Democrats began rolling out their economic agenda Monday, looking to present a positive message to voters amid growing signs the public is weary of the endless Russia conspiracy theories that have become a characteristic of Democratic resistance since President Trump took office.
The Democrats in the House and Senate have called the agenda “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future,” — a nod to the “New Deal” of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose policies helped the Democrats dominate the white working class vote for decades.
The Democrats appear to be recognizing that one of the reasons for their defeat in the 2014 midterms and the 2016 presidential election was a bottoming out of support from white working class voters in places such as Michigan and Pennsylvania. Politico noted that it also appeared to be a shot at President Trump, who has pitched himself as a dealmaker and wrote The Art of the Deal.
At a press conference Monday afternoon at Berryville, Virginia, Democratic House and Senate leaders, as well as high-profile Democrats such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), attempted to sell the plan, painting themselves as advocates for American workers.
We are here today to tell the people of Berryville and the working people of America: Someone has your back,” Schumer said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that the last six months have shown the “toxic special interest priorities at the core of the GOP agenda.” Pelosi also said the plan was still in formation, and they intended to listen to the American people on how best to refine it.
“We’ll take [our message] on the road to engage in conversation with the American people because this isn’t just about telling them what we’re advocating, it’s about listening to their concerns and how we shape this and refine it as we go forward,” she said.
In an opinion piece for the New York Times published earlier Monday, Schumer said the plan was about “reorienting government to work on behalf of people and families.” He also admitted that in recent elections, “Democrats, including in the Senate, failed to articulate a strong, bold economic program for the middle class and those working hard to get there.”
Americans from every corner of this country know that the economy isn’t working for them the way that it should, and they wonder if it ever will again. One party says the answer is that special interests should continue to write the rules and that government ought to make things easier for an already-favored few.
At the press conference, liberal firebrand Warren struck a firmly anti-corporate message in her remarks and noted that the railroads had once formed monopolies that Congress had to break up with anti-trust laws.
“For decades now the government has slacked off enforcement of those laws, and the result has been bigger and bigger corporations with more and more power,” she said. “Democrats are ready to take this challenge head-on.”
In an opinion piece for CNN, Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), David Cicilline (D-RI), and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) hailed the plan as a “bold economic agenda that works for all Americans to bring higher wages, lower costs and the tools Americans need to succeed” and laid out some of the specifics of the plan.
First, our plan starts by creating millions of good-paying, full-time jobs by directly investing in our crumbling infrastructure — and putting people back to work building our roads and bridges. To help our small businesses thrive, we will prioritize entrepreneurs over giving tax breaks to special interests. We will fight for a living wage — so parents don’t have to work three or four jobs just to pay rent. And we will keep our promise to millions of workers who earned a pension, Social Security and Medicare so they can retire with dignity.
The plan, they claim, will also lower drug and education costs. It will also crack down on “monopolies and the concentration of economic power that has led to higher prices for consumer, workers and small businesses — and make sure Wall Street never endangers Main Street again.”
The plan will also offer tax incentives to employees, apprenticeships to new workers, and bring high-speed Internet across America.
The move to focus on economics represents a change in tactics from the Democrats, who have largely been happy to focus on allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign in the 2016 election. However, a number of polls — as well as two defeats for Democrats in congressional special elections — suggest that the public is not as interested in Russia conspiracy theories as are the Democrats and the media.
A recent poll found that only 26 percent of voters saw Russia as their top concern. A poll in June found that two-thirds of Americans believe the FBI’s Russia investigations are “hurting the country,” and a majority believe it is time for Congress and the establishment media to “move on to other issues.”
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY