Who is God, anyway?

“We try to promote religion, forgetting that it rests upon the character of God. If I have a low concept of God, my religion can only be a cheap, watery affair. But if my concept of God is worthy of God then it can be noble and dignified; it can be reverent, profound, beautiful. This is what I want to see once more among men. Pray that way, won’t you?”

The Attributes of God, volume 1, by A.W. Tozer, p. 195

 

So, what is the character of God?

According to Tozer, it’s infinity and immensity, grace and mercy, justice and goodness, everywhere and inside us, holy and perfect.

All of those things together, beyond measure, full and complete, the very definition of each of those attributes.

How can we comprehend that?

We can’t. Not with our finite minds.

This should be our concept of God.

God is …

God is not measured by time or space. He cannot be measured by anything at all. He is outside of space. God is as intimate with the farthest galaxy as he is with you and me, and our deepest thoughts, here on Earth.

When the apostles wrote in the New Testament that they were living in the last hour (1 John 2:18), they weren’t exaggerating. We are living in the last hour too. So were Adam and Eve. Time, from beginning to end, is a blip on God’s radar screen. A thousand years are like a day to God, the Psalmist says (Psalm 90:4).

God is grace. God is mercy. God is justice. All the time. God has never been more full of grace than He is now, and He will never have more grace in the future than He does now. He does not have more grace now than he did when He created Adam and Eve.

book A

To say God is full of grace is to miss the point. “Full” is a measurement; it assumes that at one point, God was not full. Which isn’t true. That’s why God is grace. He’s never not been full of grace.

Or mercy. Or justice. Or holiness. Or perfection.

We are sinners, which is why grace, mercy and justice are needed. God has done the work to provide them to us. If we accept His gift (Jesus’ death and resurrection), we are forgiven and can look forward to an eternal home in heaven. If we reject His gift, God honors that too. With a home in hell.

If you reject God, you wouldn’t be happy in heaven living in God’s presence all the time, would you? So you won’t be.

Unless you change your mind.

We cannot attain the attributes of God on our own. Not the way God has them, or is them.

We are …

In contrast, God gives us Solomon as an example. We Americans could learn a lot from him, by reading the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes.

Solomon, considered by many to be the wisest man who ever lived, wrote this as his life’s goal: I said to myself: “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” And I applied my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. (Ecclesiastes 1:16-17)

If Solomon had been satisfied with wisdom, he’d have been all right, I think, in his pursuit of God. But he also wanted to know madness and folly.

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God granted him both wishes. He had great wealth, wives and slaves, great cities under his control, any pleasure he wanted … and none of it satisfied him.

 

Is this not what the United States is all about? Life, liberty and the pursuit of (my) happiness – exactly the things Solomon sought. Wisdom and madness.

We pursue a fast-food hamburger that leaves us hungry a short time later and miss the rainbow that reveals God’s timeless beauty and love.

At the end of his life, Solomon had a revelation: The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of everyone. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

All his life, Solomon took his eyes off of the great, eternal God, and focused on cheap, imitation earthly things. That’s why he was never satisfied. He kept searching for what was with him all the time: God’s presence. And he missed it.

God does …

While God is outside of time and space, He also is intimately involved with us. He knows our every thought and deed, whether good or evil. He even knows how many hairs are on our heads (Luke 12:7).

God is not three parts. He is one, in different forms: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I can try to explain this, but I can’t do it. Neither could Tozer.

God knew before he created Adam and Eve that we all would need redemption. Jesus didn’t come to this earth kicking and screaming like an angry parent scolding a wayward child. He came because He wanted to redeem us, to draw us into fellowship with Him. He came because He loves us, with an unconditional love that we cannot understand.

Why does God love us like that? There’s no point even asking that question, Tozer writes. We cannot know. God’s love for us is beyond our comprehension. Why the God of the universe, who has always existed outside of time and who lives outside of space, wants to invite us into His realm is unfathomable.

But He does.

And God did the work to do that when He entered a woman’s body, then lived, died and was resurrected to pay the price for my sins, which otherwise would leave me guilty when God judges the world.

To what end?

Not just salvation. If salvation was the end goal, each redeemed sinner would immediately get transported to heaven.

We do …

No, we are to live redeemed lives, that others may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven.

We are to pursue God. We are to become more like Him, take on His character traits – goodness, mercy, grace, justice.

Holiness and perfection we cannot ever attain.

We can, to a limited degree, understand goodness, mercy, grace and justice – not as God understands them, but in a now-we-see-in-a-mirror-dimly kind of way.

God holds many mysteries, traits we will never understand about Him. That’s a good thing. His justice, for example, is not clouded by our version of truth, but by the whole truth – which only He knows. As a human, I can hide my motives from you, prevent you from ever seeing my secret heart. But the living God sees it. And judges accordingly, rightly, as only He can.

Which is why grace is so powerful, and so beyond our ability to comprehend.

This is the character of God.

 

“Oh God, send us out not only to make converts, but to glorify the Father and to hold up the beauty of Jesus Christ to men.”

The Attributes of God, volume 1, by A.W. Tozer, p. 196

 

‘On every side the wicked prowl’

Help, O Lord, for there is no longer anyone who is godly;

the faithful have disappeared from humankind.

They utter lies to each other;

with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

 

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,

the tongue that makes great boasts;

those who say, “With our tongues we will prevail;

our lips are our own – who is our master?”

 

“Because the poor are despoiled, because the needy groan,

I will now rise up,” says the Lord;

“I will place them in the safety for which they long.”

The promises of the Lord are promises that are pure,

silver refined in a furnace on the ground,

purified seven times.

 

You, O Lord, will protect us;

you will guard us from this generation forever.

On every side the wicked prowl,

as vileness is exalted among humankind.

 

Psalm 12

Where he stands: Bernie Sanders

One in a series profiling Democratic presidential candidates – in their own words:

 

https://berniesanders.com/issues/

 

Immigration

As president, Bernie will:

  • Put a moratorium on deportations until a thorough audit of current and past practices and policies is complete.
  • Work with Congress to codify limitations on the President’s ability to restrict or suspend the entry of people or classes of people into the United States by passing the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act.
  • Instruct DOJ to drop any litigation or funding restrictions relating to sanctuary cities.
  • Connect detainees with sponsors and supports.
  • Ensure all children who were separated from their families by the United States government are reunited swiftly.
  • Convene a hemispheric summit with the leaders of Latin American countries who are experiencing migration crises and develop actionable steps to stabilize the region.
  • Immediately extend legal status to the 1.8 million young people currently eligible for the DACA program, and provide administrative relief to their parents, those with Temporary Protected Status, and parents of legal permanent residents.
  • Use executive authority to allow undocumented immigrants who have resided in the United States for five or more years to stay here free from threat of deportation.
  • Expand parole in place to the families and caregivers of citizens and legal permanent residents and employed workers, and use hardship waivers to remove barriers to green cards and citizenship for as many eligible cases as possible.
  • Push Congress to enact a swift, fair pathway to citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants currently living, working, and contributing in America today.
  • Prioritize expedited citizenship for undocumented youth.
  • Ensure any path to citizenship does not come with a reduction in traditional, family-based visas.
  • Repeal 8 U.S. Code Section 1325, putting border crossings on par with other forms of immigration violations, such as overstaying a visa.
  • Establish immigration courts as independent Article I courts, free from influence and interference.
  • Authorize and fund community-based alternatives to detention, which will connect immigrants with health, legal, educational, and work resources.
  • Ensure any shelters necessary to provide temporary housing for immigrants meet humane, 21st century living standards. This includes medical screenings and access to medical services, nutrition, hygienic conditions and supplies, educational opportunities, and counseling.
  • Ensure justice and due process for immigrants, including the right to counsel and an end to cash bail. Create a $14 billion federal grant program for indigent defense. Ensure access to translation and interpretation services throughout every stage of the legal process. …
  • Break up ICE and CBP and redistribute their functions to their proper authorities. Deportation, enforcement, border and investigatory authority would return to the Department of Justice. Customs authority would return to the Treasury Department. Naturalization and citizenship authority would be given to the State Department.
  • Refocus border enforcement on stemming the flow of firearms and drugs at ports of entry that have contributed to the opioid epidemic, ensuring that labor standards on the border are enforced, and stopping human trafficking. …
  • Ensure schools, places of worship, medical facilities, courthouses and other sensitive areas are exempted from immigration targeting and enforcement.
  • End the use of DNA testing and facial recognition technology for immigration and border enforcement.
  • Work with Congress to pass the Protecting Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation (POWER) Act, which would expand the U-visa to protect undocumented immigrants who report labor and workplace violations. …
  • Restructure work visas to make them portable … allow spouses to work, raise the prevailing wage, and include a pathway to citizenship for those seasonal workers who wish to pursue it.
  • Withhold federal contracts for employers found exploiting guest workers.
  • End workplace raids and shift the focus of enforcement from workers to employers who mistreat their workforce.
  • Strengthen labor protections for farmworkers, domestic workers, gig economy workers and other historically under-regulated industries that rely heavily on immigrant and undocumented workforces.
  • Require at least a $15 minimum wage and overtime pay for agricultural workers, and remove farmworker exemptions from the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Direct OSHA and the EPA to create and enforce heat stress and air quality standards.
  • Require employers to provide protective gear and respiratory equipment to farmers working in conditions affected by smoke and wildfires. …
  • Restore and increase aid to Central and South American nations, work to strengthen human rights, and fund programs to curb corruption, political repression, violence, and poverty. …
  • Create a program to welcome migrants displaced by climate change, and set a floor of accepting at least 50,000 climate migrants in his first year in office. …
  • Provide year-round, free universal school meals; breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks through our school meals programs to all students regardless of immigration status, and offer incentives for sourcing food from local sources.
  • Address disciplinary practices in schools that disproportionately affect Black and Brown children.
  • Pass a permanent repeal of the public charge statute, so we do not penalize immigrants who at some point may need to access support programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • Ensure customs and immigration agencies have the funding and personnel necessary to eliminate the backlog of pending applications and cut wait times for immigration applications. …
  • Eliminate discrimination facing LGBTQ+ families throughout immigration laws, including making sure that all children born to U.S. citizen parents have acquired citizenship, regardless of a biological relationship.
  • Direct the newly created National Office of Disability Coordination to work with agencies to ensure the immigration and citizenship process is fully accessible to people with disabilities.

