Posted by: N.S. Palmer | March 9, 2011

Principles of the People’s Party

I didn’t write the following statement of principles. Robert Reich, an economist who was Labor Secretary in the Clinton Administration, posted it on his blog. He stated that it:

… was sent to me by someone in Madison, Wisconsin, who found it in the Capitol building last week. It was obviously written in a hurry, and it carries the label “first draft.”

Wisconsin is the latest battleground in the on-going war by corporations and the super-rich to strip working Americans of all their rights and reduce them to abject destitution. Similar battles are being waged against working people in Indiana and other states. But the exploited majority is finally waking up and fighting back.

Manifesto of the People’s Party

It’s emerging from the heartland – from Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and Iowa — and it is spreading across the nation. It doesn’t have a formal organization or Washington lobbyists behind it, but it’s gaining strength nonetheless. Like the Tea Party did with Republicans in 2010, the People’s Party will pressure Democrats in primaries and general elections leading up to 2012 and beyond to have the courage of the party’s core convictions. But unlike the Tea Party, which has been coopted by the super-rich, the People’s Party represents the needs and aspirations of America’s vast working middle class, along with the less fortunate.

The People’s Party is dedicated to the truth that America is a rich nation – richer by far than any other, richer than it’s ever been. The People’s Party rejects the claims of plutocrats who want us to believe we can no longer afford to live decently – who are cutting the wages and benefits of most people, attacking unions, and squeezing public budgets. The People’s Party will not allow them to turn us against one another – unionized against non-unionized, public employee against private employee, immigrant against native born. Nor will the People’s Party allow the privileged and powerful to distract us from the explosive concentration of income and wealth at the top, the decline in taxes paid by the top, and their increasing and untrammeled political power.

We have joined together to reverse these trends and to promote a working people’s bill of rights. We are committed to:

1. Increasing the pay and bargaining power of average working people.

We’ll stop efforts to destroy unions and collective bargaining rights. Protect workers who try to form unions from being fired. Make it easier for workers to form unions through simple up-or-down votes at the workplace.

2. Requiring America’s super-rich to pay their fair share.

Increase top marginal tax rates and the number of tax brackets at the top. Treat income from capital gains the same as ordinary income. Restore the estate tax. Revoke the citizenship of anyone found to be sheltering income abroad.

3. Protecting and expanding government programs vital to the working middle class and the poor.

These include Social Security, K-12 education, Pell Grants for disadvantaged students, public transportation, Medicare and Medicaid, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

4. Ending corporate welfare and cutting military outlays.

Trim defense spending. End special tax subsidies for specific corporations or industries – at both state and federal levels. Cut agricultural subsidies.

5. Saving Social Security while making it more progressive.

Exempt the first $20,000 of income from Social Security taxes. Make up the difference – and any need for additional Social Security revenues – by raising the ceiling on income subject to the Social Security payroll tax.

6. Ending Wall Street’s dominance of the economy and preventing any future taxpayer-funded bailout.

Break up Wall Street’s largest banks and put a cap their size. Link pay on the Street to long-term profits rather than short-term speculation. Subject all financial transactions to a one-tenth of one percent transactions tax.

7. Fully enforcing regulations that protect workers, consumers, small investors, and the environment.

Raise penalties on corporations that violate them. Expand enforcement staffs. Provide more private rights of action.

8. Providing affordable health care to all Americans.

The new health law isn’t enough. We’ll fight for a single payer – making Medicare available to all. End fee-for-service and create “accountable-care” organizations that focus on healthy outcomes.

9. Slowing and eventually reversing climate change.

We’ll fight to limit carbon emissions. Impose a ceiling on emissions or a carbon tax on polluters. Return the revenues from these to the American people, in the form of tax cuts for the working middle class.

10. Getting big money out of politics.

We’ll fight to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overrule Citizens United v. FEC. Require full disclosure of all contributions for or against any candidate. Provide full public financing for all presidential, gubernatorial, and legislative candidates in all general elections.

A few of the places it’s happening:

  • Madison (ongoing).
  • Des Moines (ongoing).
  • March 10: Indianapolis. Gather at 10am and rally at 11:30am at Statehouse, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis. Rallies will continue at the capitol until the impasse is over.
  • March 11: St. Louis. Downtown at 3:30 pm at Kiener Plaza. SB 1 is expected to be voted on in the Senate the week of 3/7 or 3/14.
  • April 4: In cities across America. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Demonstrations to show that “We Are One.”

Corporations and the super-rich control the government, all the levers of power, and almost all of the news media. Their agents are experts at discrediting, disrupting, and co-opting popular movements. We don’t have much of a chance. But as Americans, let’s at least make sure that they know they were in a fight.

