Draft 2018 Whatcom Democrats Platform
At the March 24 County Convention at Bellingham High School, we will be adopting the 2018 Whatcom Democrats Platform.
A total of five Platform Committee meetings held on February 7, 14, 21, and March 1 and 7 gathered proposals from our membership, and produced the following draft, which will be submitted to the membership at the County Convention. All paid members may participate.
Proposed new language is in red.
2018 Platform (Proposed)
Whatcom County Democratic Party Platform for 2018-2019
For consideration at 24 March 2018 County Convention
Agriculture, Aquaculture, Forestry & Food
Owner/operator farmers, foresters, and fishers are primary stewards of the land and sea. Agricultural skills, careers, businesses, infrastructure, and lifestyles are essential to our region’s survival.
Crop diversity, conservation, and environmental efforts that preserve agricultural land and natural resources, including clean water, are critical to the viability of food, fuel, and forest production.
Animals in food production must be treated humanely.
Ensure food security for all.
2018 Policy Priorities
U.S. Congress: Keep the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) fully funded, and accessible, without onerous and unreasonable eligibility barriers, or purchasing restrictions beyond the current ones.
Whatcom County: Promote water conservation and seek resolution of competing water rights claims, for the mutual benefit of fish, farms, people, and the environment.
Whatcom County: Expand the Purchase and Transfer of Development Rights programs and other conservation initiatives to preserve farm and forest lands.
Washington State Legislature: Clearly label genetically modified food and protect organic labeling standards so consumers are able to make informed choices.
U.S. Congress and Washington State: Phase out herbicides and pesticides that have been proven harmful to humans or wildlife.
Whatcom County and Washington State: Permanently sustain forests by inventory age bracket, especially old growth, under third-party certification favoring selective harvesting and groundwater erosion control while preserving wildlife habitat.
Whatcom County and Washington State: Support community food and school lunch programs using healthy local foods.
U.S. Congress: Phase out farm subsidies that favor large corporate farmers. End all subsidies to sugar and tobacco.
Washington State Legislature: Legalize cultivation of industrial hemp.
Washington State Legislature: Improve protection of our waters from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO).
Washington State Legislature: Phase out and ban non-native finfish aquaculture in marine waters.
Whatcom County: Provide enough water for people, farms, and fish in the Nooksack watershed now and for future generations by creating a water bank, through mitigation which would enable people to build rural homes relying on wells, farmers to secure access to water, and fish to have enough water to spawn.
Corporate Power, Transparency, and Media
Corporations are purely juridical, not natural (living, breathing) persons. As such their rights should always be subordinated to the rights of natural persons set forth in the Bill of Rights, Fourteenth Amendment, and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Rural areas should have reasonably priced high-speed internet access.
Antitrust laws should be enforced to prevent mergers and takeovers that 1) limit market competition, and 2) concentrate media and reduce the independent voices and diversity essential to democracy.
Public radio and public television should have stable funding free of political pressure.
All offshore arrangements designed to reduce taxes, avoid disclosure obligations, and exposure to regulatory oversight should be illegal.
Clean fresh water sources belong to everyone. They should not be subject to corporate privatization.
Platforms like Google, Facebook, and Twitter have come to dominate social interaction on the Internet. Organized to pursue private profit, their natural tendencies are to prioritize clicks, shares, ads, and money over the accuracy and quality of information essential to sustaining democracy. Society is increasingly vulnerable to propaganda, misinformation, and manipulation by both domestic and foreign actors, undermining a cornerstone of human discourse: the credibility of fact. In the public interest, platform providers must be required to verify identities of participants, block bots, and adjust their algorithms to demote false information.
2018 Policy Priorities
Federal Government: Overturn the Citizens United and McCutcheon rulings.
U.S. Congress and Washington State: Support a Constitutional amendment to ban corporate personhood, as well as immediate legislation to stop the effects until the amendment can be passed.
U.S. Congress and Washington State Legislature: Guarantee Internet neutrality, in which all users and content providers have equal access to Internet service, without discrimination or prioritization on the basis of source, destination, or technology.
