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Patrick Campaign Press Release - Deval Patrick Announces Policy Agenda for 2020 Campaign

December 19, 2019

Releases Platform Centered on Four Policy Pillars: Opportunity, Reform, Democracy, and Foreign Policy

BOSTON, MA - Today Governor Patrick unveiled a policy agenda for his 2020 campaign. The agenda, posted on Medium, is made up of four main pillars: opportunity, reform, democracy, and foreign policy. Following today's rollout, Governor Patrick will travel to Manchester, New Hampshire, where he will discuss his agenda with voters at a roundtable discussion. Throughout January, Governor Patrick will hold four events across the country, each of which will focus on one of the four pillars.

"My platform recognizes that real people don't live their lives in policy silos, but rather at the intersection of a number of policy and personal choices." Governor Patrick said. "I developed these agendas based on my own lived experience as a kid on the Southside of Chicago, as a civil rights lawyer, a private citizen working in business, and as Governor driving change at the level where policy impacts people."

The platform focuses on four main agendas-- an Opportunity Agenda to grow the economy, create better jobs, create wealth for more people in more places, and create wealth for the country to reduce the national debt; a Reform Agenda to fix the country's big systems, including health care, immigration, criminal justice, and tax systems, so that they align with the nation's values and enable people to reach for their American Dream; a Democracy Agenda to enable the American democracy to serve all people, not just the powerful and the well connected; and a Leadership Agenda to rebuild the United States' power and influence in the world.

As a whole, Governor Patrick's vision for the country focuses on renewing the American Dream for everyone, everywhere-- ensuring that every single person in the United States has an equal shot at obtaining success. Among other things, the agenda advocates for creating a national service program that would grant participants tuition-free higher education in return for participation, sets out a three-part plan for promoting broad-based economic mobility, and establishes a vision for U.S. foreign policy based on the strength of enduring American values. Further, specific policy details will be released with each of the rollouts.

Today, Governor Patrick will spend part of the afternoon in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he will hold a roundtable with New Hampshire voters. He will speak with New Hampshire residents about the issues that impact them and speak about his policy platform as it relates to their lives. Next month, Governor Patrick will hold four events regarding each of the policy pillars-- in Iowa, South Carolina, Chicago, and New York.

For Everyone Everywhere

This election season has been rich in policy proposals — from health care to immigration to taxes. Fellow Democrats up and down the ballot are offering many important and bold solutions to our Nation's biggest and most persistent challenges. At the same time, most people don't live their lives in policy silos, but instead at the intersection of multiple policy and personal choices; not in policy abstractions but at the point where policy touches people. Besides, most voters tell me that they don't vote on the strength of a white paper.

So, in the coming weeks, on and at events around the country, we will roll out policy "agendas," packages of interconnecting policy proposals that help to show what it takes to make change that lasts at the level where policy touches people. Much of it comes from experience I have had getting results. Some of it is informed by experience in other contexts where the lessons are transferable. All of it is anchored in what people tell me are on their hearts and minds.

Our policy agendas will offer a lot of the "what," a bit of the "when," and even some of the "how." And because no candidate and no party has a corner on all the best ideas, there will also be ways on the website to engage citizens on alternative ways to accomplish the goals.

But instead of going straight to the "what," the "when" and the "how," I'd like to start with why. Because I think it is important for Americans to understand why, as a leader and as a citizen, I am so deeply committed to building together a more prosperous and just America for everyone everywhere.

Optimism and Effort — Deval's Story

I have lived the American Dream. As many know, I grew up in poverty on the South Side of Chicago, in my grandparents' crowded two-bedroom tenement. I went to big, broken, overcrowded, under-resourced, sometimes violent public schools, schools with beleaguered yet often inspiring teachers. All around me were broken playgrounds, broken street lights, broken families and broken lives — much of it the result of broken promises.

