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  • Writer's pictureBen Yee

Diving Into (Democratic) Presidential Policy

Hey Everyone,

There was a lot in the news this week, but perhaps amongst of the most exciting was more, concrete, policy proposals from Democratic Presidential candidates.

While we all love rhetoric, it’s the nuts and bolts that not only make things work, but enable you to see where candidates focus their attention and how they think about problems. Do they care about what you care about? Do you respect how they think? Policy can help tell you! That’s why we’re thinking about making this week’s new section on policy a regular!

Speaking of policy, if you like what we’re doing with the newsletter, please support our work.

We’re all incredibly grateful for everyone who’s donated to help cover the wrap-up expenses for the Public Advocate race. 8-to-1 Matching funds are only in effect until June. $30 is a tremendous help and lets us focus on organizing work like this, and not fundraising!


Bronx Council Member Announces Congressional Run Controversial Council Member Ruben Diaz, Sr. announced he will run to replace retiring Congressmember José Serrano. Diaz recently came under fire for comments saying the “homosexual community controls City Council.” As a result, Diaz was stripped of his leadership position as chair of the newly created For-Hire Vehicle Commission. Diaz represents a more moderate leaning district in the City Council, noted people “are exhausted with the increasingly liberal policies that the city’s politicians have embraced.”

The Democratic primary will likely be contentious and full with Assemblymember Michael Blake and Council Member Ritchie Torres already expressing interest in the seat. Diaz’s Council district is largely within the lines of Serrano’s district. He also served fifteen years in the State Senate representing a majority of the same district.

NY Times Endorses Drivers Licenses for Immigrants In an editorial piece, the New York Times came out in support of driver licenses for immigrants. The Times noted that unless Washington is unable to deliver on immigration reform, then states will have to take the lead. In a move that potentially foreshadowed endorsing drivers licenses for immigrants, Gov. Cuomo and the state legislature recently agreed to let undocumented immigrants apply for student aid.

Event With Brazilian President Canceled Amid Uproar The Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce planned to hold its annual Gala at the AMNH. For 2019, it had decided to award noted anti-environmentalist President Jair Bolsonaro “Person of the Year.” Bolsonaro, who made openly authoritarian comments while campaigning for President, is often referred to as the Trump of South America.

Amid protest, though, especially over the fact that "a man intent on destroying one of the world's most prized natural resources would be anointed Person of the Year in a space dedicated to the celebration of the natural world", the event was canceled. A shame for all those excited for the $30K plate gala.

Hudson Yards Redirected Money Intended For Poor Areas Thanks to a FOIA request made by Citylab, we now know the Hudson Yard development raised at least $1.2B of its $20B costs through the EB-5 Visa program. The program, which allows wealthy foreigners to buy their way into the U.S., requires applicants to invest $500K-$1M in U.S. real estate projects in distressed areas.

While the Hudson Yards area is hardly distressed, sleight of hand by the Governor created an EB-5 designation zone that linked together the census tracts of Hudson Yards and the struggling NYCHA developments a hundred blocks away. The snaky line, which cuts its way uptown is something to behold, diverting billions in resources from communities which need them to developers hoping to make a fortune on the luxury mixed-use park.


Did you know - Congress isn’t always in session. Here’s a handy calendar to prove it. In fact, Congress Members are allowed to hang out in their home states a lot of the time. One of those times is RIGHT NOW, April 15 - 26. That’s why TONS of town halls are happening.

They aren’t scheduled back again until the last week of May, and only then for a few days.


I always recommend voting for what you want to happen. If you don’t, you can’t expect that it will. And, if you vote for a candidate without knowing what they’ll do, don’t expect them to do what you you want.

With all the candidates and all the promises, it can be hard to pick out the actual policy proposals Presidential hopeful are pitching. So, we’re going to try to highlight them as we see them (which means we won’t catch them all. Please forgive any overlook, there is no intentional preference for candidates or policies).

Sen. Kamala Harris’s Teacher Pay Raise Proposal Projected at $315B Democratic candidate for President Sen. Kamala Harris released a policy proposal aimed at boosting teacher pay that is expected to cost taxpayers a cool $315 billion. The proposal could attract a large voting bloc including women voters who largely make up teacher demographics. Harris’s proposal is considered the most aggressive policy platform so far in the campaign. Her campaign stated the proposal would provide teachers with a $13,500 raise or a 23% increase, which would be the largest increase in teacher pay in U.S. history.

In order to pay for the plan, Harris proposes to use the estate tax and to crack down on loopholes letting the wealthiest avoid paying their fair share. Harris’s plan would likely meet resistance among Congressmembers requiring that teachers be held accountable in order to receive the pay raise.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Releases Massive New Tax Proposal Possibly the most prolific policy producer, Warren has released ideas from breaking up tech monopolies to government produced insulin. In a nod to her progressive base, Sen. Elizabeth Warren released  another one - outlining her intent to tax large corporations if elected President. The plan suggests imposing a 7% surcharge on corporations earning a profit of over $100 million. The proposal seems larger then it appears nominally due to the fact it applies to a new tax base. The tax would be imposed on earnings that publicly traded companies report to investors, essentially holding companies accountable to investors.

