Sunday, October 07, 2018

GCC Grassroots Policy Agenda

Executive Summary

The purpose of this “Grassroots Policy Agenda” is to help grassroots activists and Party Officials coalesce around a unified message and policy ideas for the 2018 Midterm elections and beyond.  Our Agenda consists of 23 reforms which can be integrated into the platforms of new candidates and elected officials. We also partner with grassroot groups to help them develop their own policy ideas, integrate those ideas into the Grassroots Policy Agenda, and encourage them to lobby their elected representatives to enact these our reforms. 

This Agenda also recommends a strategy for the 2018 midterms, which includes adopting a similar model to the GOP’s effective 1994 “Contract with America.”  The Contract began as a House Caucus, and the Republicans organizing themselves into 11 working groups and drafted ten bills with 60% support. It was launched six weeks prior to the 1994 midterms and helped Republicans retake the Congress for the first time in nearly 60 years.  The Democratic Party could adopt a similar approach for 2018. The Party could immediately form a new caucus based on a national message and policies which can be used Democrats at the local, state, and federal level. 

In addition, grassroots activists have clearly demonstrated the power of the “Resistance,” and we can do so much more than just give money, phone bank, and knock on doors.  Grassroots groups should be viewed as a source of innovation and fresh ideas for the Party, but first, we must transition to the next stage of this movement, i.e. “Inspired Resistance.”  Inspired Resistance simply means that of course we will Resist the policies that hurt us and our communities, but we also have an obligation to “Inspire” voters with a positive message and policy ideas.  

The new energy, passion, and engagement from groups across the country is what inspired us to create the Grassroots Coordinating Committee (GCC).  The GCC represents about 150 groups with tens of thousands of members, and our mission is to act as a “hub” and help coordinate “get of the vote” efforts, campaign events, communications strategies, messaging, and policy ideas.  

In January 2018, the GCC held its first “Messaging and Policy Summit” and formed the “National Messaging & Policy Task Force.”  In March 2018, just a few weeks after the Summit, grassroots activists from the Task Force drafted 20 “policy focused” resolutions prior to the 2018 Democratic National Committee’s (DNCs) “Winter Meeting” in Washington, DC.  Based upon the tireless work of our esteemed DNC Virginia Committeewoman, Yasmine Taeb, six of our Resolutions were voted on, and unanimously excepted by the entire DNC. 

As a result of our successes with the DNC, we reformatted those Resolutions into one - two page “Policy Action Memorandums” (PAMs), which are short policy documents with a slogan (five words or less), mission statement (20 words or less), a literature review, and three-five policy recommendations, and consolidated them into our Grassroots Policy Agenda.  

This Agenda covers a broad range of issues such as education, jobs and the economy, small business initiatives, tax reform, immigration, national security/foreign policy, voting rights, and criminal justice reform.  Our goal was to reclaim the mantel of the “Party of Ideas,” and develop big, bold, and aspirational reforms which can appeal to the voters we lost in 2016, and a full list of our policy ideas are listed below:
Policy Action Memorandums (PAMs) By Category


1.    21stCentury Digital Classrooms
2.    Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics + Medical” or (STEM+M) Academic Award
3.    Expanding the Head Start Program to Save Working Families about $130 Billion per Year

Jobs & the Economy

4.             Jobs-First: A Movement to Create Good Paying American Jobs and Grow an Economy that Works for Everyone 
5.             A U.S. Jobs & Small Business Support Program (Similar to the German’s Kurzarbeit Initiative)

Small Business 

6.             Tax Credits to Entrepreneurs and Encourage Small Businesses to Partner with Unions
7.             Pioneer Nationwide “Small Business Boot Camps”

Tax Policy

8.             Innovative Tax Reforms Which Incentives Companies to Create Good-Paying Jobs
9.             A Worldwide Corporate Income Tax
10.           Expanding Social Security Contributions to Protect Our Seniors’ Future

Gun Violence

11.           Gun Responsibility in a Civil Society


12.           Healthcare: Expanding Healthcare Access to Low-Income Americans


13.           Providing Federal Funding to Reduction of Immigration and Asylum Applications’ Backlog

National Security/Foreign Policy

14.           America Leading the Global Policy Process 
15.           A Lawful Domestic Security Policy
16.           Small Tech -Empowering our Defense Capabilities
17.   Support for Military Families & Veterans
18.   National Security/Foreign Affairs: Repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and to Debate and Vote on a New Authorization 

Voting & Civil Rights

19.   Safeguarding American Democracy & Reforming the U.S. Election Process
20.   Reforming the U.S. Bail System
21.  Reforming the U.S. Criminal Justice Fines & Fees System
22.   Adoption of a National Use of Force Standard for Law Enforcement
23.   Effective of Community Policing and Opposing the Reversal of Executive Order 13688 
Grassroots Coordinating Committee

The mission of the Grassroots Coordinating Committee (GCC) is to coordinate the efforts of progressive organizations in our to increase voter turnout and civic participation and increase electoral and legislative victories nationwide. We have developed a unique infrastructure to coordinate and streamline the sharing of information about events, tools, resources, messaging, and policy ideas.  The GCC is made up of several “subcommittees” which include: Communications & Outreach, Campaigns, and the National Messaging & Policy Task Force:

·      Communications & Outreach:Facilitates contacts with media outlets to amplify the voices of our partner groups. The objective of our team is to synchronize grassroots Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts through coalition building, integrated communications, and coordination. Support the activities of the campaign subcommittee in coordinating strategies with candidates, campaigns and democratic organizations as needed.

·      Campaign Sub-Committee:Advertises, organizes, and trains volunteers for grassroots GOTV Operations in coordination with the Democratic National Committee (DNC), state Democratic Parties, and elected officials. This program provides continuous training and mentorship opportunities for volunteers before, during, and after GOTV events.

The National Messaging & Policy Task Force

The mission of the Task Force was to develop this “Grassroots Policy Agenda” and coordinate with grassroots activists and Democratic Party officials to coalesce around big, bold, and aspirational ideas and messages for the 2018 Midterm elections and beyond.  We partner with other groups to help them develop their own policy ideas, consolidate those ideas into the Grassroots Policy Agenda, and encourage them to lobby their local elected officials to act on these recommendations via the following platforms: 

·      DNC Resolutions:The GCC has partnered with the with DNC members and drafting policy-focused DNC Resolutions for upcoming meetings.

·      Articles, Blogs, Op-Eds, and Policy Papers:Coordinate directly with the Communications & Outreach Team to draft articles, blogs, op-eds, and policy papers which can be submitted to national, regional, and local media outlets.

·      Policy Forums & Town Hall Events:GCC coordinates with candidates and policy experts to organize Policy Forums to promote these ideas and encourage public discourse.

·      Policy Action Memorandums (PAMS):One or two-page documents outlining specific policy recommendations.  Our PAMS also include a slogan (five words or less), a mission statement (20 words or less), a literature review (of current policy/legislation and research on the topic).

·      Grassroots Policy Agenda:Once the PAMs are drafted, we consolidate them into the “Grassroots Policy Agenda” which will be provided to grassroots groups, attendees of candidate training events, candidates, the DNC, and Democratic campaign committees.
Our Current Political Landscape

According to a “FiveThirtyEight” article, “Barack Obama won the White House, but Democrats lost the country,” and an analysis by “Gateway Pundit” revealed that since 2010 Democrats have lost 900 state legislature seats, 12 governorships, 69 House seats, 13 Senate seats.  However, with setbacks come opportunities. The current chaos in the White House, lack of legislative accomplishments, Russia investigations, President Trump’s appeasement of White Nationalists, historically low approval ratings, and polls showing a potential Democratic advantage in the 2018 House elections and foreshadow a potential “Blue Wave” election in 2018. 

