Suppose, as looks more likely than not, the Biden-Harris ticket wins in November, Democrats pick up the net four seats they need to have 50 seats in the U.S. Senate which is a majority with VP Harris as a tie breaker, and Democrats retain control of the U.S. House by a slightly increased margin.
What should they do with that power?
Cementing Political Power
1. Abolish the U.S. Senate filibuster.
The filibuster has been used most prominently to retard civil rights legislation and strengthen conservative minorities who are already tilted unfairly towards Republicans due to the rural bias of the rule that gives every state equal representation in the Senate. It has already been eliminated in a manner that has allowed the thin GOP majority and President Trump to put large numbers of often unqualified, far right ideologues on the bench in the federal courts.
This has to be early in any agenda, because Biden can't get his nominees into office or pass legislation without it. But, the nuclear option precedent to change this with a majority vote of U.S. Senators is now well established, so it can be done, and GOP disregard of Senate norms without political consequences has made it morally and politically justifiable to do so.
While Democrats controlling the U.S. Senate are at it, they should also abolish other undemocratic Senate rules like the ability of a single U.S. Senator to hold up legislation in many cases.
2. Admit D.C. to statehood.
The District of Columbia has been denied political power, mostly because it is majority African-American, for too long. Democrats should redress this injustice and secure themselves two additional safe Democratic U.S. Senate seats and an additional safe U.S. House seat.
This requires only the passage of a simple statute. Democrats could use a constitutional amendment to repeal the 23rd Amendment that would then be a no brainer as a vehicle for other positive constitutional reforms.
3. Admit Puerto Rico to statehood.
Puerto Rico has been denied political power, mostly because it is majority Spanish speaking Hispanic, for too long. Democrats should redress this injustice and secure themselves two additional safe Democratic U.S. Senate seats and an additional four or five safe U.S. House seats.
Majorities in Puerto Rico voted in favor of statehood in 2012 and 2017, so there is no need to delay this action in order to hold a new referendum.
Combined with D.C. statehood, this would shift the balance of power in the U.S. Senate by four seats in favor of Democrats, rebalancing some of the current conservative bias in this body.
This requires only the passage of a simple statute.
4. Expand the U.S. Supreme Court
Republicans denied President Obama a U.S. Supreme Court appointment, and are now trying to secure a third appointment for President Trump in the lame duck session which may or may not be successful. Several of the conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court are far right partisans with no respect for precedent.
Democrats are justified in redressing this injustice by adding six more seats to the U.S. Supreme Court, turning a likely 6-3 conservative majority into a 9-6 liberal majority, defined by Biden appointees. This should also happen soon to prevent the U.S. Supreme Court from interfering with the Democrats agenda or rolling back critical constitutional rights like Roe v. Wade.
This requires only the passage of a simple statute.
5. Restore the Voting Rights Act
Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have neutered the Voting Rights Act with the predictable consequence in the 2020 election cycle of all manner of voter suppression tactics and other electoral politics dirty tricks in Red States.
This requires only the passage of a simple statute.
As I enumerate below the fold in detail, there are two more big areas need work.
One is to undo four years of bad Trump Administration policies.
The other is to enact new policies that improve the economic well being and security of America's working class, a demographic which Democrats have tussled with the GOP over since the Reagan Democrats in the 1980s, with the Republicans appealing to this group with cultural and social issues, and the Democrats appealing to this group with economic proposals.
Undo Four Years Of Bad Policy
1. Approve the Paris Climate Accord
2. Restore environmental protections stripped by anti-environmental regulatory action and permit granting policies in the Trump Administration
3. Restore national monuments undone by Trump.
4. Provide complete environmental justice in Flint, Michigan.
5. Reinstate tax incentives for renewable energy.
6. Repeal fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks.
7. Invest in high speed rail projects.
8. Undo U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization
9. Restore CDC pandemic response departments.
10. Implement a national, science driven COVID-19 response with economic relief for workers, homeowners, renters, state and local governments, and small businesses.
11. Repeal Trump health and public health regulations and policies that were anti-LGBTQ and limited reproductive health. Pass statutory protections for reproductive health to override state anti-abortion laws.
