In a wide-ranging interview with Anand Giridharadas, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) gives his take on what a Biden administration should shoot for in the first 100 days. The following is a transcript of part of their conversation:
Giridharadas: “In the event that Biden is president and you’re Senate majority leader in January, should the first 100 days look like the modern, centrist Democratic Party’s, or should it look like FDR’s?”
Schumer: “It ought to look like FDR’s.
“One area is climate, with a big, strong, aggressive climate agenda that takes into account working people, takes into account racial injustice.
“The second is wealth and income inequality. Obviously, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Changing the tax code so it’s fairer for labor rather than capital. Strengthening labor unions. One of the reasons working-class incomes have declined is the weakening of the labor movement. We have to strengthen that. We need a big, broad infrastructure bill, and it could create millions of jobs. A lot of those jobs should go to poor people, people who have had prison records. And these are good-paying jobs. Getting rid of student debt. I have a proposal with Elizabeth Warren that the first $50,000 of debt be vanquished, and we believe that Joe Biden can do that with the pen as opposed to legislation.
“Then there are issues that don’t seem related to income inequality but are. Immigration reform. Criminal-justice reform is another economic issue. If you have a small conviction for a minor crime, you can never get a good job. I like the idea of paying care workers more.
“The third area is democracy. We’ve got to change the structure of society. Making it much easier to vote. We can change America structurally that way.
“So, it’s a big, bold agenda. My job is to get as much of that passed and get the votes for it, which obviously is not something I can snap my fingers and do. I want the boldest agenda that we can get the votes to pass.”