Moreover, the spectacular recent federal, state, and local wins in Virginia, New Jersey, Alabama, and Pennsylvania are a strong indication that Democrats are energized and positioned as never before to win, and they need to be focused and ready.  More importantly, Democrats need a process, a road map and guidance along the way, to keep up the momentum and build on these recent encouraging gains attained through diligent grassroots organizing, consistent messaging, and big, bold, and aspirational policy ideas, like the GOP’s 1994 “Contract with America.”

The 1994 “Contract with America”

Being ready means anticipating the potential shifts in our political landscape and implementing strategies to capitalize on them.  In this situation, the “past may actually be prologue” and the key to solving this issue could come from the GOP’s 1994 “Contract with America.”  

The Contract with America was authored by Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey, who faced similar challenges, a President from another party and minority status in the House and Senate.  It started a House caucus, with House Republicans organizing themselves into 11 working groups and drafting ten bills with at least 60% support. 

The Contract was released just six weeks prior to the 1994 mid-term elections, was signed by nearly every Republican, and was a unifying message for GOP candidates across the country.  It helped Republicans win 54 seats in the House and eight in the Senate, which lead to a majority in the 104thCongress.  The parallels between the 1994 Republicans and the 2017 Democrats are uncanny, and the party should consider adopting a similar “caucus option” for the 2018 Midterms.  

The “Caucus Option”

The Democratic Party could immediately form a new joint House/Senate caucus could comprise some of the ideas from this Policy Agenda.  This caucus would be responsible for analyzing these policies, drafting legislation, and obtaining cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and submit the legislation to the appropriate committee for a vote.  Whether or not the legislation is voted out of the committee is actually immaterial. Because, Democrats would have a recorded vote and a CBO score to campaign on, as well as the opportunity to lambast their opponents for opposing these bills.   

Using our Agenda as part of their 2018 Midterm strategy, the Democratic Caucus could begin an aggressive promotional campaign consisting of interviews, social media, rallies, town halls, etc.  The Caucus could also develop “advocacy tool kits” tailored to a particular state or congressional district. The tool kits would include policy papers, talking points, fact sheets, and presentations, to nationalize this movement and encourage Democratic candidates to coalesce around a unified message and set of policy principles. 

Grassroots Messaging, Policy Ideas, & “Inspired Resistance”

Last year Democrats announced their message, “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future,” which includes great progressive ideas like breaking up corporate monopolies, a $15 “living wage;” $1 trillion in infrastructure spending; reducing costs for medications, college, and child care.  Continuing the process of developing messages is critically important to the Party, so the GCC and our grassroots partners are poised to support this effort in any way possible. 

The purpose of the GCC is to act as a “hub” between our partners and party officials.  Many of the progressive groups were created after the 2016 election are continuing to do exceptional work in resisting the Trump Administration, and this agenda could help focus their efforts.  

But, according to a July 16 ABC News/Washington Post poll, 52% say that the Democratic Party “just stands against Trump.”  Therefore, a unified message, new ideas, and a national platform may help change this perception from just “Resistance,” to “Inspired Resistance.”  The concept of Inspired Resistance means of course, resisting Republican policies that harm our communities, but also developing our own ideas that improve the lives of the people we care about. 

As a result, many throughout the grassroots community are excited about the opportunity to help to refine this message and assist in the development of the bold new policy ideas through this agenda.  These policy reforms focus on the types of issues which could have broad support amongst both the grassroots and the general electorate. Grassroots groups could also be encouraged to “adopt an issue” from the agenda, and organize “calls to action” to phone, email, petition, lobby, and/or rally in support their adopted policies.

Grassroots Messaging Ideas by Issue

Part of this process also includes the development of Grassroots Messaging Ideas, so we launched a “National Messaging & Policy Survey” (November 16 - December 16 2017) to crowdsource messages from grassroots groups prior to our “National Messaging & Policy - Summit” at the Woman’s National Democratic Club, on January 11, 2018.  The purpose of this survey is to determine the top ten issues for voters in 2018 and develop messages to help promote them. 

The GCC also partnered with Action Together Network on a survey from May 13-21, 2018 to obtain additional policy and messaging ideas. We want to include as many voices as possible, so we launched the survey to crowdsource policy ideas from the leaders of grassroots groups nationwide. The survey asked respondents for the top five most important issues for the 2018 midterms, as well as for the ideas they have to help address them, which are included below:
Campaign Messages by Category

General Election Messages
Action Today for Change and Growth Tomorrow
Come Together USA
Onwards Together
Opportunity for All
Spamming You for Democrats
We Care about ALL People
So We ALL Do better. 
American Grit
Democracy, Kindness, Justice 
Original American Values
Standing Tall for Truth
We Fessed Up, NOW Moving Forward!
Vision for a United America
Americans United
Democrats: Working for All Americans
Ethics, Health, Prosperity for All!
Our Country; Our World
The Time is Now
We Stand for Equal Justice, Opportunity, Rights & Equal Access
Blue-Collar & Rural Families Front and Center
America Together
Democrats Help our community
Equity, Inclusion, Safety and Freedom
People Living Free and Proud
This Year, Save America
We the People
A Level Playing-Field for All
An America for Everyone
Democrats: The People's Party!
Freedom & Prosperity for ALL
Progression not Regression
Together for a Better America
We’re One America
Leading the Future
American Unity for the Future. Join 
Everyone Matters Us
Go for the Blue in 2018
Progressive Values & Actions
Together We are Stronger
Work for America
Solutions from the People
A New Deal for All
Here for You
Increasing Civic Engagement for Bring Change
Protecting the American Dream
Together, We Can Move Forward
United for Progress
Uniting for our Positive-Sum Future
Better Than Ever 
National Policies for National Problems
Justice for ALL
Return to Normalcy
Together We Win
I Am Large, I Contain Multitudes
Let's Be Better
Economic Messages
Advancing Generational Economic Growth & Stability
Fairer Taxes, Better Wages, Better Schools, Good Health Care
Fairer Taxes, Better Wages, Better Schools, Good Health Care
Americans Can Rebuild America’s Infrastructure
Fight for Equality for All
Jobs, Healthcare, and Education for America
Job Equality & Opportunity for All
An America that Works for Everyone
It's All About the Economy
Middle Class Tax Cuts, Lowered Tuition
Universal Full Time & Living Waged Employment for Everyone
Economic Growth Driven by Representative Democracy
It's the Economy, Stupid...
Rebuild the Middle Class
Your Jobs, Health, & Future Created the American Way
Healthcare Messages
Healthcare for ALL like Congress
Healthcare, Jobs, Democracy & Equality
Dems Equal Accessible Affordable Healthcare
Equality Messages
A New Era for Diversity, Inclusion and Civil Liberties
Civil Rights are for All
Dems Equal Accessible Affordable Healthcare
Environmental Messages
For a Healthy Planet and Future
For People, for the Planet 
#1 - Education: 21st Century Digital Classrooms

Mission Statement: How Democrats Can Build a Manufacturing, Infrastructure, and Economic Growth Message Around an Innovative New Education Reform Agenda

Author: By Ricardo E. Coleman, CEO/Founder, Co-Facilitator, Grassroots Coordinating Committee, Chair, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, and National Affairs Committee Member, Fairfax County Democratic Committee.

