Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Election Day is the right day to pass marriage equality

Fittingly, same-sex marriage passed not on Valentine's Day, but on Election Day, where the people in Virginia and New York City and Boston decided who would run their governments. The triumph in Illinois, unthinkable only a decade ago, is ultimately because the people in Illinois changed their minds and voted for leaders to change the law. These leaders are overwhelmingly Democratic. 95% of the legislators who voted for marriage equality are Democratic. The triumph today is also a triumph for the people of the Democratic Party.

One of the 61 representatives to vote yes is a Democrat who barely won his election in a Republican area. Without that unexpected victory, and several more like his to select a Democratic Speaker of the House, there would no triumph this week. If Pat Quinn, the Democratic candidate for governor, had not won his election a few years ago by the narrowest of margins, the marriage equality bill would have been vetoed by the Republican governor and thus the vote would not have taken place at all.

There were a few Republican legislators (3 of 61 in the House and 1 of 34 in the Senate) who voted for the bill and there were several Democrats who did not vote for the bill. But against the backdrop of the election in Virginia for Attorney General that will be decided by a few hundred votes out of two million cast, it's important to remember that social progress and joy-inducing improvements in government ultimately derive from partisan elections. And these days, that means electing Democrats.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Robert Reich's Labor Day agenda deliverable by state and local governments

Robert Reich (Clinton's Labor Secretary) released a video today with on the best way to celebrate Labor Day - remembering just how bad working people have fared in the last few decades and calling for a six-step policy agenda to increase wages again.

The interesting thing is that the six-step agenda can all be delivered by state and local governments. We often think we need the feds to deliver reform (and then get frustrated when they don't). But the exciting thing is that our blue states and cities can go ahead and implement this progressive agenda. Here's the video:

Reich's list to boost labor (near the end of the video):

1. Living wage (states and cities can raise those)
2. Larger earned income tax credit (every state can max out the state EITC)
3. Free universal childcare (something states and cities can implement)
4. Good schools (run by local governments with funding by states)
5. Universal health insurance (states can do this for their citizens)
6. Union rights (a little tougher with federal preemption but a lot to be done)

I find it inspiring that one of the intellectual leaders of progressive policy lays out the agenda for prosperity and it does not rely on the feds to implement. We can do it.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Creating replicable progressive state and local policy is really valuable

We progressives are part of the governing coalition of a whole lot of governments. (The federal government isn't one of them, alas. The US House blocks everything). We don't come close to taking full advantage of that.

Our blue cities, counties and states should be raising standards of living and per capita purchasing power by cutting household budget costs and buying in bulk the insurance, education, recreation and transportation everyone needs. And we should be figuring out how to push the envelope every year.

So if progressives in one blue city or state can figure out how to implement a good policy (like a local minimum wage or paid leave) that is replicable, then the many other blue cities and states can piggyback off their hard work and implement the same thing with likely very similar results.

That means our job is to figure out how to develop and implement replicable progressive state and local policies. And then help spread the word about them.