Democrats Offer “Better Deal”with Higher Minimum Wage, Lower Drug Prices
Congressional Democrats have had enough with corporate America. On Monday they unveiled a “better deal” for middle and working America with big ideas including a higher minimum wage and lower drug prices.
The party aims to reclaim the populist mantle from President Trump. By offering this “Better Deal,” the Democratic Party is hoping to pick a fight with corporate America.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Democrats’ senate minority leader said Monday afternoon in Berryville, Virginia that Mr. Trump won the presidency by promising to help working Americans, only to abandon them.
“Old-fashioned capitalism has broken down to the detriment of consumers,” Mr. Schumer said, adding that “Too many Americans don’t know what we stand for. Not after today.”
Mr. Schumer’s office said Democrats planned to roll out a detailed trade agenda in the fall.
Democrats are proposing to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, an idea the party’s 2016 nominee, Hillary Clinton, never embraced.
The “Fight for $15” proposal is energizing the Democratic base with impressive victories in states including New York, California and cities from Seattle to Washington. Seattle raised its minimum wage for many workers to $13 an hour last year with a plan to reach $15 an hour for all workers by 2021.
Democrats also proposed new tax credits for job training in their “better deal” released on Monday.
The party is also proposing to lower the cost of living for most middle class Americans, a nod to liberal economists and activists of the party who believe that corporate concentration is damaging the American economy.
Since the early 1980s, the federal government has intervened to prevent company mergers only when there was clear evidence of consumer harm, instead choosing to allow consolidation in most instances. Such lack of intervention has allowed a few giant companies to dominate industries including air travel and cable television.
In 2015, the Obama administration published a report arguing that lack of competition is damaging the U.S. economy. Other studies found that consolidation is not only driving up prices but also causing other problems, including reduced investment in innovation.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat said that “consolidation allowed corporations to increase profits while holding down wages, and to exercising outsize political influence.”
Democrats suggested the creation of a federal office, a “consumer competition advocate,” that would report problems to regulators.
Democrats also took on the pharmaceutical industry. They are proposing some measures to help reduce the cost of medications.
One proposal would give Medicare greater latitude to negotiate drug prices, an idea endorsed by Mr. Trump. The appeal is that Medicare’s drug plans cover more than 40 million people and it should obtain a decent group discount.
The upside of the change according to experts including the Congressional Budget Office and Medicare’s actuary is that government requires Medicare to cover every approved treatment for cancer and a range of other conditions. Since Medicare cannot say “No” to drug companies, it lacks the advantage to negotiate effectively.
Democrats also proposed the creation of a dedicated federal agency to stop and control the outrageous drug prices. Such a proposal will challenge the impression that the federal government has sought to encourage innovation by codifying the industry’s profitability, for example by maintaining stronger intellectual property protections than drug companies enjoy in the rest of the world.
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