The Democratic National Committee released the latest draft of its 2016 platform late Friday afternoon, a week after Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) promised to fight "on the floor of the convention" if more progressive planks did not make it in.
Until today, outsiders analyzing the platform had to rely on two sources of incomplete information. The first was a summary provided by the DNC after the party's somewhat contentious drafting meeting in St. Louis last week. The second was the transcript of that meeting, at which the committee's members debated planks without using their exact language. After multiple requests from the media, and at least one leak, the party is effectively giving the public one week to peruse the language before the full platform committee meets in Orlando.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership. For the moment, the most contentious plank in the platform — the one that superseded language from Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) meant to put the party on record against the TPP — simply acknowledges that the party is riven.
On the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), there are a diversity of views in the party. Many Democrats are on record stating that the agreement does not meet the standards set out in this platform; other Democrats have expressed support for the agreement. But all Democrats believe that any trade agreement must protect workers and the environment and not undermine access to critically-needed prescription drugs.
The "other Democrats," as committee members largely admitted last week, mostly reside in the White House.
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The other stumbling block in negotiations has been resolved with even more rhetorical upholstery. It's the one area of the platform where the progressives seem to have slid back since 2012. Where there was once was no mention of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions Movement, there's now a clear denunciation of the BDS. Language in favor of a two-state solution is more expansive, but not materially different, than the language of 2012.
A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we share overarching strategic interests and the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance, and pluralism. That is why we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself, including by retaining its qualitative military edge, and oppose any effort to delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.
We will continue to work toward a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiated directly by the parties that guarantees Israel’s future as a secure and democratic Jewish state with recognized borders and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity. While Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, it should remain the capital of Israel, an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths. Israelis deserve security, recognition, and a normal life free from terror and incitement. Palestinians should be free to govern themselves in their own viable state, in peace and dignity.
The death penalty. In 2012, Democrats wrote that "the death penalty must not be arbitrary." The 2016 platform goes further.
We will abolish the death penalty, which has proven to be a cruel and unusual form of punishment. It has no place in the United States of America.
That's not Hillary Clinton's position.
Hydraulic fracturing. It doesn't appear in the platform, despite the desire of Sanders and his platform appointees, to ban it. In fact, the platform puts the party on record in favor of the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan and the goal of "100 percent clean electricity." That plan and that goal assume that fracking will continue.
Inequality. The Democrats' 2012 platform, written largely to celebrate the Obama administration, only mentioned income inequality to say that it had risen under Republicans. This platform acknowledges that inequality has risen under President Obama.
We believe that today’s extreme level of income and wealth inequality — where the majority of the economic gains go to the top one percent and the richest 20 people in our country own more wealth than the bottom 150 million — makes our economy weaker, our communities poorer, and our politics poisonous.
Those sorts of rebukes of standing policy are rare in incumbent party platforms. This document also bemoans the "racial wealth gap," not mentioned at all in 2012.
Social Security. One of Sanders's major goals is only partially accomplished, with language assuring that Democrats will fight to expand the safety net to people who leave the workforce to take care of loved ones, and begin "asking those at the top to pay more, and will achieve this goal by taxing some of the income of people above $250,000." That's less than the progressive dream of actually tying Social Security payments to the cost of living, but it's more than was offered four years ago.
Health care. There's more for Sanders here, in one half-sentence: "Americans should be able to access public coverage through Medicare or a public option." Sanders campaigned on a Medicare-for-all, single-payer health-care system, and this nods at that, without promising it in four years.
Abortion. For the first time, the 2016 Democratic platform says that the party will attempt to repeal the Hyde Amendment (which bars the use of federal funds for most kinds of abortion) and the Helms Amendment (which prevents foreign aid from being spent on abortion).
We will continue to oppose — and seek to overturn — federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment ... we support the repeal of harmful restrictions that obstruct women’s access to health care information and services, including the “global gag rule” and the Helms Amendment that bars U.S. assistance to provide safe, legal abortion throughout the developing world.
Taxes. The 2012 platform only mentioned two possible tax reforms; "the Buffett Rule so no millionaire pays a smaller share of his or her income in taxes than middle class families do," and a corporate tax reform that would "lower tax rates for companies in the United States." The 2016 platform goes much further:
Democrats will claw back tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, eliminate tax breaks for big oil and gas companies, and crack down on inversions and other methods companies use to dodge their tax responsibilities. We will make sure that our tax code rewards businesses that make investments and provide good-paying jobs here in the United States, not businesses that walk out on America. We will end deferrals so that American corporations pay U.S. taxes immediately on foreign profits and can no longer escape paying their fair share of United States taxes by stashing profits abroad. We will then use the revenue raised from fixing the corporate tax code to reinvest in rebuilding America and ensuring economic growth that will lead to millions of good-paying jobs.
We will ask those at the top to contribute to our country’s future by establishing a multimillionaire surtax to ensure millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share. In addition, we will shut down the “private tax system” for those at the top, immediately close egregious loopholes like those enjoyed by hedge fund managers, restore fair taxation on multimillion dollar estates, and ensure millionaires can no longer pay a lower rate than their secretaries.
Guantanamo Bay. The 2012 Democratic platform favored "substantially reducing the population at Guantanamo Bay without adding to it." The 2016 platform calls for closing it, calling it "a blemish on our record" which "serves as a recruiting tool for extremists, and undermines our standing in the world."