Declaring “old-fashioned capitalism has broken down to the detriment of consumers” and “Adam Smith has lost his way amidst these big corporations,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other congressional Democrats traveled to a red pocket of purple Virginia today to spell out their new agenda.
Schumer, who was joined by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at Rose Hill Park in Berryville, Va., remarked that the town near the West Virginia border “looks like parts of New York state.”
“Too many families in America feel like the rules of the economy are rigged against them. They feel like they’re getting a raw deal, and they’re right. They’re almost powerless to change them. We are here today to tell the people of Berryville and the working people of America: someone has your back,” he said.
“American families deserve a better deal so this country works for everyone again, not just the elites, not just the special interests. Today, Democrats start presenting that better deal to the American people.”
After losing in 2014 and 2016, Schumer argued, Dems need to not “flinch” or “blink,” but look in the mirror.
“Democrats have too often hesitated from directly and unflinchingly taking on the misguided policies that got us here – so much so that too many Americans don’t know what we stand for,” he said. “Not after today. 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 them, making alliance with the powerful, special interest, Koch-brother-dominated, hard-right wing of the Republican Party, which appeals to the very wealthy, not the working people – leaving a vacuum on economic issues. We Democrats are going to fill that vacuum.”
The party’s “better way” agenda has three parts: “First, we’re going to increase people’s pay. Second, we’re going to reduce their everyday expenses. And third, we’re going to provide workers the tools they need for the 21st century economy.”
Initial steps include a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan, a $15 minimum wage and paid family and sick leave, as well as three policies unveiled by Schumer today: stopping “prescription drug price gouging, and demand that drug companies justify price increases to the public,” “fight to allow regulators to break up big companies if they’re hurting consumers and to make it harder for companies to merge if it reduces competition,” and “giving employers, particularly small businesses a large tax credit to train workers for unfilled jobs, with a requirement to hire that worker at a good wage once the training is complete.”
“This will have particular resonance in smaller cities and rural areas which have experienced an exodus of young people who aren’t trained for the jobs that are there,” he added, promising “in future weeks we’ll offer additional ideas, from rebuilding rural America to fundamentally changing our trade laws to benefit workers, not multinational corporations.”
Schumer acknowledged “we cannot delude anyone that this Congress will begin passing our priorities tomorrow” since they’re the minority party in both chambers, “but we have to start presenting our vision for the country’s future, and we must start rallying the American people to support our ideas.”
“This is the start of a new vision for the party, one strongly supported by House and Senate Democrats,” he said.
Schumer said the slogan “A Better Deal” purposely invokes the Great Depression New Deal “because we cannot afford to go back to those times.”
The Senate Dem leader noted that he went to a Yankees game last month and sat next to two Teamsters from Yonkers wearing “Proud to be Deplorable” T-shirts. “We talked the whole game. They weren’t really sure of Donald Trump. They didn’t know what he stood for. And being Teamsters, were well aware of the awful conditions of our roads, and they were beginning to worry that he couldn’t get an infrastructure bill done. But, they voted for Trump because they thought he might change things,” Schumer said. “Now, they’re worried he won’t, and he can’t.”
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel issued a statement asking, “After losing to Republicans at the ballot box year-after-year, this is the best they have to offer?”
“Today’s recycled Democrat talking points do nothing to change the fact that the far-left has taken hold of the party and continues to push a message of more resistance and obstruction,” she said. “Until Democrats make a real effort to work with Republicans and President Trump on the priorities voters supported last November, they are going to continue to be lost in the electoral wilderness.”