PDA Calls Upon Progressive Candidates to Endorse a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights

Feb 9, 2022 | Featured Homepage Post, PDA News | 11 comments


In his 1944 State of the Union Address, President Franklin Roosevelt articulated popular American aspirations by calling for an Economic Bill of Rights as a necessary addition to the original Bill of Rights.

Polls conducted by the White House in 1943 had revealed that after the war Americans wanted guaranteed healthcare, guaranteed employment, and guaranteed aid to students.

Empowered by these findings, FDR declared, “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. ‘Necessitous men are not free men.’ …[Therefore] We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.”

All of which is as true today as it was 78 years ago.

Therefore, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) proposes a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights – a Bill of Rights we call on all progressive candidates and officeholders to embrace.

A 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights will guarantee all people residing in the United States the right to the basic necessities of life regardless of their income, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or country of origin.

A 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights will establish that all Americans are entitled to:

1. The right to a job that pays a living wage
2. The right to quality health care
3. The right to a complete education
4. The right to affordable housing
5. The right to a clean environment
6. The right to a secure retirement

These essential rights are taken verbatim from Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign website. Concise and memorable, we believe they advance a fine starting point.

We do recognize the need to enhance that list. Perhaps, for instance, Right #1 should read “The right to a job that pays a living wage, guarantees sick leave and at least two weeks of paid vacation.” Similarly, given the multi-decade attack on labor, something like “The right to a voice in the workplace through labor union representation and collective bargaining” could be added. Moreover, in light of the world we live in we might well add “The right to broadband internet access.” And, of course, we heartily second FDR’s insistence upon a “right to recreation.” There are other proposals we might consider. In the 1960s, Martin Luther King, Jr. called for an Economic Bill of Rights. And more recently, in 2018, economists Mark Paul, William Darity and Derek Hamilton laid out a call for a nine item 21st Century Bill of Rights. But we can debate the nuances of those proposals later.

Embracing this new Bernie Sanders’ 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights will make it all the more clear what distinguishes Progressive Democrats from both moderate Democrats and Republicans – that only Progressive Democrats truly stand for the type of economy and society that the overwhelming majority of Americans support.

Progressive Democrats support the proposition that if you do a full day’s work at a full-time job that you deserve economic security and a promising life.

Progressive Democrats support policies that provide health care, housing, and retirement security as a human right.

Progressive Democrats support well-funded public education, K through college, and eliminating the student-debt trap for past, present, and future generations.

Progressive Democrats support policies that actually address the climate emergency, as we refuse to do the bidding of the Fossil Fuel industry, incentivizing investment in renewable energy, and domestic manufacturing, in the process.

In short, Progressive Democrats – not “moderate” or “corporate” Democrats or the “conservative” GOP – support a platform of policies designed to enable Americans, all Americans, to both secure the nation’s promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and make America progressively better in the process. We reject the cynicism that says we can do little to remedy the endemic social ills that have caused so many to lose faith in our national project – and in contrast to those who favor retreat or the status quo, we present a vision of and a call to action for positive democratic renewal and growth.

Just as FDR’s Second Bill of Rights did in 1944, our’s lays out a blueprint for a more prosperous and inclusive America with expanded liberty for all in a healthy and vibrant democracy.

Thus, we call upon all progressive candidates and officeholders to embrace our proposal for a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights and promise to seek its implementation.

Indeed, we invite everyone to help us build the America it projects.


  1. Bill Edley

    Excellent proposal. However, rational political actions must follow. This means defeating Wall Street’s D.C. Democratic Leadership in the coming 2022 & 2024 election cycles. We must reject the “Lesser of Two Evils” rigged voting framework. And instead, think forward over multiple election cycles.

  2. Mark Neumann

    I endorse this statement of a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights. I prefer the simple, clear, concise structure of the 6 rights: living wage, healthcare, education, housing, environment, retirement. It is our birthright given to us by our mothers to thrive and not just survive. mark.neumann, candidate for Congress WI 3rd CD

  3. Larry D Holman

    Human behavior is the cause of most threats to humanity. If human beings can end their greed, anger, and ignorance, then each human beings can have a job that pays a living wage, quality health care, a complete education, affordable housing, a clean environment, and a secure retirement. We need to compete less and cooperate more.

  4. Michael J Barkley

    I endorse this platform plank, as I always have endorsed the Roosevelt 2nd Bill of Rights. –mike barkley, Candidate for Congress New CA-05/CD-05

  5. George Stradtman

    Both Republicans and neoliberal Democrats are happy to see people give up. If Democrats ever want to regain their position as the party of working people, then they need to stop pushing for more welfare and to put the agendas of real-life workers at the top of their platforms.

  6. Valerie

    Corporate Democrats and those who vote for them don’t understand that the people, average people suffer, recognize, need and want these changes!

  7. Jan Krick

    A 21st Century Economic Bill is relevant now for several reasons: a) we are currently and successfully building coalitions in our country of people of all colors; b) we recognize the urgent need for ending fossil fuel extraction and for good jobs in the green economy that will replace it with good working conditions, fair pay, and worker’s rights including the right to join unions; c) we are bringing back manufacturing jobs that are now high tech and high paying; d) we realize the right to higher education for everyone who seeks it and a reigniting of our interest in the sciences as a path to tomorrow, especially climate science; e) we know that older people have the right to a decent retirement with good pensions and savings plans: f) we respect that all people need a secure place to live for themselves and their families and that our improved infrastructure includes safe communities where everyone can live and thrive; and that free healthcare is a human right. These are rights, not privileges for a few.

  8. GLORIAJR harrison

    Its ABOUT time to see some Action and make what is wrong a RIGHT .LET FREEDOM

  9. eric richard benson

    I like your approach. These goals for economic fairness extends FDR’s New Deal ideas beyond his “intervening hand” to assist the working class to a better social condition. After all, welfare band-aids are costly…Your ideas will help generate wealth and raise people out of poverty, as Biden has done. The late Congressman from Minnesota, Martin Olaf Sabo, was always concerned with poverty and class-exploitation. He called for “a redistribution of wealth” in the USA to raise people up out of poverty and oppresive social conditions.

  10. Sherry Fatzinger

    We all deserve the above rights. Equality for All. I want my voice heard.

  11. james r roberts

    End Ecological Collapse