12. Discontinue efforts to repeal Obamacare.
Tax Law and Economic Policy
13. Roll back unnecessary tax cuts for corporations and the rich in the 2017 tax bill, and enact new tax code provisions to prevent the abuses that Trump and profitable big businesses have utilized to avoid paying taxes.
14. Increase funding for enforcement of tax laws against big businesses and wealth individuals.
15. End efforts to defund Social Security by deferring payroll taxes.
16. Repeal corporate welfare programs slipping into COVID-19 relief packages. Strengthen and enforce civil and criminal anti-corruption laws from the Presidency to state and local officials and government contractors.
17. Grant citizenship to DACA participants and military veterans.
18. Discontinue denaturalization cases.
19. Establish humane refugee policies, provide better treatment for refugees pending resolution of their cases (especially children), and shut down private immigration detention facilities.
20. Stop forcing children to represent themselves in immigration courts, remove bad immigration judges, and consider eliminating the separate immigration court system.
21. Dissolve ICE in favor of a new immigration agency with a better corporate culture rebuilt from scratch.
22. Improve oversight of TSA agent misconduct and make no fly lists more transparent; disarm customs and TSA agents at security checkpoints receiving people disembarking from commercial aircraft.
23. Roll back travel bans and visa restrictions.
24. End efforts to build a wall on the Mexican border.
25. Make it easier for legal residents to gain U.S. citizenship.
26. Create workable a path to citizenship for long time resident undocumented non-citizens.
27. End efforts to penalize Democratic party controlled cities for "sanctuary city" policies. Discontinue the policy of not enforcing immigration laws in certain sensitive places and circumstances.
28. Decriminalize low level immigration violations like illegal re-entry.
29. End deportations based only upon stale criminal convictions.
Domestic Civil Rights
30. Stop utilizing federal officials to unlawfully intervene in protests.
31. Stop penalizing cities that treat appropriate protestors appropriately.
32. Pass new legislation overriding state legislation purporting to criminalize unarmed protests or failing to punish private violence against them.
33. Legislatively repeal qualified immunity for law enforcement and ban select practices commonly constituting excessive use of force or violation of constitutional rights.
34. Enact federal legislation to prevent bad cops from being rehired in new agencies.
35. End, or dramatically curtail and reform, civil forfeiture.
36. Treat white supremacist, violent anti-abortion terrorists, and right wing militia groups as terrorist organizations, and aggressively prosecute them whenever possible.
37. Aggressively prosecute civil rights violations by state and local officials who are not adequately dealt with at the state and local level.
38. Close loopholes in federal gun control laws, pass a federal red flag law, keep guns out of the hands of at risk mentally ill individuals, and keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.
39. Restore civil rights protections overseen by the education department.
40. Stop providing military equipment to state and local police departments.
41. Impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia for its human rights abuses domestically and in its war with Yemen. Stop selling arms to the Saudis and stop providing them with foreign aid.
42. Rejoin U.N. Human Rights organizations and ratify multi-lateral human rights treaties such as the International Criminal Court.
43. Take action against Russia for its involvement in Ukraine and paying bounties to Taliban forces to kill U.S. soldiers.
44. Sanction China for its actions in Hong Kong, against is Uighur minority, its abusive fishing fleet activities, and its land grabs in the South China sea. But relent from protectionist trade policies with it.
45. Restore positive relations with traditional U.S. allies.
46. End destructive trade wars in agricultural goods.
47. Abandon the Tik Tok ban.
48. End U.S. involvement in the Venezuela situation
49. Oppose abuses by the current leadership in Brazil.
50. Oppose abuses by the current leadership in the Philippines.
New Policy Initiatives To Win Back The Working Class
1. Increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour and restore overtime protections and reform the pitiful minimum wage of tipped workers.
2. Permanently extend unemployment benefits and other labor law protections to 1099 gig workers (including workers with a mix of W-2 and 1099 work).
