News & Politics

Democrats' 2019 Agenda Includes Health Insurance Reform, $1 Trillion in Infrastructure Spending

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 7: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks with reporters as she leaves the House chamber in the Capitol after holding her filibuster focusing on DACA for eight plus hours on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Democrats have been meeting for months to map out an agenda for 2019 if they manage to capture control of the House.

So many top Democrats plan to conduct investigations of the Trump administration that they’ve had to coordinate topics to avoid stepping on each other’s toes. But that’s the tip of the iceberg.

As the plan currently stands, Democrats are saying they will forgo the pleasure of impeaching Donald Trump in the beginning — if they can keep a lid on their rabid base. Other initiatives include:

The first three legislative packages will cover health-care costs, $1 trillion in federal infrastructure investment, and ethics and lobbying reform.

What they’re saying:

  • “We’re ready from Day 1 to fight for the people,” said an aide involved in the planning. “These priorities took months and months of conversation with members to boil down.”
  • The top Democrats on House committees are prepping to launch oversight hearings and investigations of the Trump administration, and have begun the initial steps of coordinating their opening topics to avoid conflicts and overlaps.
  • Democrats are playing down talk of impeachment. But depending on the contents of Robert Mueller’s report, that could well become a transcendent issue for the new Congress.
  • Democratic leaders have been clear that impeachment isn’t happening unless it’s bipartisan — that Mueller’s findings are definitive, and Republicans voice support for the i-word.

The three legislative packages are also centerpieces of House Democrats’ “For the People” national campaign theme, distilled from the larger “A Better Deal” platform.

  • Dems say these are all issues where Trump has promised action and failed to deliver. (Remember “drain the swamp”?)

Between the lines: Polls show that health care and wages are voters’ top concerns.

  • Health care would be divided into two buckets: cost containment, including reining in premiums, and lowering the cost of prescription drugs.

  • The $1 trillion in infrastructure spending would be sold as a way to boost jobs and wages.

The pressure on Democrats to impeach Trump, whether or not any Republicans join them in a “bipartisan” effort, will be enormous. Frankly, I don’t think they will be able to resist it. The activists will claim full credit if the Democrats take over the House and will demand impeachment as a reward.

Also, the radicals will be far more powerful in the Democratic caucus in the next Congress. They see impeachment as their top priority and despite the reluctance by Pelosi and other establishment Dems, will push hard for a reckoning with Trump, regardless of what the Mueller report will show.

The Democrats’ primary goals — “Medicare for All” and free college tuition — will have to wait until 2o21 when they expect to win the presidency.

All in all, from a policy standpoint, I suppose it could be worse. But all these other issues will be sideshows to the impeachment circus almost certain to captivate Washington for the next two years if Democrats are in charge.