U.S. Congress: Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.
Washington State Legislature, Whatcom PUD: Ensure affordable access to high-speed Internet and other media.
City of Bellingham: Form a municipal fiber optic Internet service.
Federal government: Vigorously enforce anti-trust laws, including against Big Tech, Big Pharma, and Big Media.
Federal and state government: Prohibit the revolving door whereby industry executives are chosen to run agencies that regulate that industry, and then return to that industry for lucrative positions afterwards.
U.S. Congress: Prohibit all use of offshore and onshore arrangements designed to evade taxes, avoid disclosure obligations, and exposure to regulatory oversight, with both criminal penalties and minimum fines that are set at a high enough percentage of a firm’s income to be a true deterrent.
Federal government: In cooperation with the European Union and others, compel all foreign countries and territories to alter their laws to provide full transparency about offshore accounts, and cooperation with the tax authorities of other countries, or face being frozen out of the U.S. financial system.
U.S. Congress: Make formation of onshore anonymous shell companies in the U.S. (in states such as Delaware, Nevada, and Wyoming) illegal. Pass the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act to require all shell companies to report their real owners.
U.S. Congress: Reinstitute the Glass-Steagall Act separating investment banking from savings and loan banking. Either rigorously enforce the Volcker Rule in Dodd-Frank or adopt whatever other legislation is necessary to ensure that no bank or financial service company (such as AIG) is ever again too big to fail.
U.S. Congress: To address the growing threat of propaganda and disinformation on social media, require social media platforms to 1) ban bots; 2) use “real-name registration,” by which users must provide their true identity, making it easier to hold individuals accountable for what they post, and more difficult to hide under fake names in order to threaten others or engage in prohibited activities; 3) develop automatic hoax detection systems relying on such research sites as Politifact.com and Snopes.com, with means of redress for the tiny minority of items that are unjustly flagged; 4) make it hard to monetize hoaxes; 5) require cryptographic verification of images and audio to distinguish them from fakes; 6) require that paid or “sponsored” content be clearly distinguished from other content; 7) Extend the rules for political advertising to online and social media platforms.
Everyone should have equal access to criminal justice resources and be treated equally under the law.
Bias based on race, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, gender identity, or religion is unacceptable. Such behavior violates the core American principle that all human beings have equal worth and should be treated with equal dignity. Police shootings of unarmed citizens are a national disgrace. Harassment, abuse, and discrimination, and must be investigated and prosecuted.
Incarceration is the most expensive and least effective means of ensuring public safety. Current rates of incarceration are a national shame. Incarceration should be reduced through restorative justice for non-violent crimes, bail reform, drug and mental health treatment programs, and means to reduce recidivism. For-profit jails, prisons, or detention centers should be prohibited.
The “war on drugs” must end and be replaced with policies aimed at reducing harm.
Acting violently based on interpretations of any religion or ideology is incompatible with democracy, human rights, and morality.
2018 Policy Priorities
Washington State Legislature: Decriminalize possession and use of personal quantities of psychoactive drugs, reserving criminal penalties for the illegal sale of controlled substances.
Washington State Legislature, United States Congress: Abolish the death penalty.
Washington State: Close privately-owned prisons.
Washington State Legislature: Repeal the three strikes law.
U.S. Congress, Washington State Legislature: Demilitarize police departments.
Washington State Legislature: Abolish felony disenfranchisement (retain the right to vote), as in Maine and Vermont.
Washington State Legislature: Switch to day fines as in Netherlands, Germany, and the Nordic countries, based on average daily income.
U.S. Congress: Pass the No More Money Bail Act.
Washington State Legislature: Abolish money bail, as New Jersey has already done.
Washington State Legislature: Limit the number of rounds allowed per magazine for semiautomatic guns to no more than ten, as in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York.
U.S. Congress: Make interstate gun trafficking a federal crime and increase penalties for so-called “straw-man” sales in which someone buys a gun to deliver to a third party.