Health care

  • Create a Medicare for All, single-payer, national health insurance program to provide everyone in America with comprehensive health care coverage, free at the point of service.
  • No networks, no premiums, no deductibles, no copays, no surprise bills.
  • Medicare coverage will be expanded and improved to include dental, hearing, vision, and home- and community-based long-term care, in-patient and out-patient services, mental health and substance abuse treatment, reproductive and maternity care, prescription drugs, and more.
  • Ensure that no one in America pays more than $200 a year for the medicine they need.
  • Allow Medicare to negotiate with the big drug companies to lower prescription drug prices with the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act.
  • Allow patients, pharmacists, and wholesalers to buy low-cost prescription drugs from Canada and other industrialized countries with the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act.
  • Cut prescription drug prices in half with the Prescription Drug Price Relief Act, by pegging prices to the median drug price in five major countries: Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan.
  • Eliminate the $81 billion in past-due medical debt. Under this plan, the federal government will negotiate and pay off past-due medical bills in collections that have been reported to credit agencies.
  • End abusive and harassing debt collection practices.
    • Prohibit the collection of debt beyond the statute of limitations.
    • Significantly limit the contact attempts per week a collector can make to an individual through any mode of communication, regardless of how many bills are in collection.
    • Require collectors to ensure information about a debt is fully accurate before attempting to collect.
    • Substantially limit the assets that can be seized and the wages that can be garnished in collection to ensure consumers do not lose their homes, jobs, or primary vehicles and will be able to financially support their families.
  • Instruct the IRS to review the billing and collection practices of the nearly 3,000 non-profit hospitals to ensure they are in line with the charitable care standards for non-profit tax status, and take action against those who are not.
  • Reform the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 to use the existing bankruptcy court system to provide relief for those with burdensome medical debt.
    • Eliminate means testing requirements to file for bankruptcy.
    • Allow for the adjudication — including potential discharge — of debt, including interest and penalties, stemming from direct payments to providers and insurers for medical expenses. Assuming documentation, this includes medical debt incurred on credit cards or any other consumer debt product.
    • End “credit counseling” required before filing to discharge medical debt.
    • Include broad “automatic stay” protections, placing an immediate prohibition on any evictions, utility (heat, electric, etc.) interruptions, foreclosure proceedings, wage garnishments, driver’s license suspensions, and other actions.
    • Prohibit requiring the disclosure of medical debt discharge on housing, loan, or other applications.
  • Remove and exclude medical debt from credit reports.
  • Create a secure public credit registry to replace for-profit credit reporting agencies. This registry will use a public, transparent algorithm to determine creditworthiness that eliminates racial biases in credit scores. Allow Americans to receive credit scores for free, and prohibit medical debt from being included.

Climate change

As president, Bernie will:

  • Transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to 100 percent energy efficiency and sustainable energy by 2030 at the latest. …
  • Build enough renewable energy generation capacity for the nation’s growing needs. Currently, four federal Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) and the Tennessee Valley Authority generate and transmit power to distribution utilities in 33 states. We will create one more PMA to cover the remaining states and territories and expand the existing PMAs to build more than enough wind, solar, energy storage and geothermal power plants. We will spend $1.52 trillion on renewable energy and $852 billion to build energy storage capacity. Together, with an EPA federal renewable energy standard, this will fully drive out non-sustainable generation sources.
  • We will end greed in our energy system. The renewable energy generated by the Green New Deal will be publicly owned, managed by the Federal Power Marketing Administrations, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Tennessee Valley Authority and sold to distribution utilities with a preference for public power districts, municipally- and cooperatively-owned utilities with democratic, public ownership, and other existing utilities that demonstrate a commitment to the public interest. The Department of Energy will provide technical assistance to states and municipalities that would like to establish publicly owned distribution utilities or community choice aggregation programs in their communities. Electricity will be sold at current rates to keep the cost of electricity stable during this transition.
  • Build a modern smart grid. A smart grid means a resilient, secure, and intelligent electric grid system that is capable of managing high amounts of renewable energy, charging electric vehicles quickly, and maximizing efficiency. We will spend $526 billion on a modern, high-volt, underground, renewable, direct current, smart, electric transmission and distribution grid.
  • Weatherize homes and businesses to perform energy efficiency upgrades to make buildings more energy efficient and lower energy bills. We will provide $2.18 trillion for sliding-scale grants for low- and moderate-income families and small businesses to invest in weatherizing and retrofitting their homes and businesses. …
  • Phase out the use of non-sustainable sources. This plan will stop the building of new nuclear power plants. … It will also enact a moratorium on nuclear power plant license renewals in the United States to protect surrounding communities. …
  • Regulate all dangerous greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide is a dangerous greenhouse gas, but it is not the only one we must address. Methane is 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) can be more than a thousand times more powerful. To ensure we reach our carbon pollution emissions goals, the EPA will, under the Clean Air Act, regulate carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons. …
  • Grants to purchase a new EV. Provide $2.09 trillion in grants to low- and moderate-income families and small businesses to trade in their fossil fuel-dependent vehicles for new electric vehicles. …
  • Vehicle trade-in program. Provide $681 billion for low- and moderate- income families and small businesses for a trade-in program to get old cars off the road. Families with a conventional car will be able to access an additional incentive for trading in for an American-made electric vehicle. …
  • Electric vehicle charging infrastructure. … We will spend $85.6 billion building a national electric vehicle charging infrastructure network similar to the gas stations and rest stops we have today. …
  • School and transit buses. Provide $407 billion in grants for states to help school districts and transit agencies replace all school and transit buses with electric buses. …
  • Replace all shipping trucks. Because this nation depends heavily on goods that are shipped all over the country by truckers, we must ensure that they are able to keep up their pace while we meet our climate goals. That means we must spend $216 billion to replace all diesel tractor-trailer trucks with fast-charging and long-range electric trucks. …
  • Build public transit that is affordable, accessible, fast, and resilient. With a $300 billion investment, we will increase public transit ridership by 65 percent by 2030. …
  • Build regional high-speed rail. A $607 billion investment in a regional high-speed rail system would complete the vision of the Obama administration to develop high-speed intercity rail in the United States. …
  • Retrofit dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure. … The Federal Railroad Administration will adopt new rules requiring companies to retrofit coal and oil trains to prevent explosions, derailments, and spills. We will take similar action to protect communities’ well pads, substations, compressor stations, and pipelines. …
  • Invest in decarbonizing the shipping and aviation industries as soon as possible. … We will fund a $500 billion effort to research technologies to fully decarbonize industry, and a $150 billion effort to fully decarbonize aviation and maritime shipping and transportation.
  • heEstablish a nationwide materials recycling program. …
  • Invest in the Green Climate Fund. … In order to help countries of the Global South with climate adaptation efforts, the U.S. will invest $200 billion in the Green Climate Fund for the equitable transfer of renewable technologies, climate adaptation, and assistance in adopting sustainable energies. …
  • Bring together the leaders of the major industrialized nations with the goal of using the trillions of dollars our nations spend on wars and weapons of mass destruction to instead work together internationally to combat our climate crisis and take on the fossil fuel industry. …
  • Rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and enforce aggressive climate reduction goals. …
  • Renegotiate trade deals to protect the environment. …
  • End overseas fossil fuel financing. The federal government currently supports investments in fossil fuels through the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, OPIC, the Export-Import Bank, and other multilateral institutions. These international investments are inconsistent with a goal to curb the global climate crisis and must end. …
  • Create a Climate Justice Resiliency Fund. The CJRF will ensure our infrastructure and communities are protected from the unavoidable impacts of climate change. Once the CJRF is established and funded at $40 billion, the EPA, together with a number of other agencies, will conduct a nationwide survey to identify areas with high climate impact vulnerabilities and other socioeconomic factors, public health challenges, and environmental hazards. Each community will then be eligible for funding in order of most vulnerable to least vulnerable.
  • Rebuild America’s infrastructure, including the nation’s water systems. …
  • Build resilient, affordable, publicly owned broadband infrastructure. Internet access and communications are key in the wake of a disaster. We will provide $150 billion in infrastructure grants and technical assistance for municipalities and states to build publicly owned and democratically controlled, co-operative, or open access broadband networks. This communications infrastructure will ensure first responders and communities are ready to deal with the worst climate emergencies.
  • Increase funding for roads. … Bernie’s Rebuild America Act provides $75 billion for the National Highway Trust Fund to improve roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure in the United States and another $2 billion for other surface transportation needs.
  • Build 7.4 million affordable housing units to close the affordable housing gap across the country. We will greatly expand the National Housing Trust Fund to build the units necessary to guarantee housing as a right to all Americans.
  • Adapt to sea level rise. Forty percent of the U.S. — more than 126 million Americans — live on the coasts. … We will provide coastal communities with $162 billion in funding to adapt to sea level rise.
  • Increase funding for firefighting to deal with more frequent and severe wildfires. … We will increase funding for firefighting by $18 billion for federal firefighters to deal with the increased severity and frequency of wildfires. …
  • Increase investments in the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which helps mitigate damage from future disasters. The program saves $4 for every $1 invested up front by decreasing the impact of future disasters. We will invest $2 billion to ensure communities that are rebuilt after disasters strike have necessary resources to build back stronger than before the disaster.
  • Invest in green infrastructure and public lands conservation by reinstating the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). One of the most successful New Deal programs and the most rapid peacetime mobilization in American history, the CCC put millions of men to work building and maintaining trails and conserving America’s wilderness. … We will invest $171 billion in reauthorizing and expanding the CCC to provide good-paying jobs building green infrastructure, planting billions of trees and other native species, preventing flood and soil erosion, rebuilding wetlands and coral, cleaning up plastic pollution, constructing and maintaining accessible paths, trails, and fire breaks; rehabilitating and removing abandoned structures, and eradicating invasive species and flora disease; and other natural methods of carbon pollution sequestration.
  • Fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which helps stimulate our nation’s $1.7 trillion a year outdoor recreation, natural resource protection, and historic preservation industry by conserving millions of acres in our national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, and wild and scenic river corridors via more than 41,000 state and local projects. In 2019, the LWCF was permanently authorized. However, it has been chronically underfunded. We will spend $900 million to permanently fund the LWCF.
  • Prosecute and sue the fossil fuel industry for the damage it has caused. President Sanders will ensure that his Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission investigate these companies and bring suits — both criminal and civil — for any wrongdoing, just as the federal government did with the tobacco industry in the 1980s. …
  • End fossil fuel subsidies. The federal government hands out almost $15 billion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry every year. …
  • Ban offshore drilling. …
  • Ban fracking and mountaintop removal coal mining. …
  • Ban imports and exports of fossil fuels. …
  • Divest federal pensions from fossil fuels. …
  • Ensure a just transition for energy workers. … We will spend $1.3 trillion to ensure that workers in the fossil fuel and other carbon intensive industries receive strong benefits, a living wage, training, and job placement. …
  • Provide employers with tax credits to incentivize hiring transitioning employees. …
  • Invest in workers and de-industrialized communities’ economic development. Counties with more than 35 qualifying workers will be eligible for targeted economic development funding to ensure job creation in the same communities that will feel the impact of the transition most. Economic development funding will be distributed through an interagency effort spearheaded by the Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration. Funds will be allocated through the Appalachian Regional Commission, Economic Development Assistance Programs and the Abandoned Mine Lands fund. Other eligible projects include drinking and waste water infrastructure, broadband, and electric grid infrastructure investments. These targeted investments are intended to supplement, not supplant infrastructure and economic development funding throughout the rest of this plan. …
  • Focus job training and local hiring to reflect the racial and gender diversity of the community receiving federal investments. …
  • Incentivize farmers to develop ecologically regenerative farming systems that sharply reduce emissions; sequester carbon; and heal our soils, forests, and prairie lands … with an investment of $410 billion. This assistance will focus on both sequestering carbon and increasing resiliency in the face of extreme weather events. Funds will be used to offset the costs of enterprise-level changes and barriers to transition, including design, technical assistance, purchasing equipment, installing infrastructure, site remediation, contract termination, and repaying farm-debt. …
  • Invest in family farms and rural communities, and break up big agribusinesses that have a stranglehold on farmers and rural communities.
  • Invest in historically underserved communities to grow the number of farmers of color. …

