21st Century Economic Bill of Rights

While the Bill of Rights protects us from the tyranny of an oppressive government, many in the establishment would like the American people to submit to the tyranny of oligarchs, multinational corporations, Wall Street banks, and billionaires who now control almost every aspect of our daily lives.

But as President Franklin Roosevelt said 75 years ago: “True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security.” That is why our campaign is calling for a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights that guarantees all of our people the right to the basic necessities of life — and guarantees those rights regardless of Americans’ income, race, religion, gender, country of origin or sexual orientation.

The 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights establishes that all Americans are entitled to:

  1. The right to a job that pays a living wage
  2. The right to quality health care
  3. The right to a complete education
  4. The right to affordable housing
  5. The right to a clean environment
  6. The right to a secure retirement

There is no freedom without economic freedom.

1. The Right to a Job That Pays a Living Wage

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Are you truly free if you are forced to work 60 or 80 hours a week because you can’t find a job that pays a living wage?

In the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, everyone who wants to work in America should have the right to a decent-paying job. That means:

We can and should have a full-employment economy. In 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt talked about the right of every American to have a job. That was true then. It is true today. A job guarantee will lower the crime rate, improve mental health, and create a stronger sense of community. It will create a much healthier and happier America. A full-employment economy is not a radical idea. That means:

  • Passing Bernie Sanders’ bill to increase the minimum wage to a living wage of at least $15 an hour.
  • Passing Bernie Sanders’ bill to fulfill President Roosevelt’s proposal to create a federal jobs guarantee — so that every American has a good-paying job rebuilding and revitalizing our country.

2. The Right to Quality Health Care

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Are you truly free if you are unable to go to a doctor when you are sick, or face financial bankruptcy when you leave the hospital? Are you truly free if you cannot afford the prescription drug you need to stay alive?

Today, more than 30 million Americans still don’t have health insurance and even more are underinsured. Even for those with insurance, costs are so high that medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States. Incredibly, we spend significantly more of our national GDP on this inadequate health care system—far more per person than any other major country. And despite doing so, Americans have worse health outcomes and a higher infant mortality rate than countries that spend much less on health care. Our people deserve better.

The giant pharmaceutical and health insurance lobbies have spent billions of dollars over the past decades to ensure that their profits come before the health of the American people. We must defeat them, together. That means:

  • Passing Bernie Sanders’ legislation to create a Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care program that guarantees everyone health care as a right.

And to lower the prices of prescription drugs now, we need to:

  • Pass Bernie Sanders’ legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate with the big drug companies to lower prescription drug prices with the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act.
  • Pass Bernie Sanders’ legislation to allow patients, pharmacists, and wholesalers to buy low-cost prescription drugs from Canada and other industrialized countries with the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act.
  • Pass Bernie Sanders’ Prescription Drug Price Relief Act to cut prescription drug prices in half by pegging prices to the median drug price in five major countries: Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan.

3. The Right to a Complete Education

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Are you truly free if you are unable to go to attend college or a trade school because your family lacks the income? Are you truly free if you can’t get a quality education?

We must restore the promise that every kid, regardless of his or her background, has a right to a high-quality public education from pre-K through college. The United States, as the wealthiest country in history, should have the best education system in the world. Today, in a highly competitive global economy, if we are going to have the kind of standard of living that the people of this country deserve, we need to have the best educated workforce. Sadly, that is not the case today.

When we are in the White House we will rebuild our public education system through our Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education. That means:

  • Combating racial discrimination and school segregation
  • Ending the unaccountable profit-motive of charter schools
  • Equitable funding for public schools
  • Strengthening the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’
  • Giving teachers a much-deserved raise and empowering them to teach
  • Expanding after-school/summer education programs
  • Providing universal school meals
  • Investing in community school programs
  • Rebuilding our schools
  • Making schools a safe and inclusive place for all

It is counter-productive to the best interests of our country that hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college, and that millions of others leave school with a mountain of debt that burdens them for decades—preventing them from buying homes and starting families.

Every young person, regardless of their family income, should have the opportunity to attend college. It is unacceptable, for example, that 28% of African American students are forced to drop out of college after one year due to costs. We should invest in young Americans—not leverage their futures. That’s why we must:

  • Make public colleges, universities, and trade schools tuition-free
  • Fully fund Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • Substantially lower student debt
  • Significantly lower interest rates on student loans

4. The Right to Affordable Housing

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Are you truly free if you spend half of your limited income on housing?