U.S. Congress: End the ban on federal funding for research into gun violence.
Washington State Legislature: Allow growing up to four cannabis plants per residence for private consumption, kept out of public view, as in Oregon.
Federal Government, Washington State: Eliminate racial profiling by law enforcement.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): Eliminate intervention in our local court system.
Federal Government, Washington State, Whatcom County Sheriff, and city police forces: Base asset seizures on court conviction rather than mere arrest or presumption of guilt.
Washington State Legislature: Provide adequate funding for indigent defendants in criminal cases.
FBI, State Patrol, Whatcom County Sheriff, city police forces: Assure accountability in law enforcement through independent review, including meaningful citizen participation.
Whatcom County Sheriff, city police forces: Increase training of all law enforcement on how to recognize and manage events involving veterans and others who have seizures and mental-health events.
U.S. Congress: Move military sexual assault prosecution out of the chain of command to an independent prosecuting body.
Washington State Legislature: End discrimination against women in indecent exposure law. Specify that women may be topless when and where men are allowed to be topless.
Whatcom County and cities: Designate clothing-optional public beaches.
City of Bellingham: Permitted events with prearranged times and routes that involve non-lewd nudity should not be interfered with by police just because some individual phones in a complaint. Seattle no longer arrests participants in the annual World Naked Bike Ride; Bellingham should do likewise.
Federal and state: Extend the minimum wage to prisoner labor.
Public education is a cornerstone of a healthy democracy, and a thriving, competitive economy. A vibrant education system ensures our nation’s bright future.
Ensure access to equal educational opportunities for all students and foster respect for the diverse cultural communities of Whatcom County.
There’s an increasing need for education beyond the high school level, including university, community college, and vocational education. Students should be able to graduate debt-free.
Schools should be a safe place for all students, faculty and staff.
The work of public educators is vital and their salaries and benefits should be comparable with other professionals with similar experience and educational requirements.
Public funding of charter schools and school vouchers undermines public education.
Deemphasize standardized testing and ensure that teacher evaluation is not tied to standardized test scores.
Fund Head Start, pre-kindergarten, basic skills education, and life skills education.
2018 Policy Priorities
Washington State Legislature: Honor the State Constitution mandate to fully fund K-12 education as stated by the Washington Supreme Court McCleary decision.
Washington State and local school boards: Support creative and performing arts, vocational education, and physical education.
Federal Government: Provide student loans at the same rate offered to large banks through the Federal Reserve discount window.
U.S. Congress, Washington State Legislature: Make public universities and colleges tuition free.
Washington State Legislature: Lower the threshold for passing school bonds from 60% to simple majority, the same as for levies.
Federal government: Implement the funding provisions allowed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to fully fund the 40 percent of the additional increased costs for special needs students.
Washington State Legislature: Stop the privatization and corporatization of public education, such as Pearson Company GED testing that displaces teachers in the classroom.
Whatcom County School Districts: Fully implement Title IX protections for all students.
Environment, Energy, Transportation
For our children and future generations, protect our critical environmental areas, including wilderness areas, old growth forests, wildlife habitat areas and corridors, wetlands, streams, the Columbia River, Salish Sea, coastlines, and Pacific Ocean, through vigilant monitoring and sustainable growth management.
Fossil fuels are a finite and dwindling resource and we must swiftly transform our economy and technology to be based on renewable energy sources.
All countries and governments must respond swiftly and strongly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to slow rising average global temperatures and reduce the long-term effects of climate change, ocean acidification, and rising sea levels.
Use effective methods (such as targeted taxes and regulations) to ensure that the cost of environmental degradation be paid for by those who create the pollution or benefit from the action that caused the pollution.
Preserve biological diversity, including endangered and threatened species. Restore previously extirpated species.
Prioritize safe walking and bicycling, and public transit, over automobiles.
Protect the integrity and purity of Lake Whatcom, the drinking water supply for Bellingham.