Policy/Literature Review:In May 2014, the Consortium for School Networking published an analysisdetailing costs and yearly maintenance required to install broadband into every K-12 classroom.  Their estimate included installation and upgrades costs of $3.2 Billion and projected annual costs of 2.2 Billion. In June 2013, President Obama launched a similar program called the ConnectED Initiativedesigned to connect 99% of America’s students.ProCon.organalyzed the use of tablets in schools and determined they can significantly increase performance by 30-80%.

In addition, 81% of K-12 teachers believe that “tablets enrich classroom education.” The Department of Education estimated there are nearly 51 million public school students nationwide.At an average cost of about $294 per tablet, the initial investment would be $15 Billion.  The total cost to improve the entire U.S. educational system, create jobs high-tech manufacturing and infrastructure jobs, replace every textbook with a U.S.-made tablets, and to retrofit schools with high-speed broadband internet amounts to $30 billion over four years.  

Policy Recommendations: 

·       Transition to “Digital Classrooms”:As part of a nation-wide infrastructure initiative, develop private/public partnerships to install broadband and Wi-Fi networks in all public schools, community colleges, and universities.  This process could take place over four years, beginning with the poorest districts first in order to have the greatest economic impact. 

·       U.S. Made “Education-Tablets” (or E-Tablets) for Students:Replace outdated textbooks with inexpensive, Wi-Fi enabled, U.S. made tablet computers.  The Federal Government could provide U.S. manufacturers with tax credits to develop a US-made “E-Tablets.” 

·       Utilize 21stCentury Video Learning Tools:With the installation of E-Tablets and broadband internet, teachers would have access to a constant stream of data using the “dashboard” application on their tablets.  District administrators could utilize their dashboards to monitor the progress of specific schools, classrooms, and adjust curriculum accordingly.  This system could eliminate the need for standardized testing by creating a constant stream of information directly from students.
#2 - Education: A “Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics + Medical” (STEM+M) Academic Awards

Mission Statement: Redefine STEM as Science, Technology, Engineering, and “MEDICAL,” and fund or payoff student loans for anyone studying in these fields.

Author: By Ricardo E. Coleman, CEO/Founder, Co-Facilitator, Grassroots Coordinating Committee, Chair, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, and National Affairs Committee Member, Fairfax County Democratic Committee.

Policy/Literature Review:One of the potential benefits of this program could include incentivizing students (through paid tuition and monthly stipends) to study in higher demand/higher paid STEM+M fields.  The Department of Education estimated that from 2010-2020, job growth for STEM fields will average 33% as opposed to 16% for all other occupations. Another report from the Department of Labor showed the average wage for STEM fields in 2014 was $85,570 and $47,230 for other career fields. According to a 2015 National Science Foundation report: “The condition of the U.S. science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce figures prominently in discussions of national competitiveness, education policy, innovation, and even immigration … To ensure continued U.S. competitiveness and prosperity, our Nation must foster a strong, STEM-capable workforce. 

Policy Recommendations: 

·      Redefine the Term STEM: The government should redefine STEM “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics,” to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics plus “Medical” or (STEM +M) and create a “STEM+M Academic Award.”

·      The STEM+M Academic Award: This scholarship could mirror the Post 9/11 GI Bill by providing full funding for any public state institution, a monthly stipend for living expenses, plus books and laboratory fees for the entirety of the student’s entire academic tenure.

·      STEM+M Academic Award Requirements:Students receiving this award would be required to maintain a specific grade point average and, upon graduation, the recipients would be obligated to work for a public interest organization for same length of time they received their funding. Organizations qualifying for placement can range from the state, local, or federal government to a U.S. company or non-governmental organization.

·      Continued Benefits for Veterans:This program may also benefit veterans using the Post 9/11 GI Bill by allowing them to continue their benefits past 36 months if they are enrolled in a STEM+M approved programs.
#3 - Education: Greatly Expanding the Head Start Program to Save Working Families about $130 Billion per Year

Mission Statement: Launch free public “Head Start” programs starting at three months old.

Author: By Ricardo E. Coleman, CEO/Founder, Co-Facilitator, Grassroots Coordinating Committee, Chair, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, and National Affairs Committee Member, Fairfax County Democratic Committee.

Policy/Literature Review:On March 11, 2018, this policy idea, along with six others from the Grassroots Coordinating Committee were submitted to the Democratic National Committee and were adopted as resolutions by the entire Democratic Party. According to “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2014 Report,” in the U.S., over 11 million children under five are in some form of daycare. For those families the average cost of daycare in averages $11,666 per year. 

This amount varies wildly depending on location, with working families in Washington, DC paying an average of $1,829 monthly. A Forbes study found that childcare is one of the most significant family costs often exceeding housing, and transportation. In 30 states childcare is more expensive than the average cost of a public university. “Family Values” are often cited as a common refrain from Republicans, so expanding Head Start could be marketed as a policy which is economically beneficial, supports working Americans, and is truly a Family Value.  

Policy Recommendations: 

·       Expanding Head Start:Expanding Head Start Programs which save American families nearly $130 billion per child per year; and 

·       A Phased-In Approach:This expansion would be phased in over five years, starting with four-year-olds (in year one), three-year-olds (in year two), two-year-olds (in year three), one-year-olds (in year four), and three-month-olds to one-year-olds (in year five).
#4 - Jobs & the Economy: Jobs-First - A Movement to Create Good Paying American jobs and Grow an Economy that Works for Everyone

Author: Ricardo E. Coleman, CEO/Founder, Co-Facilitator, Grassroots Coordinating Committee, Chair, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, and National Affairs Committee Member, Fairfax County Democratic Committee.

Policy/Literature Review:Polls show that voter anger could be due to the perception that politicians are not focused on the most important issues to THEM: 1) jobs and 2) the economy. To address these concerns, the Democratic Party should adopt a clear, concise, and unifying economic message like “Jobs-First.” Jobs-First is not just another slogan, but a call to action for Democrats to build a movement around “Creating Good Paying American Jobs and Growing an Economy that Works for Everyone.” 

Policy Recommendations:

·       A Joint House/Senate “Jobs committee”:Establish an independent “Jobs Committee” or the “Joint House and Senate Committee on Job Creation, Economic Growth, and Global Competitiveness,” which would act as a centralized clearinghouse for all legislation, regulations, and educational programs, affecting jobs and the economy.

·       U.S. Strategic Economic Objectives:Utilize the Jobs Committee to establish one, five, and ten-year “U.S. Strategic Economic Objectives.” These Objectives will help to foster the “Manufacturing Renaissance” called for in the previous Democratic Platform, by focusing on the creation of “H3” (High-Paid, High-Skilled, High-Tech) manufacturing jobs. 

·       Bipartisan Support:The concept of Strategic Objectives is actually a bipartisan idea, from the former Republican Utah Governor and current Ambassador to Russia, John Huntsman. During an interview he noted that “of the countries I've lived in (i.e. China, Singapore, and Taiwan), only one -- the US -- did not have a National Strategic Agenda.”

