Bernie Asks: Why Does The Status Quo Candidate OPPOSE The FAMILY Act?

Along the long list of claims obscured by magic dust the status quo candidate regularly sprays around — the you-have-to-be-drunk-to-believe her sudden opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership (a trade deal she once called the “gold standard” which, I wager, would be a “gold standard” again at the appropriate time, with a change of 10 words and a comma cuz after all it would be “different”), opposition to the Keystone Pipeline, the phony-baloney tough-on-her-bankrollers from Wall Street (You know the ones she represented in New York because, oh, 9/11) and well the list goes on and on — you can add the being an advocate for families.

Put simply, she doesn’t think a family is worth somewhere between $1.38 and $1.61 per week — the price of a small payroll tax to fund the FAMILY Act, a bill proposed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, which Bernie is a co-sponsor along with 19 other Senators; Rep. Rosa DeLauro has proposed the House bill which has 112 cosponsors.

What would the bill do? Per Senator Gillibrand:

The “Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act” or the FAMILY Act would create an independent trust fund within the Social Security Administration to collect fees and provide benefits. This trust would be funded by employee and employer contributions of 0.2 percent of wages each, creating a self-sufficient program that would not add to the federal budget. Benefit levels, based on existing successful state programs in New Jersey and California, would equal 66 percent of an individual’s typical monthly wages up to a capped monthly amount that would be indexed for inflation. The proposal makes leave available to every individual regardless of the size of their current employer and regardless of whether such individual is currently employed by an employer, self-employed or currently unemployed, as long as the person has sufficient earnings and work history. In this way it would apply to young, part-time and low-wage workers.
For example, the average woman worker earning the median weekly wage would only need to contribute $1.38 per week (for a total of $72.04 per year) into the program, and even the highest wage earners would have a maximum contribution of $4.36 per week, or $227.40 per year. This means that for less than ONE tall brewed Starbucks coffee ($1.85) or about the cost of ONE venti latte per week (over $4) we could create a program that will be so beneficial for our families. The average full time working woman earning the median weekly wage would receive a total of $5,514.48 if she took the full 12 weeks of paid leave. Operating the trust fund through the Social Security Administration would enable the program to capitalize on a number of administrative efficiencies thus decreasing the need to create new bureaucracies. [emphasis in the original]

Today, Bernie will push the issue at a press conference Cedar Rapids, Iowa (a state I predict Bernie will win). Bernie’s spokesperson has it right:

“Bernie thinks that’s a good investment,” said Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs. Secretary Clinton has refused to support the paid family and medical leave legislation because of the way it would be funded.
What Secretary Clinton might not appreciate is that we’re talking about the same kind of modest investment our country has made before in two critically important programs for working families: Social Security and Medicare,” Briggs added.
Would Secretary Clinton have opposed Social Security when President Roosevelt signed it into law? Would she have fought President Johnson when Medicare was passed? What FDR understood in terms of Social Security and what LBJ understood in terms of Medicare is the importance of all workers having a stake in important programs for working families, ” Briggs said. [emphasis added]

The status quo candidate has been clear — in a Republican lingo clear way…her view is that we should continue the under-investment in families and continue to advance the utter nonsense that middle-class families would not be willing to pay a little extra to have these kinds of benefits because, god forbid, we can’t ask people to pay a pittance for a huge benefit. That’s an astounding failure of leadership, imagination and a lack of wisdom.

The problem in our country is NOT that our taxes are too high. That’s Republican bullshit that Democrats regurgitate — the elites, the party hacks, the DLC-types, the lobbyist-funded politicians of which there are too many and the Wall Street Democrats (Wall Street having invested millions of dollars in the status quo candidate and her husband, through huge campaign contributions and six-figure speaking fees to give for an hour speech (to actually say zero of value — it’s all about legalized corruption and buying access), a payoff higher than most Americans would ever earn in an entire year).

We pay low taxes relatively speaking to other middle class families in other advanced countries. The problem is that (a) the one percent and the one-half of one percent (the latter category the status quo candidate and her husband belong to) don’t pay a fair share of taxes and (b) we misuse the tax revenues we get by giving tax breaks to corporations and rich people, and by wasting money on immoral wars (the Iraq War, which the status quo candidate eagerly embraced, cost the taxpayers — the middle class between $2-$3 trillion…and counting) and (c) we refuse to embrace a single-payer, “Medicare for All” health care system which would dramatically lower peoples’ health care costs, by thousands of dollars, and save the economy hundreds of billions of dollars (Bernie’s plan would, of course, save people huge amounts of money).

The debate over the refusal of the status quo candidate to support the FAMILY Act, at a cost that is much lower than say a Big Mac, is crucial. It shows quite clearly a very different philosophy between the candidate of the political revolution versus the status quo.

The political revolution rejects the idea that we can’t afford to underwrite family leave, health care, free tuition for college, infrastructure and a whole host of human needs if we dramatically raise taxes on the wealthy while the rest of us also pay teensy amounts more — a few Bic Macs per week — that, at the end of the day, end up, if we push forward with each element of the domestic agenda proposed by the candidate of the political revolution, reducing the cost to families overall, not to mention increase the moral and psychic welfare of the people.

The status quo is, well, quite happy with the status quo, poll-tested rhetoric that leads to policies that Republicans and certain segments of the Democratic have pushed for years (“no new taxes”, tax cuts for business blah blah blah) — policies that have been an abject failure. When you hear claims that the status quo candidate will “get stuff done”, that does not include the FAMILY Act but it will include reductions in benefits like Social Security and Medicare because to “get stuff done” with Republicans that will be the price (do you think Erskine Bowles, the co-chair of the Catfood Commission, who supported along with Alan Simpson, the recommendations of the Commission which would have meant cuts in Social Security, held a high-dollar fundraiser for the status quo candidate just out of a sense of civic duty?).