2018 Policy Priorities
Federal Government: Tax carbon and methane in terms of CO2 equivalents.
Washington State Legislature and Executive Branch: Adopt a comprehensive state-level climate policy that will meet the emissions targets set in RCW 70.235.020. Tax carbon and methane in terms of CO2 equivalents.
Federal government, Washington State, Whatcom County, City of Bellingham: No new fossil fuel production and distribution infrastructure.
Federal Government: No oil drilling off the Washington State coastline. Maintain the ban on oil drilling and exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Washington State Legislature: Ban fracking.
Washington State Legislature: Close the oil tax loophole.
Washington State, Whatcom County: We oppose plans to ship coal and other fossil fuels to other nations.
Whatcom County and city governments: Enact local laws, regulations, and zoning that enable local public and private initiatives to develop renewable energy sources. All new public buildings should follow LEED environmental standards.
Whatcom County, City of Bellingham: Convert to public power (as in Jefferson County) in order to promote higher use of renewable energy and smart grids, keeping more of our ratepayer funds in Whatcom County, creating high-wage local jobs, reinvesting in local renewable energy capacity, and boosting the economy.
Federal Government: Clean up and eliminate the Hanford Nuclear Reservation site as a repository of nuclear waste.
Washington State, British Columbia: Clean up the Salish Sea and waters emptying into it, and enact new laws or regulations as needed to eliminate pollution at the source.
Whatcom County: Comply with the Growth Management Act.
Whatcom County, Cities: Transportation decisions for a livable city should reflect a hierarchy of transportation modes. Decisions about moving people should be prioritized based on the relative vulnerability and efficient use of space by each group. From highest to lowest: walking, cycling, transit, taxis/shared vehicles, and then single occupancy vehicles. This will also increase the percentage of trips using muscle power instead of fossil fuels, which will improve public health.
Washington State: Protect newly reestablished wolf populations.
National Park Service, Washington State: Restore a self-sustaining grizzly bear population in the North Cascades.
Washington State Legislature: Develop a statewide rail plan in cooperation with local jurisdictions, Amtrak, and freight railroads to substitute grade separation for existing grade crossings; require safety improvements to mitigate the shipment of hazardous cargoes; promote rail electrification; and to equitably share the costs of these changes. Improve passenger rail service between Whatcom County and points north and south, making service faster, safer, and more frequent, as a viable alternative to using and expanding I-5.
Federal Government: Implement safety standards for rail tank cars carrying flammable liquids including crude oil and petroleum. Mandate replacement or retrofitting of existing tank cars to meet the new standards.
Washington State Legislature: Increase safeguards for oil spill prevention and response. Mandate tug escort requirements for oil tankers. Improve emergency response for oil transport by rail and pipeline.
City of Bellingham: Make Food Plus and recycling mandatory for all food service businesses.
City of Bellingham, Whatcom County: Protect and restore Lake Whatcom, source of drinking water to over 100,000 people, by building storm water infrastructure and purchasing undeveloped lakefront properties, funded by a watershed storm water utility.
City of Bellingham and Whatcom County: Fund the Lake Whatcom invasive species inspection program entirely from registration fees.
City of Bellingham and Whatcom County: Ban all fuel motorized craft from Lake Whatcom, source of Bellingham’s drinking water supply.
City of Bellingham: Support livable, walkable neighborhoods – with shorter in-city trips and sustainable transportation choices. Use traditional housing forms available from the city’s Infill Tool Kit, to provide more housing within current city limits, along with other measures to promote housing affordability. Pair these with better public transit, more pedestrian and bicycle-oriented street layout, and the city’s housing design standards.
Port of Bellingham, City of Bellingham: Support a public waterfront with living-wage jobs in marine-related trades.
WTA: Expand bus routes to recreational areas (e.g. Artist Point, Semiahmoo Spit).
Port of Bellingham: Offer seasonal foot & bike ferry service to San Juan Islands from Bellingham Cruise Terminal.
City of Bellingham: Adopt Vision Zero to drastically reduce deaths and serious injury due to crashes.