·       Creating the “Economic Policy and Innovation Center” or (EPIC):EPIC would be a federally funded think tank/venture capital organization within the Jobs Committee to implement the Strategic Economic Objectives. It would employ experts to seek out new policy ideas and coordinate with the Jobs Committee staff to draft legislation. 

·       EPIC as a Federally Funded Venture Capital Organization:As a venture capital firm, EPIC would help American companies identify technological shortfalls and create private/public partnerships to address them. EPIC would also identify and assist high-tech U.S. startups with business consultation services to address technological gaps and to ensure their overall success. EPIC would also be self-funding, and the budget would be derived from the equity gained from their capital investments in these companies.
#5 - Jobs & the Economy: Adopting a Jobs & Small Business Support Program Similar to the German’s Kurzarbeit Initiative

Author: Ricardo E. Coleman, CEO/Founder, Co-Facilitator, Grassroots Coordinating Committee, Chair, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, and National Affairs Committee Member, Fairfax County Democratic Committee.

Policy/Literature Review: According to a Chicago Times article by Clarence Page titled “Germany's Enviable Shock Absorber,” and conservative economist Kevin Hassett, who co-authored a piece called “The Human Disaster of Unemployment,” both agree that the U.S. should adopt the Germany policy called Kurzarbeit. Kurzarbeit is German for “work-sharing,” which could replace the current U.S. unemployment insurance program. During the 2008 “Great Recession” job losses in Germany were much low in the U.S. and the European Union. 

The German economy was also able to recover those jobs losses much faster than the U.S. and their European neighbors, and many credited their resilience to Kurzarbeit. Instead of firing workers in times of economic crisis, a Kurzarbeit allows companies to reduce their workers to about 30 hours per week.  The German government then makes the unemployment payments directly to the company, who in turn continues to provide the employee’s salary benefits; and 

·      The Jobs & Small Business Support Program:The U.S. should implement a similar initiative called the “The Jobs & Small Business Support Program” which can be tested across the country before being implemented nationwide.

·      Direct Support to U.S. Businesses: This program would require the federal government to provide direct assistance to American companies, allow their workers to maintain their employment/benefits, while also providing businesses with enough of a buffer to hopefully reinstate these employees to full-time status.
#6 - Small Business: Tax Credits to Responsible Entrepreneurs and Encourage Small Businesses to Partner with Local Unions

Author: Mary Paulet, Small Business Issue Team Member, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, Grassroots Coordinating Committee, Woman’s National Democratic Club, National Affairs Committee Member, Fairfax County Democratic Committee

Policy/Literature Review:On March 11, 2018, this policy idea, along with six others from the Grassroots Coordinating Committee, was submitted to the Democratic National Committee and was adopted as a resolution by the entire Democratic Party.  Small businesses are the true growth engines of America and produce an overwhelming majority of jobs that cannot be easily outsourced to other countries. Opening small businesses provide immigrants a time-tested opportunity for entrance into the middle class. Small businesses are under threat from multinational corporations which care solely about profit and have the capability to move wherever costs are lower internationally.

Policy Recommendations:

·      Strong Advocates for Small Business: The Party should ALWAYS be the strongest and loudest voice for small businesses and our candidates for Congressional, Senatorial and Presidential elections should actively support small business.

·      Tax Credits: Advance a tax credits for small businesses who are creating good paying and environmentally sustainable positions.

·      Partnerships Between Small Business & Labor: Actively pursue forming partnerships between unions and small business. Small businesses need prosperous employees and unions need the jobs that small businesses provide.

·      A Common Goal: Both small business and labor unions are under threat from large conglomerates who outsource jobs and pay below-average wages. Unions and small business must see each other as allies in the struggle to keep good paying jobs in the U.S.

#7 - Small Business: Pioneer Nationwide Federally-Funded “Small Business Boot Camps” 

Author: Ricardo E. Coleman, CEO/Founder, Co-Facilitator, Grassroots Coordinating Committee, Chair, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, and National Affairs Committee Member, Fairfax County Democratic Committee.

Policy/Literature Review:According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses are defined as a business with 500 employees or less. Small businesses represent 99.7% of all employer firms, and since 1995, have generated 64% of new jobs, and paid 44% of the total U.S. private payroll. The Democratic Party should encourage the establishment of a federally funded nationwide network of free “Small Business Bootcamps.” These Bootcamps could be managed through a local community college with a curriculum including a mix of classroom instruction, site visits, and practical exercises.

Policy Recommendations: 

·       Alternative to Unemployment:This program should be offered to American workers who have been out of work for six months or more as an alternate means of income in areas with limited employment options.

·       New Career Options: These “Small Business Bootcamps” should also be open to individuals who are employed full-time, and part-time, are considering starting their own small business on the side, and/or who are considering a career change.

·       Bootcamp Requirements: To graduate from the program, each student will be required to develop a business plan. For the final exam students would need to pitch their business plan to a participating financial institution and secure their first business loan.

·       Specialized Services & Support:  As participant in this program, a new business owner would also be eligible for specialized support services such as a small business coach/mentor. New business owners would also be eligible for consultation services from the Small Business Administration on topics such as: finance, real-estate, marketing using social media, logistics, payroll, tax law, and regulatory requirements.

#8 - Tax Policy: An Innovative New Tax Reform Proposal Which Levels the Playfield for Small Businesses & Incentives Companies to Create Good-Paying Jobs

Author: Ricardo E. Coleman, CEO/Founder, Co-Facilitator, Grassroots Coordinating Committee, Chair, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, and National Affairs Committee Member, Fairfax County Democratic Committee.

Policy/Literature Review: According to Vox, the $1.5 trillion GOP tax cut vastly benefited corporations, and not workers, through increased dividend payments and stock buybacks. A Bloomberg analysis found that about 60% of gains will go to shareholders, compared to 15% for employees. A Morgan Stanley survey found that 43% of tax cuts will go to stock buybacks and dividends, while 13% will go to pay raises, bonuses, and employee benefits. Just Capital’s analysis of 121 Russell 1000 companies found that 57% of tax savings will go to shareholders, compared to 20% directed to job creation and capital investment and 6% to workers.

According to the Government Accountability Office the average effective federal tax rate for large U.S. corporations, including additional tax credits and exemptions for offshore tax havens, was 12.6% before the GOP Tax Cuts. Findings from the Citizens for Tax Justice also showed that 111 of the 288 companies they reviewed did not even pay federal taxes from 2008 to 2012. 

Progressives should be running in the 2018 midterms on familiar Republican rejoinder, “repeal and replace,” but that requires an alternative. The “ Tax Proposal” is offering that alternative by proposing the creation of new and economically advantageous tax incentives.  These reforms would encourage employers to increase wages and expand high-tech manufacturing in the U.S. This concept could also incentivize companies and investors to provide new high-tech startups additional capital. These investments could result in an incalculable number of good-paying new jobs, help foster the “Manufacturing Renaissance” that Democrats called for in their 2016 Platform, and spur technological innovators like Google, Apple, Facebook, or Cisco.  


·       Reduce Top Tax Rate to 25%: Maintain a top rate 25% for all income over the median ($59,039), which includes all personal, business, corporate, dividend, and inheritance income.

·       Reduce the Percentage of Deductions for High-Income Earners: At $250,000 reduce the total number of deductions by 25%, 50% at $500,000, and 75% at $750,000.