Higher education

When Bernie is in the White House, he will:

  • Guarantee tuition and debt-free public colleges, universities, HBCUs, Minority Serving Institutions and trade-schools to all.
  • Cancel all student loan debt for the some 45 million Americans who owe about $1.6 trillion and place a cap on student loan interest rates going forward at 1.88 percent.
  • Invest $1.3 billion every year in private, non-profit historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions
  • End equity gaps in higher education attainment. And ensure students are able to cover non-tuition costs of attending school by: expanding Pell Grants to cover non-tuition and fee costs, tripling funding for the Work-Study Program, and more.
  • Provide Pell Grants to low-income students to cover the non-tuition and fee costs of school, including: housing, books, supplies, transportation, and other costs of living.
  • Require participating states and tribes to cover the full cost of obtaining a degree for low-income students (normally those with a family income of less than $25,000) by covering any gap that may still exist after we eliminate tuition, fees, and grants.
  • Place a cap on student loan interest rates going forward. … Today, the average interest rate on undergraduate student loans is more than 5 percent. Under this proposal, we will cap student loan interest rates at 1.88 percent.
  • In addition to eliminating tuition and fees, we will match any additional spending from states and tribes which reduces the cost of attending school at a dollar for dollar rate. This funding goes beyond closing the cost gap – participating states and tribes could use this money to hire additional faculty, ensure professors get professional development opportunities, and increase students’ access to educational opportunities.
  • Triple funding for the Work-Study Program. … Today, this program provides about $1,760 per year to some 700,000 students. When we are in the White House, we will expand the program to reach at least 2.1 million students – a 1.4 million student increase. And we will ensure that funding targets schools that have large low-income student enrollment.
  • Provide $1.3 billion to private, nonprofit HBCUs and MSIs per year to eliminate or significantly reduce tuition and fees. This funding would support some 200 schools which serve at least 35 percent low-income students.
  • Double funding for the TRIO Programs and increases funding for the GEAR UP Program so more low-income students, students with disabilities, and first-generation students can attend and graduate college with a degree. By increasing our investment in these programs, we will reach 1.5 million students through TRIO programs and more than 100,000 additional students through GEAR UP than the program reaches today.

Public education

As president, Bernie Sanders will:

  • Increase federal funding for community-driven strategies to desegregate schools.
  • Triple Title I funding to ensure at-risk schools get the funding they need.
  • Establish a dedicated fund to create and expand teacher-training programs at HBCUs, minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and tribal colleges and universities to increase educator diversity.
  • Fully fund the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
  • Fund school transportation to help integration.
  • Increase funding for public magnet schools to $1 billion annually to help integrate our schools.
  • Increase access to English as a Second Language instruction.
  • Ban for-profit charter schools and support the NAACP’s moratorium on public funds for charter school expansion until a national audit has been completed to determine the impact of charter growth in each state. That means halting the use of public funds to underwrite new charter schools.
  • Charter schools must be made accountable by:
    • Mandating that they comply with the same oversight requirements as public schools.
    • Mandating that at least half of all charter school boards are teachers and parents.
    • Disclosing student attrition rates, non-public funding sources, financial interests and other relevant data.
    • Matching employment practices at charters with neighboring district schools, including standards set by collective bargaining agreements and restrictions on CEO pay.
    • Supporting the efforts of charter school teachers to unionize.
  • Rethink the link between property taxes and education funding.
  • Establish a national per-pupil spending floor.
  • Eliminate barriers to college-readiness exams by ensuring states cover fees for the ACT, SAT and other college preparatory exams for all students.
  • Provide schools with the resources needed to shrink class sizes.
  • Provide $5 billion annually for career and technical education.
  • Ensure schools in rural communities, indigenous communities, Puerto Rico and other U.S. Territories receive equitable funding.
  • Give schools the funding needed to support arts, foreign language and music education.
  • Ensure that the federal government provides at least 50 percent of the funding for special education.
  • Guarantee children with disabilities an equal right to high-quality education by enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Address the shortage in special education teacher recruitment, training opportunities, workload and pay.
  • Set a starting salary for teachers at no less than $60,000 tied to cost of living, years of service, and other qualifications; and allowing states to go beyond that floor based on geographic cost of living.
  • End racial and gender disparities in teacher pay.
  • Triple the above-the-line tax deduction for educator expenses and index it to inflation to reimburse teachers for the nearly $500 on average they spend on out of pocket classroom expenses each year.
  • Create a grant program to provide teachers with funds explicitly meant for classroom materials.
  • Empower teachers to provide a teacher-supported curriculum.
  • Spend $5 billion annually to substantially expand access to summer and after-school programs, teen centers and tutoring.
  • Provide year-round, free universal school meals; breakfast, lunch and snacks through our school meals programs, and offer incentives for sourcing food from local sources.
  • Expand Summer EBT across the country to ensure no student goes hungry during the summer.
  • Pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act into law to protect the rights of LGBTQ students.
  • Protect students from harassment, discrimination, and violence in educational institutions by protecting and enforcing Title IX.
  • Enact gun violence prevention laws to end the epidemic of gun violence in this country and in our schools.
  • Ensure that immigrant children and their parents are free from harassment and surveillance at school, regardless of their immigration status.

Workplace democracy

Bernie’s pro-union plan would:

  • Provide unions the ability to organize through a majority sign up process, allowing the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to certify a union if it receives the consent of the majority of eligible workers. …
  • Enact “first contract” provisions to ensure companies cannot prevent a union from forming by denying a first contract. Employers would be required to begin negotiating within 10 days of receiving a request from a new union. If no agreement is reached after 90 days of negotiation, the parties can request to enter a compulsory mediation process. If no first contract is reached after 30 more days of mediation, the parties would have a contract settlement through binding arbitration.
  • Eliminate the “Right to Work for Less.” Bernie’s plan would repeal Section 14(b) of the Taft Hartley Act, which has allowed 28 states to pass legislation that eliminates the ability of unions to collect dues from those who benefit from union contracts and activities, undermining the unions’ representation of workers.
  • Give federal workers the right to strike. …
  • Make sure every public sector union in America has the freedom to negotiate.  …
  • Require companies that merge to honor existing union contracts.  …
  • Deny federal contracts to employers that pay poverty wages, outsource jobs overseas, engage in union busting, deny good benefits and pay CEOs outrageous compensation packages.  …
  • Ban the permanent replacement of striking workers.  …
  • Protect the pensions of workers. 
  • Establish federal protections against the firing of workers for any reason other than “just cause.”  When Bernie is president he will fight to make sure workers cannot be fired “at will.”
  • Create a sectoral collective bargaining system with wage boards to set minimum standards across industries, not just employer-by-employer.  In addition, under this plan all cities, counties, and other local jurisdictions would have the freedom to establish their own minimum wage laws and guarantee other minimum standards for workers.
  • Guarantee the right to unionize for all workers. Bernie will ensure farm workers and domestic workers, historically excluded from labor protections, are afforded the same standards as all workers, including the right to overtime pay and to join a union. He will enact a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to secure safe working conditions, collective bargaining, and a living wage for domestic workers.
  • Allow for secondary boycotts. This plan reinstates a union’s freedom of speech to take action to pressure clients and suppliers of companies opposing unions.

Social Security

Today, a billionaire pays the same amount of money into Social Security as someone who makes $132,900 a year because the Social Security payroll tax is capped.  Bernie’s Social Security plan would lift this cap and apply the payroll tax on all income above $250,000 in order to accomplish four things:

  • We will make sure that Social Security will pay every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 52 years.
  • We will expand benefits across-the-board including a $1,300 a year benefit increase for seniors with incomes of $16,000 a year or less.
  • We will increase the minimum benefits paid to low-income workers when they retire.
  • We will increase cost-of-living adjustments to keep up with the rising cost of health care and prescription drugs by establishing a Consumer Price Index for the Elderly.

Housing

When Bernie is president, he will:

  • Invest $1.48 trillion over 10 years in the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund to build, rehabilitate, and preserve the 7.4 million quality, affordable and accessible housing units necessary to eliminate the affordable housing gap, which will remain affordable in perpetuity. Units constructed with this funding will be eligible to be located in mixed-income developments.
  • Invest an additional $400 billion to build 2 million mixed-income social housing units to be administered through the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which will help desegregate and integrate communities.
  • Expand USDA’s Section 515 program by $500 million to build new affordable developments in rural areas, and protect existing units from being converted to market rate housing.
  • Increase funding for the Indian Housing Block Grant Program to $3 billion.
  • Invest $70 billion to repair and modernize public housing, including making all public housing accessible and provide access to high-speed broadband for all public housing residents.
  • Ensure that public housing has high-quality, shared community spaces.
  • Fully fund tenant-based Section 8 rental assistance at $410 billion over the next 10 years and make it a mandatory funding program for all eligible households.
  • Strengthen the Fair Housing Act and implement a Section 8 non-discrimination law, so that landlords can no longer discriminate against low-income families based on their source of income.
  • Expand and strengthen enforcement of the Small Area Fair Market Rent rule to make sure that landlords are fairly compensated when they participate in Section 8, but do not make a windfall from the program.
  • Enact a national cap on annual rent increases at no more than 3 percent or 1.5 times the Consumer Price Index (whichever is higher) to help prevent the exploitation of tenants at the hands of private landlords. Allow for landlords to apply for waivers if significant capital improvements are made.
  • Allow states and cities to pass even stronger rent control standards.
  • Implement a “just-cause” requirement for evictions, which would allow a landlord to evict a tenant only for specific violations.
  • Provide $2 billion in federal matching grants for states and localities to provide a right to counsel for persons in eviction or foreclosure proceedings, or at risk of losing their Section 8 rental assistance.
  • Create an office within the Department of Housing and Urban Development to coordinate and work with states and municipalities to strengthen rent control and tenant protections, implement fair and inclusive zoning ordinances, streamline review processes and direct funding where these changes are made.
  • Pre-empt laws that prevent inclusionary zoning for luxury developments.
  • Make federal funding contingent on creating livable communities. Encourage zoning and development that promotes integration and access to public transportation to reduce commuting time, congestion and long car commutes. Prioritize projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create walkable and livable communities, and reduce urban sprawl.
  • Encourage zoning and development designed to expand and maximize the number of units fully accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Place a 25 percent House Flipping tax on speculators who sell a non-owner-occupied property, if sold for more than it was purchased within 5 years of purchase.
  • Impose a 2 percent Empty Homes tax on the property value of vacant, owned homes to bring more units into the market and curb the use of housing as speculative investment.
  • Encourage “circuit breakers” on property taxes to protect homeowners in gentrifying neighborhoods from being priced out of their own homes as their property values rise.
  • Prioritize 25,000 National Affordable Housing Trust Fund units in the first year to house the homeless.
  • Double McKinney-Vento homelessness assistance grants to more than $26 billion over the next five years to build permanent supportive housing.
  • Provide $500 million in funding to states and localities to provide outreach to the homeless to help connect them to case management and social services.
  • Create an independent National Fair Housing Agency similar to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau dedicated to protecting renters from housing discrimination, investigating landlords who misuse Section 8 vouchers, and enforce housing standards for renters. The Fair Housing Agency will also conduct audits to hold landlords and sellers engaged in housing discrimination accountable.
  • Create an office within the Fair Housing Agency to protect mobile home residents from housing discrimination, rent instability and unjust evictions.
  • Fully fund the Fair Housing Assistance and Fair Housing Initiatives Programs at $1 billion over the next 10 years.
  • Pass the Equality Act to include LGBTQ+ Americans in the Fair Housing Act.
  • Make sure that people who have served their time are not excluded from public housing.
  • Guarantee that renters have the right to form tenants unions free from retaliation by landlords or managing agents.
  • Invest $50 billion over 10 years to provide grants to start and expand community land trusts and other shared equity homeownership models. This funding will enable more than 1 million households to purchase affordable homes over the next 25 years.
  • Invest an additional $15 billion to enact a 21st Century Homestead Act to purchase and revitalize abandoned properties to create community and individual wealth and assets for historically disadvantaged communities.
  • Invest an additional $2 billion at USDA and an additional $6 billion at HUD to create a first-time homebuyer assistance program.
  • Expand pre-purchase housing counseling to all prospective homebuyers.
  • End the mass sale of mortgages to Wall Street vulture funds and thoroughly investigate and regulate the practices of large rental housing investors and owners.
  • Make data such as evictions, rent increases, and safety violations for large landlords available to the public and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Implement legislation to prevent “contract for deed” transactions and use existing authority to protect communities of color, which for too long have been exploited by this practice.

