- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 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 A. Booker on Wednesday introduced legislation that would provide grants to localities for intervention programs intended to ease gun violence in areas with high homicide rates.

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The grants would go to localities that experience 20 or more homicides per year and have a homicide rate of at least twice the national average or to communities that show a “unique and compelling need” for the grants.

“Often when we talk about gun violence, the discussion focuses on deadly mass shootings, but in my neighborhood in Newark and urban cities across the country people are experiencing this on a daily basis,” the New Jersey Democrat said. “The epidemic of everyday gun violence that is ravaging our urban communities has been overlooked for too long, even as many neighborhoods have gun injury rates similar to war zones.”

The grants could be used for hospital programs that provide counseling and case management to people recovering from gunshot wounds, outreach programs to reduce the risk of violence from “high-risk individuals, and other intervention strategies.

Mr. Booker announced the legislation with Rep. Steven Horsford, Nevada Democrat.

Mr. Booker has made gun control a key part of his presidential campaign. He has expressed support for a mandatory government buyback of certain kinds of semiautomatic rifles and announced a proposal that calls for licenses for all gun owners.

Warren on money in politics

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday released a plan designed to curb the influence of money in politics that would expand public financing of elections and party conventions and ban federal candidates from taking money from corporate political action committees.

“However we choose to fund our campaigns, I think Democratic voters should have a right to know how the possible future leaders of our party are spending their time and who their campaign is rewarding,” she said on her campaign website.

The Massachusetts Democrat, who has largely eschewed the high-dollar fundraisers her rivals rely on to raise money, would set up a public financing program for political candidates and parties that would give a 6-to-1 match for contributions of less than $200. It would be funded by penalties from “corporate malfeasance” and “major tax crimes.”

She also would reduce the maximum amount someone can donate to a campaign from $2,800 to $1,000 and establish public financing for national conventions of major political parties.

Ms. Warren also would expand disclosure requirements for major donors and “bundlers” for presidential campaigns and expand regulations governing online political ads.

She would overhaul the Federal Election Commission, reducing the number of members from six to five and giving the FEC expanded powers to levy fines and conduct random audits.

Biden on government reform

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden on Monday released a plan designed to cut down on conflicts of interest and corruption in government.

Under the plan, which puts President Trump squarely in the crosshairs, Mr. Biden would push for legislation to require presidential candidates to disclose at least 10 years’ worth of tax returns — a nod to Mr. Trump’s refusal to release his own returns dating back to the 2016 campaign.

He also would block the White House from interfering with Justice Department prosecutorial decisions and would push to strengthen whistleblower laws so that a federal employee looking to expose malfeasance “receives full protection against retaliation by anyone, including the president.”

Mr. Trump has railed against a whistleblower whose complaint saying he improperly pressured the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on the Bidens helped push House Democrats to formalize their impeachment inquiry.

As he dealt with the fallout from his son’s business ties in Ukraine, Mr. Biden also made a separate vow that if elected, no family members would be allowed to hold plum federal posts or have business relationships with foreign companies.

“No one in my family will have an office in the White House, will sit in on meetings as if they are a Cabinet member, will, in fact, have any business relationship with anyone that relates to a foreign corporation or a foreign country. Period. Period. End of story,” he said.

Parts of his plan mirrored Ms. Warren’s effort to curb the influence of money in politics, and he would push for a constitutional amendment requiring complete public funding for federal candidates’ campaigns.

Sanders on ‘corporate greed’

Sen. Bernard Sanders on Monday released a plan designed to end “corporate greed and corruption” that includes higher taxes and a higher ownership stake for employees in their companies.

Mr. Sanders would require publicly traded companies and corporations making at least $100 million in annual revenue to provide at least 2% of stock to their workers each year until the company is at least 20% “owned by employees.”

He also would require 45% of the board of directors of such companies to be directly elected by company employees.

“For more than 40 years, the largest and most profitable corporations in America have rigged the tax code and our economy to redistribute wealth and income to the richest and most powerful people in this country,” the Vermont senator said. “The American people are saying enough is enough.”

He also would set new rules of the road for corporate mergers. Mr. Sanders would have the Federal Trade Commission look into all the mergers and acquisitions that have taken place since the president took office and undo the ones that have harmed employees or reduced competition.

Mr. Sanders also would return the corporate tax rate, which was reduced in the Republican tax overhaul, to 35% from 21%. His plan also would close some loopholes to raise an estimated $3 trillion over 10 years, $2 trillion of which would go toward funding a Green New Deal to combat climate change.

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