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With Eyes on 2018, Dems Prep Sanders-Style Populist Economic Agenda

Infrastructure and trade are expected to be top components

Democrats' pursuit of a populist agenda reflects the lasting impact of Sanders' presidential campaign. (Photo: AP)

Democrats are working on a populist economic plan, à la Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), to be unveiled as soon as early summer, Politico reported Wednesday.

Top party members are crafting "a strong, sharp-edged, bold economic message," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have met twice, in addition to other staff meetings, to hammer down a "populist" economic agenda that is meant to "unite both wings of both caucuses," one aide told Politico.

Infrastructure and trade are expected to be top components.


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Democrats' pursuit of a populist agenda reflects the lasting impact of Sanders' presidential campaign, Politico's Heather Caygle and Elana Schor write. Many lawmakers saw the party's inability to put forward an enticing economic message as one of the fatal blows to Hillary Clinton's 2016 run. Schumer reportedly told newly-elected Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Tom Perez in March that if Sanders and Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison—also a populist icon—are happy, "then I'm happy."

"We're spending a lot of time on this," Schumer said Tuesday, adding that Democrats will make their new proposals a central part of the 2018 midterms. If all goes according to plan, next year's elections will mirror the 2006 midterms, when Democrats took back the House and Senate after criticizing then-President George W. Bush over issues like national security and healthcare.

In addition to honing their message, Democrats are hoping President Donald Trump keeps taking missteps on the economy, an issue that became central to both his and Sanders' campaigns. Trump has since gone back on many of his economic promises—among other things.

"On every issue the president talked about—on the wall, on tearing up the Iran deal, on immediate healthcare repeal—[Republicans] are coming face-to-face with reality in a very painful way," said Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes, current chairman of the New Democrat Coalition. "And we don't want to slow down that learning process."

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