- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 10, 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. Cory Booker on Thursday released a plan intended to bolster the rights of college athletes and move toward pay and gender equity in sports, including for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team.

Under Mr. Booker’s plan, college athletes could get paid for “name, image and likeness” rights, a priority modeled on legislation that recently passed in California.

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“Sports at these levels is a multi-billion dollar business,” said Mr. Booker, a former college football player at Stanford University. “Just as we shouldn’t accept collusion, wage theft and a massive gender pay gap in any other industry, we shouldn’t accept them in sports.”

Mr. Booker also wants to establish a new federal commission on “Integrity in Sports” that would provide additional oversight over college athletics and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.

The commission would be charged with making recommendations on issues such as health and safety standards, access to health care, and whether athletes should be able to form labor unions.

Mr. Booker also wants to bolster health and safety standards for college athletes, help current and former college athletes pay their medical bills, and make it easier for athletes to transfer schools.

The plan also includes legislation to require national governing bodies, including the U.S. Soccer Federation, to compensate female athletes “fairly and equally.”

And he wants to improve pay for minor league baseball players, end “exploitative” labor policies for NFL cheerleaders and NBA dancers, and crack down on “anti-competitive” labor practices, invoking former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s effective exile from the league as an example.

Warren on ‘environmental justice’

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday released a plan intended to deliver “environmental justice” to communities most affected by climate change, one of the key priorities for activists championing the Green New Deal being pushed by Ms. Warren and other liberals in Congress.

Ms. Warren wants the federal government to better map at-risk communities across the U.S. and direct at least $1 trillion to the most vulnerable areas over the next decade.

She also plans to transform the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality into a broader Council on Climate Action and bring community leaders to the White House within 100 days of taking office for an “environmental justice summit.”

She also is vowing to provide job training and guarantee wage and benefit “parity” for fossil fuel workers transitioning to new industries, bolster work safety regulations, and empower the Environmental Protection Agency to “aggressively” pursue cases of “environmental discrimination” and go after corporate polluters.

Ms. Warren also wants to hold the financial industry “accountable” for “its role in the climate crisis” and require banks and other companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and price their exposure to “climate risk” into their valuations.

She re-introduced a “climate risk disclosure” bill earlier this year.

She also plans to work with Congress to put more money into clean water efforts and make it easier for vulnerable residents to move out of flood-prone areas — a “higher ground” pitch that 2020 Democratic presidential rival Andrew Yang has made.

Her campaign also said a Warren administration would better monitor post-disaster recovery to head off “climate gentrification.”

The plan gives multiple shout-outs to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a former 2020 presidential candidate who made climate change the central issue of his campaign.

Ms. Warren is a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal and has introduced other policy proposals with an eye toward climate change, including a $2 trillion plan to invest in “green” manufacturing.

Buttigieg on prescription drug prices

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, announced a plan Monday to cut the rising cost of prescription drugs that envisions penalizing pharmaceutical companies that don’t fairly negotiate prices.

Mr. Buttigieg set a goal of capping out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors on Medicare at $200 per month and keeping out-of-pocket drug costs under $250 per month for everyone who opts into a government-run health care plan under his broader health insurance vision.

“Instead of siding with Americans, politicians have stood with Big Pharma, as they did when Congress barred the federal government from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies on drug prices for seniors,” Mr. Buttigieg said. “It’s time for a new era of leadership in Washington who will finally make drugs affordable and take on pharmaceutical companies.”

Mr. Buttigieg would work to empower the federal government to bargain with private companies to lower the cost of drugs and would impose a minimum 65% tax on the company’s gross sales of the drug if it doesn’t participate in negotiations or if it leave the talks early.

He also would try to impose price protections by penalizing companies that increase drug prices faster than the rate of inflation and leverage intellectual property rules to get around “worst offender” pharmaceutical companies and find another supplier in drastic cases.

Sanders on money in politics

Sen. Bernard Sanders on Monday released a plan intended to curb the influence of money in politics that includes new rules of the road for public financing of political campaigns and an overhaul of the Federal Election Commission.

Mr. Sanders wants to ban corporate donations to Democratic Party conventions and inaugural events and institute a lifetime lobbying ban for former members of Congress and senior staffers.

“Our grassroots-funded campaign is proving every single day that you don’t need billionaires and private fundraisers to run for president,” the Vermont senator said. “When we win the Democratic nomination and defeat Donald Trump, we will transform our political system by rejecting the influence of big corporate money.”

The plan also calls for mandatory public financing laws for all federal elections and a new system of vouchers that allows voting-age Americans to “donate” to political candidates, akin to a program in Seattle and one that Mr. Yang has floated.

Mr. Sanders also would replace the FEC with a three-member Federal Election Administration that could impose civil and criminal penalties for campaign finance violations.

His plan takes aim at the Democratic National Committee, with whom Mr. Sanders has had a tenuous relationship dating to at least the 2016 presidential campaign.

He would ban national party chairmen and co-chairmen from ever serving as lobbyists or working for entities that receive federal contracts. He also would ban donations to the DNC from federal lobbyists and corporations.

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