Warren’s “Empowering American Workers and Raising Wages” Plan Rises to Sanders’s Challenge

In August and September of 2019, Data for Progress covered Bernie Sanders’s Workplace Democracy Plan, a sweeping plan that set the bar high for presidential candidates who wish to court worker support and help grow the labor movement. (Check out parts 1 and 2 of the overview.) As our polling shows, the Sanders plan is broadly popular.

But if Sanders threw the gauntlet, then Elizabeth Warren is picking it up. Here we’ll present an overview of what’s different between the plans, what’s the same, and what’s absent in her “Empowering American Workers and Raising Wages” plan. Overall, Warren makes important and detailed additions to Sanders’s plan, but hers is also missing a crucial part: universal just-cause protection.

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A Plurality of Registered Voters Support Forgiving Medical Debt

In mid-September, Bernie Sanders released a proposal that would eliminate the $81 billion of outstanding medical debt, as well as provide protections for people with medical debt going forward. 

One in six Americans has past-due medical debt according to a recent analysis in Health Affairs, making medical debt the most common type of debt in collections. This debt tends to be concentrated among younger people, with 11% of all debt held by 27-year-olds (possibly because this is the year after young adults are removed from their parents' health insurance). This problem has been especially salient recently after the New York Times reported that private equity firms have spent $28 million in dark money to defeat legislation that would stop price-gouging in the ER, and Kaiser Health News published a stunning expose of the debt collection tactics of the University of Virginia Health System. In the past six years, the health system “filed 36,000 lawsuits against patients seeking a total of more than $106 million, seizing wages and bank accounts, putting liens on property and homes and forcing families into bankruptcy.” 

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