Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Democratic colleagues took out their boxing gloves on Wednesday while unveiling a 2014 legislative agenda they believe will set the party up for success in the upcoming midterm elections.
Vowing to go on the offense against Republicans, the tactics Democrats are looking to employ in the coming months center around choice and action that will result in the goal of the campaign, “A Fair Shot for Everyone.”
The Senate Democratic agenda includes raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour; a push for equal pay for women; making college affordable; and jobs creation through investments in manufacturing and infrastructure. Democrats hope to achieve this while pushing back against what they describe as the “fear and misinformation” in Republican attacks against the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
“Our priorities reflect the priorities of the middle class,” Reid said during the press conference. “We believe in fairness and opportunity for all.”
Senate Democrats are expected to try to get a minimum wage bill out of chamber next month, but some moderates on the left are still on the fence about the hike, which means some Republican support will be needed to pass the legislation. The White House tried to bolster support for the legislation Wednesday, with the release of a report stating that a minimum wage hike reduces the gender pay gap. Women currently make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.
Still, getting the minimum wage bill and others to President Barack Obama’s desk isn’t an easy undertaking. House Republicans have shown no appetite for such legislation, as their Democratic counterparts have resorted to launching a discharge petition to get action on the bill. Competing against party loyalty, Democrats are trying to make these key midterm issues.
“Republicans are stuck in the past, fighting the same old battles they continually fight,” Reid said. “They are complaining about Obamacare.”
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer believes the issues on the Democratic agenda will dominate the 2014 political agenda and not Obamacare, which has more than 5 million enrollees. The White House will also extend the March 31 deadline for insurance through the marketplace.
“People are discontent because of the overall state of the middle class,” Schumer said. “The entire middle-class squeeze is coming from the fact that there aren’t enough good-paying jobs and that even when you have a job your income and buying power is going down.”
“We want to work with our colleagues,” he also said. “But we are also going to make crystal clear whose side each party is on. Democrats are fighting for a fair shot for everyone while Republicans are doing the bidding of the Koch Brothers, the wealthy and huge corporations. Those people already have a fair shot. Middle-class people need a fair shot. That’s the distinction we will draw in November.”