·       Eliminate Tax Breaks for Incomes Over $1 Million: For all incomes over $1 million, eliminate ALLtax deductions, and credits, with the exception of charitable donations.
·       Reduce the Percentage of Deductions for Higher Profits: At $250,000 in profits reduced the total number of deductions by 25%, 50% at $500,000 reduce by, and 75% at $750,000.

·       Eliminate Tax Breaks for ALLProfits Over $1 Million: After the reduction to a flat rate of 25%, business would lose all deductions/tax credits, except for charitable donations. Per a 2013 Forbes Business article, of the 27 million small businesses in the U.S., only 26,744 (or 0.1%) between $1 to 2.5 million in revenue, so this policy change would affect very few businesses.  


·       20% Tax Rate (Bronze Category): Businesses would receive a 20% rate for: paying $75,000 (or approximately 20% above the median income), offering healthcare, paid time off, family leave, and profit sharing plans.

·       15% Tax Rate (Silver Category): A U.S. manufactures would receive a rate 15% rate for paying a median salary of $75,000, healthcare, paid time off, family leave, and profit sharing.

·       10% Tax Rate (Gold Category): A US-based “High–Tech” manufacture would receive a rate 10% rate for paying a median salary of $75,000, healthcare, paid time off, family leave, and profit sharing. This concept would encourage investors to help create untold numbers of new high-paid high-tech manufacturing jobs to take advantage of the 10% tax rate.
#9 - Tax Policy: A Worldwide Corporate Income Tax

Mission Statement: Increase the efficiency and effectiveness of applying the corporate income tax on multinational corporations.

Author: Mariellen Jewers, Tax Policy Issue Team Leader, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, Grassroots Coordinating Committee, PhD Candidate, Public Policy (Tax Policy and Immigration), George Washington University.

Policy/Literature Review: As of 2017 the U.S.’ corporate income tax was the closest international example of a worldwide corporate income tax, which applies the same tax to all corporate income regardless of the country where it is earned. The Congressional Budget Office, citing the Joint Committee on Taxation, estimated that instituting a worldwide corporate income tax would add $100 billion in federal revenues over a 10-year period. 

The benefits of worldwide corporate taxation are twofold: it eliminates incentives for multinational corporations to stash profits in countries with especially low tax rates to avoid taxes; and, it puts locally operating businesses that earn all their income in the U.S. on the same footing as multinational corporations. Implementing a worldwide corporate income tax is an efficient means of increasing tax revenue without changing rates by recouping revenue from one of the largest federal tax expenditures: the exemption from taxes of multinational corporations’ profits held abroad. Foregone federal revenue from exempting multinational’s foreign income was one of the ten largest tax expenditures in 2017, amounting to $119 billion in that year alone. 

The Tax Justice Network estimates that roughly 60% of international trade happens across national boundaries but within the same multinational corporation. Some number of these transactions are illegitimate, in that they are could be undertaken specifically to avoid tax liability.  The U.S. expends considerable resources to identify, investigate, and prosecute increasingly sophisticated tax evasion. Having a worldwide system would dramatically simplify the Internal Revenue Service’s review of corporate income tax liability and greatly reduce the resources needed to investigate potential tax evasion. Finally, under this system, tax is the collection of data to estimate multinational’s effective tax rates, which is not available under current the tax code. 

Policy Recommendation: 

·       A Worldwide Corporate Tax:Implement a worldwide corporate income tax that only allows corporations to deduct the amount of taxes they pay to foreign governments, similar to the state deduction for individual income taxes.
#10 - Tax Policy: Expanding Social Security Contributions to Protect Our Seniors’ Future

Author: Mariellen Jewers, Tax Policy Issue Team Leader, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, Grassroots Coordinating Committee, PhD Candidate, Public Policy (Tax Policy and Immigration), George Washington University.

Policy/Literature Review: On March 11, 2018, this policy idea, along with six others from the Grassroots Coordinating Committee were submitted to the Democratic National Committee and were adopted as resolutions by the entire Democratic Party. Nearly every U.S. citizen has some connection to one of the Social Security programs: retirement, survivor and disability insurance.  High-income workers are living longer while increasingly relying on retirement income subject to market fluctuations making Social Security an important and reliable source of income in old age for high-income earners, and lifts millions of people out of poverty each year.

In the last two decades, Social Security’s tax base—total wage earnings subject to the payroll tax—has shrunk to levels not seen since the 1970s due to the application of the taxable maximum in the context of growing inequality in wages the tax base erosion is a fundamental threat to Social Security. Subjecting 90% of wage earnings to the FICA tax aligns with the spirit of Social Security and reflects the near universality of Social Security benefits.

Also, subjecting the FICA tax to 90% of wages would be administratively simple: workers currently paying FICA all year would continue to do so; for those currently paying FICA tax for only part of the year, the FICA tax would be applied for more days. Estimates published by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that ensuring that 90% of all wage earnings are subject to the FICA tax (and including these additional earnings into the benefit calculations) would cover annual Social Security benefit payments through 2026.  

Policy Recommendation:

·      Transforming Our Unfair & Antiquated FICA System: Replacethe taxable maximum with an application of the FICA tax that ensures that 90% of total wage earnings are subject to the FICA tax (and including these additional earnings into the benefit calculations).
#11 - Gun Violence: Gun Responsibility in a Civil Society

Author: Hollin Dwiggins, Field Organizer at Organizing For America

Mission Statement:Similar to the civil responsibility associated driving, we need an equivalent set of considerations, registrations, liabilities, and protections for gun ownership.

Policy/Literature Review: In 2017 alone, there were an estimated 25,000-gun death by suicide as well as another 15,549-gun deaths in the form of homicides, accidents and other shootings. Clearly firearms that are unregulated and uninsured represent a threat to citizens’ health and safety. With the understanding that we must both respect the second amendment, as well as, respect the rights of all of our citizens to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that there is a path forward for responsible gun ownership in a free society.

Currently the cost of gun violence and accidental damage and injury is being borne by all of us by increased costs for policing, higher health insurance premiums etc. and that is unfair to the segment of the population that chooses not to own guns.  In a civilized society we all must interact and follow the required rules of law and associated criminal and civil responsibilities, and associated liabilities to maintain an orderly and free democratic state and civilization. Many actions and activities have an inherent potential to harm and endanger others if used in an irresponsible way.

Like a gun, a car can be seen as a deadly weapon and significant hazard if misused. Also, a car is a significant asset that must be protected, registered, and insured both for its value and potential liability to impact others.  This is long established law and most Americans proceed with the choice of car ownership, and the associated responsibilities to register, license, and have appropriate identification, serial numbers and insurance with little consideration of the inconvenience and costs as it is seen as a reasonable requirement associated with the right to own and operate an automobile.

If one is required to get safety training for an automobile what reasonable person would not associate similar proficiency for a firearms? Gun owners would simply be required to demonstrate, like drivers, their ability to use the weapon safely upon completion of this process.

Policy Recommendations:

·       Licensed Gun Owners:A gun owner should be issued a license, like automobile drivers, and the associated registration and identification requirements, should be the same.  

·       Liability Insurance:Gun owners must demonstrate that they have obtained appropriate liability insurance coverage so that if the owner and his or her weapon causes injury to himself or herself or others he or she has the liability insurance to cover the requisite cost. 