The United States must balance a strong defense with due respect for equitable, just practices, and policy with other nations and peoples. Diplomacy, dialogue, and non-violent conflict resolution (“Soft Power”) are in keeping with our nation’s goals and principles, and must be our first resort.
Supporting self-determination for all nations and supporting the rights, liberties, and wellbeing of the peoples of all nations best advances our principles, aspirations, and interests.
Any prolonged military engagement should have Congressional authorization as required by the Constitution.
We favor nuclear nonproliferation, nuclear arms reduction, and international control of fissile material.
Our government should not engage in overt or covert efforts to destabilize other nations’ governments.
The government of the United States should work with transnational corporations and lending institutions, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank to develop ways to better handle Third World debt, including debt forgiveness where repayment is not feasible.
Existing international trade agreements should be renegotiated to incorporate—and future international trade agreements should incorporate—human rights, labor rights, environmental laws, transparency at all levels, and basic democratic procedures.
2018 Policy Priorities
U.S. federal government: Pay all back dues to the United Nations.
U.S. Congress: Reduce discretionary military spending and reinvest savings to green energy, health, education, housing, and infrastructure.
Federal Government and United Nations: Call on all governments, including ours, to secure nuclear weapons and reduce their production, stockpiling, and testing. Negotiate further reductions in nuclear warheads.
Government and Election Reform
Transparency is essential to a full and functioning democracy. Over-classification of government information is not in the public interest. We support timely response to Freedom of Information Act and Open Records requests. We oppose prosecution of whistleblowers.
The corrosive influence of corporate money on our government should be restricted to ensure wide citizen participation in elections and governance.
Voting is a right, not a privilege. All forms of voter suppression should be prohibited.
We strongly support a level-playing field for all potential candidates, incumbent or challenger. Fair elections require campaign spending limits, public campaign financing, and Instant Runoff Voting.
2018 Policy Priorities
Washington State Legislature: Adopt automatic voter registration, as in Oregon & California.
Washington State Legislature: Adopt Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) for all elections.
Washington State Legislature: Amend the State Constitution to make the Washington Redistricting Commission less dominated by the two major political parties, and more like the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, which has greatly reduced “safe districts” and made elections more competitive.
U.S. Senate: Fix rules that allow abuse of the filibuster. Require that filibusters for all purposes be based on continually speaking from the floor without recess, and eliminate “holds.”
U.S. Congress, Washington State Legislature: Establish a strong system to publicly finance elections.
Federal Government: Ban electronic voting machines without a voter-verifiable paper ballot, and at least a sample mini-audit of the accuracy of the machine counts.
Democratic National Committee: Repeal “super delegate” system.
U.S. Congress: Pass a constitutional amendment to eliminate the Electoral College in favor of presidential election by direct popular vote.
U.S. Congress: Make Election Day a national holiday.
U.S. Congress: Set up an independent, non-partisan agency (similar to Elections Canada) to ensure that all U.S. citizens can exercise their choices in federal elections through a widely inclusive and impartial process. This agency would map electoral districts, automatically register all citizens when they turn 18, enforce electoral legislation, and end gerrymandering and voter suppression.
State Legislature: Run Conservation District elections through county auditors’ offices during general elections.
Quality health care, including mental health care, is a basic human right.
Expand the federal Affordable Care Act into a single-payer health care plan, which is the best method to control costs, ensure access to affordable prescriptions, and deliver the highest quality of care.
It is essential that our health care system treat all patients equally, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, religious beliefs, age, or one’s health or legal status.
No one should have their health care benefits restricted because of the religious beliefs of their employers.
Healthcare facilities that receive public funding must not restrict legally approved medical procedures, for religious or other reasons.
2018 Policy Priorities
Washington State Legislature: Institute a single payer health care plan.
Federal Government and Washington State: Support public funding for reproductive health services, such as Planned Parenthood.
Washington State Legislature: Allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control pills, as in California and Oregon.
Federal Government: Prohibit advertising of prescription drugs.
