- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 18, 2019

While the political jockeying gets more attention, candidates in the 2020 Democratic presidential 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 on Thursday rolled out a plan to crack down on private equity firms as part of her broader push to take on Wall Street.

Calling them the “poster child for financial firms that suck value out of the economy,” Ms. Warren said it is long past time to rein in private-equity firms by holding them liable for the debts and pension obligations of the companies they buy.

“Let’s call this what it is: legalized looting — looting that makes a handful of Wall Street managers very rich while costing thousands of people their jobs, putting valuable companies out of business, and hurting communities across the country,” Ms. Warren said.

She is demanding changes to the tax code so the firms don’t benefit as much from loading up companies with debt and changes to bankruptcy laws to help employees get paid if a company goes out of business.

Ms. Warren has been a relentless critic of Wall Street and the financial industry.

Steyer on ‘5 Rights’

Tom Steyer rolled out “5 Rights” agenda Thursday that calls for “unencumbered access to voting, clean air and water, education, a living wage and health care to be constitutionally protected for every American.”

The billionaire activist, who entered the 2020 Democratic presidential race last week after initially opting against a run, said the plan would serve as a “modern-day ‘Contract with America,’” alluding to the 1994 House Republican manifesto led by Speaker Newt Gingrich.

“I grew up believing the point of our country was to be free — the promise that everyone could make a good life for themselves,” Mr. Steyer said.

“But over time, I saw big corporations buy our democracy and set the rules for the sake of their profits, not for the common good. Corporate lobbyists rigged the system, leaving the majority of Americans walled off from their dreams,” he said. “We need to turn this around. We need to redefine what it means to be free in the 21st century — to make sure we all have the same chance to earn our fair share of America’s prosperity.”

Biden on public option

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden detailed his plan to expand Obamacare and reduce the costs of buying health care coverage by boosting federal subsidies and providing a new public health insurance option.

The proposal distanced him from the “Medicare for All” push that Sen. Bernard Sanders has thrust into the mainstream of the Democratic Party.

Mr. Biden said he is concerned about the cost of a single-payer system and the disruption that would come from moving more than 100 million people off their private health insurance into a government-run program.

It said the change could be a “bumpy ride” and “too risky” and warned that it would mark the end of Medicare as people know it.

Instead, he said people should be able to keep their private health insurance if they like it, repeating one of President Obama best-known campaign vows, and be given the option of buying into a government-run option that he said would generate more competition in the industry and drive down costs.

“What I would do immediately is restore all the cuts that have been made [to Obamacare], and then provide a public option,” Mr. Biden said at a forum sponsored by AARP and The Des Moines Register in Iowa. “I’d give people the option, if you like your health care plan enough and your employer based plan you can keep it. If in fact you have private insurance you can keep it.”

Inslee on working families

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday released a “Putting Families First” proposal that seeks to make life easier for working families across the country.

Mr. Inslee said he plans to create a national paid and medical leave program that would give employers 12 weeks of leave and significantly expand federal subsidies to help cover the cost of child care for middle-class families and the poor.

It also called for free or reduced tuition to public university and community college for low- and middle-income families, and expanded health care access through a Medicare buy-in public option, and opening up Medicare enrollment to people as young as 50 years old.

The package of reforms also included stricter labor standards, and providing affordable long-term care to seniors.

“This plan represents a comprehensive reorientation of our government toward the American people and programs that actually matter,” Mr. Inslee said. “It’s about time we took care of our country’s working families, who for too long have taken a backseat to corporations, special interests and wealthy donors.”

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