The day for the Democrats’ Better Deal has arrived and it’s pretty much what they ran on in 2016, which led to defeats across the board. Republicans kept Congress, kept their hold on state legislatures, and retook the White House in the most stunning upset in American political history. It’s even harder to take an introspective autopsy when Hillary Clinton has blamed Russia, the FBI, the media, sexism, racism, misogyny, James Comey, and even the Democratic National Committee for blowing up her presidential ambitions. Granted, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has sort of taken steps to distance himself and the party from the former first lady, saying it was the Democrats, not Russia, who screwed up in 2016. He’s right, though that’s hardly the consensus among the liberal base.
Now, in Berryville, Virginia, Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and the rest of the gang announced their new agenda that will reaffirm the Democratic Party as the party of the working people, which they haven’t been for quite some time. That’s why they’ve flocked to the Trump and the GOP. That’s why 42 percent of Obama-Trump voters felt that the Democratic agenda favored the wealthy. This is the party of Hollywood. If they think venturing into Berryville will dispel the coastal elitism that’s entrenched itself within the party, they’re on bath salts. So, what are the details of the “Better Deal”? Vox Media noted that it would include a 10 million-job creation program driven by infrastructure projects, aversion to corporate power, and getting prescription drug prices under control. Job training projects coupled with plans to reduce college tuition and address childcare and credit card debt will also be visited. Yet, the tax and trade reforms will be unveiled in further detail later this year (via The Hill):
In its first phase, released Monday morning, the Democrats’ campaign focuses on three broad areas: creating new jobs, lowering prescription drug costs and restraining the power of corporations. Notably absent from the agenda are the social issues — things like reproductive rights, immigration reform and gun control — that have, at times, defined the party.
“What motivates us is that the costs of living keep rising, but families feel their incomes and wages aren’t keeping up,” Pelosi wrote in a Washington Post op-ed published Sunday evening.
“Special interests are given special treatment, while hard-working Americans are ignored.”
On the jobs front, the Democrats’ plan would give employers a tax credit for training new hires and incentivize businesses to team up with educators to build a 21st century workforce capable of competing on the global stage.
To lower drug costs, they want to empower the government to bar sharp increases in prescription prices while allowing Medicare to negotiate the prices they pay for drugs, which is barred by current law.
To rein in “abusive” corporations, they propose to restrict large mergers, strengthen the review process that monitors mergers post-consolidation and create a new “consumer competition advocate” designed to discourage market manipulation.
Additional proposals — including tax and trade reforms — will be unveiled later in the year.
The Democrats have been divided in recent years over the scope and focus of the party’s message — a divide exacerbated by their minority status and the extraordinary rise of Trump. Some maintain that party leaders have done too little to appeal to the conservative-leaning heartland voters who flocked to Trump.
Others contend the Democrats have been too timid in fighting for the party’s ideals. They’re pushing an aggressive liberal platform that highlights the issues of economic justice championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT.), who energized liberals with his surprisingly successful run against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary.
Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), David Cicilline (D-RI) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who serve as co-chairs of the House Democratic Policy & Communications Committee, published an op-ed over at CNN about the Better Deal as well:
The choice we face is simple. We can continue down this path of a rigged system and allow Washington to turn a blind eye to painful economic realities that so many Americans are facing. Or we can stand on the side of the American people. We can invest in hardworking families and build an economy that puts Americans first -- defined by better jobs, better wages and a better future.
Well, before we get into that, let’s discuss the elephant in the room here. It’s not a left wing push. There’s no solid commitment to a single-payer health care initiative, which is the Holy Grail for progressives and the pro-Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party. Given how California Democrats torpedoed a state-based single-payer initiative, the establishment will continue to endure heartburn from their most active left wing activists over this issue, which is why Schumer is leaving it as a possibility to appease them.
Second, they’re now talking about “a rigged system,” the “economic realties” of working class Americans, and how they’re on the side of hardworking families? Wait—didn’t they agree that these people were uniformly deplorable for supporting Donald Trump? That decades of neglect won’t be fixed with a bunch of coastal liberals, who know nothing about the economic hardships that have plagued these communities for years, with an agenda that mirrors the failed Clinton 2016 platform? No, seriously, it’s pretty much a carbon copy (via NTK Network):
“American families deserve a better deal so that this country works for everyone again, not just the elites and special interests,” Schumer wrote in his op-ed.
“That’s what it means to have an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. That’s the mission. And I’m asking all of you to join me in it.” Clinton said during a speech on June 22, 2016.
Schumer goes on to write:
“There used to be a basic bargain in this country that if you worked hard and played by the rules, you could own a home, afford a car, put your kids through college and take a modest vacation every year while putting enough away for a comfortable retirement. In the second half of the 20th century, millions of Americans achieved this solid middle-class lifestyle. I should know — I grew up in that America.”
