Democrats’ Populist Agenda Will Win Because It Is What The Public Wants

Dave Johnson

Last week Senate Democrats unveiled their “Fair Shot For Everyone” agenda for the rest of this election year. They say they want to “ensure that every American who works hard has a fair shot to succeed” and are planning to hold votes to:

  • Raise the minimum wage,
  • Provide pay equity for women,
  • Defend Medicare,
  • Make child care and college more affordable and
  • Push a jobs strategy that is focused on manufacturing and infrastructure.

These are “paid for” by closing tax loopholes for the rich and corporations.

In addition, the Senate is voting to restore unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed. This will come to the House next, where Republican leadership is not allowing a vote — because it will pass.

Polling Shows This Agenda Is What The Public Wants

With this “Fair Shot,” Democrats will “go on offense with a positive agenda that has broad support among liberals, conservatives, and moderates.” This is the key point about this agenda: it is popular. This is a “populist” agenda and polls show that these are items that the public broadly supports — even many Republicans. Visit the Populist Majority website to see the polling on these issues.

Here are just a few examples of what you will find there:

  • Raise the minimum wage: 69 percent favor raising the minimum wage to $10.10 over the next three years. 58 percent are more likely to vote for a candidate that supports raising the federal minimum wage.
  • Provide pay equity for women: 90 percent want to achieve pay equity by raising pay for women (74 percent strongly support it). And among unmarried women, 95 percent favor raising pay for women, 85 percent strongly.
  • Defend Medicare: 69 percent are less likely to vote for a candidate that supports reductions in Social Security and Medicare benefits to address the budget deficit. 69 percent believe the benefits from Medicare are worth the cost of the program for taxpayers.
  • Make child care affordable: 86 percent support helping low-wage workers afford quality child care.
  • Make college affordable: 84 percent support expanding publicly funded scholarships to help more families afford college. 77 percent believe that over the past few years it has become harder to pay for college.
  • A jobs strategy that is focused on manufacturing and infrastructure: 77 percent favor hiring people to do urgent infrastructure repairs. 71 percent support increasing government investment to build and repair roads, bridges, high-speed rail, smart electric grid technology and other infrastructure needs. 77 percent support tax incentives for manufacturer investments.
  • Paying for this by closing tax loopholes for the rich and corporations: Nine out of 10 believe that any revenue generated by closing corporate loopholes or limiting tax deductions for the wealthy should be used for public investment and deficit reduction (82 percent), not to lower tax rates on corporations or the wealthy (9 percent).

Draw A Sharp Contrast

Across the board, Republicans in the House and Senate oppose these policy proposals. They strongly oppose raising the minimum wage. They oppose pay equity for women. Their 2014 budget would turn Medicare into a voucher system. They oppose “more government spending” on infrastructure.

Across the board, Republicans in the House and Senate support policies that favor the wealthy and corporations at the expense of and against the wishes of the rest of the people of the country – even most Republicans. And their “Ryan” budget makes this clear.

If Democrats hold together, keep these votes up to draw a clear contrast with Republicans on these key issues, and do what they need to do to bypass the corporate media gatekeepers and reach the public to let them know this is going on, they will win.

All Democrats Should Vote For The “Better Off Budget”

One great way for Democrats to demonstrate and highlight this contrast is by supporting the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) “Better Off Budget” (currently subjected to a total media blackout.) The CPC “Better Off Budget” would create 8.8 million jobs; invest $820 billion in our schools, roads and bridges; restore funding to programs like the Supplemental nutrition Assistance (“food stamp”) Program; protect and expand funding for our veterans; implement comprehensive immigration reform; protect the environment; and many other policies that reflect America’s progressive values.

And, the CPC budget would pay for it by asking millionaires and billionaire to pay their fair share of taxes, while imposing taxes on Wall Street targeted to help curb risky behavior.

The Republican budget is almost the opposite of this, cutting back on the things government does to make our lives and our economy better, while handing breaks to the giant corporations and wealthiest Americans.

There will be a vote in the House on the Ryan budget and the CPC budget. ALL Democrats should vote for the CPC budget to help draw this contrast.

And then Democrats have to find a way to get the word out to the public about these differences, past the corporate media gatekeepers that are blocking this news from reaching the public.

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