Schumer embraces progressive economics, as Democrats lay out new agenda

BERRYVILLE, Va. — Congressional Democrats Monday began outlining a new agenda for the Trump era, and it showed the nation’s most powerful Democrat — Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer — embracing progressive economics first and foremost over the middle-of-the-road appeals he once favored.

A decade after writing a book in which Schumer suggested that Democrats reduce illegal immigration and abortion by 50 percent, such social issues were missing entirely from the plan Schumer and other top Democrats unveiled at a sun-splashed event in this Shenandoah Valley town of about 3,000.

Instead, Schumer joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and several other top Democrats to release the early planks of a progressive economic plan called “A Better Deal.”

The new Democratic agenda called for a $15 minimum wage, a crackdown on the high cost of prescription drugs, a new effort to prevent corporations from becoming too big and powerful, and new government jobs and infrastructure programs.

Asked about the plan’s lack of moderate provisions on social issues such as the ones in his book, Schumer indicated that the new Democratic document is a sign of the times.

“We have focused on economic issues,” he said. “We think that is what the American people are most yearning about. That doesn’t mean we won’t in future months discuss other issues, but the focus starts on economic issues. That’s where the American people are hurting.”

Pelosi said that Democrats are giving the people what they want: a focus on economics. “This has been a product of listening and listening and listening to the American people,” she said.

Schumer, who has traveled to every one of New York’s counties for years, has long done plenty of listening. Schumer’s 2007 book “Positively American” was based on ideas he thought would appeal to Joe and Eileen Bailey, an imaginary middle-class couple from Nassau County.

The Baileys felt squeezed…

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