The Warren campaign noted the tax initiative would end corporations’ ability to report profits to Wall Street while also telling the IRS they maintain no taxable income. It’s projected the proposal would earn at least $1 trillion over ten years and would increase corporate taxes by 30%. The proposal would likely eliminate the majority of the current corporate tax policies put forth by Republicans.

What Sander’s Medicare for All Also Includes The popular progressive policy proposal that was unveiled on Wednesday by Sen. Bernie Sanders includes more well-known features like universal health coverage. However, also included in the legislation are proposals to overhaul the national healthcare system, among a handful of others that haven’t received as much attention. Here’s a rundown of some of the lesser-known provisions included in Medicare for All:

  • U.S. residents receive free health care, specifics determined by the HHS Secretary.

  • Older and younger citizens will receive coverage first.

  • Abortion is covered.

  • Long-term care is included.

  • Treatment practices considered non-traditional, such as Reiki, might be covered.

  • In the House version of the bill only, nurse to patient ratios will be mandated.

  • It will become illegal for private insurers to cover what Medicare for All covers.

  • Healthcare institutions would be subject to “global budgeting.”

  • In the House version only, Doctor payments would be overhauled.

  • The Indian Health Service and Veterans Health Administration would remain.

  • The government would bargain for cheaper drugs.

  • Some patients would receive free rides to appointments.

  • The two-year wait for Medicare disability coverage would be eliminated.

  • Medicare for All cracks down on conflicts of interests.  


Trump Nominee for Energy Panel Withdraws Amid opposition from Energy Secretary Rick Perry and coal companies, Trump’s nominee for an influential energy panel, David Hill, withdrew his nomination. Hill, who served as the general counsel for the Energy Department under President George W. Bush, was nominated to have a seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commision. Perry and senior Energy Department officials stated their opposition to Hill derived from his public criticism of Trump’s proposal to offer financial aid to coal power plants.

Trump Says He’ll Pardon Border Patrol If They Break The Law For Him Officials present in a meeting between Border Patrol officers and Trump reported that the President encouraged officers to defy immigration judges and deport anyone coming across the Southern border. It was also reported that Trump promised to pardon Border Patrol Commissioner and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin MaCaleen if he were arrested for ordering the violation of judicial decisions. According to the recounting, when Trump left the room officers turned to their leaders for clarification and were told they were not to do as the President instructed and to uphold the law.

A DHS spokesperson said that the President never encouraged officers to break the law. Sarah Sanders has also denied the allegations in the story.

Trump Wants to Use Military To Run Immigration Camps In his continuing efforts to close the Southern border, Trump has met with advisers over the prospect of using the U.S. military to staff immigrant camps. This poses a grave risk of militarizing the U.S. immigration system, and history tells us what happens when the military becomes border enforcement and detention camp manager.

Luckily, the the U.S. has the Posse Comitatus Act. As the article notes: "The Posse Comitatus Act prohibits the use of federal troops for domestic law enforcement inside the U.S. This prevents them from direct interaction with immigrants crossing into the country. One U.S. official said recent meetings have included discussions about whether using active duty troops to run a detention camp would be a violation of Posse Comitatus."

Trump’s Sister, Facing Tax Evasion, Resigns from Federal Appeals Court You may recall the bombshell New York Times investigation into the Trump family’s tax evasion last year. In response to that, Donald Trump’s sister Judge Maryanne Trump Barry was informed the investigation was receiving the “full attention” of a Judicial conduct council.

Though Barry had been retired for two years and not heard any cases, she resigned from her position as Judge, blocking any council inquiry. In her retirement, Barry will continue to receive a pension worth between $184,500 and $217,600 per year.

Barry was appointed to a Federal Judgeship by Ronald Reagan in 1983 and elevated to Federal Appeals by Bill Clinton in 1999.

Julian Assange Arrested Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, was arrested in London after being expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy there. Assange had been staying there to avoid the U.S. government and sexual assault charges against him in Sweden. Assange will now likely face extradition to the U.S., which has just unsealed an indictment of him for conspiring to bypass DoD cybersecurity with Chelsea Manning.

Opinions are mixed on the U.S. indictment with some worrying it’s an attack on free speech and others saying his knowing endangerment of U.S. and foreign agents is criminal. This Vox article has a pretty good breakdown of how this case is unique.

Senate Confirms Trump Nominee for Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist and career Interior Department member, was confirmed by the Senate 56-41. Four Democrats broke with party lines to support Bernhardt’s confirmation: Sen. Joe Manchin, Sen. Krysten Sinema, Sen. Martin Heinrich, and Sen. Angus King. Democrats expressed concern for Bernhardt’s background as a lobbyist and how it may create a conflict of interest.


