. It stops short, though, of extending that to all students, as Sanders had proposed to do.

“American families are drowning in debt caused by ever-rising college costs,” Clinton said in a statement, “and it is imperative that the next president put forward a bold plan to make debt-free college available to all. My New College Compact will do just that—by making sure that working families can send a child or loved one to college tuition-free and by giving student debt-holders immediate relief.”

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