Here’s What I’d Do if I Could Wave a Magic Wand With Progressive Policies

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Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.For no particular reason, it occurred to me the other day that one of the drawbacks of blogging is that readers never get a full sense of how I feel about various topics in the progressive firmament. If you’re a longtime reader you can probably put it all together from posts here and there, but not everyone is a longtime reader.
So here’s a super brief rundown. I’ve limited this list to domestic policies that are primarily addressed at the federal level. There are no explanations here; this list solely represents what I would do if I could wave a magic wand and get whatever I wanted without stoking a revolution. In real life, of course, I believe that change happens only incrementally and I’m always open to compromises that get me part of the way to my goals. But these are the goals.
If there’s anything I’ve left out, it’s not because I’m holding out on you. I just forgot. Feel free to ask about things in comments, but please make your asks fairly specific.
Climate change: Spend a truly vast amount of money on buildout and R&D. This should be funded partly by a large and growing upsteam tax on carbon emissions.
Social Security: Increase benefits for the bottom third by about 30 percent.
Health care: True national health care, including long-term nursing care, on something like the French model. Fund it with a combination of taxes on business, and modestly progressive income taxes.
Minimum wage: Raise the federal minimum wage to $12-13 and index it to inflation. States and cities, as always, would remain free to legislate higher minimums.
Forgiving student debt: Pretty regressive, pretty poor stimulus, and not well handled at the federal level anyway.
Prison sentencing: Reduce minimum sentences substantially. Encourage states to do the same.
Labor: I’m in favor of practically anything that revives private-sector unions.
Abortion: No regulation whatsoever, aside from normal medical regs that govern all outpatient procedures.
Guns: Ban everything except single-shot firearms.
National ID: Everyone gets a free national ID card.
Voting: Voting should be a right, similar to freedom of speech, that can be restricted only under circumstances where you might also restrict speech rights. Everyone is allowed to vote, no registration necessary. Voting rules are set at the federal, not state, level.
Filibuster: Abolish it. (This is a long-held view.)
Electoral college: Abolish it and replace with a popular vote. (This is also a long-held view.)
New states: Yes to Washington DC, no to Puerto Rico.
Supreme Court: Not sure. But if the new reality is that justices can be confirmed only when the same party controls the Senate and the White House, something has to give.
Taxes: Raise income taxes on the rich. Raise them a lot on the really rich.
Black-white educational gap: I don’t know what to do about this, but we can’t give up on it. It’s too important.
Paid maternity/paternity leave. This should be federally guaranteed. I’m open to various plans, but it should cover at least eight weeks of time off.
Government funded childcare: Yes, though the devil is in the details.
Wokeness: Like a lot of things, it’s a good idea that’s been taken too far. I support the underlying idea, but not the performative excesses that are so often part of it these days.
Gay and trans rights: As you’d expect, I have no reason in general to support any restriction whatsoever on either of these. Maybe somebody will come up with something, but I doubt it.
Death penalty: Abolish it.
Lead: You really need to ask? Clean it up. All of it.
Universal basic income: Nope. It wouldn’t work in our current economy. However, something along these lines will probably be necessary in ten or twenty years as labor becomes ever more automated.
Marijuana: Deschedule it and make it legal nationwide.
Public funding of campaigns: I’m not sure I favor this. I guess I’m on the fence.
Immigration: Borders are borders, and we should enforce them. Those who cross illegally should be given a quick hearing and then returned to their country of origin. Mandatory eVerify should be used to keep employers from hiring those without work documentation. To handle the current situation, we should pass some kind of compromise bill that’s similar in spirit to the 2013 bill that failed.
Reparations: No. It would do no good and has an excellent chance of making things worse.
Job guarantee plan: Absolutely not. This would almost certainly be a disaster.
Antitrust: Ditch the Borkian revolution and return to a simple enforcement based on size and market share only.
Early childhood education: I’m in favor, but recent research has made me a little more skeptical. I would need to study this more.