Congressional Democrats unveil new economic agenda

Democrats are taking their first whack at messaging before the 2018 midterms.

ByABC News
July 24, 2017, 7:02 PM

— -- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democratic congressional leaders launched a revamped messaging campaign today as part of the party’s appeals to voters before the 2018 midterm elections.

The campaign features a new package of economic priorities Democrats are calling "A Better Deal."

Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, progressive champion Sen. Elizabeth Warren and several other Democratic leaders held a rally in Berryville, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C., to roll out the platform.

"Today, Democrats start presenting that better deal to the American people," Schumer told the crowd, flanked by Pelosi, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner and other congressional Democrats from the House and Senate.

Monday’s event is their first stab since November at laying out what the party stands for, beginning with a multipronged legislative agenda: increasing the minimum wage, providing tax credits for worker training, going after prescription drug costs, and reviewing corporate mergers and monopolies.

Schumer also took the opportunity to slam Trump, whom he said has failed to live up to the promises he made to the working class during the campaign.

"President Trump campaigned on a populist platform, talking to working people. That's why he won," Schumer said, "But as soon as he got into office, he abandoned them, making alliances with the powerful, special interest, Koch brother-dominated hard-right wing of the Republican Party."

Democrats have struggled to rebrand themselves in the wake of their loss in 2016 as they prepare to try and take back the House and Senate in 2018. A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that just 37 percent of Americans think the Democratic Party stands for something, while 52 percent say it just stands against Trump.

Schumer also pointed to the failures of the Democratic Party's messaging strategy as a main contributor to their loss in 2016.

"The No. 1 thing we did wrong is not present a strong, bold economic agenda to working Americans so that their hope for the future might return again," Schumer said.

In an interview on "This Week" with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos Sunday, Schumer said the focus on these sorts of pocketbook issues resonates both with the so-called Obama coalition and with Democratic voters who abandoned their party to vote for Trump.

“We were too cautious. We were too namby-pamby. This is sharp, bold and will appeal to both the old Obama coalition ... and the Democratic voters who deserted us for Trump.”

The plan appears to have the blessing of progressives. Sen. Bernie Sanders will appear in a video message supporting the party's new campaign.

However, one of the key ideas supported by Sanders — a single-payer health care system — isn’t going to be a focus. Schumer said the single-payer proposals remained on the table and in discussion among his peers.

Schumer said for now he hopes to work with Republicans to stabilize individual insurance markets, but only after Republicans fully put aside their goal of repealing and replacing Obamacare.

Republicans immediately slammed the plan as “recycled Democratic talking points.”

“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,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney-McDaniel said in a statement.

ABC News' Matt Seyler contributed to this report.

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