·       Financial Liability for Gun Owners: While gun ownership may be protected by the second amendment, a gun owner is not exempted from the associated financial and criminal liability for the misuse of that deadly weapon just like an automobile. The argument that this civil responsibility model is too onerous and does not exist in a free society is simply a fallacy and untrue. All qualified, mentally and skilled, citizens can own guns, however, they must step up to the great civil and financial responsibility associated with that freedom of choice.
#12 - Healthcare: Expanding Healthcare Access to Low-Income Americans

Author:Rory Lamond, RISE District, Grassroots Coordinating Committee

Policy/Literature Review: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is more popular now that it ever has been, with the majority of people having a “favorable” opinion of it. This has played out in dramatically over the past year, resulting in a wave of energetic voter engagement. Healthcare-conscious voters reached out to representatives across a variety of mediums as they rushed to defend the gains achieved by the ACA.

While access to healthcare has been a highly motivating factor for Democrats during the Trump Administration, recent polling indicates that there has been little abatement in enthusiasm for the topic; in fact, it has been ranked as the top issue for likely voters, beating gun control and immigration combined. 

Thanks to this rising popularity and enthusiasm, Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act has similarly grown in popularity, which offers inroads in traditionally red states that might not have existed during the last election cycle. Of particular interest is Florida, where a recent analysis estimates that majority support for Medicaid expansion exists in allof Florida’s legislative and Congressional districts, with an average level of support around 65% statewide .
Such levels of popularity, when coupled with the recent success of Medicaid expansion in Virginia, indicate an environment in which expansion is a winning issue for Democrats, and may serve to drive voters to the polls more effectively than most other issues this fall. A rising tide lifts all boats, and it stands to reason that Medicaid expansion could be a winning issue in states other than Florida, including Idaho and Nebraska , both of which currently have efforts underway to place an expansion measure on the ballot in 2018. Candidates associating themselves with Medicaid expansion stand to benefit from these campaigns.

Policy Recommendations:

·      Continue to Emphasize the Value of the ACA: Candidates should proudly champion the ACA and its benefits for all Americans, while also pushing to improve and expand the programs thereunder.

·      Medicaid Expansion: Candidates should run on the popularity of Medicaid expansion in states where expansion has not yet occurred and ensure that it comes to pass once elected.

#13 - Immigration: Federal Funding for Due Process Procedures and Reduction of Immigration and Asylum Applications’ Backlog

Author: Adriana G. Radulescu, Immigration Issue Team Member, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, Grassroots Coordinating Committee

Policy/Literature Review: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is responsible for overseeing the nation’s legal immigration system, which includes adjudicating asylum claims. It is facing a crisis-level backlog of 311,000 pending asylum cases as of January 21, 2018, making the asylum system increasingly vulnerable to fraud and abuse. This backlog has grown by more than 1750% over the last five years, and the rate of new asylum applications has more than tripled.
Wait times in immigration courts continue to grow. In August 2015, there were 168,000 cases nationwide in courts with average waits of more than three years. In April 2017, that number climbed to 240,000 cases in the nation’s most backlogged courts, where people wait on average three to five years for their next hearing.

Changes to prosecutorial discretion practices by government attorneys are adding to the backlog. Per a 2017 executive order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the U.S., DHS will “no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.” As a result, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers are referring cases into removal proceedings that they wouldn’t have previously.
For the past decade, the immigration court system has been widely recognized as overstretched, backlogged, and underfunded, with its resources lagging far behind those provided to the front-line enforcement arms of the immigration system. 
·       “Office of Immigrations Affairs:”Fund the create an “Office of Immigrations Affairs” to evaluate the efficiency of the immigration and asylum applications processing process.

·       Strategic Workforce:creates a strategic workforce plan that includes hiring of new immigration judges and support staff, with safeguarding against politicized.

·       Language Access:Provide counsel for immigrants facing deportation with language access.

·       Accountability:Hold detention centers accountable for human rights violations.
#14 - National Security/Foreign Affairs: America Leading the Global Policy Process

Mission Statement:The world needs processes to solve its problems and aspirations. When America engages, it leads.

Author: Teka Thomas, National Security Issue Team Leader, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, Grassroots Coordinating Committee

Policy/Literature:In 1945, President Harry Truman brought to life the dream of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt: a global organization dedicated to forming processes for conflict resolution, development, humanitarian aid, and international law.  Other foreign policy infrastructure such as John Kennedy’s Peace Corps, stands for affirmative American engagement in bettering the world. In 1944, at Bretton Woods, NH, the United States hosted an international convention to plan for international trade and development.  The globe then rose out of the ashes of World War II by becoming more educated and industrialized with the system designed by the Roosevelt and Truman Administrations. NATO is the most successful security alliance in history. Pacts were made to for mutual self-protection amongst North American and Western European countries.  The synergies of teamwork help protect America and share our values abroad.

Policy Recommendations: 

·      American Initiative: The U.S. should continue and initiate active and collaborative participation in global alliances and organizations.  When we engage, we are leading.

·      Global Processes: Issues like terrorism, nuclear non-proliferation, online malware, ecology and climate change, as well as development should be full commitments of our Government.  Our own foreign policy apparatus needs to be rebuilt and staffed by competent public servants.

·       Rebuild our institutions and capabilities:  Our State Department is hemorrhaging talent.  The military is underutilizing our technology industry.  All institutions of defense, diplomacy, and development need to be adequately resourced.

·       Internal Processes: Today America faces kinetic threats mostly from asymmetric non-state actors.  But near-peer state adversaries are challenging our interests and global norms.  In any case, decisions should not be based on ideology or the daily mood of the president.  It should be based on formal input from executive branch agencies, and debate from the Congress.

·       Sound Bites: “American Engagement means American leadership, by definition,” “America should take the lead in setting global processes, and then execute,” and “We are strongest with our friends.”

#15 - National Security/Foreign Affairs: A Lawful Domestic Security Policy

Mission Statement:We can protect the country and the constitution by allowing security professionals to do with jobs, with oversight, without political intimidation.

Author: Teka Thomas, National Security Issue Team Leader, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, Grassroots Coordinating Committee

Policy/Literature:Detective work and Counterintelligence are different disciplines with different skill sets.  Both specialties need to continue to be developed with procedures designed to be constitutional.  Our leaders need to treat these professionals with respect and uphold their standards with legislative oversight. Our local police forces and their communities are our first line of defense and response.  While protecting our Fourth Amendment rights, the FBI needs to continue to improve intelligence gathering from local resources.

Policy Recommendation: 

·       Professional Intelligence and Law Enforcement: Those who protect out security and safety should be trained and supported in professional organizations free from partisan agendas.

·      Security Outreach: Community Relations should be integral to both federal law enforcement and U.S. intelligence agencies.  The FBI must develop its own capacity for outreach, and coordinate with local law enforcement to regain the trust of local communities.

·      Security in Diversity: Our security agencies should reflect the backgrounds from which our global threats come from.

·       Sound Bites:“Protect the country and our Constitution,” “Respect our security professionals, respect our legislators, respect our judges.  All have their jobs to do,” and “We need a lawful and effective domestic security apparatus.”

#16 - National Security/Foreign Affairs: Small Tech -Empowering our Defense Capabilities

Mission Statement:Pentagon Procurement should engage with the America’s Tech Community to keep our troops the best augmented troops in the world.