Even so, I was never raised to lower my gaze or my ambitions. I wanted to go to college, and was encouraged to go — even though no one in our home had ever been. I was encouraged to build a career and a family I could provide for, to imagine being a citizen of the world, and expected to contribute to it. I wasn't raised to feel entitled to anything — except that if I worked hard and played by the rules, I could get a fair chance.

My early lessons were never about blind optimism. "Hope for the best," my grandmother would tell us, "and work for it." Optimism and effort — and an unspoken trust that America would provide a fair chance. And while this may once have been the expectation of average Americans everywhere, it was rarely so for African Americans, especially those who grew up under Jim Crow. So the lessons I got from those particular adults are gifts I cherish deeply.

I got a break through a scholarship to a boarding school outside of Boston, and then another one to college and eventually law school at Harvard. I have since been a civil rights lawyer and a business lawyer, a business executive and a two-term governor, and the founder of an impact investment fund. I have had a chance to raise a family, to own a home, to make a way for myself, and to help others. I have lived the American Dream.

Grit, resilience, personal responsibility were all necessary for my American Dream. But so was a good school and great teachers. So was a job when I was ready for it and a way to travel to and from it. So was a college and a place to live and a doctor that I could afford. So was public assistance and public safety when my family and I needed them.

Nothing was easy or predictable, and not everything went right. But the point is that I have not been limited by the circumstances of my birth — because of my own efforts, because of the grace of God and many others, and also because government provided those things that helped me help myself. Government — not as some distant, nameless, faceless abstraction but as us, you and me, as "the name we give to the things we choose to do together" (in the words of former Congressman Barney Frank). In a sense, government was the guarantor of basic fairness.

That matters because freedom in America depends on equality, opportunity and fair play, hard won foundational truths. In America, as Bryan Stephenson so beautifully puts it, "the opposite of poverty is not wealth: it's justice." Basic fairness. My American Dream was made possible by having a fair chance.

Up for Grabs

In many ways, for many people, America has become less fair. Even when heading off to boarding school, I knew that I was not the only one. I knew there were other kids just as bright, just as ambitious as me who were not getting and would not get their chance. I knew that the deck had been stacked against African Americans from the start and that even then, in the 1960s and 70s, the Nation was still grappling with how to square our reality with our ideals.

Over the years, we've seen the American Dream grow further and further out of reach for more and more Americans in more and more places. We've seen the steady retreat from public schools, the persistent unwillingness to rebuild broken things and neighborhoods and people. We've seen attention paid to certain fortunate corners of the country while smaller cities and towns and rural communities — and even poor neighborhoods in those otherwise flourishing big cities — see mostly neglect. From leaders in every sector, we've seen a careless overemphasis on short-term gain — businesses focused mainly on the next quarter, elected officials focused mainly on the next election — while our long-term interests suffer.

We've tilted our economy and our politics toward the well-connected. We've come to associate poverty with the unrelated concept of fault. And we've bleached justice slowly but methodically out of the criminal justice system. Common cause, let alone common decency, has vanished from much of our national politics, and we've so diminished and belittled government over the years that the public's confidence in it to address common needs keeps sinking.

Leaders who spend every waking moment trying to divide us have made it worse. Caging children and demeaning the weak and vulnerable has made us ashamed.

But the troubling fact is that before the current administration the poor were stuck in poverty, and the Great Recession exposed how the middle class are just a paycheck or two away from being poor. People know the cheery economic indicators don't tell the whole story: how inflation is low so long as you don't count the cost of housing, education and health care, the very things that help people lift themselves and their families to a better life; how unemployment is low so long as you do count both of the minimum wage jobs it takes to survive. The frustration, alienation and even betrayal folk feel in farm country, in coal country, in small cities and towns and many a suburb across America today is remarkably like what I recognize from growing up on the South Side of Chicago. The American Dream I have lived is up for grabs.

Results in Massachusetts

But it doesn't have to be this way. There is a way forward that's not about holding others back, without blaming the unknown or fearing the future. There is a way to build together.

