(Bloomberg) -- Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders on Tuesday joined 500 airline food workers picketing at Reagan National Airport in Washington for higher wages and health insurance.
“United, American and Delta over the last five years have raked in over $50 billion in profit,” Warren said. “And yet, their workers, their food service workers, the people on the front lines are locked in poverty.”
The two senators have positioned themselves as allies of unions and are vying for the influential endorsements of labor organizations. Both campaigns’ workers have unionized, though Sanders recently settled a dispute with a union representing his staffers, who said they were paid less than $15 an hour.
Biden Keeps Mum on His Criminal Justice Plan
Former Vice President Joe Biden released a major criminal justice policy plan Tuesday, but he made scant reference to it on a trip to New Orleans.
The presidential contender’s plan focuses on rehabilitation and prevention, a stark reversal from the tough-on-crime legislation he promoted during his Senate career. Biden has faced heavy criticism from some of his Democratic rivals for his central role in the creation and passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which some argue contributed to mass incarceration of minorities.
But, Biden made little effort to address the sweeping proposal Tuesday when he spoke at the Youth Empowerment Project alongside Louisiana Representative Cedric Richmond, a co-chair of Biden’s campaign.
Senator Cory Booker, a 2020 rival who has previously criticized Biden for his comments about working with segregationist senators, lambasted the former vice president’s criminal justice plan on Tuesday.
“Joe Biden had more than 40 years to get this right,” Booker said in a statement. “The proud architect of a failed system is not the right person to fix it.”
Biden did not respond to questions from reporters about Booker’s statement.
But the issue could arise Wednesday, when Biden will be one of several candidates to address the NAACP Convention. It also could come up in the second Democratic debate next week, where he will be flanked by Booker and Senator Kamala Harris, who harshly criticized him at a debate last month for his past positions on busing. -- Tyler Pager
Trump Says 20 Democrats Are Worse Than ‘Squad’
President Donald Trump called Representative Rashida Tlaib a “crazed lunatic,” saying he will add to his attacks on four progressive lawmakers by naming 20 more Democrats he says are “worse.”
“There is no way she stands for the values of the people of Michigan,” Trump said of Tlaib in a speech to a group of young conservatives in Washington on Tuesday. “But I watched her this morning. She’s vicious. She’s like a crazed lunatic.”
Trump said Democrats have a “big problem” because of the 20 lawmakers he would name eventually.
Trump’s swipe at Tlaib likely referred to a video circulated on conservative websites over the weekend that showed her protesting one of his 2016 speeches. Tlaib can be heard heckling attendees by shouting, “You guys are crazy!”
Tlaib belongs to a group of first-term, minority congresswomen known as the “Squad” who have been engaged in a feud with Trump after he said they should return to their country of origin and made other comments questioning their patriotism. Three of the women were born in the U.S., and one is from Somalia but is a naturalized citizen. -- Justin Sink
Trump Stumps in Coal Country as Miners Protest
Coal magnate Robert Murray will host a fundraiser for President Donald Trump Wednesday, even as dozens of disabled miners pressure Congress to restore a higher tax on the fossil fuel that pays for treatment of black lung disease.
Murray, a longtime Trump benefactor and the chief executive of Murray Energy Corp., is hosting the event at the WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, West Virginia. A representative for the company confirmed event details but did not answer questions about who else was attending and the expected cash haul.
The miners from Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia were in Washington Tuesday trying to persuade lawmakers to revive a tax of up to $1.10 per ton of coal that helps pay for medical care of black lung disease, amid a resurgence in the respiratory ailment caused by inhaling coal dust.
Congress last year let that tax rate lapse and revert to 1977 levels of up to 50 cents per ton, after industry leaders argued the expense could further disadvantage coal, which is struggling to compete against low-cost natural gas. -- Jennifer Dlouhy
Harris Proposes Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana
Kamala Harris introduced legislation to decriminalize marijuana, expunge convictions and impose a 5% sales tax on the substance to help minority communities enter the cannabis business.
Harris, a 2020 presidential candidate, has frequently expressed support on the campaign trail for legalizing marijuana. Every other top-tier Democratic contender with the exception of former Vice President Joe Biden has said they support legalization. Biden said Tuesday he would support decriminalizing it at the federal level and expunging all past user convictions.
Harris, a California senator, introduced the bill alongside House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York. Two of her presidential rivals, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, also co-sponsored the bill.
“As marijuana becomes legal across the country, we must make sure everyone — especially communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs — has a real opportunity to participate in this growing industry,” Harris said in a statement.
