- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 1, 2019

While the political jockeying gets more attention, candidates in the 2020 Democratic presidential race are advancing serious policy proposals. The Washington Times takes a weekly look at some of them that may have flown under the radar.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren this week proposed a new approach to trade deals, saying countries wanting to enter into new agreements with the U.S. must be willing to meet strict standards tied to human rights, collective bargaining, child labor, religious freedom and climate change.

Ms. Warren said countries must forgo domestic fossil-fuel subsidies and meet other environmental commitments that, she acknowledged, even the U.S. does not meet.

“Make them pay workers more. Let their workers unionize. Raise their environmental standards before they come to us and say they want to be able to sell their products,” she said at Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, a day after she announced the policy.

She said big corporations have “bought and lobbied their way” into dictating America’s trade policy, and that she would also avoid President Trump’s frequent use of tariffs to try to browbeat countries into coming to the table.

She portrayed trade deals as a chance to advance other policies, with tighter safety standards on food imports. And she said she would give labor, environmental and consumer advocates more say in the deals she negotiates.

The Massachusetts senator said she would impose a carbon fee on certain imports to try to discourage companies from relocating to countries with looser rules on greenhouse gas emissions.

Inslee on ‘climate justice’

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who is running a climate-focused campaign, announced another plank in his plans Monday, saying “community climate justice” will be a central governing philosophy if he’s elected.

Under the plan, federal spending would be screened for effects on climate and pollution, and he would work to direct least 40% of new federal spending on clean energy to “front-line” communities most affected by climate change.

“We know that the communities who are being hurt first, and who will be hurt worst, by climate change are low-income communities and communities of color,” Mr. Inslee said.

Mr. Inslee also wants to use special mapping to track pollution hot spots and “environmental health disparities,” saying it will inform public policy decisions.

He would direct federal agencies to examine “historic patterns of racial discrimination and environmental racism,” and transform the White House Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) into a Council on Environmental Justice (CEJ) that would center federal environmental policy around “equity, justice, and inclusion.”

Also this week Sen. Kamala D. Harris, another presidential hopeful, teamed up with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a superstar freshman lawmaker, to unveil their own environmental justice plan. It would require climate-related legislation to be scored for its estimated effect on frontline communities and establish an independent office of “climate and environmental justice accountability” to represent those communities when rules are being crafted.

Delaney on national service

Former Rep. John Delaney released a plan that would require every American adult to do a year of public service, in exchange for tuition benefits at public colleges.

Mr. Delaney, who had previously suggested expanding voluntary service programs like AmeriCorps, says he now believes national service must be “mandatory,” with no exceptions.

“It’s time to bring the country together, restore our sense of shared purpose, and a common and inclusive national destiny,” the Maryland Democrat said.

People can either serve in the military, take part in an expanded national service program, or find roles in other initiatives such as an infrastructure apprenticeship program or a “Climate Corps” to combat global warming.

Enrollees would be paid for their service, which would run between one and two years. One year of service would earn the participant two years of free in-state tuition at a public college or university. Another year of service would add another year of free tuition.

The requirement would kick in for people when they turn 18 or graduate high school. It would apply to those born after 2006, but would be phased in over time.

Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand and Rep. Seth Moulton have also suggested tying national service to college tuition or education-related benefits, though their programs would be voluntary.

Ryan on industrial policy

Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio touted a multifaceted plan intended to strengthen manufacturing in America, amid long-term economic upheaval in rust belt states.

“We must invest in new industries, especially the technology sector, which is building the foundation for a new era of American industrial supremacy,” Mr. Ryan said last weekend.

The congressman wants to create a new “Chief Manufacturing Officer” charged with trying to foster partnership between American businesses and key departments within the federal government.

He has sponsored legislation to create the act in Congress in the past.

He would also create a national infrastructure development bank, and help “left-behind” workers through priorities like increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and instituting “wage insurance” for men and women ages 50 or over to try to cut down on pay cuts as people get older.

Mr. Ryan also wants to double union membership by expanding workers’ collective bargaining rights, and would increase federal funding for registered apprenticeship programs.

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