I know because that's what we did in Massachusetts. We faced the worst economic crisis in a generation but, because we stuck together, made shared sacrifices to enable shared prosperity, we emerged stronger on the other side.

After 8 years of hard work and focus, Massachusetts ranked first in the nation in student achievement, health care coverage, energy efficiency, veterans' services, and entrepreneurial activity, to name just a few.

We helped revive an economy hammered by recession by turning it into a global innovation powerhouse, creating a 25-year employment high.

We developed a national model for addressing climate change by working with our neighboring states on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a successful cap and trade program; planning for and investing in resilience and recovery; closing coal-fired power plants; and building a solar, wind and energy efficiency sector that generated ample alternatives and created tens of thousands of jobs.

We made meaningful reforms in transportation, criminal justice, the ethics rules and the pension system — and we did it with unions instead of to them.

And we did that and more with responsible budgets, while earning the highest bond rating in state history.

We didn't get everything right; nobody does. But we got these and other results because we governed not just for today but for tomorrow, not just for the people who voted for us, but for everyone everywhere.

If we want affordable health care for everyone everywhere, if we want an economy that offers a future for everyone everywhere, if we want a justice system that is just, an immigration system that works, and a tax system that makes sense, we need leadership that builds bridges. A politics that says we have to agree on everything before we can work together on anything, that offers government by slogan and short-term wins, that consistently puts power ahead of principle, is exactly the kind of politics that brought us to this point. Substituting our version of that kind of politics for theirs in this next election is not actually going to deliver change that lasts, if it delivers change at all.

I am running for President to deliver meaningful change that lasts — not for the sake of change itself, or in the service of some slogan or passing catchphrase. But to help America keep her foundational commitments, to renew the American Dream, and to put it within reach of everyone everywhere.

That's why I am proposing the policies to come. They are the means to a very ambitious but achievable end. They are the tools, the innovations and the investments I believe we can and must achieve to renew the American Dream.

The Deval for All Policy Platform

There are four parts:

  1. An Opportunity Agenda to grow our economy, create better jobs, create wealth for more people in more places, and create national wealth to reduce the national debt;
  2. A Reform Agenda to fix those big systems — including health care, immigration, criminal justice, and taxes — so that they align with our values and enable, instead of impair, the American Dream;
  3. A Democracy Agenda to enable our democracy to serve all people, not just the powerful and the well-connected, so that Washington produces the results citizens want; and
  4. A Leadership Agenda to rebuild our power and influence in the world, for friends and foes alike, based on the strength of our diplomatic and intelligence capabilities, our military, our economy, and our values.

This post offers an overview of the full platform. In January, we will announce more details about each agenda here on Medium, at, and at events around the country.

The Opportunity Agenda

Opportunity is central to the American Dream. We need an economy that builds on America's strengths in innovation, that seizes the competitive edge in a global knowledge economy, that engages the ingenuity and creativity of all Americans, and that makes a place for everyone everywhere when they are ready to work. To me, that means more than redistribution. That means an economy that grows out to the middle and the marginalized, not just up to the well-connected. I reject "trickle down economics," that long-discredited but stubbornly-held notion that if we just favor the rich, benefits will "trickle down" to everybody else. Instead I believe we must place our emphasis on the things people need to lift themselves on a path to economic mobility and their American Dream: education, innovation and infrastructure.

Education. First, I believe Americans everywhere should have ready access to first-rate education — free from pre-K to community college or the first two years of a 4-year college, free or reduced thereafter (depending on a person's having participated in national service, about which we will say more in our Democracy Agenda), and affordable through life-long workforce development and retraining. In a knowledge-based economy, such as ours is becoming, education is the single best investment we can make in our own collective future.

As your President, my administration will make those investments. It starts with supporting teachers and the public schools in which they teach. Having a well-prepared and committed teacher in front of a classroom can transform the life of a child and retrace the arc of a life. We need to treat teaching as the profession it is.

