Our Big, Bold Plan — and Why Opportunity Can Win
“How do we beat Donald Trump?”
That’s the question on the mind of every Democrat going into 2020. The scale of the threat posed by a Trump second term is unfathomable — from the Supreme Court and women’s rights to the economy, the environment, and our country’s national security. And Democrats need a bold, future-oriented narrative and agenda to meet that challenge. Recycled ideas from the past, either from the left or the center, just aren’t going to cut it.
In July, Third Way met with Democrats from 32 states in Columbus, OH, to offer a bold new alternative to Trumpism: providing every American everywhere the opportunity to earn a good life. And we released an agenda of big ideas to scale with the severity of the opportunity crisis too many Americans currently face because of who they are or where they live. One reporter in attendance described the event this way, “Leading moderate Democrats forcefully argued this week that the party can embrace a robust agenda of change … in what was an opening salvo of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.”
Now, some on the far left are arguing that our agenda is “small-bore.” You can disagree with the path that we’ve laid out or debate our policy solutions, but it’s disingenuous to call these ideas small:
- A universal, employer-funded private pension that would take the share of workers saving for retirement from 50% to 100% and double the income retirees get when combined with their Social Security;
- An apprenticeship program the size and scale of public universities that takes the number of people training directly for good jobs in this country from a paltry 64,000 to 1 million per year.
- A working wage break that completely eliminates federal taxes on the first $15,000 of income to boost take home pay for working and middle-class families.
- A massive, $200 billion Innovation Trust Fund that creates a 10-year surge of public and private R&D so that 21st-century products are invented and manufactured in America.
- A new American Investment Bank to quadruple government-back loans to small businesses and ensure that entrepreneurs in every state have access to private sector equity investment (right now, 3/4ths of venture capital goes to just 3 states).
- A complete reinvention of Unemployment Insurance into Reemployment that maintains the same income support but expands the program to cover all workers and creates training grants and job search stipends to help folks springboard back to work.
And it turns out that voters agree these ideas and others in the opportunity agenda are both new and responsive to the real economic challenges they face. Across the board, between 6 in 10 and 8 in 10 voters said each of the ideas we put on the table would improve their own communities — and that they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports them. Those numbers were consistent across every major demographic group in the Democratic coalition. And when you test this kind of opportunity agenda against what Trump and Sanders are offering, opportunity trounces both by more than 20 points.
It’s clear to us that a bold, modern opportunity narrative and policies to match can unite Democratic voters left and center. We’d love to debate the details, and we look forward to a robust conversation about where the Democratic Party should go in 2020 and beyond. But let’s have that discussion with the seriousness it deserves — not rely on old tropes or 1990s-era stereotypes. Because there’s at least one thing on which we can all agree — we must beat Trump in 2020.
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