Author: Teka Thomas, National Security Issue Team Leader, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, Grassroots Coordinating Committee

Policy/Literature Review:The Defense Department’s proposed procurement budget for Fiscal Year 2019 is $144 Billion, including $13 Billion for science and technology investments. DoD $84 Billion was invested by VCs in 2017, and generally most startups do not need more than $500,000 in early stage money. Fortune Ergo, a small shift in spending by the Defense Department can profoundly help technologists with business ideas. 

Furthermore, as fundraising is difficult outside of certain networks, the DoD can geographically distribute early stage money more broadly than the VC community can. The Bid process must be simple, well marketed, and be value adding.  The main reason technology companies do not like to respond to government bids is that the work done for any given bid has little future value. It does in the private sector. This must be simplified.

Policy Recommendations:

·       Modern Procurement Methods: Training and support for contemporary contracting methods should increase in the Defense Department.

·       Civil Military Relations: Change the personnel and contracting systems to promote sabbaticals between government and industry.

·       Cut back on legacy systems: Replace legacy systems with tomorrow’s systems.

·       Sound Bites: “Rosie the Riveter’s great-grandkids are writing code in their basement, and making gadgets in college labs.  The DoD wants their genius,” “The DoD can invest seed money more equitably, to a more diverse set of creators that Silicon Valley.  Diversity in defense technology is not just a social ideal, it is a military necessity,” and “This is modern industrial policy reminiscent of the post-war boom.”

#17 - National Security/Foreign Affairs: Support for Military Families & Veterans

Author: Teka Thomas, National Security Issue Team Leader, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, Grassroots Coordinating Committee

Policy/Literature Review:The Obama Administration provided strong support for military families' and veterans' education, employment, housing and mental wellness needs. Many communities distant from military bases are not well equipped to provide such support to Reserve components and veterans. The military-civilian divide leaves many military families and veterans feeling misunderstood or unsupported in their surrounding communities. 

Policy Recommendations: 

·       Broad National Support:Thus, any use of force should include a plan to support the military community after it returns home. 

·       Federal Assistance for Veteran’s Services:Federal help for municipal agencies dealing with the specific needs of veterans.

·       Veteran’s Courts:The federal government’s backing of innovative courts ordained and established for special cases involving veterans.

·       Increased Child Care and Spouse Educational Opportunities:improve military child care and facilitate military spouse education and employment.
#18 - National Security/Foreign Affairs: Repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and to Debate and Vote on a New Authorization

Author: Yasmine Taeb, Democratic National Committee Woman, Virginia

Policy/Literature Review:On March 11, 2018, this policy idea, along with six others from the Grassroots Coordinating Committee were submitted to the Democratic National Committee and were adopted as resolutions by the entire Democratic Party. The Constitution gives Congress the sole power to declare war, and the framers of the Constitution understood that the monumental decision to go to war, which can result in massive death and the destruction of civilized society, must be made by the representatives of the people and not by a single person. 

The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) was passed three days after the attacks of September 11, 2001 to target those who committed or assisted with the attacks. The 2001 AUMF is an overly broad piece of legislation that has been used as an open-ended authorization for the use of military force, and according to a 2018 Congressional Research Service Report, the 2001 AUMF has been used to conduct 41 military actions in 18 different countries.     

Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s amendment to the 2018 Department of Defense appropriations bill to repeal the 2001 AUMF passed with bipartisan support on June 29, 2017 but was stripped from the appropriations bill by Speaker Paul Ryan. It is long past time for Congress to reclaim its constitutionally-designated authority by setting clear parameters around where and when our nation uses military force. The Congressional Progressive Caucus and the House Liberty Caucus held an AdHoc Hearing on the 2001 AUMF on February 27, 2018 that focused on the need to repeal the 2001 AUMF.

Repeal of the 2001 AUMF:We strongly encourage lawmakers to join bipartisan efforts to assert Congress’ proper role and oversight responsibilities in determining when and where military force by supporting efforts to repeal the 2001 AUMF and debate and vote on a new AUMF.
#19 - Voting & Civil Rights: Safeguarding American Democracy & Reforming the U.S. Election Process

Author:Ivan Edward, Co-Host “36 Nation,” Communications Director, Voting & Civil Right Team Leader, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, Grassroots Coordinating Committee, 

Policy/Literature Review: It is necessary for will of the People be the directing hand of any democratic Nation. Both federal and state courts have ruled repeatedly that the Constitutional rights of the People of the States have been violated by partisans, false representatives who betray the Constitution in order to usurp political power, through acts of gerrymandering, voter suppression, and voter intimidation, and with unabashed disdain for the Citizenry. At the federal, state, and local levels, governments act without the mandate from the majority of the people that they represent, thereby creating laws that are unjust.

The right to vote is being denied to millions of Citizens who, being formerly incarcerated, are forced to remain a second-class citizen long after their debt to society has been paid. The right to vote is also being denied to millions more due to unconstitutional laws and practices that suppress access to the polls or create barriers that prevent fair and open elections to distort their outcomes. 

In the last national election for the President, of the 250,056,000 citizens of voting age, almost half, 111,209,000 were unable or unwilling to vote, and our elections are being interfered with by by hostile foreign adversaries. Faith and trust in our Judicial system, our Congress, and our Executive Branch is at an all-time low, and it is the faith and trust that the people have in their Nation and its institutions that gives it strength. The People are ultimately responsible by history for every action of their government.

Policy Recommendations: 

·       Securing Our Democratic Processes:The right and responsibility of all Citizens to vote, by working to enact legislation that encourages full civic participation while eliminating partisan interference at all levels of government. 

·       Fully Restore Voting Rights FOR ALL:support legislation for fully restored voting rights for all citizens, regardless of their state of incarceration.

·       Protecting Our Democracy & Our Votes:Combats voter intimidation, voter suppression, gerrymandering, and all forms of partisan behavior that weaken our democracy.

·       A Standing Election Security Commission:Create a committee to investigate ways to ensure that every aspect of the election process works to bring about a just and democratic society. 

#20 - Voting & Civil Rights: Reforming the U.S. Bail System 

Author:Anne Cauman, Voting & Civil Right Issue Team Member, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, Grassroots Coordinating Committee, Woman’s National Democratic Club 

Policy/Literature Review: On March 11, 2018, this policy idea, along with six others from the Grassroots Coordinating Committee were submitted to the Democratic National Committee and were adopted as resolutions by the entire Democratic Party. Authorities including courts in many jurisdictions, the American Bar Association, and the U.S. Justice Department under President Obama, are recognizing the unconstitutionality, inequities, and numerous negative consequences of requiring cash bail for defendants who are unable to pay. The 8th Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits the requirement of excessive bail or the imposition of excessive fines. 

Deprivation of liberty implicates due process and equal protection principles. The purpose of bail (dating back to the Middle Ages in England) is to enable defendants to retain their liberty prior to trial by providing a financial incentive for a defendant to show up for court appearances.  Bail is not supposed to be a form of pre-trial detention, nor constitute a deterrent to liberty; and

There is a legal presumption that all people are innocent until found guilty, and hundreds of thousands of people all over the country charged with crimes languish in jail because they cannot afford to post bail. Over 60% of those in jail at any time have not been convicted of anything, and according to Moving Beyond Money: A Primer on Bail Reform, a 2016 publication of the Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School: “Nationwide 34% of defendants are kept in jail pretrial solely because they are unable to pay a cash bond, and most of these people are among the poorest third of Americans.”