We will work with states and cities to dramatically expand federal support for public schools, and pair that investment with new tools — like longer school days, after-school enrichment programs, or more social services in the schools themselves — to make sure every child has the opportunity to thrive, and to close persistent achievement gaps. We should support STEM education, foreign language teaching, opportunities for skills development such as coding, vocational and technical skills to help address the middle skills gap, and so-called "soft skills" training. The goal is to have excellent schools with excellent teachers within reach of every child, everywhere. The strategy should be flexible enough to meet the different needs of different children in different communities.

So that they are free or at least affordable, public colleges and universities should be publicly funded. The retreat from this basic formula is the reason public higher education has become in many places as inaccessible as private institutions for many students. For students overburdened by student debt today, we should at a minimum refinance their debt to eliminate or substantially reduce the interest; if we did so retroactively, we could credit excess interest paid against the principal balance. Our objective must be to eliminate student debt entirely and responsibly. And any student who gives a year or more of national military or civilian service — a paid program we will propose as part of the Democracy Agenda — would be given as many years of free tuition and fees at a public college or university.

Education is the on-ramp to opportunity in the knowledge economy and making it accessible must be a top priority of my administration, working collaboratively with states, cities, towns and rural leadership, teachers and other innovators dedicated to building a better future. We made great progress in Massachusetts, and I believe many of those approaches can scale up to the national level.

Innovation. After education, we should focus on innovation because it is our competitive edge in the world. That means cultivating industries like clean tech, precision manufacturing, robotics, gaming, cybersecurity, transportation, green construction and biotech, urban agriculture, and regenerative and organic farming, biofuels, and soil carbon sequestration to name just a few of the economic revolutions underway or within our grasp. It also means making capital available, not just loans, outside the concentrations of capital on the East and West Coasts, along with mentorship and coaching, so that entrepreneurs start their businesses and small businesses can grow. Supporting entrepreneurs in local communities can create more jobs and wealth. I believe that the public/private partnership of MassChallenge is a model for the this kind of business incubator that can be replicated in communities across the country where, as we know, talent already exists but capital and a cluster of fellow innovators may not.

Not only does this approach offer an opportunity for individuals and families to build their own future in areas where housing may be more affordable and their family may already have roots, but it is a key ingredient in the formula for rebuilding the hollowed-out centers in many small cities and towns across the country whose residents feel left behind by or worried about rapid economic change.

America should dominate the innovation economy. Not only does it play to our historical strengths, but it can also help answer some of our most pressing social and environmental challenges. Take income inequality. Beyond the redistribution others are talking about, expanding the economic pie and enabling more people to earn and to own a greater share of it is critical. And we need to be "all in" on a growth strategy that reaches every part of the country — not just in major cities on the coasts, and not just for folks with advanced degrees. Improving economic mobility — the fair chance for people now and in future generations to live their American Dream — is the lasting answer to economic inequality.

Climate. A flourishing innovation economy similarly helps us address climate change. Developing solar, wind and other generation alternatives, as well as ever better strategies for energy efficiency, is essential to moving quickly to a carbon-free future. It also creates a market opportunity for new companies, new jobs and new exports. Rather than seeing the future as a threat, we can shape our own future, and we can do it in a way that expands opportunity for working people and people who live in communities where they feel American enterprise has forgotten them. That is what we tried to do in Massachusetts, and it's a formula that can work for America.

Infrastructure. Infrastructure investment is the third key ingredient. It is perhaps the unglamorous work of government but it is the public platform for personal ambition and private prosperity. It also creates jobs now. We are not talking about make-work. America needs first-class roads, rails, bridges, train stations, and airports to move people and goods efficiently and safely around the country and around the world. America needs access to high-speed broadband and mobile service everywhere to move ideas, orders, health care (including acute and mental health care), education and training, and to meet public safety and national security needs. America needs a modern, efficient and reliable electric grid and modern, reliable and safe drinking water systems in every community. We need school buildings and parks, laboratories and libraries, rural health centers and urban hospitals. And we need resilience and recovery plans developed and invested in to respond to a changing climate, with a keen eye on the poor and minority communities where much of the impact will land.