The proceeds of the sales tax will be used to provide services to those most affected by the War on Drugs and provide loans to “socially and economically disadvantaged individuals” to start cannabis-related businesses. -- Emma Kinery
Trump Says He’ll Win Minnesota With Omar Attack
President Donald Trump is predicting that his attack on Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar -- now in its second week -- will propel him to become the first Republican to capture her home state since 1972.
Critics of Omar have said her commentary on the U.S.-Israel relationship sometimes employs anti-Semitic tropes, like referring to campaign money as “the Benjamins,” while critics of Trump say that his call in a recent tweet for the Somali-born Omar to return there echoes historically racist tropes. Trump has sought to tie all Democrats to the progressive views of Omar and three other freshman congresswomen of color -- all of them American-born -- whom he has told to “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
Trump lost Minnesota by 1.5 percentage points in 2016, the closest election in the state since former Vice President Walter Mondale, a Minnesota native, narrowly defeated national victor Ronald Reagan in 1984. Trump campaign officials have said they see the state as their best chance of expanding the map the president won in 2016, even though the state’s streak of voting for Democrats is longer than any other. -- Justin Sink
Warren Unveils Bill to Fix Student Debt Load
Senator Elizabeth Warren has introduced her student loan relief plan as a bill in the Senate, proposing to eliminate up to $50,000 of student loan debt for borrowers making less than $100,000 a year.
The bill fleshes out the details of a plan Warren previously proposed as part of her presidential campaign. Higher-income borrowers would also get some benefit, with those making $100,000 to $250,000 getting one-third of their loans canceled. Warren said 95% of student loan borrowers would get at least some of their loans forgiven.
The bill introduced in the Senate Tuesday does not include a provision to pay for the plan’s estimated $1.25 trillion cost. But Warren has proposed a wealth tax: a 2% tax on the wealth of people worth more than $50 million and 3% of those worth more than $1 billion.
Warren’s bill is unlikely to go anywhere in the Republican-controlled Senate. But a companion bill in the House is sponsored by Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina -- an important ally as Warren looks for African-American support in that early primary state. -- Gregory Korte
Biden’s Crime Plan Emphasizes Rehabilitation
Former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced a criminal justice plan focused on prevention and rehabilitation that stands in stark contrast to the tough-on-crime stances he adopted earlier in his political career.
The Democratic presidential front-runner’s proposal aims to lower the prison population and reduce crime by offering incentives to states to shift priorities from incarceration to prevention through a $20 billion grant program. It also calls for investing $1 billion in juvenile justice reform and expanding federal funding for mental health and substance abuse services and research.
Biden has faced heavy criticism from some of his Democratic rivals for his central role in the creation and passage of legislation, most notably the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which some argue contributed to mass incarceration of minorities. Biden apologized for portions of the measure earlier this year, but the issue has dogged his campaign.
The new policy may be intended to pre-empt further criticism. The rollout comes before Biden’s appearance on Wednesday at the NAACP Convention in Detroit. It also precedes the second Democratic presidential debate next week, when he will be flanked on stage by two Democratic African American candidates, Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, who have clashed with him over his positions on issues related to criminal justice and race.
Biden’s plan seeks to eliminate racial disparities in policing by establishing an independent task force on prosecutorial discretion and empowering the Justice Department to address systemic misconduct in police departments and prosecutors’ offices.
Unlike many of his top opponents, Biden is not calling for the legalization of marijuana, which has become a core part of the progressive agenda. His plan advocates decriminalizing the drug and expunging marijuana convictions. Two liberal priorities that Biden does support are eliminating the death penalty and ending the cash bail system. He also calls for ending the federal government’s use of private prisons. -- Tyler Pager
Here’s What Happened on Monday:
Democrats are kicking off a campaign in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Arizona and Nevada to make the case against President Donald Trump’s economy, seeking to neutralize the president’s strongest political asset as his re-election campaign heats up. The contest in the battleground states will focus on the underside of the economic boom, highlighting the struggles working- and middle-class people face from rising costs of living, such as for health care and college tuition, that are outpacing wage gains. They’ll also emphasize Trump’s attempts to repeal Obamacare and argue that his 2017 tax law contributed to rising inequality.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the Democrats seeking the nomination to challenge Trump, said the economy is in a “precarious” and “fragile” position due to declining manufacturing in recent months as well as rising household and corporate debt. In a medium.com post, the former Harvard law professor said the administration’s “reckless behavior is increasing the odds” of a shock that tips the economy into recession before the end of Trump’s term.
Coming Up This Week:
Nine Democratic presidential candidates and a Republican challenger to Trump are scheduled to participate in the NAACP Convention in Detroit on Wednesday:
Biden, Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Warren and Bill Weld, a former Republican governor of Massachusetts.
--With assistance from Gregory Korte, Justin Sink, Emma Kinery, Jennifer A. Dlouhy and Tyler Pager.
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