The Democratic Party is starting to wake up. Donald Trump was elected President because he was able to appeal to blue-collar workers who feel left behind in today’s high tech global economy.
Yesterday the Democratic Congressional leadership held a rally in rural Berryville, Virginia to lay out an economic program to try to appeal to these very same Trump voters.
Such a program, would, for example:
- Increase people’s pay by lifting the national minimum wage to $15 per hour and also creating jobs with a $1 trillion infrastructure plan.
- Reduce their everyday expenses by providing paid family and sick leave as well as breaking up large monopolies which can raise prices without restraint. Also empowering Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for older Americans.
- Provide workers with the tools they need for the 21st century economy by giving employers, especially small businesses, a large tax credit to train workers for unfilled jobs.
Unfortunately, there are problems with most of these ideas. In Seattle even a $13 per hour minimum wage has significantly reduced minimum wage work. The national minimum wage should be raised but to a more modest level.
There is no demonstrated need for a large-scale publicly funded infrastructure program and it would add hugely to the national debt.
A jobs program to maintain the employment rate for prime-age workers without a bachelor’s degree at the 2000 level of 79% and at a living wage of $15 per hour plus benefits would cost $158 billion per year.
Conclusion. Yes, blue-collar workers are hurting. Yes, some of the ideas suggested above would help them get ahead. But many would also increase already large deficit spending and therefore add dramatically to the national debt. What is needed is a combination of free market initiatives and carefully targeted government programs. Stay tuned!