Joe Biden has begun announcing Cabinet picks for the next administration. One department that should get closer consideration: agriculture.

This week in OtherWords, former Texas agriculture commissioner Jim Hightower, Nebraska Democratic Party chair Jane Kleeb, and Washington State indigenous activist Deborah Parker make the case for using the department’s ample power to unite “rural and urban people in a grassroots food system that enriches all.”

What else could Biden do? Over at the Department of Education, which owns 92 percent of the ballooning student debt Americans owe, Sarah Anderson and Margot Rathke argue that the Biden administration could provide a huge economic stimulus by simply canceling it.

But while there’s a lot the administration can do on its own, some problems will require legislative fixes.

This week, with essential retail workers getting sick while their bosses make record profits, essential worker turned organizer Janie Grice makes the case for an Essential Workers Bill of Rights. And Basav Sen explains the need for “Protesters’ Bills of Rights” at the state and national levels, to protect communities organizing against harmful pollution.

New This Week…

We Need an Essential Workers Bill of Rights | Janie Grice
Walmart’s owners are seeing their wealth surge while my former coworkers there go without hazard pay. That has to change.

Make USDA ‘The People’s Department’ Again | Jim Hightower, Jane Kleeb, and Deborah Parker
For years, the Department of Agriculture has been run by Big Ag acolytes. Biden has a chance to change that.

Paying Politicians to Criminalize Protest | Basav Sen
More communities are standing up to pipelines. The fossil fuel industry wants to make that a felony.

Biden Could Cancel Student Debt. Will He? | Sarah Anderson and Margot Rathke
The federal government owns 92 percent of all student debt owed in this country. Canceling it could provide a huge stimulus.

One Flew Over the Coup-Coup’s Nest | Khalil Bendib
Counting the votes? That’s a coup.

In Case You Missed It…

Black Voters Saved Our Democracy | Tracey L. Rogers
Black voters waited in 10-hour lines to show up for Joe Biden. Now Biden needs to return the favor.

Don’t Trash the Affordable Care Act, Expand It | Olivia Alperstein
Not even a raging pandemic stopped Republicans from dragging yet another effort to throw millions off their health care to the Supreme Court.

We Need a Safety Net for Parents | Jill Richardson
The collapse of child care and traditional schooling is having a devastating effect on women in particular.

Low-Income Voters Showed Up for Biden. Now They Need Relief. | Sarah Anderson and Margot Rathke
People didn’t turn out in record numbers in a pandemic to vote for a return to normal.

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Peter Certo

Peter Certo is the editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies and editor of

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