Even very short stays in jail can create disruption and devastation in the lives of the incarcerated and their loved ones - causing people to lose jobs, leaving children without care, causing parents to lose custody of their children, risking violence inflicted in jail by guards or other inmates, risking sexual victimization, even risking loss of life. Being unable to make bail strongly increases the likelihood that even totally innocent people will accept plea bargains to go free. 

Remaining in jail hinders a defendant’s ability to participate in their own defense, and many jurisdictions including Colorado, Kentucky, Illinois, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia have severely limited the use of cash bail, and other jurisdictions are considering reforms. In addition to the devastation created in the lives of people and their families due to the inability to pay bail, incarcerating all these people costs governments billions of dollars.

·       A Fairer More Equitable Bail System:Enact laws and/or court rules to reform bail systems and the imposition of unaffordable criminal justice debt at all levels of government.

#21 - Voting & Civil Rights: Reforming the U.S. Criminal Justice Fines and Fee System

Author:Anne Cauman, Voting & Civil Right Issue Team Member, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, Grassroots Coordinating Committee, Woman’s National Democratic Club

Policy/Literature Review:The use excessive of fines and fees by the criminal justice system against the People violates the 8thAmendment, erects barriers to due process and equal protection, and creates two systems of justice, one for those who can afford to pay and a darker, more violent one for those who cannot. The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has found that local and state governments deliberately use the court system to generate revenues, resulting in a proliferation of criminal justice fines and fees created to meet the jurisdiction’s budgetary quotas. Fines and fees rarely take into account an individual’s ability to pay and have a disproportionate impact on the poorest, often resulting in the imposition of penalties or interest for failure to pay. Making an alleged offender who was ultimately found innocent pay “criminal justice fees.” 

In many cases the failure to pay may eventually lead to an arrest for failure to pay, leading to jail time, the creation of a criminal record, or the loss of driver’s license. DoJ has found that such a system disparately harms poor and minority communities, trapping defendants in deeper cycles of poverty, causing multiple crises for those jailed, or otherwise be without a criminal record.  The mistrust of law enforcement by communities throughout the Nation is exacerbated by the disparate impact that fines and fees have those same communities.

·       Reform the Administrative Justice System:Enact laws and/or court rules to reform the administration of criminal justice debt.

·       Abolish Fees:Eliminating criminal justice fees and requiring jurisdictions to cover their own criminal justice expenses.

·       Reduce Fineable Offenses:Decrease the number and types of activities considered significant enough to be finable offenses.

·       No Money/No Jail:Forbid the incarceration of anyone for inability to pay a fine.

·       Driver’s License Suspensions:Prohibit the suspension of license for offenses unrelated to dangerous or reckless driving.

·       Ability to Pay for Court Proceedings:Require courts to make express findings of a defendant’s ability to pay before imposing fines, limit fines to a defendant’s ability to pay, and allow the payment over time without the imposition of interest, penalties or other fees.

·       Protection of Property/Assets:Protec assets and wages benefits from involuntary collection.

·       Alternative Payments for Fines:When a defendant is unable to pay or payment of a fine would be a hardship, alternatives to the payment of fines such as community service, completion of job training or some education program.
#22 - Voting & Civil Rights: National Use of Force Standard for Law Enforcement Officers
Author:Audra Thomas, Voting & Civil Right Issue Team Member, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, Grassroots Coordinating Committee, Woman’s National Democratic Club

Policy/Literature Review:Innovations in media’s ability to promote discourse in the public square has facilitated a growing public awareness of certain communities’ experiences with law enforcement, many experiences of which are negative or end in unwarranted violence. Law enforcement agencies are not required to report any incidents of use of force to the federal government or their local communities.

The regulations guiding officers’ use of force against the People varies by jurisdiction. A critical component of this National Use of Force Standard is de-escalation training. De-escalation training can equip law enforcement and other criminal justice officials with the skills necessary to assess, approach, interact and resolve situations in a non-violent manner. The perception (and actual practice) that law enforcement is “above the law” has eroded the People’s trust in government, makes People feel unsafe and discourages interaction with law enforcement.
·      Accurate Reporting of Interactions:Require fact-based records about interactions and experiences with law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

·      A National Database for Officer Involved Shootings:This would include shootings, injuries and deaths of persons occurring due to pre-custodial interaction with law enforcement officers; and occurrences of officer-caused violence against persons and deaths of persons in custody.  This Database should be administered by the U.S. Department of Justice and all U.S. jurisdictions with sworn officers must be required to submit reports quarterly.

·      National Use of Force Standards:The Department of Justice, in partnership with local law enforcement, develop a national use of force and de-escalation standards which would need to be completed in a timely manner, lest they incur a financial penalty.

·      Standard Independent Oversight Processes:The criminal justice community to develop a standardized independent oversight process to investigate use of force incidents, deaths and injuries of detainees, claims of police brutality and incidences of family violence.  

·      Oversight & Technical Assistance:As part of this oversight process, representatives from non-biased state agencies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Department of Justice will perform the investigation, issue rulings, provide technical assistance to enact agency reforms, and support victims of the violent incident(s).

·      Without “Special Favor”:Officers should be treated without special favor, but in a way that acknowledges their unique realities, so that the People can see that such officers are held to the same standards as everyone else, which will renew trust in public safety institutions.
#23 - Voting & Civil Rights: Affirming the Effectiveness of Community Oriented Policing Practices and Opposing the Reversal of Executive Order 13688.
Author:Audra Thomas, Voting & Civil Right Issue Team Member, National Messaging & Policy Task Force, Grassroots Coordinating Committee, Woman’s National Democratic Club

Policy/Literature Review: On March 11, 2018, this policy idea, along with six others from the Grassroots Coordinating Committee were submitted to the Democratic National Committee and were adopted as resolutions by the entire Democratic Party. The President’s Task Force on 21stCentury Policing identified 93 recommendations relevant to enforcement agencies that are intended to foster “strong, collaborative relationships between local law enforcement and the communities they protect” by using effective strategies that support community policing, reduce crime, and increase legitimacy of the public’s view of law enforcement.

Executive Order 13688 was intended to monitor law enforcement’s acquisition of, use of and training practices related to certain types of equipment used by local, tribal and state law enforcement agencies to (1) respond to public concerns of a “militarization” of law enforcement; (2) protect civil rights and civil liberties; and (3) ensure consistency across agencies to ensure that equipment acquired through Federal programs is appropriate to the needs of a community.

The Trump Administration issued a broad revocation of Executive Order 13688 in August 2017 and has indicated its intention to focus federal resources and technical assistance away from widely-supported community policing initiatives.

Both the Recommendations of the President’s Task Force on 21stCentury Policing and the Recommendations of the interagency Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group were enacted in recognition that the Public’s trust in law enforcement is eroding and there are proven ways to increase legitimacy of the law enforcement, so it treats all people equally and fairly.

·      Evidence-Based Community Policing Strategies:Support law enforcement’s continued adoption and practice of evidence-based community policing strategies. 

·      Reevaluating the Recommendations Pursuant to Executive Order 13688:Which were common-sense, developed with input from the law enforcement and promote good governance. 

·       Congress Should Establish a New Working Group:In absence of the Executive Branch restoring the acquisition and training practices required by the Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group, Congress should consider legislation that permanently establishes a similar working group that has the authority to regulate such topics across federal agencies and must evaluate, at least annually, the policies and procedures that directly impact local, tribal and state governments’ ability to acquire and use certain types of equipment.