Democrats' populist economic messaging took clearer shape Monday, as Rep. Chris Van Hollen unveiled a plan detailing middle-class tax breaks—and imposing a greater burden on the wealthy.
Van Hollen's plan is the party's first high-profile attempt to put details behind an economic agenda focused on income inequality that many say Democrats failed to outline during the 2014 elections. It's also an effort to draw contrasts with the ambitious tax plan being crafted by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan—one that actually stands a chance of gaining traction in the GOP-controlled Congress.
With a historically small minority in a chamber that strongly favors the majority, House Democrats will have precious few openings to actually influence legislation—or at least draw attention to their ideas—in the 114th Congress. Their goal is to seize those chances when they have them.
"The upcoming budget debate will give the American people an opportunity to hear very different approaches to this challenge," Van Hollen said. "I look forward to this debate."
Van Hollen, the ranking member on the House Budget Committee, outlined his plan Monday at the Center for American Progress, repeatedly criticizing a system that he believes benefits those who play the stock market rather than work for a paycheck. His plan is headlined by a $1,000 cut for taxpayers making less than six figures, offset by increased levies on Wall Street traders and high-earning CEOs.