Opinion: ‘The People Are Demanding Action’ from Biden Administration – Common Dreams

January 20, 2021- Common Dreams –
Incoming Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders Lays Out Visionary First 100 Days for Biden

“We cannot allow Mitch McConnell and the Republican leadership to sabotage legislation that would improve the lives of millions of working Americans and is wildly popular.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) arrives at the inauguration of President Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) arrives at the inauguration of President Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

With President Joe Biden sworn in and Democrats set to officially take control of the U.S. Senate Wednesday afternoon, incoming Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders argued that the majority party must waste no time pushing ahead with an ambitious agenda aimed at confronting the immediate crises of Covid-19, economic calamity, and climate change and setting the U.S. on a more just and equitable path.

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  • Clyde Duncan  On 01/21/2021 at 3:37 am

    Joe Biden Must Put an End to Business as Usual. Here’s Where to Start

    Bernie Sanders | The Guardian UK

    In this time of unprecedented crises, Congress and the Biden administration must respond through unprecedented action

    A RECORD-BREAKING 4,000 AMERICANS ARE NOW DYING EACH DAY FROM COVID-19, WHILE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FUMBLES VACCINE PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION, TESTING AND TRACING.

    In the midst of the worst pandemic in 100 years, more than 90 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured and can’t afford to go to a doctor when they get sick. The isolation and anxiety caused by the pandemic has resulted in a huge increase in mental illness.

    OVER HALF OF AMERICAN WORKERS ARE LIVING PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK, INCLUDING MILLIONS OF ESSENTIAL WORKERS WHO PUT THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE EVERY DAY.

    More than 24 million Americans are unemployed, underemployed or have given up looking for work, while hunger in this country is at the highest level in decades.

    BECAUSE OF LACK OF INCOME, UP TO 40 MILLION AMERICANS FACE THE THREAT OF EVICTION, AND MANY OWE THOUSANDS IN BACK RENT. THIS IS ON TOP OF THE 500,000 WHO ARE ALREADY HOMELESS.

    Meanwhile, the wealthiest people in this country are becoming much richer, and income and wealth inequality are soaring. Incredibly, during the pandemic, 650 billionaires in America have increased their wealth by more than $1-Trillion.

    AS A RESULT OF THE PANDEMIC, EDUCATION IN THIS COUNTRY, FROM CHILDCARE TO GRADUATE SCHOOL, IS IN CHAOS.

    The majority of young people in this country have seen their education disrupted and it is likely that hundreds of colleges will soon cease to exist.

    CLIMATE CHANGE IS RAVAGING THE PLANET WITH AN UNPRECEDENTED NUMBER OF FOREST FIRES AND EXTREME WEATHER DISTURBANCES.

    Scientists tell us that we have only a very few years before irreparable damage takes place to our country and the world.

    AND, IN THE MIDST OF ALL THIS, THE FOUNDATIONS OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY ARE UNDER AN UNPRECEDENTED ATTACK.

    We had a president Trump who was working feverishly to undermine American democracy and incite violence against the very government and constitution he swore to defend. Against all of the evidence, tens of millions of Americans actually believed Trump’s Big Lie that he won this election by a landslide and that victory was stolen from him and his supporters. Armed right-wing militias in support of Trump are being mobilized throughout the country.

    In this moment of unprecedented crises, Congress and the Biden administration must respond through unprecedented action. NO MORE BUSINESS AS USUAL. NO MORE SAME OLD, SAME OLD.

    Democrats, who will now control the White House, the Senate and the House, must summon the courage to demonstrate to the American people that government can effectively and rapidly respond to their pain and anxiety. AS THE INCOMING CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE BUDGET COMMITTEE THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I INTEND TO DO.

    WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN FOR THE AVERAGE AMERICAN?

    IT MEANS THAT we aggressively crush the pandemic and enable the American people to return to their jobs and schools. This will require a federally led emergency program to produce the quantity of vaccines that we need and get them into people’s arms as quickly as possible.