Federal Government: Authorize Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies.
U.S. Congress: FDA laws must require all drug trial results be made publicly available and included in determinations of safety and efficacy. FDA review panels should be free of conflicts of interest.
Federal government, Washington State, Whatcom County and cities, Port of Bellingham, neighborhood associations: Scale up emergency planning, upgrade construction standards, and retrofit existing buildings and transportation infrastructure to prepare for natural disasters such as earthquakes and landslides, saving lives and shortening recovery time.
Washington State, Whatcom County, cities: Prioritize mental health care. Dedicate more beds with longer stays to stabilize individuals and prevent relapses that require costly medical care and social services. Create halfway houses to transition individuals following mental health treatment. Fund round-the-clock mental health clinic, with triage, fully staffed. Fund school-based mental health treatment to provide best access for all children.
Whatcom County: Expand mental health treatment and services for drug and alcohol addiction.
Washington State Legislature: Following California’s lead, remove exemptions for personal and religious belief (RCW 28A.210.090) from the existing requirement for immunization of school-age children against certain vaccine-preventable diseases.
Human and Constitutional Rights
Respect the equality and dignity of all people and affirm all human rights as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We honor the rich diversity of society and our party.
Opposition to all discrimination based upon age, color, creed, disability, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, marital status, national origin, race, religion, and sexual orientation.
The right to observe any or no religion. We respect religious and spiritual expression that does not violate basic human rights. We support separation of church and state in order to maintain the integrity of each.
The right to contraception and medically accurate, comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education, and the right of women to make reproductive choices without criminal repercussions to them or medical professionals.
Housing is a basic human right. Homelessness must never be criminalized. Housing First strategies, which provide supportive housing without preconditions, have proven most effective at reducing homelessness.
Free expression on university campuses is vital to our democracy, and is well addressed by the University of Chicago Statement on Free Expression, adopted by Princeton, Purdue, Johns Hopkins, American University, and others: “it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. … The freedom to debate and discuss the merits of competing ideas does not, of course, mean that individuals may say whatever they wish, wherever they wish. The University may restrict expression that violates the law, that falsely defames a specific individual, that constitutes a genuine threat or harassment … But these are narrow exceptions to the general principle of freedom of expression”
2018 Policy Priorities
State legislatures nationwide: Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
Washington State Legislature, Whatcom County, City of Bellingham: Provide housing for all on the Housing First model, which provides supportive services. In communities nationwide, this model has resulted in net savings by cutting reliance on expensive emergency medical services and incarceration.
U.S. Congress: Repeal the USA Patriot Act. Prohibit warrantless domestic spying by intelligence services, by other governmental bodies, and by private companies acting on their behalf.
U.S. Senate: Ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the American Convention on Human Rights, and recognize the binding jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court.
All people are entitled to human rights and dignity regardless of country of origin or lack of documentation.
Immigration is an issue of global displacement contributed to by unequal economic opportunity, political instability, or war. We should not criminalize or stigmatize immigrants.
The primary responsibility of local law enforcement is public safety. Acting as agents of immigration enforcement compromises safety and trust. Undocumented immigrants fearing deportation are less likely to report crimes or step forward as witnesses.
Wages and working conditions of immigrant workers should be improved—including safe and adequate housing, medical care, and education—to protect them from exploitation and to protect American workers from being undercut by an undocumented and exploited workforce.
Border security is a public responsibility. Vigilante border militia groups should be prohibited.
Encourage lawful immigration by eliminating ethnic bias in quotas and speeding timely processing of applications for entry, asylum, temporary work permits, and lawful permanent residence (“green cards”).
Immigrants deserve fair and humane treatment, which requires reuniting families and crafting a fair path to legal status and eventual citizenship for those already living here.
2018 Policy Priorities
Federal Government: End deportation or detention, without due process of law, of any person that is a primary or sole caregiver for a minor child or disabled dependent regardless of citizenship status. End separation of children from parents in detention centers.
