Democrats take a step left with new party platform
Democrats are considering approving what is almost certainly the most progressive platform in the party's history, though supporters of Bernie Sanders are still not satisfied with provisions on trade and other issues.
A draft of the platform, obtained by NBC News, was approved by a 15-member subcommittee and sent Friday to members of the full platform committee. The full committee will have a chance to make changes before sending it to the an up-or-down vote by the entire Democratic National Convention later this month in Philadelphia.
The draft includes many of the provisions sought by Sanders and his allies on the minimum wage, death penalty and more. But it lacks concessions they sought on climate, trade and healthcare.
"This draft touches on the many pressing issues facing Americans and includes new language on economic inequality and the minimum wage, Wall Street reform, reproductive health, criminal justice reform, and voting rights, among many other topics," Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a memo to platform committee draft members.
The draft platform states Americans should earn $15 per hour and have a right to join a union, and it supports a so-called "model employer executive order" to raise standards for federal government contractors.
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It calls for the complete abolishment of the death penalty, stating, "It has no place in the United States of America."
On Wall Street, the platform lays out a number of reforms proposed by Clinton, Sanders and other Democrats, and states the party "will not hesitate to use and expand existing authorities as well as empower regulators to downsize or break apart financial institutions," it states.
The platform adopts Elizabeth Warren's mantra that "personnel is policy" to promise, "We will nominate and appoint regulators and officials who are not beholden to the industries they regulate."
On social security, the draft platform calls for changing the cap on taxes so people contribute to the fund on income above $250,000.
The draft platform calls for making community college free and easing student loan burdens through a number of measures, like a Student Borrower Bill of Rights.
It calls for repealing the Hyde Amendment, which prevents the use of taxpayer funds for abortion, and states the party will "strongly and unequivocally support a woman's decision" on abortion.
It calls for giving the District of Columbia statehood, banning assault weapons and overturning Citizens United. Democrats vow to protect voting rights, "reaffirm our commitment to eliminate poverty," and reform the criminal justice system to make it easier for people to re-enter society after incarceration.
The platform also took a step towards Sanders on drug policy, saying states should be able to decriminalize marijuana if they chose to. Marijuana reformers, including Sanders, had hoped for more.
However, some of the stickiest issues remain unresolved -- at least as Sanders supporters see it.
On climate change, the Sanders wing tried to insert a ban on fracking and a tax on carbon. Neither made it. However, the draft platform makes a strong commitment to reducing carbon emissions and investing in renewable energy.
Sanders and Clinton sparred on health care this year, with Sanders calling for a single-payer system and Clinton favoring a more pragmatic approach to expand the Affordable Care Act.
The draft platform states, "we believe as Democrats that healthcare is a right," but it does not mention single-payer.
The most contentious issue in the platform fight was on trade and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), with Sanders allies insisting that opposition to the trade deal be included in the platform.
Both Clinton and Sanders oppose the TPP, but President Barack Obama supports it, so the draft platform opted for a compromise in the language. "[T]here are a diversity of views in the party," the draft states. "But all Democrats believe that any trade agreement must protect workers and the environment and not undermine access to critically-needed prescription drugs."
Neil Sroka of Democracy for America, which supported Sanders in the primary, said the platform had "some good things in here that reflect the impact that Bernie Sanders has had on the race," but didn't believe the draft was complete.
"There is still a great deal that's missing from the platform that needs to be in there," he added. "At the end of the day the only reason why an anti-TPP plank would not end up in the platform is because some democrats are too afraid to offend their corporate paymasters."
It remains unclear, however, how much leverage Sanders and his supporters still have to make changes.