- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 13, 2020

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 of Massachusetts on Wednesday suggested squeezing money from the Department of Justice as one way to try to limit interference from the White House after the controversy surrounding the sentencing of Trump associate Roger Stone.

Ms. Warren said Attorney General William Barr should resign or face impeachment for “interfering” with the operation of justice.

“And also, we should be using the other tools of Congress,” she said on MSNBC. “And that is we can put budget constraints so that Donald Trump is not able to have any funding to be able to interfere into actions that affect Trump, the Trump family, Trump buddies, Trump campaign workers.”

“We can’t just sit on our hands,” she continued. “This president will be in control through the November elections if we don’t have as many tools as we wanted, then we just got to pick up what we’ve got and use them.”

Congress routinely tries to insert policy “riders” into spending bills, which can include language dictating that money cannot be used for specific purposes.

But it’s highly unlikely that Mr. Trump would willingly sign a bill with language expressly intended to put guardrails on his actions.

Prosecutors this week recommended that Stone spends between seven and nine years in prison for charges stemming from the Russia probe. A day later, the Justice Department said he should serve “far less” time amid complaints from the president that Stone, a longtime friend of the president, had been mistreated.

Four federal prosecutors resigned in protest of the change.

Mr. Barr on Thursday said Mr. Trump’s tweets “make it impossible for me to do my job.”

“I think it’s time to stop tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” Mr. Barr said in an interview with ABC News. “I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody whether it’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president.”

Mr. Barr also said the president never asked him to interfere in the criminal case against Stone.

Ms. Warren also said her idea to form a Justice Department task force to probe potential crimes by Trump administration officials is different than what the president is trying to do with the Stone case.

“It’s an independent task force, has nothing to do with the presidency,” she said.

Steyer on minimum wage

Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer came out this week in support of a $22-per-hour minimum wage, which is above and beyond the $15-per-hour level much of the Democratic Party has settled around.

Mr. Steyer made the announcement at a campaign block party Sunday in South Carolina.

Many candidates in the Democratic field have released economic policy blueprints that call for a federal minimum wage of $15 per hour.

Mr. Steyer himself released a tax-cut plan last month that said he will work to increase the minimum wage to “at least” $15 per hour while “vigorously” enforcing labor laws around “equal pay and wage theft.”

“To win in November, Democrats need to take Donald Trump on over the economy and beat him,” he said.

Bloomberg on abortion

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday released a set of policies intended to safeguard the reproductive rights of women.

“As president, I will fiercely protect a woman’s right to choose, and I will appoint judges who will defend that right,” he said.

Mr. Bloomberg’s plan includes a repeal of the Hyde Amendment, a longstanding measure in annual federal spending legislation that generally bars taxpayer money from being used to fund abortions.

He also wants to work with Congress to “codify” the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that guarantees a constitutional right to have an abortion.

Pro-life activists are hoping the Supreme Court takes another look at the longstanding precedent now that it includes two Trump nominees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh.

Mr. Bloomberg also would push to eliminate the Trump administration’s “gag rule” that seeks to prevent taxpayer money from flowing to outside groups that promote or perform abortions.

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