Americans Want to Live in a Just Society

Today, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released a policy package called “A Just Society,” which amounts to an ambitious ensemble of six distinct legislative projects—five bills and one resolution—that together would make dramatic reductions that would help fulfill the promise of a truly just and equal democracy. So far, polling by Data for Progress on some key planks of this package indicates that these are very popular. Most of the results released today are being made public for the first time.

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Social Security: Warren’s “Plan for That” Enjoys Majority Support Across the Electorate

On September 12, Senator Elizabeth Warren released a plan to expand Social Security for all current and future beneficiaries. Warren’s plan would impose new contribution requirements on income above $250,000 to increase Social Security checks by $200. When you factor in that the current average Social Security check is $1,350, Warren’s plan would increase checks by roughly 15 percent. This increase would be significant given that recent cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to Social Security, according to the AARP, “may not adequately cover [beneficiaries’] expenses that rise faster than inflation including health, prescription drug, utility and housing costs.” (Warren’s plan also includes a provision to make COLAs more adequate in the future.) It would help secure the lives of elderly Americans and Americans with disabilities, many of whom survive on fixed incomes.

The plan involves two new contribution requirements on incomes greater than $250,000—which is to say, the top 2 percent of earners in America. The first requirement, a contribution of 14.8 percent, would be on wages, divided between employers and employees, and the second, also 14.8 percent, would be on net investment income. The plan will also extend the solvency of Social Security by “nearly two decades,” according to Warren, and it will close various loopholes that the rich use to escape contributing their fair share.

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How Activists View the 2020 Race

The election of Donald Trump has driven a new wave of mobilization among Democrats and progressives. This new activism has led to a lot of pearl-clutching over the activist base pushing the party too far to the left. Because of this, we used the recent Data for Progress / YouGov Blue survey to see how much of a difference there was across activists/non-activists and how active Democratic voters really are. 

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Left Populism in the Democratic Primary

Ever since Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump both launched campaigns for their respective party nominations in 2016, their appeals have invited comparisons invoking the populist style in American politics. In more recent years, such comparisons have extended to other insurgent progressive politicians such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. However, many of these comparisons seem unclear about what exactly populism is -- many pundits seem to simply know it when they see it -- making it hard to tell how valuable such blanket comparisons actually are. What constitutes populism in general, and what separates distinct populist appeals from each other?

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How Well Does DFP’s Progressive Issue Model Reflect Vote Choice?

In a recent GQ magazine article, Way to Win co-founder Tory Gavito and DfP co-founder Sean McElwee presented compelling new evidence on the question of whether Democrats should persuade swing voters or galvanize their base to have the best chances of retaking the White House. One graphic in particular gained significant attention:

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Americans Across the Political Spectrum Support Increasing Worker's Role in Corporate Decision-making

Americans across the Political Spectrum Support Increasing Worker's Role in Corporate Decision-making

While many issues seem to divide Americans today, there are policies advocated by the left that can achieve broad-based support. One such example is a proposal to institute laws that mandate employee representation on corporate boards.

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Progressives Don’t Face False Choices In Strengthening the Labor Movement

The collapse of the American labor movement has been devastating for the economy—and also for progressive politics. As my co-authors and I have documented, conservative efforts to weaken the unions through state legislative cutbacks and legal challenges have cost Democrats at the polls and helped to shift policy and politics to the ideological right. To reduce inequality and bolster their long-term political power, Democrats need to roll back conservative victories on labor law while also passing new laws that will help unions rebuild their membership and clout.

What kinds of Democrats are most likely to support such efforts to cultivate a new labor movement? A new survey I fielded indicates that when looking for pro-labor Democrats, progressives do not face trade-offs between supporting politicians who are progressive on labor issues and on other policies, like the climate change or reproductive rights. Instead, I find that the more progressive a state Democratic politician is on social and economic issues, the more likely they are to support expanding legal rights for unions. As Data for Progress has documented before, the choice between a progressive movement rooted in economic issues and one involving social identities is a false one. The case of labor rights is no different.

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How Run of the Mill Progressivism Became Radical

A recent post by Samuel Hammond of the Niskanen Institute, a center right think tank, criticized Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s recent proposal to impose a 70% marginal tax rate on income over 10 million dollars. A few of the points raised in the piece are interesting jumping off points for discussion.

Hammond presents a figure on the wealth shares held at different levels of the wealth distribution in Sweden over the 20th century, which shows that the top 1% of Swedes held over half of the wealth in the early 1900s. This amount dropped to the neighborhood of 20% by 1970, and has held relatively stable since. Hammond suggests that this stability is proof that high marginal income tax rates in Sweden cemented the country’s old dynastic families in their positions of wealth, while locking out everyone else. This is ultimately a good point that the left should take seriously, but it’s not a particularly good argument against raising marginal rates on income.

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A Minimum Wage for Maximum Results

Congress has not raised the federal minimum wage since 2007 and today it remains at a meager $7.25 per hour. This makes it the longest period of time without an increase in the minimum wage’s 81-year history. As inflation erodes the purchasing power of the dollar every year, the minimum wage drifts further from a realistic, livable wage. 

The Fight for $15 began in 2012 when a few hundred fast food workers in New York City walked off the job to demand $15 per hour and the right to unionize. Now, a once radical idea of a $15 minimum is becoming reality, in states like New York, California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia.  

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