Democrats Tout ‘Better Deal’ on Employment Issues

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By Tyrone Richardson

Congressional Democrats July 25 unveiled an agenda that includes a series of new legislation as part of its national “better deal” campaign centered around employment issues.

Several House Democrats during a news conference introduced what they dubbed a “clear” and “action oriented” economic agenda of investments and tax incentives, with the slogan “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future.”

“This is really a reflection of the American public and for us to acknowledge that the economy is not working for a lot people out there,” said Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. “We know that we have to offer a better deal and that’s what this is all about.”

The news conference consisted of Democrats detailing an agenda focused on trade policy, paid family leave, apprenticeships, and other tools to help workers gain employment and higher-paying jobs. The new effort follows a November election in which President Donald Trump won some traditionally Democratic-leaning states.

Republican lawmakers and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, meanwhile, also are touting ways to boost employment, including by cutting regulations and offering more apprenticeships.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a July 24 statement that the Democrats’ agenda consists of “recycled” talking points.

“Today’s recycled Democrat talking points do nothing to change the fact that the far-left has taken hold of the Party and continues to push a message of more resistance and obstruction,” she said in a statement. “Until Democrats make a real effort to work with Republicans and President Trump on the priorities voters supported last November, they are going to continue to be lost in the electoral wilderness.”

Where Are Labor Unions Included?

Some labor unions such as the 700,000-member American Federation of Government Employees lauded the Democratic Party’s new job-centric slogan, but details weren’t immediately provided on how organized labor would be incorporated in the agenda.

Labor unions and Democrats have largely been in lockstep on employment issues such as raising minimum wages, broadening employee protections, and re-evaluating trade policies.

Rep. Donald Norcross (D-N.J.), a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee and a former president of the Southern New Jersey AFL-CIO, told Bloomberg BNA July 25 that the slogan involves labor unions that “have always been involved.”

“National security and jobs are the most important things in our lives and if you can’t provide for your family, then it’s hard to follow someone,” he said. “I’m glad to see they’re focused on what we have been focused on.”

Officials with the AFL-CIO, which represents 55 labor unions, didn’t respond to Bloomberg BNA’s request for comment July 25.

Policies to Coincide With New Slogan

Democrats July 25 promised that the new slogan comes with policies. That included aiming at infrastructure programs to reach a plan to create 10 million new jobs within five years. Other areas of the party’s focus include pushing against big corporate mergers and lowering prescription drug prices.

Part of the jobs growth is expected to come from introducing legislation intended to expand apprenticeships and offer tax incentives to hire and train new workers. The agenda also includes the formation of partnerships between businesses and high schools and colleges.

“In the weeks ahead, we’re going to propose and introduce more specific legislative proposals to support this agenda,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. “But this is really about responding to the urgent economic anxiety of the American people.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Tyrone Richardson in Washington at trichardson@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bna.com

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