    IT MEANS THAT during the severe economic downturn we’re experiencing, we must make sure that all Americans have the financial resources they need to live with dignity. We must increase the $600 to $2,000 in direct payments for every working-class adult and child that was recently passed, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expand unemployment benefits and prevent eviction, homelessness and hunger.

    IT MEANS THAT, during this raging pandemic, we must guarantee healthcare to all. We must also end the international embarrassment of the United States being the only major country on Earth not to provide paid family and medical leave to workers.

    IT MEANS making pre-kindergarten and childcare universal and available to every family in America.

    IT MEANS THAT, despite what you may have heard, there is no reason why we cannot do all of these things. Through budget reconciliation, a process that only requires a majority vote in the Senate, we can act quickly and pass this emergency legislation.

    BUT THAT IS NOT ENOUGH. This year we must also pass a second reconciliation bill that deals with the major structural changes that our country desperately needs. Ultimately, we must confront the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality and create a country that works for all and not just the few.

    Americans should no longer be denied basic economic rights that are guaranteed to people in virtually every other major country.

    THIS MEANS using a second reconciliation bill to create millions of good-paying jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and constructing affordable housing, modernizing our schools, combatting climate change and making massive investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

    IT MEANS making public colleges, universities, trade schools and Historically Black Colleges and Universities tuition-free and forcefully addressing the outrageous level of student debt for working families.

    AND, IT MEANS making the wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations pay their fair share of taxes. We cannot continue to allow profitable corporations like Amazon to make billions of dollars in profit and pay nothing in net federal income taxes. And billionaires cannot be allowed to pay a lower tax rate than working-class Americans. WE NEED REAL TAX REFORM.

    THERE IS NO REASON JOE BIDEN COULD NOT SIGN INTO LAW TWO MAJOR BILLS THAT WILL ACCOMPLISH MOST OF THE GOALS I LISTED ABOVE WITHIN THE FIRST 100 DAYS OF THE NEW CONGRESS.

    We cannot allow Mitch McConnell and the Republican leadership to sabotage legislation that would improve the lives of millions of working Americans and is wildly popular.

    LET US NEVER FORGET. When Republicans controlled the Senate, they used the reconciliation process to pass trillions of dollars in tax breaks primarily to the top 1% and multinational corporations. Further, they were able to confirm three right-wing US supreme court judges over a very short period of time by a simple majority vote.

    IF THE REPUBLICANS COULD USE THE RECONCILIATION PROCESS TO PROTECT THE WEALTHY AND THE POWERFUL, WE CAN USE IT TO PROTECT WORKING FAMILIES, THE SICK, THE ELDERLY, THE DISABLED AND THE POOR.

  • brandli62  On 01/21/2021 at 6:48 am

    Biden has lots on his plate starting from day 1. Let’s hope all the good and qualified people he is attracting to work for the federal government will make a differences in the next two years.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 01/21/2021 at 7:48 am

    Eddie in UK wrote:

    Tall order for a divided nation.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 01/22/2021 at 10:36 am

    BORN ON THIS DAY: 22 January 1931 – SAM COOKE

    “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke Lyrics:

    I was born by the river in a little tent
    Oh, and just like the river I’ve been a-runnin’ ever since.
    It’s been a long, a long time comin’,
    but I know, oh-oo-oh,
    a change gon’ come, oh yes, it will.
    It’s been too hard living but I’m afraid to die
    ‘Cause I don’t know what’s up there beyond the sky
    It’s been a long, a long time comin’,
    But I know, oh-oo-oh,
    A change gonna come, oh yes, it will.
    I go to the movie and I go downtown
    Somebody keep tellin’ me don’t hang around.
    It’s been a long, a long time coming, but I know, oh-oo-oh,
    A change gon’ come, oh yes, it will.
    Then I go, oh-oo-oh, to my brother and I say, brother, help me please. But he winds up knocking me back down on my knees, oh.
    There’ve been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long
    But now I think I’m able to carry on
    It’s been a long, a long time comin’,
    But I know, oh-oo-oh, a change gonna come, oh yes, it will.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 01/22/2021 at 10:38 am

    • brandli62  On 01/22/2021 at 11:09 am

      Great classic from the sixties, Clyde! Thanks for posting!

