Demos Statement in Response to New Democratic Agenda: “A Better Deal”

Release Date: 
July 24, 2017

NEW YORK, NY – In response to the “Better Deal” proposal that Congressional Democrats laid out today, Tamara Draut, Vice President of Policy and Research at Demos, released the following statement:

“The ‘Better Deal’ agenda makes it clear that the Democratic Party is committed to standing on the side of working- and middle-class people and standing up to Wall Street and other corporate interests who have rigged the system in their favor for far too long. Millions of working people are struggling to make ends meet while the rules of our economy, crafted by corporate lobbyists and the donor class, leave everyone but the 1 percent behind. 

“I’m pleased that the Democrats are finally uniting behind bold, progressive ideas to address the economic concerns of Americans. A recent Demos poll found that addressing pocketbook issues, protecting existing deals and fixing the inequality gap in our country rank among the top economic concerns of voters. And the poll found that people of all political backgrounds, ideologies and races are looking to the government to help solve those problems.

“Prioritizing these pocketbook issues shouldn’t force issues of racial inequality to the backburner. Democrats must be the party of inclusion, not one of division.

“Democrats now have an unprecedented opportunity to get out of the Beltway and talk directly to the American people about what and who they stand for. The release of ‘A Better Deal’ is a major step forward  and Demos is committed to working with leaders in Congress to enact policies that make people’s lives better.” 

In June, a Demos-sponsored poll of 1,500 registered voters identified the top economic priorities for voters as revitalizing infrastructure, raising the minimum wage and debt-free college. The survey found:

  • When asked to rank their top three priorities – economic issues are overwhelmingly at the top: 39 percent of voters said revitalizing infrastructure was a top issue, 31 percent said raising the minimum wage and 27 percent said debt-free college. 
  • 52 percent of Americans are more likely to want government to do more to solve problems and help meet the needs to people. 51 percent of white working class voters who switched from Obama to Trump agreed with this statement, as did 80 percent of progressives.
  • 79 percent of voters think that we need to protect the deals we have already made – including protecting Social Security and Medicare from cuts—while making new deals to support equal pay and workers’ rights, and investments in infrastructure and higher education.
  • 55 percent of voters think average Americans are getting squeezed out and left behind, while the rich are getting richer, and that both parties care more about power than helping working Americans (49 percent).
  • 72 percent of progressives and 75 percent of working-class African Americans believe our country cannot succeed unless we are all given a chance to succeed, and that means we need to address the issues which have held some of us back because of race. Additionally, 44 percent of working-class Obama-to-Trump voters also supported this statement.

Demos has long been a leader in providing fresh research and new policy ideas to address the economic challenges facing the working and middle class in this country, including groundbreaking research on credit card debt, college affordability and the growing economic insecurity of a new generation, especially those without college degrees. The research team led by Tamara Draut, Vice President of Policy and Research at Demos and author of the books, Sleeping Giant: How the New Working Class Will Transform America and Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead, continues to be a leader in advancing policy solutions to address the student debt crisis. After years of studying the trends in funding for higher education at the state level and the rising debt burdens among college-going people, Demos released a policy blueprint for debt-free college in 2014, titled The Affordable College Compact.

In fact, in 2016, Tamara wrote about the need for a “Better Deal” in Sleeping Giant. In the book, Draut writes: “An economy based on disrespect that ignores the needs of workers and their families is not sustainable. We need to address the root cause of these destructive policies to create prosperity that is widely held. We need a new, Better Deal, for the working class. We need to invest in people and rebuild our infrastructure. We need to provide high-quality child care for every infant and toddler. We need to transform our current bargain-basement economy into one where all jobs pay a decent wage, labor laws are actually enforced and workers are paid exactly what they are owed. This is the Better Deal we all need. The alternative – to sit back and watch as the needs of most Americans go unaddressed – simply cannot be an option.” 

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