Article X. Economy — Platform of the Multnomah County Democratic Party

PREAMBLE

The U.S. economy is one of contradictions: Unemployment at record lows and inflation under control while wealth is more and more concentrated, and half the population is struggling to achieve a middle-class lifestyle and the American dream.

We believe that we are stronger when we have an economy that works for everyone—an economy that creates good-paying jobs and puts a middle-class life and the American Dream within everyone’s reach. We believe we can have more economic fairness, so the rewards are shared broadly, not just with those at the top. We believe that today’s extreme level of income and wealth inequality, where the majority of the economic gains go to the top 1% and the richest three people in our country own more wealth than the bottom 150 million, actually makes our economy weaker.

We need an economy that prioritizes long-term investment over short-term profit- seeking, rewards the common interest over self-interest, and promotes innovation and entrepreneurship. But we also need to recognize that productivity is a function of mind endowed with creative facility –improving an economy involves numerous efforts not always directly linked to economic well-being: public education, scientific research and experiment, and advancement in the arts, acting collectively. The economy is a living, ecological creation.

We believe that climate change poses a real and urgent threat to our economy and our children’s futures, and that Americans deserve the jobs and security that come from becoming the clean energy superpower of the 21st century. Finally, we believe Social Security and Medicare can and must be saved.

PLANKS

We believe that:

  1. Government investment is necessary to advance innovation and provide good-paying jobs.
  2. It is necessary to commission, safeguard and publicly manage a banking system and to assure essential projects are funded through public institutions, if necessary.
  3. Institutions trading in financial instruments such as stocks, bonds and derivatives – so-called investment banking – needs to be separated from commercial banking and regulated under a different set of criteria outside the protections afforded the commercial-banking sector.  
  4. We believe that some services are vulnerable to the marketplace’s incentives to cut costs and maximize profits, so they ought to be removed from the forces of a market economy. Foremost among these is the prison system, but this could apply to areas such as postal services, firefighting, etc.
  5. Social insurance must be publicly provided because the marketplace will not provide the universality that is required for Social Security, Medicare, medical care, etc.
  6. Free trade may be desirable but must be subordinate to the common good as partially defined by local, state and federal consumer, labor and environmental regulations.
  7. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is not adequate alone to quantify the value of our economy. We also need a General Welfare Index that measures the extent that the condition of the American people is improving.
  8. Given the impact of trade and technology on the working and middle-class, we believe that innovative programs must be considered to assure that all citizens have access to well-paying jobs.
  9. The top 1% of Americans may pay 37% of federal taxes, but they earn far more than 37% of discretionary income, defined as income after necessities. We believe that progressive taxation is efficient, fair, and essential. Any taxation scheme or proposal that shifts tax burdens to the poor and/or middle classes will undermine the fabric of communities and yield deficits or scarcity in either public funds or physical resources.
  10. Perhaps the most obvious marketplace flaw is its failure to force polluters to clean up after themselves, which is critical when it comes to climate change and the amount of carbon generated by human activities entering the atmosphere. We believe that governments must enact programs that will reduce the amount of carbon to acceptable levels, as the marketplace alone will not remedy this.
  11. White household median wealth is 7-10 times greater than African American household wealth, so we believe that steps need to be taken to redress this disparity.
  12. We believe in the right of every person to trade in an atmosphere free from unfair competition and domination by monopolies.
  13. We believe in the right of all family farmers to propagate, raise, and sell their products at a return which will sustain a decent living.

LEGISLATIVE ACTION ITEMS

State of Oregon
We call for:

  1. Creating a public bank in Portland/Oregon.
  2. The creation of loan programs that support cooperatives, other non-traditional organizations, and small businesses
  3. Continuing with the effort to make the Oregon state “kicker” more progressive.
  4. Auditing the State corporate gross receipts tax to determine whether the tax should be graduated for companies with gross sales of more than $25 million annually.
  5. Auditing the state minimum wage to determine whether it is a geographical living wage, tempered by a teenage wage.
  6. The need to reduce carbon recognized either through a cap-and-trade proposal or a carbon tax with dividend that eliminates fossil fuel demand by adjusting fossil fuel prices appropriately while returning the revenue to the taxpayers.
  7. Expanding fiscal impact statements to include a breakdown of impact on protected classes as defined by the Oregon constitution

Federal
We call for:

  1. Reenacting the Banking Act of 1933, currently proposed under Return to Prudent Banking and 21st Century Glass-Steagall bills, “to prohibit banks insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) from acting as or affiliating with investment banks” and redirect the commercial banking system to advancing real means of production.
  2. Increasing the national minimum wage law to $15.00 and indexing it to inflation.
  3. Preserving and dedicating the Estate Tax: the American people accept certain taxes that are dedicated to funding popular programs, like gasoline taxes and Social Security taxes. Dedicate Estate Tax revenue to an important goal (i.e. Universal Trust Funds, providing every American with a share of the stock market).
  4. Reforming the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) by graduating it and dropping lower- and middle-income earners off the AMT completely.
  5. Instituting a Graduated Corporate Alternative Minimum Tax.
  6. A Federal Permanent Fund modeled after the Alaska Permanent fund to provide every American with an annual income based on the revenue from the leasing of federal assets: nothing in this Legislative Action Item should be construed as supporting the non-sustainable use of public assets.
  7. Enacting only trade agreements which provide for sufficient environmental, labor, and consumer protections for the citizenry of every country involved in the agreement.
  8. Removing the Maximum Taxable Earnings Cap for Social Security taxes, taxing all incomes at the same rate to assure financial stability.
  9. Adopting a Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment that reflects the actual cost of living for retired and disabled people.
  10. Creating and expediting a Commission to determine the impact of Artificial Intelligence and robotics on the labor market and jobs, privacy and surveillance, living conditions, and social outcomes, and to develop remedies and best practice policies.
  11. Creating either a cap-and-trade program or a carbon tax with dividend to recognize the need to eliminate fossil fuel use as one means to fight global warming.
  12. Since a new minimum wage law should not need to be passed just to get the minimum wage back to what it was in 1968 or to provide small investors the same $3,000 cap on writing off losses against income that they had in 1986, every economic figure should be indexed for inflation.
  13. Breaking up monopolies, starting with barring Internet common carriers (i.e. Google, Facebook) from competing with businesses that use them.
  14. Supporting a commission to examine Reparations/The Racial Wealth Gap, with a focus on compensating for the discrimination in housing and mortgages and education that followed World War II.