Veterans services

As president, Bernie will:

  • Work to fill the nearly 50,000 vacancies at the VA during his first year in office. The VA must hire the doctors, nurses and medical professionals necessary to provide the care that veterans need when they need it.
  • Ensure that all those with prior military service in every state and territory have access to the full complement of health care services they need to stay healthy and well.
  • Guarantee comprehensive dental care to all former service members.
  • Greatly expand access to VA mental health and suicide prevention services. …
  • Guarantee home and community based long-term care services. …
  • Provide more than $62 billion in new funding for VA infrastructure. …
  • Ensure VA providers have the option of appropriately prescribing medical marijuana to their patients.
  • Improve and simplify the claims process so veterans receive the compensation they have earned quickly, accurately, and without bureaucratic red tape.
  • Eliminate the VA benefits backlog. A Bernie Sanders Adminimstration will no longer tolerate more than 70,000 veterans having to wait more than 125 days for a determination on their benefits and up to seven years to wait for a decision by a Veterans Law Judge. …
  • Expand the list of injuries and illnesses presumed to be connected with military service. … Ensure that veterans exposed to toxic substances from asbestos and ionized radiation in World War II to Agent Orange in Vietnam to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan are compensated for the myriad of diseases associated with these chemicals.
  • Improve and expand VA’s comprehensive caregiver program. … Expand eligibility for the VA’s Caregiver Program to include not only those veterans with injuries connected to their military services but also illnesses, like cancer, blindness and dementia. … Their families also deserve to be compensated for the care they already provide; they deserve education on how to best care for their loved one, transportation to and from medical appointments, and respite care that allows them the time needed to care for themselves.
  • Ensure any service member discharged from the military for marijuana use or possession can apply for a discharge upgrade, so they can become eligible for the full complement of services and benefits provided by the VA.
  • Immediately terminate deportations of non-citizen members of our armed forces, veterans and their families.
  • Improve and simplify education benefits. …
  • Ensure access to better jobs and job training. …
  • Guarantee housing for veterans. …

Justice

As president, Bernie will:

  • Ban for-profit prisons.
  • Make prison phone calls and other communications such as video chats free of charge.
  • Audit the practices of commissaries and use regulatory authority to end price gouging and exorbitant fees.
  • Incentivize states and localities to end police departments’ reliance on fines and fees for revenue.
  • Remove the profit motive from our re-entry system and diversion, community supervision, or treatment programs, and ensure people leaving incarceration or participating in diversion, community supervision, or treatment programs can do so free of charge.
  • End the use of secured bonds in federal criminal proceedings.
  • Provide grants to states to reduce their pretrial detention populations, which are particularly high at the county level, and require states to report on outcomes as a condition of renewing their funding.
  • Withhold funding from states that continue the use of cash bail systems.
  • End federal programs that provide military equipment to local police forces.
  • Create a federally managed database of police use of deadly force.
  • Provide grants for states and cities to establish civilian oversight agencies with enforceable accountability mechanisms.
  • Establish federal standards for the use of body cameras, including establishing third-party agencies to oversee the storage and release of police videos.
  • Mandate criminal liability for civil rights violations resulting from police misconduct.
  • Ban the use of facial recognition software for policing.
  • Require and fund police officer training on implicit bias (to include biases based on race, gender, sexual orientation and identity, religion, ethnicity and class), cultural competency, de-escalation, crisis intervention, adolescent development, and how to interact with people with mental and physical disabilities.
  • Ban the practice of any law enforcement agency benefiting from civil asset forfeiture. Limit or eliminate federal criminal justice funding for any state or locality that does not comply.
  • Provide funding to states and municipalities to create civilian corps of unarmed first responders, such as social workers, EMTs, and trained mental health professionals, who can handle order maintenance violations, mental health emergencies, and low-level conflicts outside the criminal justice system, freeing police officers to concentrate on the most serious crimes.
  • Incentivize access to counseling and mental health services for officers.
  • Diversify police forces and academies and incentivize officers to live and work in the communities they serve.
  • Triple congressional spending on indigent defense, to $14 billion annually.
  • Establish federal guidelines and goals for a right to counsel, including policies that reduce the number of cases overall.
  • Create a federal agency to provide support and oversight for state public defense services.
  • Abolish the death penalty.
  • End mandatory sentencing minimums.
  • Reinstate a federal parole system and end truth-in-sentencing. People serving long sentences will undergo a “second look” process to make sure their sentence is still appropriate.
  • End “three strikes” laws. No one should spend their life behind bars for committing minor crimes, even if they commit several of them.
  • Expand the use of sentencing alternatives, including community supervision and publicly funded halfway houses. This includes funding state-based pilot programs to establish alternatives to incarceration, including models based on restorative justice and free access to treatment and social services.
  • Legalize marijuana and vacate and expunge past marijuana convictions, and ensure that revenue from legal marijuana is reinvested in communities hit hardest by the War on Drugs.
  • Provide people struggling with addiction with the health care they need by guaranteeing health care — including inpatient and outpatient substance abuse and mental health services with no co-payments or deductibles — to all people as a right, not a privilege, through a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program.
  • Decriminalize possession of buprenorphine, which helps to treat opioid addiction, and ensure that first responders carry naloxone to prevent overdoses.
  • Raise the threshold for when drug charges are federalized, as federal charges carry longer sentences.
  • Ban the prosecution of children under the age of 18 in adult courts.
  • Work to ensure that all juvenile facilities are designed for rehabilitation and growth.
  • Ensure youth are not jailed or imprisoned for misdemeanor offenses.
  • Ensure juveniles are not be housed in adult prisons.
  • End solitary confinement for youth.
  • Abolish long mandatory minimum sentences and life-without-parole sentences for youth.
  • Eliminate criminal charges for school-based disciplinary behavior that would not otherwise be criminal and invest in school nurses, counselors, teachers, teaching assistants, and small class sizes to address disciplinary issues.
  • Ensure every school has the necessary school counselors and wrap-around services by providing $5 billion annually to expand the sustainable community school model.
  • End the use of juvenile fees.
  • Decriminalize truancy for all youth and their parents.
  • Eliminate federal incentives for schools to implement zero-tolerance policies.
  • Invest in local youth diversion programs as alternatives to the court and prison system.
  • Work with teachers, school administrators, and the disability rights movement to end restraint and seclusion discipline in schools.

Enact a Prisoner Bill of Rights that guarantees:

  • Ending solitary confinement.
  • Access to free medical care in prisons and jails, including professional and evidence-based substance abuse and trauma-informed mental health treatment.
  • Incarcerated trans people have access to all the health care they need.
  • Access to free educational and vocational training. This includes ending the ban on Pell Grants for all incarcerated people without exceptions.
  • Living wages and safe working conditions, including maximum work hours, for all incarcerated people for their labor.
  • The right to vote.
  • Ending prison gerrymandering, ensuring incarcerated people are counted in their communities, not where they are incarcerated.
  • Establishment of an Office of Prisoner Civil Rights and Civil Liberties within the Department of Justice to investigate civil rights complaints from incarcerated individuals and provide independent oversight to make sure that prisoners are housed in safe, healthy, environments.
  • Protection from sexual abuse and harassment, including mandatory federal prosecution of prison staff who engage in such misconduct.
  • Access to their families — including unlimited visits, phone calls, and video calls.
  • A determination for the most appropriate setting for people with disabilities and safe, accessible conditions for people with disabilities in prisons and jails.
  • Create a federal agency responsible for monitoring re-entry.
  • “Ban the box” by removing questions regarding conviction histories from job and other applications.
  • Enact fair chance licensing reform to remove restrictions on occupational licensure based on criminal history.
  • Increase funding for re-entering youth programs. We will also pass a massive youth jobs program to provide jobs and job-training opportunities for disadvantaged young Americans who face high unemployment rates.
  • Guarantee safe, decent, affordable housing.
  • Guarantee jobs and free job training at trade schools and apprenticeship programs.
  • Provide funding to end the national rape kit backlog and institute new rules requiring that rape kits be tested and that victims are provided with updates on the status of their rape kits.
  • Address gender-based violence on college campuses.
  • Provide housing assistance and paid leave for victims of sexual assault.
  • Expand non-police interventions for domestic violence, including a national help hotline and state-funded, long-term counseling.
  • Invest in diversion programs as alternatives to the court and prison system for people with disabilities and ensure those people have the community-based supports and services they need.

Wealth tax

This tax on extreme wealth would have a progressive rate structure that would only apply to the wealthiest 180,000 households in America who are in the top 0.1 percent.

It would start with a 1 percent tax on net worth above $32 million for a married couple. That means a married couple with $32.5 million would pay a wealth tax of just $5,000.

The tax rate would increase to 2 percent on net worth from $50 to $250 million, 3 percent from $250 to $500 million, 4 percent from $500 million to $1 billion, 5 percent from $1 to $2.5 billion, 6 percent from $2.5 to $5 billion, 7 percent from $5 to $10 billion, and 8 percent on wealth over $10 billion. These brackets are halved for singles.

Under this plan, the wealth of billionaires would be cut in half over 15 years, which would substantially break up the concentration of wealth and power of this small privileged class.

