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Progressives Lay Out 18-Point Agenda

The Progressive Caucus on Tuesday night unveiled its agenda for the 109th Congress, including few surprises in an outline ranging from plans to end the Iraq war to universal health care, in its attempt to move the Democratic Party toward the group’s point of view.

The 59-member group launched “The Progressive Promise: Fairness for All” with three priorities of economic justice and security, protection of civil rights and liberties and promotion of global peace.

As part of that, the caucus specifically calls for 18 policy actions including: health care and Social Security benefits for all Americans, reaffirmation of rights to organize with labor unions, an end to expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act, expansion of the Voting Rights Act, a plan to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq and a rebuilding of U.S. diplomatic relations.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), co-chairwoman of the Progressives, said the agenda reflects the views of “a majority of America.” She said by working with outside organizations — from labor to civil rights groups — the Progressive Caucus will create a drumbeat across the country.

“The American people want to see Democrats as standing for these things,” she said. “These are the very basics. The Progressive Caucus speaks to the basic desires of every man, woman and child in America.”

The agenda rollout comes as the caucus attempts to gain influence among House Democrats and persuade the party and full Caucus to adopt its goals. They are also trying to show a major contrast between their agenda and that of the GOP.

The caucus said its “Progressive Promise” is designed to counter President Bush’s call for an “ownership society,” or one that provides incentives for families to own homes and businesses, and to give them greater control over their finances and health and retirement benefits.

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