Hack League Student Hackathon Competition

Wednesday, April 17⋅10:00 – 16:00

New York, NY 10007, USA

Description:The Hack League invited all NYC middle and high school students to learn, design, and build projects to help their community. This year’s competitions involved participation from over 100 schools across all five boroughs. Using open data from their school neighborhoods, students used computer science practices of analyzing, prototyping, and communicating to address issues impacting their communities; connecting the dots between municipal data, civic technology, and civic engagement in the process of becoming empowered citizens.

New York SheHeroes Connect!

Thursday, April 18⋅18:30 – 20:30


Thursday, April 18th   6:30 - 8:30 PM

Please join us for a very special evening to meet and celebrate the SheHeroes in our lives!

We'll be hosting an evening of  networking and light refreshments at the beautiful Alley workspace in the financial district. We'll share SheHeroes' mission to inspire girls to dream big in their careers, and we'll look forward to meeting you New York SheHeroes!

Making Tech Development Civic: Lessons from Amazon HQ2

Wednesday, April 17⋅18:00 – 20:30

Description:Join Forums @ Civic Hall and The City for a conversation debriefing the Amazon HQ2 deal. This event features diverse perspectives from tech, labor, community organizing, and media, aiming to identify lessons learned and areas where collective action can improve technology sector development practices in New York.

Team4NC's April Planning Meeting

Wednesday, April 17⋅18:30 – 20:00

For over two years, Team4NC has helped folks contribute time, money, and expertise on behalf of the people and organizations fighting for democracy on the front lines in one of the places where it matters most.

Bolsonaro is NOT welcome in NYC!

Saturday, April 20⋅14:00 – 16:00

Description:We protest the gala to award Jair Bolsonaro, “Man of the Year”, by the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce. The event is nothing short of an outrage to Brazil, to any institution in the City of New York, to the country, to the world.

Lower Manhattan April General Meeting

Monday, April 22⋅19:00 – 21:00

Description:At the next LowMan DSA meeting, we'll discuss upcoming Lower Manhattan elections, and comrades from our Housing Working Group will give a presentation on their ongoing activities and campaigns.  We'll also discuss the city-wide DSA Policy Platform Project, and members will have the opportunity to provide feedback on proposed policy platform planks.

Manhattan Young Democrats - April General Meeting

Tuesday, April 23⋅19:00 – 21:00

Downtown Independent Democrats General Meeting

Wednesday, April 24⋅18:30 – 19:00

Organizing 2.0 Conference

April 26, 2019, 09:00 – April 27, 2019, 17:00

Description:Organizing 2.0 is an annual training conference held in New York City. We offerer training in online organizing, digital strategy, use of online tools and creative organizing strategy.

Organizing 2.0 Conference

April 26, 2019, 09:00 – April 27, 2019, 17:00

Description:Organizing 2.0 is an annual training conference held in New York City. We offerer training in online organizing, digital strategy, use of online tools and creative organizing strategy.

Mazu Temple Parade

Saturday, April 27⋅11:00 – 11:45

2nd Annual Grassroots Gala, Presented by NYPAN & the Grassroots

Saturday, April 27⋅18:00 – 21:00

Description:NYPAN's Second Annual Grassroots Gala will take place on April 27th in NYC!  More details to come soon!

Downtown Independent Democrats Annual Brunch Gala

Sunday, April 28⋅11:00 – 13:00

125 Greene St, New York, NY 10012, USA

Queens Drinking Liberally with Special Guest Tiffany Caban!

Sunday, April 28⋅12:00 – 16:00

Description:Hello, Queens Drinking Liberally!!! It's been quite a while since we last met, BUT WE'RE BACK!!! And this time we won't be in Astoria. Queens is a Foodie's Paradise, and we have only one chapter here so we will be traveling to Jackson Heights this time.

Rent Guidelines Board Preliminary Vote

Wednesday, May 1⋅18:00 – 21:00

Description:Public Meeting for the Rent Guidelines Board Preliminary Vote!

VID 62nd Annual Awards Reception

Thursday, May 2⋅18:00 – 21:00

Description:Please join us as we celebrate NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson, True Blue NY and No IDC, and Frieda Bradlow. Plus, there will be a special performance by Sing Out, Louise!

Meet & Greet Fundraiser in Support of Tiffany Cabán

Friday, May 3⋅19:00 – 21:00

Description:Join us for a Meet and Greet Fundraiser in support of Tiffany Cabán for Queens District Attorney. Suggested contribution is $100 per person.  Any contribution is deeply appreciated. Drinks & hors d'oeuvres will be served.

CRDC Annual Brunch and Awards

Saturday, May 4⋅11:00 – 14:00

Description:Please join the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club for our annual brunch. The brunch is one of the political season’s most popular events, offering a welcome opportunity to relax and exchange ideas with other progressives and Democratic officeholders in New York City. It also provides an occasion to honor those who have worked alongside CRDC to advance community, progressive causes, and responsive government.

Tickets start at just $55 for members and $175 for non-members. Sponsorship opportunities are available beginning at $200.

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