Americans know we need extensive and sustained investment in public infrastructure. Americans also understand that investing in infrastructure now pays off in multiples over time, just as we today benefit from investments made in the 1950s and 1960s. There are innovations in how we make those investments (new construction technologies, new ways to think of energy efficiency, new partnerships between federal, state and local governments, public-private partnerships) that we should try, but making those investments will be a critical priority in my administration's work to renew the American Dream.

The Reform Agenda

The Reform Agenda that is about making meaningful fixes to the big systems that consistently fail to meet modern needs.

Health Care. We are committed to health care for every American everywhere that provides reliable, affordable, high-quality health services. We do it by supporting and expanding a public option within the Affordable Care Act, one that is free to some and low cost to others, and that could even be modeled on Medicare. And we will engage a broad coalition of stakeholders, from health providers and policymakers to patient advocates to refine and propose improvements as we learn — the very formula that made it possible in Massachusetts to deliver health insurance to nearly 99% of our residents.

Immigration. America deserves an immigration system that assures human dignity as well as a secure border, that encourages the determined and creative whose values align with ours to make their home here. We will propose to do it by providing a path to citizenship for Dreamers and others in the country without legal status; work authorization to students who complete their studies in the United States; smoother, more transparent, more secure and predictable visa application processes and enforcement; and a recommitment to our historic openness to refugees and new Americans. We must also secure our borders and other ports of entry, but with more modern, more effective and less ham-fisted ways than with a physical wall. And while we are at it, ICE needs an overhaul.

Criminal Justice. America needs a justice system that focuses less on warehousing people than on preparing them to re-enter productive life. An end to private prisons, an end to the criminal prohibition on marijuana, a revival of parole and other programs to prepare the incarcerated for their release, treating those dealing with substance use disorders as patients instead of criminals, and sentencing reform that provides non-violent drug offenders a real chance at re-entering society are all elements of this agenda.

Gun Safety. America needs better gun safety measures. We must end the epidemic of gun violence in this country. That requires, at a minimum, universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons and retrofits like bump stocks, coupled with a voluntary buyback initiative. And it requires support for research on the cause and sources of gun violence.

Taxation. And we need reform of our tax systems. On the personal income tax side, we should treat all income as ordinary income (including carried interest and other investment income), dramatically simplify the code, so that everyone — from the meek to the mighty — pays their fair share of the price of our civilization. We should raise the corporate income tax to 25% and eliminate the loopholes that still permit some of the most profitable companies in the world to pay no income taxes. And finally, we should raise the estate tax, paid once when wealth is transferred at death, with every dime collected used to pay down the national debt and invest in America's future.

The Democracy Agenda

There is much more to reform. Assuring veterans' access to adequate health services. Protecting reproductive rights. Prosecuting hate crimes and domestic terrorism. Respecting while also serving Native communities. Regulating "big tech" companies. The agenda is long because the list of challenges that has been ignored or overlooked is long. But that is a direct consequence of how we govern ourselves today.

For too long, we have treated our democracy like it could take infinite abuse without damage. That is simply not true. It's time for that to change. And that's why we need to pursue a Democracy Agenda.

Voting. We would start with voting. The Justice Department in a Patrick administration will aggressively combat the vote suppression that has steadily and cynically choked off the fundamental act of citizenship. We would also explore ways to make voting easier: automatic voter registration, election day registration, early voting and voting by mail. We need to update the Voting Rights Act, and engage a joint state-federal effort to incentivize states to expand access to the ballot.

Campaign Finance. We will work with the Congress to fundamentally reshape the way we finance our political campaigns, including pushing "dark" money out and limiting the influence of lobbyists. Citizens United must be overturned.

Democratic Institutions. The Electoral College has outlived its usefulness and we will work to abolish it in the Constitution. We would also work with Congress and state legislators to end hyper-partisan gerrymandering, where elected officials choose their voters instead of the other way around.