Federal and state governments: Ban privately run detention facilities.
Federal Government: Streamline and expedite the processing of applications for asylum or refugee status for persons fleeing from war, genocide, and political oppression.
U.S. Congress: Create a path to citizenship for undocumented persons already residing within the United States, serving in the military, and for immigrants who complete higher education in the U.S.
U.S. Congress: Pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which allows children of undocumented immigrants temporary residency to allow them to pursue higher education.
U.S. Congress: Improve conditions for guest workers.
U.S. Congress: Provide habeas corpus for non-citizens.
Jobs and Economic Justice
Our economy is out of balance; we need an economy that works for everyone. America should work for “we the people,” not just the wealthy and well-connected.
A progressive tax structure is necessary so that everyone pays their fair share.
Our government should have the ability to raise revenue, as needed, to provide vital services and promote the general welfare in times of crisis as well as times of prosperity.
Consumers need adequate protection from banks and credit card companies.
Working people deserve to make more than a decent living; they deserve to have a decent life. To restore opportunity, we need basic standards such as a safe and fair work environment, gender equity, the right to organize, a fair livable wage, and protection from retaliation.
Trade policies should enforce workers’ rights, environmental rights, and ensure products that are safe for consumers. So-called “free-trade” agreements that are more about corporate protectionism than free trade (securing and extending patents, trademarks, and copyrights abroad, and protecting global franchise agreements, securities, and loans) only exacerbate inequality at home and abroad.
Social Security is essential to keeping the elderly out of poverty. As a means of reducing inequality, it should be expanded for low-earning Americans to guarantee a minimum income comparable to a “living wage.”
2018 Policy Priorities
U.S. Congress: Establish a Universal Basic Income of at least $1,000/month per person, indexed for inflation, financed by repealing most federal tax deductions (mortgage interest, accelerated depreciation, pension contributions and earnings, investment expenses, interest on state and local bonds, preferential treatment of capital gains, charitable contributions, foreign taxes, employer-sponsored health insurance, and state and local taxes). Unlike traditional welfare, this would incentivize work, since it would not be means-tested, and benefits would not be lost as income rises. Few Americans get an annual tax reduction of $12,000 or more from deductions, so for all Americans except the very richest, this would be a net gain.
U.S. Congress, Washington State Legislature: Charge corporations the full cost for using our “common wealth” — the public resources that belong to all of us, including clean water, clean air, and the electromagnetic spectrum (radio, television, cell phone use of frequencies).
U.S. Congress: Limit copyrights to natural (non-corporate) persons, and to the life of the original author. Limit patents to natural persons, the actual inventors, for a period of twenty years, with automatic licensing to anyone (including employers) in return for 10% of gross receipts attributable to patent use. The authority for “intellectual property” law in the United States, section VIII of the US constitution, gives Congress the privilege of establishing exclusive rights for “authors and inventors.” It makes no mention of corporations or other employers. And yet 90% of all patents issued today are owned by corporations. Corporations normally require their technical employees to sign agreements compelling the employee to assign all exclusive rights to the corporation. That should be illegal.
U.S. Congress: Create a Net Worth Tax on assets over $1 million.
U.S. Congress: Eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.
U.S. Congress: No cuts in Social Security. Raise the minimum social security benefits for all Americans.
U.S. Congress: Remove the upper income limit on Social Security payroll taxes.
U.S. Congress: Tax financial transactions.
Federal Government: Maintain a strong and effective Financial Consumer Protection Agency.
Federal Government: Provide tax incentives for companies to keep jobs in the US or return them here. Create tax disincentives for leaving, including recovery of tax breaks claimed over the previous decade and recapture of depreciation benefits.
U.S. Congress and Executive Branch: Strengthen and enforce whistleblower laws, providing protection and restitution for any whistleblowers that lose their livelihoods.
Washington State, Whatcom County, and local cities: Transfer government accounts out of national banks and into local banks and credit unions, thereby keeping vital funds in the local community for economic development and job creation.
