The Democrats’ Agenda, and the Art of the Possible

Family leave is another Democratic priority, favored in sketchy form by Ivanka Trump. The Democrats’ plan, championed by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, is a comprehensive one that covers people caring for aging parents as well as new mothers and fathers. It’s not clear that Ms. Trump has any real plan for pushing family leave, but if the goal is to accomplish this, rather than campaign on the issue, Democrats should test her resolve.

Democrats want to help 10 million Americans find work by expanding paid apprenticeship and work-based job-training programs. They share this goal with President Trump, who in a June executive order directed the secretary of labor to find and promote apprenticeship opportunities. The government has dozens of such programs, and both parties could work to re-energize the best without any more spending. Democrats want to give Medicare Part D the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for its 41 million enrollees; our deal maker in chief once thought that was a good idea, so he might want to pick up the phone.

The Democratic agenda’s political purpose is clear enough. Party leaders realize, as Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, wrote on Monday, that they’ve lost the last two elections in part because they “failed to articulate a strong, bold economic program for the middle class and those working hard to get there.”

But articulating a program is one thing; persuading the party in power to work with them is quite another.

It cannot be stated often enough that Republicans have spent over eight years doing little more than obstructing Democratic initiatives. That tactic seemed to work for them politically. But elected representatives are ultimately judged on what they deliver. If Democrats believe their ideas will provide middle-class people with better jobs, wages and futures, they should do everything possible to move them through Congress,…

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