A few weeks ago, I spent an afternoon in Reno, Nevada, picketing with members of the United Auto Workers outside a General Motors facility. While GM rakes in robust profits, as of that visit, many workers hadn’t seen a fair wage increase in more than a decade.
When corporations write the rules, you can generally bet that executives will get bonuses, shareholders will get dividends and workers will get screwed. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the CEO-to-worker pay ratio has gone from 20-to-1 in 1965 to 278-to-1 in 2018.
The hostile corporate takeover of our government has been spurred by four decades of destructive Republican policies and an inability of Democrats to right these policies when they held power. It’s an affront to the dignity of working people, and has led to historic levels of income inequality in our country.
The whole arrangement is economically, and morally, backwards.
I’m a progressive and a capitalist, but it’s clear that unchecked capitalism has failed. We got into this mess thanks to Republicans and special interests protecting and promoting the interests of corporations and the wealthy at the expense of the American people. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, half of the benefits from Trump’s tax cuts will go to the richest 5% of Americans next year.
I’m running for president to stop and reverse that trend. For Democrats to win in 2020 and govern effectively, we must present a strong plan for growing the economy in a way that is more equitable — and that doesn’t sacrifice the innovation that fuels our competitive strength.
I want to be clear: a socialist system, or nationalizing certain industries, is not the solution. Instead, I believe in a “people over profits” economic agenda. Here is how it would work.
Break the corporate stranglehold on our government
Today, industrial polluters continue to poison our air and water, and big banks continue to risk seniors’ retirement security, prioritizing profits over the best interests of the people.
It’s time for the American people to write the rules so that we can reverse the historic levels of inequality in our country and make good on progressive policies that can grow an economy that works for everyone.
That means renewing the bargain between business and organized labor by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and expanding the earned income tax credit, which boosts pay for Americans living paycheck to paycheck, helping them support their families.
I believe in defending and promoting organized labor, the first and last line of defense against corporate rule. Unions protect workers from exploitation, defend the right to a living wage and hold corporations accountable to treat their workers more justly.
A healthy democracy means a government that works for people, not just politicians. And strong unions mean corporations that work for workers, not just CEOs.
Invest in our people
We need to work harder to reorder the root economic incentives that protect our middle class and promote strong, sustainable economic growth.
That’s one of the reasons I’ve been calling for a wealth tax: a 1% annual asset-based tax on the top 0.1% of Americans. If you’re worth more than $32 million, you’ll pay a penny on every dollar you have above that level. No deductions, no exemptions, no loopholes. Over the course of the next decade, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, this tax would generate over $1 trillion, which we could then invest right back into the American people.
Closing gaps of opportunity, ensuring economic mobility and fortifying growth in the long run requires long-term investments in education, health care, immigration, infrastructure, science and research.
These priorities have been gutted for close to 40 years in favor of a trickle-down, corporate-giveaway philosophy that has never worked.
The American economy relies on the private sector — and we can leverage the private sector the right way by putting the American people in charge of how corporations conduct their business. When people are in the driver’s seat of our economy, we can unleash the innovative potential that has helped us lead the world.
Take 1960s Los Angeles as an example, where school was regularly closed for “smog days.” Southern California was known as the pollution capital of the world.
But in that moment, the American people succeeded in holding the auto industry accountable for its pollution. At the time, despite attempts from industry lobbyists to block action, Congress was actually responsive to the millions of Americans calling for change, and passed the Clean Air Act. The resulting regulations helped spur targeted innovation, which led to the invention of catalytic converters and smoke-stack scrubbers, changed global industries and improved countless lives.
My campaign for president is different because I know what it takes to invest and build prosperity in today’s economy. Unlike Donald Trump, I didn’t inherit hundreds of millions of dollars from my parents. I started my investment business by myself in a windowless room and grew it into a multi-billion-dollar international enterprise.
I can challenge Donald Trump on the economy and expose him for what he is — a fraud and failure.
We all know that the 2020 election will come down to the economy, particularly as Trump’s economic plans fall apart. It’s critical that Democrats put forward a plan for the economy that is strong and fair — a plan that can withstand Trump’s attacks. I believe I am the Democrat best positioned to do just that.
When our economy empowers all Americans, we can roll back the decades of the Republicans’ ideology that has always favored corporations over people.
The stakes couldn’t be higher in this election. A lawless president tests our constitutional norms on a daily basis, and he’s placed us squarely on the path of a looming recession.
The Democratic Party is at a crossroads. If I’m elected president, I vow to offer a new path forward — one that doesn’t just right our moral wrongs, but fundamentally reforms our economy, with incentives that will always put the American people first.