Progressive elected officials and activists descended on Washington on Wednesday to unveil a plan to tackle an issue that is already consuming the 2016 presidential campaign: income inequality.
Standing under the scorching sun with the temperature approaching 90 degrees, liberal members of Congress, mayors, economists, labor leaders and activists gathered outside of Capitol Hill to rally behind a new progressive policy blueprint.
With the 2016 presidential campaign well underway, the set of proposals lays down a prominent marker for the priorities of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party – a faction that’s been eager to flex its muscles in the policy sphere and in recent years has found a powerful voice in Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
It will also likely serve as a measuring stick for Democratic presidential candidates, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom liberals are pushing to support progressive policy ideas.
“The crisis of economic inequality is massive. But it is well within our power to take it head-on,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “And we won’t do it from the top down. We’ll do it as a progressive force.”
With more than 80 signatories, the agenda includes more than a dozen specific proposals, most of them already widely supported within the Democratic Party.
They include raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, passing comprehensive immigration reform; passing national paid sick leave and family leave; a universal pre-K program and closing certain tax loopholes that benefit investors.
At least some of those proposals, like raising the federal minimum wage, are unlikely to gain traction in a GOP-controlled Congress.
Wednesday’s press conference also came moments after Senate Democrats rebelled against President Barack Obama by voting against a key procedural motion on the so-called “fast-track” trade bill, and served as a victory rally for progressives who opposed the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
New York Rep. Charlie Rangel said at the event that the trade agreement does not protect the working people.
The rich will get “95% of profits which this trade agreement’s going to bring,” Rangel said.