Where she stands: Amy Klobuchar

One in a series profiling Democratic presidential candidates – in their own words:

 

https://amyklobuchar.com/policies/

 

Infrastructure

As President, Senator Klobuchar’s plan will:

  • Boost federal infrastructure investment. In parts of our country where communities are not as densely populated or former hubs still adjusting to the loss of manufacturing jobs, it can be difficult to attract private investment. That’s why Amy’s plan includes more than $650 billion in federal funding for infrastructure. … For projects supported by direct federal funding, Amy will maintain Davis-Bacon wage standards (and where possible, a living wage floor) and other worker and environmental protections. … And she will ensure that these projects use materials produced in the United States through strong Buy America provisions.
  • Help states and localities leverage private funds. Amy will establish an independent, nonpartisan Infrastructure Financing Authority to complement existing infrastructure funding. The Infrastructure Financing Authority will help states and localities better leverage private funds to build and maintain the nation’s outdated infrastructure. Amy would allocate $25 billion in seed money to support an additional $250 billion to $300 billion in direct loans, loan guarantees, and other forms of credit enhancement. It would also direct funding to projects in rural areas. …
  • Issue “Move America Bonds,” “Build America Bonds,” and Clean Energy bonds. Amy would bring back the Obama Administration’s “Build America Bonds,” which provided states and local governments a direct 35 percent subsidy in lieu of the traditional tax-exempt bond and generated more than $180 billion to finance public infrastructure projects. Amy also supports the “Move America Bonds” which … allocate tax credits to private-sector purchases to attract capital investment to public infrastructure. Here, an $8 billion investment from the Treasury would support more than $200 billion in investments in infrastructure projects over 10 years. She would also establish a Clean Energy bond program to expand clean energy tax incentives.
  • Ensure revenues collected for the maintenance of our infrastructure are used for their intended purpose. … For example, Amy will make sure that money paid by shippers into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is used for its intended purpose. Currently, collected revenues in the trust fund are not being used to pay for maintenance.
  • Pay for infrastructure proposals with a series of corporate tax reforms. To pay for this infrastructure investment, Amy willmake a number of corporate tax reforms including adjusting the corporate tax rate to 25%, closing loopholes that encourage U.S. companies to move jobs and operations overseas, establishing a financial risk fee on our largest banks, and increasing efforts for tax enforcement.

Climate change

As President, Senator Klobuchar will:

  • Get the United States back in the Paris International Climate Agreement on day one. 
  • Restore the Clean Power Plan, which set emissions standards for states with respect to reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. She will negotiate even stronger emissions standards that account for the progress states have already made.
  • Bring back fuel-economy standards, which are key to making an immediate impact on the emissions of cars and light trucks. …
  • Introduce sweeping legislation that will put our country on the path to 100% net zero emissions by 2050. 
  • Set ambitious goals to reduce the carbon footprint of the federal government. … As President, she will … increase the efficiency of federal buildings, data centers, and vehicles, reduce water consumption, and increase the use of renewable energy.
  • Reinstate the National Climate Assessment Advisory Committee to start addressing the climate crisis. The National Climate Assessment Advisory Committee was charged with translating the findings of the National Climate Assessment into concrete goals. During the first 100 days of her administration, Senator Klobuchar will reinstate this committee.
  • End federal fossil fuel subsidies. 
  • Make politicians accountable to voters, not special interests. … As President, Senator Klobuchar will put people first by working to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens Unitedand get dark money out of our politics, as well as establish a campaign finance system that increases the power of small donors through a matching system for small donations. She will investigate potential wrongdoings and hold energy companies accountable.
  • Provide production and investment tax credits.Senator Klobuchar will create a technology neutral tax credit to support production of or investment into clean sources of energy. She will also create a clean energy bond program so that tax-exempt entities can benefit. The credits will be phased out as overall emissions are reduced.
  • Upgrade energy grids and storage capacity.Our country’s electric grid needs an upgrade to account for the irregular nature of certain clean energy sources, accommodate distributed energy production, and facilitate smart metering and other innovative technologies. As President, Senator Klobuchar will create a competitive grant program and a new investment tax credit to promote investments in grid improvements and storage. She will also provide rural electric cooperatives access to technical resources and expertise to overcome the barriers to renewable energy storage and grid improvements based on a bipartisan bill she leads in the Senate.
  • Streamline renewable energy production on federal land. 
  • Empower municipal utilities and electric cooperatives to lead on clean energy.… She will make sure smaller producers, including municipal utilities and electric cooperatives, have a seat at the table when decisions are made about federal energy policy. …
  • Strengthen enforcement of the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws.
  • Reduce methane leakage from oil and gas production. Methane has as much as 84 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide. … As President, Senator Klobuchar will restore and strengthen EPA and BLM methane rules.
  • Ban new fossil fuel permitting on federal lands … To help accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels, Senator Klobuchar will ban new fossil fuel permits on federal lands. …
  • Invest in electric vehicle infrastructure and promote electric vehicle sales. 
  • Strengthen transit and commuter rail networks and support low- and no-carbon alternatives.As President, Senator Klobuchar will refocus federal transportation grants to prioritize transit projects, first and last mile connections, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements. She will also develop new incentives for transit systems and school districts to replace their bus fleets with low- and no-carbon alternatives.
  • Revitalize freight and passenger rail.… As President, Senator Klobuchar will encourage investment in short-line and freight rail networks. She will also address safety concerns including by mandating two-man crews, improving braking systems, and ensuring communities are prepared to respond to derailments involving hazardous cargo. In addition, she will build on her work pushing for greater competition in freight markets by providing fair treatment for captive shippers, appointing well qualified members to the Surface Transportation Board, and reviewing and addressing consolidation in the freight rail industry. She is also committed to expanding high-speed rail and Amtrak service in rural America.
  • Assist businesses transitioning to green manufacturing processes. Senator Klobuchar … will increase technical support through the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and regional development strategies and encourage partnerships with community colleges and research universities. She will also expand manufacturing tax credits to support upgrades and investments to reduce greenhouse gas pollution for manufacturers of all sizes.
  • Build a market for new and existing climate-friendly products. As President, Senator Klobuchar will … promote federal procurement policies that account for low-carbon energy sources and climate conscious processes.
  • Create a “Buy Clean” product labeling system.
  • Institute an import fee on carbon-intensive goods.
  • Retrofit buildings to reduce their emissions. 
  • Promote effective zoning rules to minimize climate impacts. … Senator Klobuchar will prioritize areas that have updated their zoning rules when awarding federal housing and infrastructure grants.
  • Expand the Land and Water Conservation Fund … which preserves natural resources while supporting outdoor recreation through investments on our public lands. As President, Senator Klobuchar will push to permanently fund the LWCF.
  • Help American companies become global green leaders.As President, Senator Klobuchar will increase support for businesses looking to export green products and technologies through a new initiative across U.S. export promotion agencies.
  • Invest in wind and solar, and support rural energy development.As President, Senator Klobuchar will invest in interregional transmission lines and grid improvements to support the development of renewable energy. She will launch a grant program to help rural cooperatives develop energy storage and microgrid projects for renewable energy generation, transmission and storage. She will also support increased investment in small, distributed wind, solar and biogas projects.
  • Provide technical resources for small, rural energy producers and distributors.As President, Senator Klobuchar will push for new economic and environmental opportunities in rural America by investing in rural renewable energy development and by passing and signing into law her bipartisan Expanding Access to Sustainable Energy (EASE) Act to provide rural electric cooperatives access to technical resources and expertise to overcome the barriers to renewable energy storage and grid improvements.
  • Protect native sod and improve soil health. Senator Klobuchar pushed for a provision in the 2018 Farm Bill that closed a loophole allowing some non-insured crops to be planted four consecutive years without a reduction in crop insurance assistance for succeeding insured crops. As President, she will expand nationwide the sodsaver’s prohibition to substitute crop insurance yields on native sod that is converted to cropland. She will also expand the Soil Health and Income Protection Pilot Program to help provide farmers an alternative to cropping less productive cropland.
  • Upgrade levees to account for more frequent and severe floods. The floods we saw throughout the Midwest last year show why we cannot wait to upgrade our levees. …
  • Strengthen LIHEAP and SNAP to protect the most vulnerable Americans.To be sure that the most vulnerable Americans do not bear the costs of climate change mitigation and adaptation, Senator Klobuchar will strengthen two important programs for low-income Americans — LIHEAP, which helps with home energy costs, and SNAP, which provides nutrition assistance.
  • Use disaster funding to build more resilient communities. As President, Senator Klobuchar will work to end the Stafford Act prohibition that prevents disaster funding from being used for significant infrastructure improvements. She will also increase funding for FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
  • Establish meaningful enforcement of international climate goals. The United States is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, but still only accounts for about 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Preventing catastrophic global warming will require meaningful enforcement mechanisms to ensure other countries also meet their emission reduction goals, which means making accountability for climate commitments a central part of our international agenda, taking on China’s efforts to promote dirty energy sources in other countries, and considering climate goals in all types of international assistance.

To pay for these investments, Senator Klobuchar will:

  • Work with Congress to put a price on carbon that does not have a regressive impact on Americans. … Most economists agree that the most efficient way to promote a transition away from fossil fuels is by putting a price on carbon. …
  • Develop Clean Energy Bonds. As President, Senator Klobuchar will create Clean Energy Bonds that will support investment in clean energy projects. Investors would earn back their full investment as well as interest from energy savings to the government and loan repayments for clean energy projects. Estimates suggest that these clean energy bonds could raise up to $50 billion and leverage $150 billion for clean energy innovation and the creation of more than 1 million jobs.
  • End federal fossil fuel subsidies. 
  • Make a series of corporate tax reforms.  Senator Klobuchar will … adjust the corporate tax rate to 25%, close loopholes that encourage U.S. companies to move jobs and operations overseas, establish a financial risk fee on our largest banks, and increase efforts for tax enforcement.
  • Increase the capital gains rate … for Americans who make more than $200,000.
  • Close the trust fund loophole. 

Domestic terrorism

  • Empower law enforcement to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of hate-motivated violence, including against minorities, people of color, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community.
  • Direct the Department of Homeland Security to resume its work tracking right wing extremism, including white nationalism.
  • Require federal law enforcement agencies to regularly assess the threat of domestic terrorism and increase training and resources for state and local law enforcement to address it.
  • Prevent people convicted of violent misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing or possessing firearms.
  • Make lynching a federal hate crime.
  • Require the Justice Department and the Department of Commerce to assess how current forms of communication are being used to spread hate and recommend ways to combat threats.
  • Address the root causes of domestic terrorism.
  • Increase protections for places of worship and schools.
  • Restore Voting Rights Act protections for voters immediately in states with a recent history of discrimination.
  • Fully staff and fund the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service, which provides communities facing racial and other conflict with services.

Gun violence

Senator Klobuchar has laid out a plan for her first 100 days that includes executive action she can take to address gun violence:

Immediately close the “boyfriend loophole” … by preventing people who have abused dating partners from buying or owning firearms.

Consider gun violence as a public health issue in CDC studies … and help identify approaches to reduce gun violence and save lives.

Crack down on gun manufacturers and dealers that break the law. …

Prevent people with severe mental illness from acquiring guns. Senator Klobuchar will restore a rule requiring the Social Security Administration to submit records of people with severe mental illness to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Prevent federal funding from being used to arm teachers. … She ensured that this provision was included in the school safety package that was signed into law after Parkland.