  • Clyde Duncan  On 01/22/2021 at 2:40 pm

    Delivering the TPS Promise to Venezuelans

    The Temporary Protection Status, promised in the election campaign by Joe Biden, could be very good news for many Venezuelans living in the U.S. without visas, green cards or American citizenship. What should we expect?

    Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian | Caracas Chronicles

    In 2020, the U.S. election was a huge point of controversy among Venezuelans, especially those on American soil. One of the issues often discussed, along with the actual effectiveness of Trump’s policy towards the Maduro regime, was whether Venezuelans could be granted a Temporary Protected Status considering the precarious living conditions and human rights violations that continue taking place in their home country.

    WHAT ARE THE REAL PROSPECTS OF A TPS APPROVAL IN 2021?

    FIRST, THE BASICS: A Temporary Protection Status, or TPS, is a temporary immigration status provided to people of certain countries experiencing problems that make it difficult or unsafe for them to be deported. The TPS option was included in the Immigration Act of 1990 that Congress approved, to temporarily protect people whose countries were experiencing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions. Ideally, this benefit would allow those migrants in irregular status to have work permits, and it would prevent any deportation due to violations of immigration law — for people in the United States at the time the measure is approved.

    The decision can be made by Congress, provided that the law is approved at the House of Representatives, then ratified by the Senate and later by the President, as any law of the land would, although it can also be approved via a presidential Executive Order. Until now, only four Latin American countries have received the benefit: EL SALVADOR, HONDURAS, HAITI AND NICARAGUA.

    Regarding Venezuela, there have been initiatives and a lot of discussion about the approval of a TPS for a couple years now; these initiatives haven’t been successful, and the Trump administration was rather unenthusiastic about the issue. Many pointed out the discrepancy between Trump’s aggressive policy with the Maduro regime, and the little support given to the growing number of Venezuelans arriving in the U.S. in dire conditions.

    How likely this is to happen depends on whether Biden delivers on his campaign promise and grants protection to so many Venezuelans now in a vulnerable situation in the United States.

    Yet that very TPS was part of President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign promises. If you look at his proposed government program, immigration is one of the priorities, which is unsurprising considering how hot that topic is in this country. President-elect Biden promised to prioritize a comprehensive immigration reform that would provide a legal pathway for the regularization of 11 million undocumented migrants in the country. His proposals would guarantee protection to DREAMers (people born outside the U.S. who have lived in the country without authorization since first coming in as a minor), and would ensure the strengthening of the country’s asylum system, to promptly consider requests by those seeking refuge in the United States.

    A central issue to his campaign with Latinos also included the approval of the TPS for Venezuelans. Biden’s government plan says it “will extend TPS to Venezuelans seeking relief from the humanitarian crisis brought on by the Maduro regime” in its first 100 days. This is good news on at least two fronts:

    FIRST, Venezuelans can rest assured that the Biden administration understands the flagrant violations of human rights happening in the country, and how the humanitarian crisis is a factor of expulsion of Venezuelan migrants.

    SECOND, it shows that Biden and his team see the current situation as justification enough to grant Venezuelans Temporary Protected Status.

    The TPS doesn’t solve the problem in the long run, though; what will happen when the 18 months, which is usually the amount of time these measures last – although there could always be renewals – expire? What about people whose kids were born in the U.S.? What if they don’t want to go back, or can’t?

    How likely this is to happen depends on whether Biden delivers on his campaign promise and grants protection to so many Venezuelans now in a vulnerable situation in the United States. Honoring and delivering on promises is what we expect and we, Venezuelans in the country, have a role in making sure this all turns into reality.

    I, for one, am doing my part.

    * Opinions are personal. They do not represent those of the Organization of American States (OAS).

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