Pondering the Policy Primary

Where Things Stand

Florida mayor Wayne Messam joined the presidential field this week. Sorry Wayne, but you’re not making this list:

-      John Delaney

-      Andrew Yang

-      Elizabeth Warren

-      Tulsi Gabbard

-      Julián Castro

-      Kirsten Gillibrand

-      Kamala Harris 

-      Pete Buttigieg 

-      Cory Booker

-      Amy Klobuchar

-      Bernie Sanders

-      Jay Inslee

-      John Hickenlooper

-      Beto O’Rourke


Who’s up next?

-      Joe Biden is still mulling– but that hasn’t stopped a slew of bad press in recent weeks on topics ranging from his handling of the Anita Hill hearing to his wishy-washy stance on abortion to his balk at the desegregation of school buses

-      Meanwhile, former governor and GU Politics Fellow-in-law Terry McAuliffe let slip that he’s looking seriously at a run, looking to capitalize on Biden’s hesitation 

-      Michael Bennett said he’s “very inclined to run”

-      Stacey Abrams said on “The View” that she doesn’t want to be anyone’s Veep choice this early – so she’ll probably either make a run at the presidency or run for Senate in Georgia


Keep an eye on …

-      Seth Moulton and Tim Ryan both have been in and out of Iowa, flirting with potential runs


On the Latest Presidential Policy Proposals

We’re hitting a part of this cycle where a mere trip to a state doesn’t automatically generate press coverage. This means that candidates are looking for creative ways to make news – from standing on tables to releasing tax returns to calling for big changes to the Constitution. 

Or, as a handful of candidates have laudably done the past few weeks, roll out bold, impressive policy proposals.

 This is the primary I’ve been looking for and I’ve argued we as a party need – as mentioned in my very first column. Through this flurry of proposals, we get to see candidates’ priorities, values, and policy chops. We can debate the merits and approaches and really see how these candidates differ in their governing mindset. And maybe at the end of this, we’ll have a full slate of proposals under the Democratic banner ready for action on January 20th, 2021.

 So, let’s dive into three notable proposals from this past week:


Kamala Harris’s Teacher Pay Plan

What’s the problem?We have a teacher pay crisis: public school teachers earn 11% less than other professions with the same educational backgrounds –and often make less than a living wage to support a family of four.

 Why does it matter? Education is the foundation of a prosperous economy and a stable democracy. By shaping the younger generations, teachers play a massive role in American society. Raising their pay will compensate them more justly for their work, as well as draw talented potential teachers away from other better-paying industries. An investment in them is an investment in our future.

What’s the solution? Harris’s plan would grant the average teacher a $13,500 raise by offering an initial 10% of the necessary funding upfront from the federal government, and then matching 3:1 every dollar states spend on closing the pay gap. Her plan also directs more resources toward communities in need by offering above-market wages for those teachers.

How does it help her campaign? This policy is the right thing to do – full stop. But beyond that, education is consistently a top-three issue for most voters, especially in early states like South Carolina, but rarely gets a spotlight in presidential campaigns. And it certainly helps to have teacher unions and education reformers on your side.


Elizabeth Warren’s Big-Ag Attack Plan

 What’s the problem? Big-Ag companies like Bayer-Monsanto and Tyson are strangling family farmers.

 Why does it matter? Agriculture is still supporting many families across the Midwest, and food infrastructure is critically important to national security. Plus, the government already spends a ton of money propping up the industry – yet we allow big companies to swallow up competition and essentially dictate the markets.

What’s the solution? Warren would reverse the Bayer-Monsanto merger, appoint federal regulators to scrutinize other companies like Dow-DuPont under anti-trust legislation, and prevent foreign investors from buying up American agricultural land.

How does it help her campaign? This plays verywell in Iowa – where rural issues are always top of mind – and also helps her connect with folks across the Midwest. It also fits well into the Warren campaign’s anti-consolidation, increased regulation themes as well as her broader “rigged system” narrative.


Amy Klobuchar’s Infrastructure Investment Plan

What’s the problem? Democrats and Republicans broadly agree that our national infrastructure is crumbling and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Why does it matter?  Our bridges, highways, airports, and electric grids are critical to national security – but also our everyday lives. We need massive investment in these projects to create jobs, spur economic growth, and keep people safe.

What’s the solution?  Klobuchar is proposing a $650 billion investment in public-private partnerships to repair and modernize a number of projects across the country – paying for it by rolling back the 2017 Republican corporate tax cut.

How does it help her campaign? This is a true bipartisan issue that will appeal to centrists and far-left voters. This opens up the number of voters available to her campaign.


Other Big Ideas Being Discussed

-      Health Care– particularly, a debate over single-payer versus a public option, because we all agree the health care is a right

-      Reparations– there is some debate over whether or not the Democratic Party should support some form of reparations, and also some debate over what form they should take

-      Marijuana– it’s pretty mainstream in this primary for candidates to support legalization


This week was, in my mind, very encouraging for the primary and our party. These proposals are bold, smart, diverse, and hit at the heart of so many important issues that resonate with the electorate.

The Democratic Party is back.


On My Mind: Debates

The DNC announced that the first debate will be spread across two days – June 26 and 27 – in Miami, Florida and televised on NBC.

This is a major win for the party; it’ll way be a less crowded stage than the Republicans in 2016. I’m really looking forward to seeing all the candidates up there and see who shines.

Max Magid