By Joanna Williams
“When you lose elections as we did in 2014 and 2016, you don’t flinch, you don’t blink, you look in the mirror and ask, what did we do wrong? The number one thing we did wrong was not present a strong bold economic agenda to working Americans. President Trump campaigned on a populist platform, talking to working people – that’s why he won. But as soon as he got into office he abandoned it. We Democrats are going to fill that vacuum.” —Senator Schumer at the unveiling of the 2018 Democratic Agenda.
Eyeing big wins in 2018, Democrats are fighting to reclaim the populist mantle from President Trump.
On July 24th they released their 2018 agenda designed to win over working-class voters, ditching an emphasis on attacking an unpopular president in favor of a new agenda focused on the economy while passing over the social issues that have sometimes defined the party.
Titled “A Better Deal: Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Wages” it will propose many Democratic staples – tax increases on the rich, affordable college, infrastructure spending, higher wages, job training, paid family leave. Individual proposals in the “Better Deal” will be offered as legislation and also as a Contract With America-style promise to be implemented by a Democratic Congress.
In its first phase, the “Better Deal” campaign focuses on three broad areas: creating new jobs, lowering prescription drug costs and restraining the power of corporations.
– On the jobs front, the plan would give employers a tax credit for training new hires and incentivize businesses to team up with educators to build a 21stcentury workforce capable of competing on the global stage.
– To lower drug costs, the government would be empowered to bar sharp increases in prescription prices while allowing Medicare to negotiate the prices paid for drugs – currently not allowed.
– To rein in “abusive” corporations, the plan proposes to restrict large mergers, strengthen the review process that monitors mergers and create a new “consumer competition advocate” to discourage market manipulation.
Launching the campaign in rural Virginia, Democratic leaders said their recent election woes are not the product of misplaced priorities but the party’s inability to define their agenda – and a reluctance to fight for it. Senate Minority Leader Schumer emphasized the need to define that agenda:
“When you lose to somebody who has a 40 per cent popularity, you don’t blame other things, you blame yourself. So what did we do wrong? People didn’t know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. The new agenda is not about moving the party left or right, and it’s not about appealing to one coalition or another. A strong, sharp-edged, populist, bold economic message appeals to the Obama coalition and to the people who voted for Trump – economic insecurity is a shared concern for all voters, regardless of regions or party affiliation. What resonates in North Dakota or Montana or Missouri also resonates in California, New York and Massachusetts.”