3. Improve the default duration and amount of unemployment benefits.
4. Improve civil enforcement in "wage theft" cases.
5. Strengthen protections for workers with underfunded pensions.
6. Reclassify tips as self-employment income that employers can't control.
7. Simplify the earned income tax credit and other tax credits aimed at low income workers.
8. Prohibit arbitration requirements in employment contracts and independent contractor service provision contracts,
9. Repeal the Federal Arbitration Act, and prohibit arbitration requirements under state laws in residential real estate related contracts with renters and owner-occupied housing, legal services, and all other contracts with consumers (including financial services).
10. Strengthen laws limiting junk calls, junk faxes, junk texts, spam, and phishing, and devote adequate resources to enforcing them at telecommunication company and ISP levels. Enact particularly draconian measures for extended vehicle warranty programs that would require a federal license.
11. Strictly regulate fee based charges of credit reporting companies to people not paying for their services in connection with extension of credit.
The Safety Net
12. Spend whatever it takes to house and meet the needs of every homeless veteran and every mentally ill veteran.
13. Spend whatever it takes to provide a decent, safe life to children in foster care while in foster care and upon aging out.
14. End drug testing and work requirements for recipients of federal welfare benefits and make the benefits more generous.
15. Relax income and asset restrictions for disability benefits including SSI and Medicaid.
16. Provide grants to states to provide legal representation and assistance to indigent family members in paternity, parenting and custody matters, and in eviction and foreclosure cases.
17. Expand universal free meal programs through public schools.
18. Subsidize standardized test preparation instruction.
19. Provide financial aid satisfying 100% of the financial needs of adequately academically prepared students with grants rather than loans for non-profit and governmental educational institutions.
20. End all federal support for "for profit" educational institutions.
21. Provide financial support for students needing Internet access and equipment for remote leaning.
22. Allow student loans to be discharged in bankruptcy where they involved for profit educational institutions, the student did not obtain a degree or could not obtain licensure after a pre-professional program, or a sufficient amount of time (e.g. 10-15 years) has elapsed since the debt was incurred.
23. Allow cram downs for secured loans on personal residences.
24. End the Chapter 7 means test.
25 Give trade creditors priority over long term financial debt creditors.
26. Subordinate claims for default interest (to the extent it exceeds non-default interest), late fees, fines, and exemplary damage awards to other claims of general creditors.
27. Disallow state exemptions from creditors including homestead exemptions in excess of the federal amount, and exemptions for retirement savings, for debtors to the extent of their non-dischargeable debts including civil rights tort judgments, and public official corruption related judgments.
Tax Fairness For Moderate Income Families
28. Exempt unemployment benefits from income taxation.
29. Exempt social security benefits from income taxation.
30. Restore the alimony deduction.
31. Make rent payments up to the median rent in your area itemized tax deductible expenses.
32. Make mortgage insurance, renter's insurance, and homeowner's insurance payments tax deductible.
33. Restore the casualty loss deduction.
34. Restore the unreimbursed employee business expense deduction.
35. Restore the expenses of earning income deduction.
36. Restore the state and local tax deduction.
37. Restore the mortgage interest deduction.
Health Care and Long Term Care
38. Make Obamacare Medicaid Expansion mandatory and simplify enrollment in it, allowing late enrollment when health care services are first needed.
39. End the Medicaid Estate Recovery program (the poor man's estate tax) and relax eligibility requirements for the Medicaid nursing home program; fund this by increasing gift and estate tax revenues.
40. Pardon minor drug offenses.
41. End the private prison industry.
42. Create incentives to eliminate cash bonds in most cases and in federal cases.
43. Create a strict liability right to attorneys' fees incurred and other compensation in the event of federal criminal prosecutions not resulting in convictions.
44. Create a foundation to investigate wrongful convictions and help victims of them to secure relief.
45. End federal criminalization of intrastate controlled substance crimes and disband the DEA.
46. Repeal Internal Revenue Code Section 280E (disallowing deductions for controlled substances businesses)
47. End restrictions on banking for legal marijuana business participants.
48. Create a separate federal court and federal criminal justice system, apart from the U.S. District Courts and U.S. Attorneys, for felonies committed in Indian Country.
49. Enact laws prohibiting sexual interaction with the public by on duty law enforcement and corrections officers.
50. Devote enforcement resources to, and make policy reforms aimed at, ending or dramatically reducing inmate on inmate prison rape.