Whatcom County, Cities: Establish a public fiber optic Internet backbone to expand competition among providers, and thus lower prices and improve service, and to ensure net neutrality.
Washington State Legislature: Establish a State Bank.
Washington State Legislature: Promote the formation of employee and consumer cooperatives by offering loans to purchase businesses in which management intends to shift production abroad.
Washington State Legislature: Prioritize employee pensions in bankruptcy proceedings, and prohibit pensions based on stock options.
U.S. Congress: Enforce separation of Banking and Investment Institutions by reinstating Glass-Steagall laws.
U.S. Federal Government: Reject trade agreements that prioritize corporate protectionism over free trade (securing and extending patents, trademarks, and copyrights abroad, and protecting global franchise agreements, securities, and loans), and that enable corporations to sue governments who seek to regulate harms to their citizens (e.g. banning cigarette advertising, climate change legislation).
Washington State Legislature and U.S. Congress: Lower the exemption on inheritance/estate taxes to a million dollars.
Washington State: Repeal day use admission fees at state parks, replacing them with a funding source that does not impose a disproportionate burden on those with lower incomes.
U.S. Congress: Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Washington State Legislature: End the piece rate wage for employees.
Whatcom County: Protect local jobs at Cherry Point by refining oil locally rather than exporting unrefined crude oil or liquefied natural gas (LNG). Fishing and tourism also are vital Cherry Point jobs that must be protected.
Washington State Legislature: Adopt a capital gains tax and reduce sales taxes.
People who work full time should not live in poverty. People who have worked should have retirement security.
The right of working people to unionize and to negotiate a compensation package, including wages, benefits, and pensions. We support 50 percent plus one union recognition or “card check.”
We should fight for and demand a living wage.
All working people should have paid sick days, enabling caring for our families.
Wage theft in any form is wrong, such as classifying workers as independent contractors so that employers can avoid paying their share of Social Security, Medicare, unemployment, or worker compensation. Other examples are denying breaks or lunch periods, or making workers don uniforms or clean up off the clock, or making them work overtime without overtime pay.
Community Benefit Agreements, Project Labor Agreements and other cooperative agreements that simultaneously empower workers, citizens, and community are to be supported, enacted, and enforced wherever possible.
Unemployment insurance should apply to all workers.
2018 Policy Priorities
Federal Government, State of Washington: Fund training for displaced workers and economic support during their transition period.
Washington State Legislature and other state legislatures: Oppose so-called “right to work” legislation.
Washington State Legislature: Oppose legislation to change the No-Fault Worker Compensation System to a lump sum “structured settlements” system.
U.S. Congress: Pass the Employee Free Choice Act to require a union to be certified as the official union to bargain with an employer if union officials collect signatures of a majority of workers.
Whatcom County, Cities: Adopt Community Workforce Agreements (as in Seattle) that include apprenticeships, with particular attention to women, minorities, and others facing significant employment barriers, to promote living-wage jobs.
Port of Bellingham: Support a working waterfront with living-wage jobs in marine-related trades.
Washington State Legislature: Develop protections for independent contractors, including app-based (e.g. Über) gig workers. These should include a minimum wage, the right to unionize, and requiring gig companies to contribute to a portable benefits fund that would provide contributions to health insurance, paid time off, sick leave, retirement, and workers’ compensation insurance.
We recognize the inherent sovereignty and treaty rights of Native American tribes as self-determining and self-governing within the framework of U.S. federal law and treaty obligations, with treaty obligations taking precedence.
Federal recognition of all tribes within Washington State that have signed treaties with the U.S.
We oppose past or present forced assimilation. We object to erasure or distortion of history.
Maintain and protect marine, animal, and plant life critical to Native American cultures and economies.
The preservation, protection and restoration of sites and names with historic, cultural, and religious significance.
2018 Policy Priorities
Washington State and Whatcom County: Fully respect tribal water rights.
Federal government, Washington State, Whatcom County: Fully respect and protect tribal treaty rights, including traditional fishing rights and sacred burial grounds.