National Service. To rebuild our national community, indeed our democracy, we will propose universal national service for all 17 or 18 year olds. What concerns me as much as our national divisions is how easy it is to divide us. I believe this is because Americans don't know each other. Working alongside another American from another part of the country in service of the country's military or civilian needs gives us the chance to understand each other more deeply, and ultimately to reject the superficial assumptions we make about other Americans whose backgrounds and experiences are different — while also helping the Nation address a host of unmet needs. From AmeriCorps to the Peace Corps to teaching opportunities at home and aboard to service with the armed forces — we will advance ways to give Americans, young and old, the paid opportunity to serve their country and their community. And in return for their national service, service members will earn free tuition at public universities.

The Leadership Agenda

Finally, our Leadership Agenda addresses my plan to rebuild American power and influence in the world, among friends and foes alike, on the strength of our military, our economy, our diplomatic and intelligence resources, and our values. Instead of bullying or demeaning other countries and peoples, instead of erratic and unpredictable international partnerships, instead of limitless war with only limited impact and objective, I believe American leadership should be steady, reliable, firm and consequential.

As a young man working for the UN in Sudan, or a lawyer helping to write the South African Constitution, or an impact investor, or the governor of Massachusetts, I have solved problems, done business, and built relationships all over the world — in some 31 countries. Along the way, I have picked up a few lessons about how to accomplish things overseas.

Strong Alliances with Democracies. The first is that relationships matter. Whether trying to reach a business deal or sign a treaty, you make friends first. As President, I will renew our bonds with our close allies and the world's democracies. Strengthening ties with global allies and trading partners makes us safer and more prosperous. And with those partners, we will tackle global challenges like climate change by re-entering the Paris Accords, confronting aggressors like Russia, Iran and North Korea, and rebalancing power on the global stage with China.

A Modern, Professional Foreign Policy. Another lesson: preparation is key. I will not conduct foreign policy over Twitter, impulsively and without advice or a plan. We will rebuild the professional ranks and resources of Foreign Service and intelligence services. We will enhance our cyber security capabilities. And we will examine whether the training and materiel of the modern military are ready to meet modern challenges.

Strength from our Values. Perhaps the most important lesson I learned abroad was as a young man working in Sudan, where someone asked me to explain the American Civil Rights Movement. And it struck me how our ability to tell the story of America abroad convincingly depends on whether we live that story at home. Our standing in the world, and our ability to get things done overseas, rises and falls with our ability to show the world that "we are who we say we are." Our values of equality, opportunity and fair play are the ultimate source of our strength and our fealty to them the source of our credibility. As President, I will never lose sight of that, and I will assure that our citizens do not either.

The Character of the Country

Opportunity, Reform, and Democracy Agendas to renew the American Dream at home, and a Leadership Agenda to renew our power and influence abroad — that is the framework for the policies my administration will pursue.

Changes that meet the scale of our national and global challenges, changes that last, will require more than indignation, however righteous it may be. Changes that last require leadership that can build bridges. Because more than the character of the candidates is at stake this time. This time it's about the character of the country. This time it's about renewing the American Dream so it works for everyone everywhere. This time it's about whether we are prepared to do the work of rebuilding our national community, for today and for tomorrow.

I have spent the past few weeks meeting Democrats across the country — mostly, but not exclusively, in the early primary or caucus states. I have been greeted overwhelmingly by encouragement and excitement. The policies I talk about and the leadership I offer clearly speak to American aspirations — not just Democrats but Independents and more than a few Republicans. I am asking voters I meet to take a chance, not on me, but on their own aspirations for themselves as citizens and for the future of the country.

That's the kind of leadership I'm about, it's what our policy platform is based on, and it's the kind of responsibility I will bear as President of the United States.

Deval Patrick, Patrick Campaign Press Release - Deval Patrick Announces Policy Agenda for 2020 Campaign Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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