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Responses

  1. Yay! Found this! Let me read it before I comment. 🙂

    • Reading before commenting is an excellent practice! It’s be nice if everyone on the Web followed it. 🙂

      • Yeah, in retrospect, that sounds kind of dumb. 😀

        What I should have said was, “I’m pleased to see you’ve posted something, and when I’ve had a moment to read and reflect on it, I’ll put my 2¢ in, assuming I have anything I think is worth offering”. 🙂

      • Is that 2 cents Canadian, or 2 cents US? 🙂

        I’m sure it would be worthwhile either way.

  2. I’ve read it a couple of times now. It’s really a remarkable document, especially for a first draft. It’s virtually wholly endorsable… my own quibble is with the idea of depriving anyone of citizenship (on the basis of tax fraud or any other): aside from being a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it leaves someone potentially stateless. No human being should be deprived of the absolute right to call someplace on Earth home. Other than that, it’s a breathtaking statement of empowerment and the worth of the individual. I haven’t much to add to it, except to pay it the highest compliment (in my own opinion) that I can: a United States really built upon these principles is one I could imagine my own country joining.

    Sadly, I think you’d see civil war before you saw this program adopted nationwide; still, it provides targets to aim at. Something’s better than nothing.

    • Hi, LP —

      On behalf of whomever wrote the document, I thank you for your kind words. I agree with you.

      As for the citizenship issue, many of these individuals are already citizens of another country: Richistan. You would like the short story, “The Man Without a Country.” It embodies your idea, with which I agree, that everyone is entitled to a country, state, or province that is home. You would also like it because it was written to promote the Union cause in the American Civil War.

      You’re also right about the difficulties of implementing a true populist program, as opposed to the fake “tea party” populism sponsored by the Koch brothers and Wall Street. People with power and wealth rarely give it up without a fight.

      • Oh, I’m not disputing the venality of these people (or the likelihood that some, if not most, put themselves before country), in the US and elsewhere in the First World, believe me. Just that some things ought to be sacrosanct — one’s right to call someplace home among them. But I have no problem at all with the idea of viewing international tax shelters as fraud and punishable by time in jail, or at least the seizure of those assets. I think a careful line would need to be drawn between hiding money away, like in Swiss bank accounts, and foreign investments — without which, international commerce would falter. The world’s too interwoven now to take a dim view of that. But a strict accounting must be maintained, so that people can do their duty in terms of taxation, both at home and abroad. In my opinion, this is a necessity of republicanism in its broader sense (even in countries with hereditary heads of state, ahem 🙂 ), which for me goes even beyond one’s country’s boundaries to a responsibility to humanity in general.

        The Tea Party foolishness is distressing. Believe it or not, the new mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, is trying to institute something called the “Ford nation”, which is clearly an attempt to use a municipal office to springboard himself into provincial or national office eventually. It’s predicated on principles similar to Tea Party principles, inasmuch as they apply in Canada which is generally positioned to the left of what would be typical in the US. It’s the antithesis of the message seen here in your most recent post. This isn’t a post just for the United States, it’s a word to the wise worldwide. 😉

  3. Sounds like the classical proletarian revolution to me. For a “first draft” it’s not very rough. In fact it reads a lot like portions of Robert Reich’s book “Aftershock.” 🙂

    Until we get our foreign policy under control we will continue our downward spiral just like most other major empires. Reining in our military empire should be something that the real people of the “Tea Party” and the “People’s Party” agree on. Sadly our media puppet masters will continue to provide us with an endless stream of false flag foreign atrocities while ignoring the depredation of ordinary Americans.

    By the way, I am glad to see another post. I check in quite frequently.

    • Hi, Jet —

      Thanks for stopping by! I ran into your sister on Fb the other day, and she seems very nice. I told her that we all miss you, but that I agreed your decision was a sensible one.

      I agree completely with your comment, though I haven’t read Aftershock so I’ll take your word on that point. Do you recommend it?

      Our foreign policy is under control. Unfortunately, it’s not under control by us. 🙂

  4. Noah,

    I can’t say that I recommend Aftershock as I didn’t read it all. I tend to disagree with Mr. Reich on numerous issues and this book fell a little flat for me. Sebastian Mallaby had a pretty good review of it in the NY Times a while back.

    You already know that I stand for more limited Federal Government. I remain unconvinced that giving more and more power to the Feds is a wise thing. I think we should return power to the states so people can develop the types of governments that fit them…but then you and I have discussed that before. 😉


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