Rural housing

  • Increase affordable rental housing in rural communities … which includes expanding affordable housing programs serving Native Americans.
  • Improve access to information about rural housing programs. To take advantage of federal support for new rural housing, developers must first know about the programs available to them. Senator Klobuchar will improve training for state, local and federal agencies so communities and developers can better access housing opportunities. Senator Klobuchar will also improve and expand programs that provide technical assistance to rural nonprofits to connect rural communities with resources to develop housing.
  • Encourage innovative strategies to attract private investment. Americans living in rural areas need access to mortgages, but rural housing markets present specific challenges for private investors. Through the purchasing power of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Senator Klobuchar will encourage lenders to use their mortgage portfolio data to better serve rural mortgage markets. Senator Klobuchar will also provide incentives for community financial development institutions to provide access to credit in rural communities using the expertise of local financial institutions.
  • Invest in Housing Choice Vouchers. The Housing Choice Voucher program helps provide the stable homes families need to succeed, but demand far exceeds the number of vouchers available. Senator Klobuchar will make a major investment to make vouchers available to all qualifying households with children.
  • Give renters access to emergency funds. The path toward eviction can start with an unexpected emergency expense. Klobuchar will work to create innovative, portable personal savings accounts called UP Accounts that can be used for retirement and emergencies — including non-routine expenses like rent payments in situations like a lapse in earnings, a car accident, or family leave. Under her plan, employers will set aside at least 50 cents per hour worked, helping a worker build more than $600,000 in wealth over the course of a career.
  • Support housing for people with disabilities. Senator Klobuchar will strengthen housing programs that assist people with disabilities. She will also invest in the successful Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program.
  • Encourage mobility for renters. An effective way to break the cycle of poverty is to move to a neighborhood that provides greater opportunity. Senator Klobuchar will expand the pilot for mobility housing vouchers that allows families to use their vouchers in higher opportunity neighborhoods. She will expand incentives to encourage relocation and work with regional and federal housing agencies to reduce obstacles.
  • Increase the supply of affordable housing in high opportunity neighborhoods. The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is a critical tool for developing affordable rental housing. Senator Klobuchar will push to expand allocations to support the construction of additional units. …
  • Reduce homelessness. More than half a million Americans experience homelessness every night. Senator Klobuchar will make a major investment in homeless assistance grants that provide emergency and long-term housing and build on her work in the Senate increasing access to case management services like counseling and job training. This also means addressing the unique challenges of specific homeless populations including those living in rural areas, domestic violence victims, and the formerly incarcerated.
  • Help seniors age in place. By 2040, one in five Americans will be over 65, but the current supply of rental housing is not equipped for this Silver Surge. … She will update regulations for reverse mortgages to make sure seniors have access to safe products that make it easier to stay in their homes, as well as expand support for affordable senior housing. She will direct affordable housing programs to allow retrofitting of rental housing and encourage a share of new rental housing to be built in a senior friendly way.
  • Revitalize and build value in neglected neighborhoods. … Senator Klobuchar will advocate for a new federal tax credit, similar to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, to encourage investment in family-owned homes in distressed neighborhoods.
  • Promote homeownership through down payment assistance and credit development. Saving for a down payment and building a credit history are two of the largest obstacles new homebuyers face. Senator Klobuchar will build on programs that allow certain types of rental housing assistance to be used for home ownership expenses. She will also work to pass legislation that expands access to capital for down payments and makes it easier to build a credit history by allowing credit bureaus to use on-time payment data from cell phone bills, utilities, and rent in calculating credit scores.
  • Protect the Community Reinvestment Act. During the first 100 days of her presidency, Senator Klobuchar will … develop policies to encourage financial institutions to make loans and investment in local communities, especially communities in need, and conduct greater outreach to assess the true credit needs of certain areas.

To pay for these policies, Senator Klobuchar will raise the capital gains rate to the income tax rate for households making more than $400,000, and raise the corporate tax rate to 25%.

Senior citizens

Support caregivers for those living with Alzheimer’s and other chronic conditions.

Senator Klobuchar … will expand training and support services for families and caregivers of people living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia as well as other chronic conditions, improve caregiver well-being and health, allowing patients to stay in their homes longer.

Make it easier for people with Alzheimer’s and their families to get the medical care they need.

… Senator Klobuchar will take action to expand Medicare covered services for Alzheimer’s and she will expand efforts to make patients and their families aware of the care planning and services that are covered. She will also support an ongoing investment in public health infrastructure for Alzheimer’s that reduces risk, improves early detection and diagnosis, and focuses on tribal, rural, minority, and other underserved populations.

Strengthen the National Institutes of Health and invest in research for chronic conditions.

… And Senator Klobuchar will invest in research into health disparities. Significant and persistent disparities exist in health outcomes for minority populations in the United States. …

Improve mental health care for seniors. …

Implement and extend Kevin and Avonte’s law and expand dementia training.

Senator Klobuchar introduced bipartisan legislation signed into law last year that helps families locate missing people with forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, or developmental disabilities, such as autism. As President, Senator Klobuchar will make sure the program is fully implemented and she will also establish federal partnerships with state and local governments to provide dementia training for public sector workers who interact with seniors.

Protect Social Security and make sure it is fair.

… As President, Senator Klobuchar will work to lift the Social Security payroll cap. Currently the payroll tax applies only to wages up to $133,000. Senator Klobuchar supports subjecting income above $250,000 to the payroll tax and extending the solvency of Social Security. And Senator Klobuchar will make sure people are treated fairly by the Social Security system. As President, she will work to strengthen and improve Social Security benefits for widows and people who took significant time out of the paid workforce to care for their children, aging parents, or sick family members.

Expand retirement savings.

… Senator Klobuchar will work to create innovative, portable personal savings accounts called Up Accounts that can be used for retirement and emergencies by establishing a minimum employer contribution to a savings plan. Under her plan, employers will set aside at least 50 cents per hour worked, helping a worker build more than $600,000 in wealth over the course of a career. And Senator Klobuchar will work to reduce disparities when it comes to retirement savings. According to a recent study, the median wealth for white families was more than $134,000, but for African American families it was just $11,000.

Defend pensions.

… As President, she will support legislation to ensure retirees can keep the pensions they have earned and, in her first 100 days, she will recommend that Treasury heighten the scrutiny of any applications to reduce retiree benefits under the Kline-Miller Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014.

Negotiate better drug prices.

Seniors should have access to their medicines at the lowest possible prices. As President, Senator Klobuchar will push to allow the government to directly negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare Part D.

Strengthen Medicare.

Senator Klobuchar opposes cuts and schemes to privatize Medicare. … She will … reform payment policies through measures like site neutral payments and provide incentives for getting the best quality health care at the best price, including bundled payments and telehealth.

Expand coverage for dental, vision and hearing under Medicare. …

Create a refundable tax credit to offset long-term care costs.

… The credit will be available for qualifying long-term care costs including both nursing facility care and home- and community-based services, and additional expenses like assistive technologies, respite care, and necessary home modifications. The credit will be targeted towards those who are most in need of support. Senator Klobuchar will also stand up to efforts to cap Medicaid spending.

Reduce the costs of long-term care insurance and increase access.

… Senator Klobuchar will propose a new targeted tax credit equal to 20 percent of the premium costs of qualified long-term care insurance. Senator Klobuchar will also establish incentives and make it easier for employers to offer their employees long-term care insurance on an opt-out basis. In addition, she will explore updating federal policies to combine long-term care policies with life insurance.

Provide financial relief to caregivers and ensure paid family leave for all Americans, including those who care for elderly or disabled relatives.

Senator Klobuchar is proposing a tax credit of up to $6,000 a year to provide financial relief to those caring for an aging relative or a relative with a disability to help offset expenses, including the cost of medical care, counseling and training, lodging away from home, adult day care, assistive technologies, and necessary home modifications. As President, Senator Klobuchar will also support legislation to provide paid family leave to all Americans.

Support a world class long-term care workforce, increase long-term care options, and tackle disparities in long-term care.

Senator Klobuchar believes we must invest in and address shortages in our long-term care workforce. She is committed to increasing wages, improving job conditions and promoting other recruitment and retention policies, especially in rural communities facing workforce challenges. She will also support training for long-term care workers and new loan forgiveness programs for in-demand occupations that includes our long-term care workers. In addition, she will expand long-term care facilities and beds as well as home care and telehealth services. Research also suggests that there are significant racial and ethnic disparities in the quality of long-term care as well as disparities in coverage for long-term care. Senator Klobuchar is committed to tackling disparities in care through expanding access to long-term care with a focus on reducing inequities as well as addressing the costs of long-term care services for people in the greatest need of assistance.

Fight senior fraud and elder abuse.

… Within her first 100 days as President, she will establish a senior fraud prevention office to educate consumers, expedite the handling of complaints, and coordinate prevention efforts across the federal government. Senator Klobuchar will strengthen enforcement of age discrimination laws, and she will also take action to tackle elder abuse, strengthen oversight and accountability for court-appointed guardians, support training for employees at long-term care facilities, and increase tracking of incidents and investigations to help prevent and better respond to elder abuse.

To pay for these policies, Senator Klobuchar will close the trust fund loopholes that allow the wealthy to avoid paying taxes on inherited wealth.

Addiction and mental health

  • Promote early intervention for mental health disorders and drug use: … She will expand funding for states and localities to detect and respond to mental health conditions, including mental health programming and resources for schools and school counselors, as well as training for pediatricians and primary care physicians. She will also lead new initiatives focused on the risks of alcohol and alcohol addiction and support school and community drug early-intervention programs. …
  • Launch a nationwide suicide prevention and mental health awareness campaign … including a focus on veterans, farmers, LGBTQ and tribal communities. To expand the tools and data available, Amy will invest in suicide prevention programs, expanded resources and health services that address suicide among students and share information with parents, mental health research and data reporting.
  • Prevent opioid addiction: … Amy will prevent doctor shopping by supporting the mandated use by doctors and pharmacists of prescription drug monitoring programs. She will also make a major investment into research and development of pain alternatives to opioids. And to build upon successful federal and local drug take-back programs, Amy will launch a national effort to create additional safe and responsible ways to dispose of unused prescription medications and controlled substances in every urban and rural community.
  • Tackle alcoholism and prevent drunk driving: Amy will support incentives for state governments to enact ignition interlock laws for those convicted of drunk driving to help reduce repeat offenders. Since problems with alcoholism often start early, Amy will support educational initiatives that focus on the risks of alcohol as well as early identification and treatment of alcoholism.
  • Expand access and increase beds for mental health, alcohol and drug treatment services: In 2017, an estimated 21 million people needed substance use treatment, but fewer than 20 percent were able to access it. Under her plan, Amy will expand access to treatment and recovery services by increasing the number of beds in mental health and substance use treatment centers, supporting public and nonprofit entities, expanding Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics and treatment facilities, investing in treatment services in the hardest hit communities and launching an aggressive national awareness campaign to combat stigma associated with seeking treatment for substance use and mental health conditions. Amy will also target increased investments in early intervention and treatment programs for drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamine.
  • Invest in research to develop effective substance use and mental health treatments: … Amy will make a dramatic federal investment in the National Institutes of Health for research on the impact of substance use on the brain and body and the development of safe treatments. She will also invest in public health surveillance and biomedical research to help develop the most effective substance use treatments.
  • Improve training for health care professionals and address workforce shortages. …
  • Prioritize mental health and substance use treatment over jail for non-violent offenders: … As President, Amy will increase federal support for drug courts, mental health courts and treatment alternatives to incarceration and expand wraparound services and regular follow-ups. …
  • Train and equip law enforcement officers to address challenges including crisis intervention: About 1 in 10 police calls involve someone who has a mental illness, but many police officers do not have the training they need to handle these calls or respond in a crisis situation. Amy will work with local and state authorities to ensure that crisis intervention is a core part of law enforcement officer training, and expand crisis intervention training to public health departments, first responders and school personnel. Amy will also provide funding for state and local agencies to equip first responders with life-saving naloxone. She will also direct the federal government to negotiate a discounted price for naloxone and promote law enforcement efforts to follow up with people and direct them to harm reduction services. In addition, Amy will increase access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in federal prisons and expand treatment in state and local prisons. She will also work with law enforcement to help stop synthetic opioids from being shipped from foreign countries to the United States.
  • Provide economic and housing opportunities and support ongoing recovery in communities: For those recovering from addiction, including formerly incarcerated people, a job can support recovery, provide income and a sense of purpose. Yet the unemployment rate among those who are recovering is more than twice the national rate. Amy will invest in training, employment and social services that connect people recovering from substance use disorders to housing and economic opportunity. In addition, Amy will significantly expand access to transitional or supportive housing and homeless shelters that can help people with mental health issues and prevent homelessness. She will also invest in existing and new recovery community organizations that meet the ongoing needs of people as they return to work, school and their families.

