Here’s a look at some of the most important and notable bills in “the Bundle,” the package of progressive legislation that’s garnering wide support across the political spectrum.
MEDICARE FOR ALL
The Bundle provides for the establishment of a Medicare for All program that will extend free health care — including primary care and prevention, dietary and nutritional therapies, prescription drugs, emergency care, long-term care, mental health services, dental services, and vision care — to all individuals residing in the United States and U.S. territories. It also includes some additional bills that will empower Medicare to secure the lowest drug prices possible, including:
H.R. 411 — The Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act
This act would put Medicare directly in charge of demanding the lowest drug prices. Countries with national or single-payer health care are able to offer drugs to citizens at a fraction of what U.S. consumers currently pay, and 9 in 10 Americans support a way to find lower drug prices. By harnessing market-driven competition and the government’s purchasing power to restrain monopoly pricing of pharmaceuticals, this Act could do the same.
GREEN NEW DEAL
The Bundle includes all the bills of the Green New Deal, a comprehensive plan to build a national energy-efficient “smart” grid, upgrade every residential and industrial building for energy efficiency, and position America’s “green tech” sector to compete with China’s growing exports. This program, on the scale of the 1930s New Deal, will not only transition the United States to a 100% clean energy economy, it will create millions of green jobs, revitalize communities, slash poverty and help overcome historic injustices. The Bundle includes several additional measures to extend the the Green New Deal’s reach, give it regulatory power, and make sure the revenue it generates is enjoyed by all Americans. These include:
H.R. 671 — The Get Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act
In order to achieve a 100% renewable-energy economy by 2035, this bill terminates fossil fuel subsidies, denies federal permits for any major new fossil fuel projects, and prohibits the export of domestically produced crude oil and natural gas.
H.R. 212 — The Green Is Green Act to Create an American Social Wealth Fund
Levies a Carbon Tax on large-scale fossil fuel producers and directs that revenue (and revenue from new energy generation spurred by the Green New Deal) into a Social Wealth Fund, which builds dividend-paying public wealth for all Americans.
H.R. 1 — ANTI-CORRUPTION AND PRO-DEMOCRACY MEASURES
Several of the Bundle’s bills expand H.R. 1, the most sweeping set of government reforms since Watergate. The H.R. 1 bills are already substantial: they make it easier to vote through automatic voter registration and improved election infrastructure; they reduce the dominance of big money in politics by matching small donations with public funds; they end anonymous (“dark money”) corporate spending on political candidates, they end partisan gerrymandering and voter purging; they slow the revolving door between Congress and corporations; and they help to ensure elected officials work in the public interest by expanding federal ethics rules, including making any President release his or her tax returns. The Bundle includes further anti-corruption measures as well:
H.R. 82 — The “Enough Already” Act to Cap Campaign Spending
Elections will be financed publicly, and corporate donations will be constrained. Individual contributions will be allowed (and matched by public funds), but total expenditures will be capped.
H.R. 93 — The Main Street Not K Street Act to End Corporate Lobbying
To curtail the influence of money on the democratic process, this bill proposes a 10,000% tax on all corporate political spending. This would make such spending nearly always impractical, while not barring it outright (a constitutional impossibility since the the Citizens United ruling).
H.R. 77 — The Full American Representation Act
Establishes statehood for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, granting each voting representation in both the House of Representatives and the Senate and full control over their respective local affairs.
OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL
Justice Louis Brandeis said, “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” Channelling that spirit, the framers of the Bundle have supplemented H.R. 1, the Green New Deal, and Medicare for All with a number of other popular measures that supporters say will help put the American economy back in the hands of the American people.
H.R. 188 — The Living Wage for All Act
Ensures that no working American will work just to remain in poverty. Raises the national minimum wage to $15 from $7.25, at a rate of one dollar per fiscal quarter for the next two years. Also guarantees a living-wage job to any American over the age of 26 via block grants to states, with provisions to increase those grants when national unemployment rises above 6 percent.
H.R. 82 — The Universal Basic Income (UBI) Act
The Democrats’ UBI bill funds a five-year pilot project in 12 American towns and cities where economic insecurity is most dire. All residents will receive regular unconditional cash payments, with $1,000 per month going to adults 18 and over and $500 per month going to children. Researchers will track changes in recipients’ behavior and quality of life over the five-year span of the program, with the goal of setting appropriate UBI levels for every American by 2025 — abolishing extreme poverty and ensuring that American workers displaced by automation are given the support to get back on their feet.
H.R. 73 — Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act
Provides the areas hit hardest by the opioid crisis with $10 billion a year in federal funding to prevent and treat substance use disorder.
H.R. 99 — Bill of Rights for Domestic Workers
Extends worker rights to domestic workers and offers them financial stability and safety. The bill will ensure that domestic workers are covered by many basic labor laws: the right to overtime pay when they put in more than 40 hours a week, to the protections of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, to form unions, and to recourse against harassment and discrimination.
H.R. 147 — Liberation Act To End Mass Incarceration
Takes immediate steps to decriminalize use and possession of recreational drugs (for an estimated 1.5 million fewer arrests each year); end money bail; replace penal slavery with the minimum wage; ban private prisons; and fund cities to implement community-driven initiatives to replace aggressive policing.
H.R. 231 — Celebrating Our Diversity Act
Establishes a fair and humane immigration policy that prohibits family separations and incarceration for immigration-related offenses, and establishes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented residents living in the United States.