That sounds very similar to what Clinton said on June 22, 2016, in a speech attacking Donald Trump:
Now, briefly about these five points. Let’s start with jobs. Every American willing to work hard should be able to find a job that pays enough to support a family.
And I know we can do this, because I’ve seen it in the past. You know, I remember when I was growing up, and America had come out of the upheaval of depression and World War, our leaders worked together to invest in a new foundation of American power and prosperity, highways to connect up our entire nation, college, and housing for returning veterans and their families, unprecedented scientific research.
And it worked. We built the greatest middle class the world has ever known.
Schumer’s op-ed continues:
Today’s working Americans and the young are justified in having greater doubts about the future than any generation since the Depression. Americans believe they’re getting a raw deal from both the economic and political systems in our country. And they are right. The wealthiest special interests can spend an unlimited, undisclosed amount of money to influence elections and protect their special deals in Washington. As a result, our system favors short-term gains for shareholders instead of long-term benefits for workers.
Despite the progress we’ve made in coming back from the Great Recession, we face a set of core challenges to building an economy that works for everyone—including a political system that is doing too little to help working Americans, an economic system that encourages too many corporations to favor short-term profits over long-term investments, and outdated workplace policies that aren’t meeting the needs of modern families.
Schumer outlines how Democrats are going to stop prescription drug price gouging:
Right now, there is nothing to stop vulture capitalists from egregiously raising the price of lifesaving drugs without justification. We’re going to fight for rules to stop prescription drug price gouging and demand that drug companies justify price increases to the public. And we’re going to push for empowering Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for older Americans.
Clinton again proposed the same measure during her 2016 campaign:
For years, Hillary Clinton has made the case that Americans should get the value they deserve for the billions of dollars in support they provide through federal investment in basic research and incentives for R&D. Drug companies should not be allowed to reap excessive profits or spend unreasonable amounts on marketing if they want to receive support that is designed to encourage life-saving and health-improving treatments. Clinton’s proposal would require pharmaceutical companies that benefit from federal support to invest a sufficient amount of their revenue in R&D, and if they do not meet targets, boost their investment or pay rebates to support basic research. If elected President, she will convene business leaders, experts on drug pricing, and consumer advocates to set new parameters for federal support in order to ensure this requirement. The basic principle is based on a provision of the Affordable Care Act that required insurance companies to pay rebates to consumers if their profits and administrative costs were an excessive share of benefits actually paid out to consumers.
White working class whites, which represents 44 percent of eligible voters, voted for Trump in droves, minority working class voters pretty much didn’t vote, putting a lot of trust in Barack Obama, who didn’t deliver. Obama, overall, didn’t do poorly with working class voters, but years of inaction sucked the enthusiasm out of this segment. Job retraining is going to get them off the couch to vote Democratic in 2018 or 2020? Democrats have been saying that for years. The Guardian’s Chris Arnade, who traveled 100,000 miles through rural America, along with Salena Zito of The Washington Examiner, have written extensively on the working class of America and how for many Trump was seen as a savior from economic torpor that caused scores of them to see America as not great. I don’t think these voters even need to read the details; they know the magnitude of Trump’s win. Democratic outreach efforts will have to overcome the sense of skepticism and cynicism that many of these voters will rightfully see with this agenda. Urban-based professionals denigrated them, mocked their living situations, couldn’t understand why they just don’t go to college, viewed their labor as anathema (i.e. those who are coal miners), did not like their affinity for gun rights, and viewed their religious faith with scorn. So, is it such a surprise that Appalachia, once a bastion of working class Democratic support, has all but abandoned the party? Clinton only won 21 of its 490 counties. That’s a massive rebuilding project, which will be hamstrung by the condescending and insufferable busy bodying mindset urban-based progressives have decided to channel in their politics. There’s also the dogmatic adherence to identity politics, in which any Trump voter, any white working class voters, anyone who is not progressive, is an irredeemable racist who is not worth reaching out to, let alone speak with on the issues. Even CNN’s Fareed Zakaria noted this approach has created a massive cultural gulf that will hurt Democrats. The inroad to these voters could be simply come in the form of a showing of understanding, though for now—that’s not in the cards with the Left. Health care is also another area, though the Democrats’ single-payer push could muddy that road.
For now, the abandonment mentality is still fresh in the minds of these voters, and a recycling of Clinton’s 2016 platform probably isn’t the best idea. Then again, maybe the writing is already on the wall after the Democrats unveiled their new slogan, which prompted former Obama and Clinton communications staffers to trash the new messaging strategy as downright awful. Is it a sign of things to come? It’s too early, but given the Democratic track record thus far, they have a tough climb. They need to flip Republican districts to win the House, which means candidates who can win in these areas. They don’t have that. Democrat Jon Ossoff was a test run in Georgia’s sixth congressional race; he lost. There are also a dozen Democratic districts where Trump won. So, you should be skeptical that a Clinton agenda with different spokespersons and a different name could yield political success, especially when you have folks who think like this:
Also, who's the leader of the party?