To pay for her plan, Amy will hold opioid manufacturers responsible for their role in the opioid crisis. She will place a 2 cent fee on each milligram of active opioid ingredient in a prescription pain pill to be paid by the manufacturer or importer, establishing a permanent revenue stream that will be used to provide and expand access to substance use and mental health treatment. And she will make opioid manufacturers pay their fair share to fix the crisis they helped create by crafting a Master Settlement Agreement that provides money directly to the states for the cost of addiction treatment and social services. The plan will also be paid for by requiring hedge fund managers to pay their fair share of taxes on investment earnings and by ending pharmaceutical company tactics that prevent generic competitors from entering the market.

Native Americans

As President, Senator Klobuchar’s priorities will include:

  • Making sure there is meaningful consultation with Tribal officials by all federal agencies, promoting a strong government-to-government relationship, and partnering with Native American tribes in the development of all federal policies that affect tribes. She will consult with 573 Tribal Nations on all matters of federal policy.
  • Pushing for the passage of Savanna’s Act to address violence against Native American women and girls and investing in efforts to help tribal, state, and federal law enforcement agencies combat violence and human trafficking in Indian Country.
  • Expanding broadband deployment in Indian Country by connecting every household to the Internet by 2022.
  • Increasing Native access to voter registration sites and polling locations, requiring automatic voter registration for eligible citizens when they turn 18, and bolstering Native American voter registration, education and election participation efforts in Indian Country.
  • Prioritizing and fully funding federal and tribal law enforcement efforts, expanding support for tribal judicial systems, and providing resources for and directing the Department of Justice to aggressively prosecute violent crimes in Indian country.
  • Building on her work to provide resources for tribal schools by increasing teacher pay and funding for schools, providing resources and school infrastructure investments in Indian Country, and making sure that the rising costs of post-secondary education aren’t a barrier to opportunity.
  • Working with Tribal officials to put forward a plan to cut childhood poverty in half across the country in 10 years, including expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Care Tax Credit, SNAP benefits and overhauling our country’s housing policy, with a focus on Indian Country.
  • Continuing to work with tribes to settle litigation and resolve long-standing disputes over trust assets and natural resources.
  • Supporting the Indian Health Service, defending the Affordable Care Act, pushing for advance appropriations for the Indian Health Service, and focusing on prevention and treatment of diseases where there is a severe health disparity between tribes and non-Indian communities, including cancer, diabetes and suicide.
  • Working to prioritize VA health care services, employment, and housing for Native veterans and advocating for our Native veterans so they have access to a good education and good jobs when they come home.

We cannot escape

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

you discern my thoughts from far away.

You search out my path and my lying down,

and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue,

O Lord, you know it completely.

You hem me in, behind and before,

and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

it is so high that I cannot attain it.

 

Where can I go from your spirit?

Or where can I flee from your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, you are there;

if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.

If I take the wings of the morning

and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,

even there your hand shall lead me,

and your right hand shall hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

and the light around me become night,”

even the darkness is not dark to you;

the night is as bright as the day,

for darkness is as light to you.

 

For it was you who formed my inward parts;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

baby-growing

Wonderful are your works;

that I know very well.

My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,

intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.

In your book were written

all the days that were formed for me,

when none of them as yet existed.

How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

I try to count them – they are more than the sand;

I come to the end – I am still with you.

 

osr 4

O that you would kill the wicked, O God,

and that the bloodthirsty would depart from me –

those who speak of you maliciously,

and lift themselves up against you for evil!

Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?

And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with perfect hatred;

I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my thoughts.

See if there is any wicked way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

Psalm 139

Perfect justice will come

Justice and wisdom. They go together.

I found the best explanation of justice in a book on hope by Max Lucado. The best description of wisdom resides in another book, this one a novel.

Let me set the stage with this:

 

For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.

2 Corinthians 5:10

 

Justice

Lucado published a book last year (2018) called “Unshakable Hope: building our lives on the promises of God”. One of those promises is titled, “Justice Will Prevail.”

Lucado explains how that 2 Corinthians judgment will work. It makes a whole lot of sense.

You and I, along with each person who ever lived, is living or will live, one day will stand before God’s judgment seat.

Heaven requires that sins be paid. All of them. There will be no sin in heaven.

hope

How will God remove all sin from Heaven? One at a time. As long as it takes.

Here’s the picture Lucado paints of what judgment will look like.

Each of us individually will stand in a courtroom, God’s courtroom, and face our Maker. “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books.” (Revelation 20:12)

In those books are all of our works, good and evil. Every single one.

In an American courtroom, every defendant is allowed an advocate, someone to defend him or her. It’s not mandatory; we can reject assistance and stand before the judge on our own if we so desire.

On God’s judgment day, those of us who know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior will have an advocate as God reads off our sins. For example:

  • Bill made a comment behind someone’s back. Jesus: I died for that.
  • Bill ignored a person he could have helped. Jesus: I know. I have forgiven him.
  • Bill cussed under his breath, but a few people heard him. Jesus: I took care of that.

And on and on. Every single sin I have ever committed, and will commit, in my entire life. God will read them off.

Jesus will accept the punishment for each one of them.

There will be no secrets in Heaven, no wondering, “What did he/she do down there on Earth?” We will be free, completely free, from all sin – and able to worship God and live for Him with our whole hearts.

When the list is ended, anything good I’ve done will also get read aloud by the living God, according to the verse I quoted in 2 Corinthians. God will celebrate all the good that happened (and is happening and will happen) down here on Earth.

This is the judgment of each one whom Jesus knows intimately.

But some people on Earth reject God.

God will honor that. And He will judge accordingly.

These folks will face the same judgment. They will stand before God, and He will read off their sins, one by one, just as He did mine.

But they will have no advocate standing next to them, offering to pay for their sins.

God, therefore, will declare them guilty – the only sentence He can pronounce.

Justice will prevail. For each and every one of us.

Wisdom

Justice plays out in a similar fashion in one of my favorite novels – “The Shack,” by William Paul Young. In a chapter titled “Here Come Da Judge,” we see two main characters: Mack, who is bitter over the kidnapping and death of his young daughter, and the judge, later identified as Sophia, the personification of God’s wisdom.

shack

Mack also has a wife and four living children. In this chapter, we learn that Mack, like many of us, is quick to judge just about everyone he meets – and he blames God for allowing his daughter to die.

How accurate are our judgments? God writes down all of our deeds, good and evil, in books that will be opened one day. But how much do you and I truly know about each other?

Since Mack was quick to condemn the killer of his daughter and God for allowing that scenario to play out, Sophia did something unusual. She got up from her judge’s chair and invited Mack to sit there. Judgment Day had arrived, and he was the judge.

Mack was unnerved. He felt unqualified.

But he judged people all the time, so he had lots of experience at it. He was qualified then, right?

Judge Sophia gave him a challenge: Only two of your five children can go to heaven. You must send the other three to hell. Which of your children would you sentence to hell?

When you put it that way, Judge …

But that’s what we do every day, don’t we?

Mack said he couldn’t do it. No way. Sophia said you must. You want to judge, you think God judges like this, then render your verdict.

Mack pleaded for his children, all of them. He said he’d take the punishment for their sins – send him to hell, let all of his children go to heaven.

Mack finally understood wisdom. Because that’s exactly what Jesus Christ did for His children.

There’s so much more to “The Shack” than this one scene. It’s a great book, and it came out as a movie two years ago.

The advocate

I’m glad I’m not the ultimate judge of anyone, even though I try sometimes. I don’t know your motives, why you do what you do. You don’t know my motives. Shakespeare said all the world’s a stage, and he was right. We’re all actors, and when we play a role, we can hide our true selves.

But we can’t hide from the living God.

That’s why His justice is perfect.

Each of us will get what we deserve.

The question is: Will you have an advocate with you on the Judgment Day? Only one advocate will be allowed in that courtroom, and he paid a very heavy price to claim that role.

A price that no one else can come close to paying.

That day will come. It’s been promised.

Will you be ready?

One day …

A prayer for God to do whatever it takes to convince the world that he is indeed God:

 

O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God!

Even now your enemies are in tumult; those who hate you have raised their heads.

They lay crafty plans against your people; they consult together against those you protect.

They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more.”

They conspire with one accord; against you they make a covenant – the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites, Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined them; they are the strong arm of the children of Lot.

Do to them as you did to Midian, as to Sisera and Jabin at the Wadi Kishon, who were destroyed at En-dor, who became dung for the ground.

Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna, who said, “Let us take the pastures of God for our own possession.”

O my God, make them like whirling dust, like chaff before the wind.

As fire consumes the forest, as the flame sets the mountains ablaze, so pursue them with your tempest and terrify them with your hurricane.

Fill their faces with shame, so that they may seek your name, O LORD.

Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever; let them perish in disgrace.

Let them know that you alone, whose name is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth.

 

Psalm 83

True love changes us

Love people just as they are.

Yes and no.

Yes, all people are created in the image of God and have specific gifts, talents and abilities. Even more than that, each of us has a purpose here on Earth.

I accepted Christ as my savior as a teenager mainly because counselors and other campers at a church camp I attended accepted me for who I was, even though I did nothing to earn their love. I wanted what they had, and it was Jesus.

Love people just as they are.

No. God loves us too much to leave us there. Accepting Jesus as my savior was the starting point, not the final destination. The road of life needs to be re-paved; the old one eventually will wear out.

If we claim to follow Jesus, we must grapple with this:

 

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? On what will they give in return for their life?”

Matthew 16: 24-26

 

And this:

 

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

Mark 1:14-15

 

Deny themselves? Take up their cross? Repent?

No wonder Jesus said the way of life is narrow and few will find it (Matthew 7:14).

Deny themselves

I’ve written about this several times recently, and gotten some push-back from it – not surprisingly. It’s not about me. It’s not about you. The world doesn’t revolve around me. Or you.

The church I attend has a term for this: Live surrendered.

It’s not easy, certainly.

I do not have this life (or the next life, for that matter) all figured out. There’s plenty I don’t know. Am I willing to learn?

We all know how difficult justice is to find in our court systems. Lawyers gather as much evidence as they can, for and against, and the jury weighs the evidence and makes a decision. That’s the best we can do.

