Response to the coronavirus pandemic
Strength Through Equality
TREATING AMERICA'S VIRAL INFECTION OF INJUSTICE.
The unfolding epidemic of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) infections has laid bare the weaknesses in this country's healthcare infrastructure as well as the massive inequalities and economic weaknesses of our country's abusive system.
Our toxic, profit-driven culture has treated as a social good the deprivation of large numbers of people from basic human needs and dignity. This pandemic has managed to touch all classes and economic statuses – as made evident by the ongoing reports of high profile infections. But as with most crises in this country, it touches different classes, economic statuses, and races differently.
We reject the political climate of austerity which has weakened our resistance to crisis and deepened our divides as a country. We must invest in the equipment, free testing kits, free treatment and care facilities that will be necessary to get through this crisis together and make them equally available to all. But we must also commit, in the short and the long-term, to ending the inequality that contributes to the existence and spread of misery - medical and otherwise.
Inequality kills. We have always had cause to know this. And in the midst of this epidemic, we must resolve this threat in order to save lives.
MEDICAL LEADERSHIPAND INVESTMENT
- Increase funding for all health agencies to meet the challenges of this crisis. Directly invest in medical remedies to the viral outbreak that are under PUBLIC not private control and available without cost.
- The crisis should be responded to by a publicly-owned pharmaceutical and medical supply, part of permanent public-control under a universal, single-payer healthcare system. All necessary pharmaceuticals and medical supplies will be free to all residents.
- Immediate access to Medicare for all residents, covering all treatment and testing for free.
IMMEDIATE FINANCIAL RELIEFFOR ALL HOUSEHOLDS
Expecting workers to simply work from home is not a solution. Less than 30% of workers are in occupations where that is possible. There is also a racial disparity in the ability to work from home - roughly 30% of white workers would be able to do so compared to only 16% of Latinx workers and 20% of Black workers. Under our plan:
- $2,000 per month, per resident. No means-testing or reduction in that amount based on age or dependent status.
- No firings or layoffs without just cause.
- Universal paid sick leave.
- All employers will be expected to make working from home an available option in professions where that is possible. For those in professions where that is not possible as well as those which will be subject to reduced schedules, additional Telework Equalization Payments (TEP) will be made available to workers.
- Emergency workers (e.g. in the healthcare professions) must receive hazard pay.
- All imminent SNAP, unemployment and cash benefit program cutoffs must be stopped. New applications will be streamlined and prioritized for expedited processing. Online food ordering, an aid to social distancing during this crisis, will be available across all SNAP programs.
- An immediate, indefinite freeze on all evictions, foreclosures and repossession processes throughout the crisis with an additional 6 months post-crisis protection against all such processes. A release from the responsibility to pay rent (rent abatement) for residential and small business renters across the country for the duration of the crisis.
- A ban on any cutoff of basic utilities throughout the crisis. This includes not only electricity and heating, but also telephone and internet – necessary to connect Americans in ways that will dampen the spread of the virus. Americans will have 6 months of continued protection against cutoffs after the crisis.
- An immediate, permanent ban on all collection on student loan debt – publicly-owned as well as private. As a part of our larger, long-term platform, we believe total student loan debt forgiveness will help give Americans a brighter future beyond this crisis.
- A ban on credit reporting for any payments missed during the crisis.
- Any resident with a net worth of $10 million or more - roughly 1% of the American population - will be responsible for a Crisis Tax by the federal government to help fund the response to the epidemic.
URBAN AND RURAL RELIEF
- Rapid establishment of emergency clinical centers in urban and rural areas that are without clinics or hospitals. We will begin the long-term expansion of permanent community health centers in all such areas across the country.
- Healthy food is necessary to overcome the spread of this viral infection. We must ensure immediate, and widespread distribution and availability of free fresh food in areas designated as food deserts. We must expand, streamline, and improve the nutritional value of programs designed to get food to those who need it most - and end the reliance of such programs (e.g. TEFAP) on 'Big Ag' and 'Big Food.' We will also aid farmers by ceasing collection on Farm Service Agency loans.
- Government owned vacant houses will be made available to the unhoused. In some places, this has begun to take place by community action (e.g. the takeover of vacant homes in California that are owned by CalTrans).
- Houses of worship and religious charitable organizations are expected to be open to use as emergency centers as needed, by virtue of their stated charitable mission. Those that decline official requests to do so will lose their tax exempt status.
FROM WAR TO PEACE
- All military actions here and overseas must cease. All resources devoted to military activities must be reallocated to the emergency response to the pandemic. At home, this means military facilities will be converted to medical facilities to increase the number of available hospital beds as well as housing for the unhoused - those amongst the most vulnerable in this epidemic.
- All military funding – not simply 50% or 75%, but all - will be available for use in the response effort and in the long term for peace-building (through a newly founded Dept. of Peace). Abroad, former military base resources will be made available to aid the countries in which we have previously engaged in military activity. US sanctions worsening the global crisis (e.g. Iran) will be ended.
IMMIGRATION AND MASS INCARCERATION
- The brutally punitive nature of our mass incarceration system cannot be allowed to take precedence over our national health and safety. Immediate medical relief and treatment must be made available to the incarcerated on equal terms as to the general population. This includes Medicare-standard medical care. Recovery from the crisis and protection from its spread takes precedence over all other considerations other than equivalent health and safety concerns.
- An end to all internal immigration enforcement, including an end to all citizenship/permanent residency requirements in receiving the relief needed to get through this crisis. All benefits made available to respond to the crisis must be made available equally and without regard to immigration status. Immigration detention must end for all detainees deemed to not pose a credible and verifiable safety risk. All former detainees must be provided housing and/or medical attention on equal terms as the general population throughout the crisis.
Expecting people to appear at the polls during a deadly and worsening pandemic is a form of voter suppression. We must delay the remaining primaries and implement voting by mail both for primaries and the general election.
Ballot access laws in many states provide state-funded primaries only to the Democrats and Republicans. Other parties must nominate by convention, caucus, or a primary held at their own expense. Any FEC-recognized party that has not yet nominated a Presidential candidate must be allowed to have a state- funded primary by mail to avoid the threat of spreading coronavirus at large public gatherings.
Most states require candidates and parties to petition for ballot access. In light of the risk of spreading coronavirus, all petitioning requirements for ballot access must be suspended.