Six months after Donald Trump’s inauguration, Democrats in Congress are ready to adopt a populist economic agenda that blends ideas long entrenched in the liberal mainstream, like infrastructure investment, with promises that have not been a focus of the Democratic Party in recent years such as a pledge to rein in the power of corporate monopolies.
Locked out of power in Washington, Democrats lack the ability to implement the agenda, which will be sold to voters under the tagline “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future.” But party leaders plan to pitch it as a preview of what they would do if Democrats win back Congress. The economic platform is aimed at bridging ideological and demographic divides in the party, and Democrats hope it will have widespread appeal, in rural and urban areas, and with centrist, moderate, and progressive voters alike.
The agenda nevertheless showcases the influence of the Democratic Party’s populist-progressive wing. It diagnoses the problems facing America in terms that sound far more like Bernie Sanders than Hillary Clinton, arguing that prosperity and influence have become too concentrated in the hands of a wealthy few to the detriment of working-class Americans. One policy plank promises that Democrats will start “cracking down on corporate monopolies”—an ambition that prior to the 2016 presidential election would be far more likely to be championed by a progressive firebrand like Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has long warned of the dangers of market concentration, than most rank-and-file Democrats in Congress.