Yet sometimes innocent people are convicted, and occasionally guilty people go free. It happens. We know this.

Is there a better way? Is there such a thing as true justice?

Yes, there is. But we might not get it until the next life.

At that point, when we see what justice really looks like, we might wish we didn’t have to face it. Because all of us will have to face it.

That’s a column for another day.

The point is: I don’t have all the answers. I know someone who does. That someone is the One who created me. Sometimes God will tell me what the answers to my questions are, sometimes He will not. I follow Him anyway. This is called trust.

I trust that God’s way is better than my way. (Sorry, Frank Sinatra.) That’s what denying ourselves means.

Take up their cross

Yikes. The cross is an instrument of death. We wear it around our necks as jewelry, build them alongside highways and hang beautiful ones inside our churches.

Crucifixion is one of the most horrific forms of death man has ever devised. The purpose – the only purpose – of a cross is to kill someone.

Jesus had a cross. We know that. But he said that followers should take up their cross. Do we have to die too?

In a sense, yes, we do. For the wages of sin is death … (Romans 6:23)

We earn wages. Sin has a price. It’s death.

What is sin? Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4)

So, sin is breaking God’s laws.

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. (James 2:10)

If we think this through, we know this is true. If I’m guilty of theft, I’m not necessarily guilty of murder, but I’m still guilty of breaking the law and I have to serve a sentence for the theft I committed. Right?

So, sin is breaking God’s laws.

What are God’s laws?

“ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

How do we do that?

On one level those words are easy to understand. But it takes a lifetime to fully know how to love God and love people. (Quick note: Do we love God with ALL our heart, soul and mind – or just with the parts of our heart, soul and mind we want to give to God? We aren’t allowed to interpret the Bible the way we’d like. We either follow it, or we don’t.)

Repent

Gotquestions.org has a good explanation of repentance:

In the Bible, the word repent means “to change one’s mind.” The Bible also tells us that true repentance will result in a change of actions (Luke 3:8-14, Acts 3:19). In summarizing his ministry, Paul declares, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds” (Acts 26:20). The full biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action.

Love them as they are? Yes. But that’s only the starting point.

Why change?

“No slave can serve two masters … You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Luke 16:13)

“They (my followers) do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.” (Jesus, in John 17:16)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Denying oneself. Taking up our cross. Repenting. And following Jesus.

This is what true love is.

Justice, kindness, humility: They go together

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;

and what does the LORD require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

 

We don’t like to be called “mortal,” do we? That means we aren’t immortal – and God is. Many of us don’t like that thought.

Some of you reject the Bible and God for just that reason, don’t you?

Truth is truth, even if it’s inconvenient sometimes.

If something is “good,” then that means something else is “bad.” Good is a comparative term. This sentence says justice, kindness and humility are good, which means their opposites are bad.

Most of us would agree that justice is a good thing. I think justice means different things to different people, though.

Kindness is “good,” too.  A kinder world would be a better world. We might agree with this, but not enough of us do much about it.

Humility, especially with God? That’s a tougher one. But we can’t get along with each other, much less with God, unless we “walk humbly.”

These three concepts go together. We can talk about each separately, but we can’t have justice without kindness and humility, or kindness without justice and humility, or humility without justice and kindness.

Justice

1 Just behaviour or treatment.

‘a concern for justice, peace, and genuine respect for people’

1.1 The quality of being fair and reasonable.

‘the justice of his case’

1.2 The administration of the law or authority in maintaining this.

‘a tragic miscarriage of justice’

2 A judge or magistrate, in particular a judge of the Supreme Court of a country or state.

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/justice

 

Here’s another definition with a slightly different slant:

  1. the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness: to uphold the justice of a cause.
  2. rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground or reason: to complain with justice.
  3. the moral principle determining just conduct.
  4. conformity to this principle, as manifested in conduct; just conduct, dealing, or treatment.
  5. the administering of deserved punishment or reward.
  6. the maintenance or administration of what is just by law, as by judicial or other proceedings: court of justice.
  7. judgment of persons or causes by judicial process: to administer justice in a community.
  8. a judicial officer; a judge or magistrate.

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/justice

 

Justice has to do with law, but also with “moral rightness.” It includes being “fair and reasonable.”

Who gets to decide what is “fair,” “reasonable” or “morally right?”

Those who write the laws of the land make those decisions.

Those laws are not irrevocable, at least in this country. New leaders can change laws or write new ones if they decide that “moral rightness” is not happening.

It’s not an easy process, but it does happen. Women were given the right to vote, for example, in the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1919; before then, they couldn’t.

Earlier, on Jan. 31, 1865, the 13th amendment became law, which abolished slavery. This law has been enforced unevenly since. “Justice” and “morally right” still clash on this issue far too often.

We can’t legislate respect, although these amendments tried.

Justice in the Bible adds a couple of layers to the nation’s definitions.

 

We cannot begin to understand God’s justice unless we first understand sin. Sin … embodies everything contrary to God’s holy nature. Thus, sin is a crime against God, and justice demands a penalty of death and separation from Him for it (Romans 1:18-322:53:23). But God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to pay that penalty for us (Romans 5:8-116:23) and made salvation available to all who believe in His name (John 1:123:15-1720:31).

(This is) not in spite of His justice, but because of it. He loved us so much that despite the fact that our sin demands our death, He sent His Son to be our substitute upon the cross, thus demonstrating that His justice was not violated, but instead satisfied (1 Thessalonians 1:105:9).

https://www.gotquestions.org/God-of-justice.html

 

The Bible also talks about “social justice.” The Bible interprets that term differently than the world does:

 

The Christian notion of social justice is different from the contemporary notion of social justice. The biblical exhortations to care for the poor are more individual than societal. In other words, each Christian is encouraged to do what he can to help the “least of these.” The basis for such biblical commands is found in the second of the greatest commandments — love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39).

Today’s notion of social justice replaces the individual with the government, which, through taxation and other means, redistributes wealth.

https://www.gotquestions.org/social-justice.html

 

If we want to have an intelligent, meaningful discussion on justice, we need to define the term and understand what we’re talking about. If you and I think differently about justice, we might have to work hard to understand each other.  Listening is essential to communication.

Kindness

Kindness is a behavior marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern and consideration for others. It is considered a virtue, and is recognized as a value in many cultures and religions.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kindness

 

An entire movement, “random acts of kindness,” encourages us to do nice things for each other. That started in a Sausalito, California, restaurant in 1982 when Anne Herbert scrawled the words “practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” on a placemat. From there it spread to bumper stickers, quietly at first, but with all the powerful momentum of something important – calling us to lives of caring and compassion.

https://makeadiff.wordpress.com/2006/06/02/the-history-of-random-acts-of-kindness/

 

We need more caring and compassion in our country. It won’t happen by accident; whether as random acts or among friends and family, kindness is intentional. God recognized this centuries ago, and “requires” this of us (along with justice and humility).

“Walk humbly with your God”

I like this definition of humility:

 

True humility is to recognize your value and others’ value while looking up. It is to see there is far greater than ourselves into who we can become, who others can become, and how much more we can do and be.

To be humble is to serve others for their good as well as your own.

To be humble is to have a realistic appreciation of your great strengths, but also of your weaknesses.

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Humility

 

 

Humility is not thinking I am unworthy of anything. It’s recognizing my value, while acknowledging your value as well.

“Realistic” is a great word. You and I both have needs and desires, and I should serve you to improve your life in some way. That’s humility. I would receive a benefit too – the satisfaction of knowing I did something good.

Why be humble and serve others? Because God served us first, by creating us and then offering us salvation from our sins. This is not only God’s justice, but His mercy – giving us a gift we don’t deserve. It’s a small way we can say “Thank you” to God. This is where humility starts.

Micah offers a good formula for living. Justice, kindness and humility depend on each other. If I seek justice, I will seek your best interests as well as mine. If I seek kindness, I want you to be just as happy as I am (possibly more so). If I seek humility, I want to see your life get better.

All three concepts are not about me. They involve serving God. And serving you.

Justice for all, mercy for some

A few lessons I’ve learned or re-learned through a year-long study of Romans in the New Testament:

  • We discover order in nature, but we can’t learn about sin and salvation through nature.
  • Justified: Acquitted of all charges. That doesn’t mean we are innocent, just not guilty. There are no consequences for what we’ve done. This is grace – an act of God. We do not contribute to it.
  • Justification is a one-time act of God. Sanctification is the process of becoming like Jesus, which takes a lifetime.
  • Law reveals sin, but can’t cure it. A CAT scan may find a disease, but the CAT scan itself can’t cure it. Same principle. Jesus, not the law, is the medicine we need to have our sins forgiven.
  • The Old Testament laws weren’t written down until Moses wrote them – 430 years after Abraham lived. Sin still existed, even though no written laws did. See Adam and Eve.
  • God did all the work to offer us salvation from our sins. He initiated, taught, died and resurrected, all while we were sinners. We don’t have to get it right before God saves us. We accept God’s forgiveness; then sanctification starts.
  • Our trespasses can be counted. Grace is infinite.
  • We also died on the cross and were buried with Jesus, and were raised from the dead with Him (see Romans 6:1-4). Burial means death to sin is final.
  • No one is “free.” Everyone serves someone or something, whether we realize it or not.
  • While Jesus delivers us from the power of sin, it’s not a one-and-done thing. Recognizing this conflict proves that we are His.
  • Sin does not define us. The struggle with sin defines God’s forgiveness and love.
  • We have conflict, but not condemnation.
  • Suffering is temporary; glory is permanent (eventually).
  • Justice keeps us on Death Row. God chooses to give mercy to some people. This is not about us. It’s about Him. We have to trust God’s character, because there’s no way we can understand this.
  • God sent the apostle Paul to people (Gentiles) who weren’t even looking for Him. God operates that way frequently.
  • We are transformed by the renewal of our minds. So often we blame our bodies for sin, but it starts in our minds. Always.
  • All people are far more important than humanists imagine us to be. All people are far worse than humanists suppose.
  • Loving God and others is not behavior modification. It’s a heart issue.
  • Harmony and dissonance: Do my notes blend in with the melody? There are no lone-ranger Christians. My notes, played correctly alongside the in-tune notes of other Christians, will make beautiful music.
  • If we respond to evil with evil, then evil never ends.
  • If we respond to evil with love, we absorb the evil. This is not normal.
  • God is in control of all things. This is not difficult to understand, but it is difficult to accept.
  • Following God does not always mean that all goes well. See Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace, or Daniel in the lion’s den. Sometimes God brings us through the fire. That often glorifies Him.
  • God establishes authority for our good. Anarchy brings chaos. Even poor leaders are better than no leadership at all.
  • Light shines brighter in darkness than it does in the daytime.
  • The purpose of the law is to help us live together well. We can do this only if we love each other. (The law no longer applies when we die, of course.)
  • Food and drink won’t matter in heaven. Righteousness, peace and joy will.
  • “Accept” means to welcome or receive, not simply to tolerate.
  • The gospel is simple, but it’s not simplistic. The plan of salvation has a few easy steps to follow, but living them out takes a lifetime of learning and doing.
  • Don’t study evil; we know it already. Study God’s word.
  • Avoid people who reject Christ. Don’t argue for the sake of arguing.
  • God has won the war. The battles of this life will end soon.