- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 9, 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. Bernard Sanders of Vermont on Thursday rolled out legislation to try to block the Pentagon from funding a war with Iran without congressional authorization.

“The American people are sick and tired of endless wars. Nonetheless, the Trump administration has impulsively brought us to the brink of a disastrous and unnecessary war with Iran,” Mr. Sanders said. “We need to invest our financial resources in improving lives here in America, not waste trillions more on wars.”

Mr. Sanders has criticized President Trump for last week’s airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and said it could lead to further escalation in the region.

Rep. Ro Khanna, a California Democrat who is supporting Mr. Sanders’ presidential bid, introduced a companion version in the House. A similar measure passed the House last year.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who is vying with Mr. Sanders for support from the far-left flank in the 2020 race, is a co-sponsor of the Senate bill.

Warren on war crimes

Ms. Warren on Wednesday helped introduce a resolution that rebukes Mr. Trump for threatening to target cultural sites in Iran and calls on him to “refrain from violating the law of armed conflict.”

“Destroying a country’s cultural sites is not only wrong, it’s a violation of international law,” Ms. Warren said. “As President Trump escalates toward war with Iran, it’s up to Congress to reaffirm our longstanding commitment to protecting civilians and cultural sites from attack.”

Ms. Warren is a co-sponsor of the resolution, which was introduced by Sen. Ed Markey, Massachusetts Democrat.

It points out that the Geneva and Hague conventions prohibit destruction or acts of hostility against cultural sites.

After the airstrike, Mr. Trump threatened to target Iranian cultural sites if Iran tried to strike back at Americans.

He acknowledged this week that laws of international war are meant to prevent that.

“And you know what? If that’s what the law is, I like to obey the law,” he told reporters at the White House. “But think of it: they kill our people, they blow up our people and we have to be very gentle with their cultural institutions, but I’m OK with it. It’s OK with me.”

Bloomberg on the economy

Former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Wednesday announced a set of economic proposals that included an increase in the minimum wage and expanded labor protections for workers.

The plan calls for an increases in the minimum wage to $15 per hour, additional labor protections, and expanded collective bargaining rights for American workers, among other changes.

“The U.S. economy is working just fine for people like me, it really is,” said Mr. Bloomberg, who is worth an estimated $56 billion. “But it is badly broken for the vast majority of Americans.”

The plan calls for new investments in research and development and job training programs, as well as a boost in staff and funding for the Small Business Administration.

It also sets a goal that by 2030, 1 million students per year will enroll in “apprenticeship degrees and quality credential programs” where enrollees receive pay and academic credit for on-the-job learning.

The plan also grants all workers, including “gig,” contract and franchise employees, the right to organize and bargain collectively.

Patrick on a ‘democracy agenda’

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick on Friday plans to introduce a set of changes to democratic institutions, including an end to the Electoral College and an overturning of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.

“People are very frustrated by the fact that our democracy does not always produce democratic outcomes,” Mr. Patrick told WMUR in New Hampshire, which first reported on parts of the plan.

He said the Electoral College has “outlived its usefulness.”

In addition to pushing a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, he would try to end “dark money” super PACs and limit the influence of lobbyists.

The plan also would have the Justice Department crack down on “voter suppression,” while examining other voting changes such as automatic registration and nationwide Election Day registration.

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