It is not acceptable that millions of our fellow citizens are spending 50 percent or more of their limited incomes to put a roof over their heads, leaving little money for food, transportation, health care or medicine. It is not acceptable that, in communities throughout the country, wealthy developers are gentrifying neighborhoods and forcing working families out of the homes and apartments where they have lived their entire lives. It is not acceptable to me that over 500,000 men, women and children in our country are homeless on any given night.

We have an affordable housing crisis, and we must address it.

Americans cannot afford another four years of President Trump and his friends ignoring a housing crisis and pushing us to the edge of another financial meltdown.

When we are in the White House, we are not going to cut taxes on billionaires and large corporations, and we are not going to slash affordable housing programs. We are going to instead start making billionaires and corporations pay their fair share, and we are going to use new revenues to invest in programs that make housing more affordable.

5. The Right to a Clean Environment

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Are you truly free if you have to live in fear of losing your home, your health, and the people you love to rising seas, heat waves and extreme weather, while the fossil fuel industry makes huge profits destroying the planet?

Climate change is the single greatest threat facing our planet. Yet the giant, multi-national fossil fuel corporations have spent hundreds of millions of dollars furthering their greed and protecting their profits at the expense of our climate and our future.

Overwhelming scientific consensus indicates that climate change is already exacerbating extreme weather events like heat waves, wildfires, droughts, floods, and hurricanes. These trends will only continue as global temperatures and sea levels continue to rise. We must immediately address our climate crisis. That means:

  • Pass a Green New Deal to save American families money and generate millions of jobs by transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels to 100% energy efficiency and sustainable energy. A Green New Deal will protect workers and the communities in which they live to ensure a transition to family-sustaining wage, union jobs.
  • Invest in infrastructure and programs to protect the frontline communities most vulnerable to extreme climate impacts like wildfires, sea level rise, drought, floods, and extreme weather like hurricanes.
  • Reduce carbon pollution emissions from our transportation system by building out high-speed passenger rail, electric vehicles, and public transit.
  • Ban fracking and new fossil fuel infrastructure and keep oil, gas, and coal in the ground by banning fossil fuel leases on public lands.
  • End exports of coal, natural gas, and crude oil.

6. The Right to a Secure Retirement

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Are you truly free if you are 70 years old and forced to work because you lack a pension or enough money to retire?

Social Security is the most successful government program in our nation’s history. At a time when about half of Americans over the age of 55 have no retirement savings and 20 percent of seniors are trying to make it on less than $13,500 a year, our job is to expand Social Security to make sure that everyone in this country can retire with the dignity they have earned and everyone with a disability can live with the security they need. We will:

  • Passing Bernie Sanders’ legislation to expand Social Security benefits.
  • Expand and extend Social Security for the next 52 years by making sure that all income over $250,000 a year is subject to the Social Security payroll tax, with the Social Security Expansion Act.

In addition to these economic rights, we need to continue to ensure that we protect our democracy and political freedom:

  1. Guarantee the Right to Vote – Restore the Voting Rights Act; end racist voter suppression and partisan gerrymandering; re-enfranchise all Americans; make Election Day a national holiday; enact automatic voter registration.
  2. Protect Against the Sale of Our Democracy – Overturn Citizens United; Abolish super PACs; publicly fund elections.
  3. End Mass Incarceration and Reform Our Broken Criminal Justice System – End the “war on drugs;” legalize marijuana; eliminate private prisons and detention centers; end cash bail; abolish the death penalty and all mandatory minimums and reinstate the federal system of parole; seriously reform civil asset forfeitures; bring about major police department reform; prevent employers from discriminating against applicants based on criminal history by “banning the box.”
  4. Fight for Women’s Rights – Oppose all efforts to undermine a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion; pass the Equal Rights Amendment; fully fund Planned Parenthood, Title X, and other initiatives that protect women’s health and access to contraception; reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act; fight to end sexual harassment; protect women from harassment, discrimination and violence in educational institutions by protecting and enforcing Title IX.
  5. Fight for LGBTQ Equality – End discrimination in all forms; pass the Equality Act, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act and other bills to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people; ensure LGBTQ people have comprehensive health insurance without discrimination; fight discrimination by creditors and banks; support police departments that adopt policies to ensure fairer interactions with transgender people.