"Americans believe they're getting a raw deal from both the economic and political systems in our country. And they are right."
By Jake Johnson
With a live-streamed presentation and a slate of new messaging on Monday, Democratic leaders attempted to articulate for the first time since their party's 2016 losses an agenda that "works for everyone...not just the elites and special interests."
As the local Winchester Star reported, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and several other Democrats outlined their agenda Monday afternoon at an event in the town of Berryville, Virginia.
Watch a video of the event:
In a pair of op-eds published on Monday, Pelosi and Schumer further detailed their party's platform—cumulatively titled "A Better Deal"—which features three key planks:
Cracking down on "corporate influence and consolidation" (pdf) by preventing harmful mergers and "creat[ing] a 21st century 'Trust Buster' to stop abusive corporate conduct and the exploitation of market power where it already exists; "Lowering the cost of prescription drugs" by preventing "outrageous prescription drug price increases" and permitting Medicare to negotiate drug prices; Creating millions (pdf) of good-paying jobs and raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
In his op-ed for the New York Times, Schumer acknowledged that Democrats have lost substantial ground of late due to the party's inability to "articulate a strong, bold economic program" and its failure "to show that we were on the side of working people, not the special interests."
Schumer and Pelosi both—in language reminiscent of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—lambasted the "rigged" economic system that "favors short-term gains for shareholders instead of long-term benefits for workers" and argued that special interests exert far too much influence on the political process.
"Democrats have too often hesitated from taking on those misguided policies directly and unflinchingly—so much so that many Americans don't know what we stand for," Schumer wrote.
With their newly unveiled platform, Democrats are attempting to demonstrate "that [they're] the party on the side of working people."
"Today's working Americans and the young are justified in having greater doubts about the future than any generation since the Depression," Schumer writes. "Americans believe they're getting a raw deal from both the economic and political systems in our country. And they are right."
Several components of the agenda were met with applause by progressives. The Democrats' emphasize on corporate consolidation, for instance, won the approval of law professor and anti-monopoly activist Zephyr Teachout and others.
Lina Khan, a fellow at New America, argued that it is "a big deal" that Democrats are publicly acknowledging both the corrosive effects of "excessive economic concentration" and the role of Democrats in perpetuating the problem.
"How the heck did we let Exxon and Mobil merge?" Schumer said in an interview on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday. "And that was Democrats."
"The Democratic Party's new focus on America's monopoly problem is an important step forward in fixing what’s really wrong with our country," concluded New America's Barry Lynn.
Still, as Vox's Jeff Stein observed, there is much for progressives to criticize in the "Better Deal," including the conspicuous absence of Medicare for All—which Schumer declared Sunday was "on the table" but is not part of the "Better Deal" platform—and the fact that party leaders "have still done little to shake their ties to elite donors."
In the coming weeks, as Common Dreams has reported, a large coalition of progressive organizations is set to push Democratic lawmakers to make their agenda more ambitious—and more in line with popular sentiment—by backing Medicare for All and other far-reaching bills, cumulatively titled "The People's Platform."
"Right now, the status quo isn't working," the groups concluded. "Millions of people lack health insurance, cannot afford to pay for college, and cannot make ends meet on starvation wages. In the land of the free, we incarcerate more people than any other country in the world, and our addiction to fossil fuel has caused the planet to warm at a calamitous rate and puts our very future at risk...Resisting the Trump Administration is only a part of the work we need to do to make this a country that truly prioritizes equality and justice for all."
Originally appeared at Commondreams.org | Photo: Nancy Pelosi/Wikipedia Creative Commons