- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 24, 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.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, on Thursday introduced a proposal intended to secure “power for women in the 21st century” that includes measures to guarantee abortion rights rights and boost female representation in the White House Cabinet and the federal judiciary.

The plan includes measures intended to close the “pay gap” between men and women, including legislation requiring large companies to make public their median pay gap broken down by racial and ethnic groups.

“Progress for women has come despite systemic sexism and racism, and persistent gender bias,” Mr. Buttigieg said. “And now, with women’s rights under assault, we can’t wait any longer to ensure women have the power they deserve.”

The plan also includes a repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which generally bars federal funds from being used to pay for abortions, and federal legislation that would protect women’s right to have an abortion even if the Supreme Court reverses the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Mr. Buttigieg also would nominate women to fill at least 50% of his Cabinet positions and federal judicial appointments.

He would invest more than $50 billion to provide access to capital and mentorship for female entrepreneurs.

The plan also includes a $10 billion investment over 10 years to try to combat sexual harassment and discrimination against women in the workplace.

Castro on criminal justice

Former housing secretary Julián Castro on Wednesday announced a proposal to overhaul U.S. criminal justice policies with an eye toward trying to prevent young people from getting swept up into the court system.

Among other priorities, the Texas Democrat wants to expand the juvenile justice system to include people up to the age of 21 and keep all records of minors confidential.

“We talk a lot about second chances in our criminal justice system, but too many young people don’t truly ever get a first chance in life,” Mr. Castro said. “Schools that are failing them, lack of opportunity and over-policed neighborhoods are setting our kids up for failure.”

To break the “school to prison pipeline,” Mr. Castro proposed ideas such as decriminalizing truancy by expanding the number of full-time case workers.

He also would end mandatory minimum sentences, end cash bail, limit the use of pretrial detention, and invest more money in public defenders.

Mr. Castro said he would work with states to require a criminal conviction before private property is seized through civil asset forfeiture, an issue that has attracted bipartisan interest from Democrats and libertarian-minded Republicans such as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

He also wants to implement “Second Chance Centers” as one-stop shops where ex-convicts can get information on how to reintegrate into society.

O’Rourke on foreign help, pardons

In a proposal aimed directly at President Trump, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke on Tuesday introduced a plan that would step up punishment for improperly soliciting favors from foreign powers and would curb the power of presidents to issue pardons.

Mr. O’Rourke would make soliciting a foreign power for “personal profit or political gain” a federal crime, both through civil and criminal liability.

House Democrats are investigating whether Mr. Trump withheld financial aid to Ukraine to pressure the country to help investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, a top political rival.

“Congress should act swiftly to impeach and to remove President Trump from office in light of his illegal actions,” Mr. O’Rourke said. “But it is also time to pass additional reforms … so that Trump — and every president who follows — will never be above the law or able to welcome foreign interference in our democracy.”

Mr. O’Rourke also wants to amend the Constitution to ban the use of a “self-protective pardon,” with which the president pardons an individual with ties to an investigation that targets the president or a family member.

Until that happens, Mr. O’Rourke would require the president to disclose relevant evidence when he issues pardons to people “with ties to the president’s own interests.”

Harris on tribal lands

Sen. Kamala Harris on Monday released a proposal intended to restore half a million acres to Native Americans.

“Let’s speak truth: we have failed in our obligations to tribal nations,” the California Democrat said. “We have an opportunity to chart a new course of fully empowering Native American communities and supporting their governments’ right to self-determination and self-governance.”

She set a goal of taking 500,000 acres into trust for federally recognized Indian tribes. She would push Congress to clarify that tribes federal recognized after 1934 can receive land into trust.

Ms. Harris also would shore up funds in the federal Indian Health Service by making the service exempt from across-the-board “sequester” budget cuts and asking Congress to provide funds ahead of time so money would flow even during a government shutdown.

She also would increase funding for Bureau of Indian Education schools and dedicate $100 million for a new tribal emergency fund for substance abuse and mental health treatment.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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