H.R. 61 — The Equality Act
Will expand existing civil rights law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
H.R. 326 — The Affordable Housing for All Act
This bill supports the large-scale creation of housing priced for sale at 60% or less of the median home price in the 400 most expensive housing markets in America. Working- and middle-class homeowners will get tax breaks, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit will expand, the homeless will get housing (not sheltering), and the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund will be permanently funded. All Trump properties (that have been placed under quarantine pending investigation) will be turned into libraries, schools, or other facilities to serve the public.
Some of the bills in the Bundle are aimed specifically at reining in the power of large corporations and leveling the economic playing field.
H.R. 34 — The Federal Corporate Charter Act
Most U.S. corporations are chartered by states, and some, including Delaware, have set such paltry accountability requirements that thousands of global companies now call them home. Corporations above a certain size that operate across state or international boundaries will be required to be chartered at the federal level. Such charters will redefine the governing board of a corporation to include all major stakeholders: consumers, employees, localities where the company operates, and environmental organizations.
H.R. 53 — The Corporate Accountability Act to End Limited Liability
Penalties for corporate misconduct will extend to all officers of the company in a way proportional to their investment. For example, Purdue Pharmaceuticals was fined $640 million for marketing Oxycontin with full knowledge of its dangers; the drug kills nearly 50,000 people per year. Under H.R. 53, Purdue might instead be convicted of 5,000 lifetime prison sentences, to be distributed among company officers (for periods from 5 years to life, depending on rank).
H.R. 406 — The Loss of Trust Internet Act
Recognizing that a handful of digital companies have built oligarchic power to rival the most powerful Gilded Age corporations, this bill will turn Facebook into a public utility and break Amazon into three separate companies. This bill will also reinstate net neutrality.
H.R. 187 — The Too Big to Bail Out Act
In the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008, the five largest Wall Street banks further consolidated their hold on the market and grew by 30 percent. This bill will ensure that no single bank can manage more than 10 percent of total banking assets in the country, effectively breaking up JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup, and halting further consolidation of the banking sector. Additionally, different sectors of banking will be separated with a firewall, in a strengthened version of Glass-Steagall.
H.R. 121 — The Support Family Farmers Act
This bill protects family farmers and ranchers from multinational corporations such as Cargill, Purdue, Monsanto, and Archer Daniels Midland by eliminating “vertically-integrated farming” (wherein small farms are allowed only one client), breaking up agribusiness monopolies, increasing farm subsidies where needed, and restricting eminent domain.
“I want everyone to be happy and healthy, too, but how are we going to pay for it all?” Supporters of the Bundle have a simple answer to this common question: make sure the wealthy pay their fair share. Several of the bills in the Bundle aim to do exactly that, including a bill that strengthens the Estate Tax, the country’s only levy on inherited wealth; a “Scrap the Cap” Act to extend Social Security withholding taxes on income over $132,900; the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act that brings transparency and stricter rules to wealth hidden in offshore accounts; the Tax Wealth, not Work Act which eliminates the tax preference for income from wealth (capital gains); and the Carried Interest Fairness Act which eliminates the loophole that enables hedge fund managers to reclassify their income as lower-taxed capital income. Here are some additional stand-outs:
H.R. 15 — The Maximum Wage Act
This bill establishes a 90 percent top income tax rate on income that is over 50 times the minimum wage. With a $15 minimum wage, the maximum wage would start at incomes over $1.5 million. With this link in place, the wealthy and powerful would have a direct stake in seeing the income floor rise.
H.R. 55 — The Make America Solvent Again Act by Restoring Top Income Tax Rates
Institutes higher marginal tax rates on incomes over $1 million. The wealthiest 1 percent of households paid marginal tax rates as high as 91 percent under President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s. This bill restores top marginal tax rates to pre-1981 levels.
H.R. 333 — The Private Jet Taxation Act
Levies a tax on profligate fossil fuel consumption such as private jets. Raising the cost of massive carbon consumption is one way to offset the costs of transitioning the U.S. energy system.
H.R. 144 — Inclusive Prosperity Act to “Tobin Tax” Financial Transactions
This bill will levy a Wall Street financial transaction tax to discourage high-frequency trading, and to raise substantial revenue from speculative investing activity. Over 40 countries have financial transaction taxes, levying taxes as low as a penny on every $4 of sales of stocks, bonds, and derivatives while exempting small investors. Financial transaction tax legislation will raise approximately $300 billion annually.
A number of bills in the Bundle focus on assuring that education is a public good benefiting all of society, rather than a commodity that lands students in burdensome debt.
H.R. 313 — The Federally Funded pre-K-12 Education Act
This bill ensures that every community, in partnership with the federal government, has the financing necessary to strengthen public schools and adequately fund preschool, smaller classes, summer and after-school programs, and skilled, well-paid teachers.
H.R. 329 — The Tuition-Free College for All Act
This bill emends the Higher Education Act of 1965 to eliminate tuition and required fees at all community colleges and two-year tribal colleges and universities; and at four-year public universities for working- and middle-class students.
H.R. 49 — The Student Debt Abolition Act
This bill liberates generations of Americans from de facto debt servitude by canceling all student loan debt. The federal government will cancel the loans it holds directly and buy back the financing of privately-owned loans on behalf of borrowers. It is estimated that a policy of debt cancellation could boost real GDP by an average of up to $108 billion per year.
ALSO IN THE BUNDLE
The full range of provisions in the Bundle’s 64 bills is too large to describe on one brief newspaper page, but they also include measures that establish a “baby bond” investment account for each young person born in the United States, accessible to them at the age of 18; a commission, inspired by Germany’s post-war experience, to study reparation proposals for African-Americans and Native Americans; and a “true peace dividend” that subjects 50% of the $700 billion Pentagon budget to a “participatory budgeting process.”