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Democrats' 'Better Deal' Aims To Reclaim A Populist Image

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif, speaks in Berryville, Va., Monday, to unveil the Democrats' new agenda. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y. is by her side.

Six months after Republicans gained control of the White House and both houses of Congress, Democrats have outlined a plan to improve their chances of methodically taking it all back.

They are leaning heavily on a re-branding of their greatest hits — more and better-paying jobs, lowering health care costs and cracking down on the what are seen as the abuses of big business.

As an agenda and a slogan, "A Better Deal," hearkens back to the days of President Franklin Roosevelt. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer went 50 miles outside the Beltway, to Berryville, Va., to unveil it, hoping the ideas will resonate with suburban voters, many of whom were energized by Trump's campaign-trail populism.

"When you lose an election with someone who has, say, 40 percent popularity, you look in the mirror and say what did we do wrong?" Schumer said, speaking on ABC's This Week Sunday. "And the No. 1 thing that we did wrong is ... we didn't tell people what we stood for."

Responding to the plan on Monday, President Trump tweeted that in releasing the plan, Democrats were admitting that it was their own fault they lost the election, and not Russian meddling.

Democrats say they want to double federal support for apprenticeship programs to help train young people and put out-of-work adults back in the work force. They also want tax incentives for companies to retrain workers, as well as new standards aimed at limiting corporate mergers that throw people out of work. In addition, the plan calls for lowering the cost of prescription drugs.

"We will aggressively crack down on unfair foreign trade and fight back against corporations that outsource American jobs," the Democratic leadership said in a statement. "We will fight to ensure a living wage for all Americans and keep our promise to millions of workers who earned a pension, Social Security and Medicare, so seniors can retire with dignity."

Berryville, with a population less than 5,000, is situated in one district that Democrats desperately would like to flip in 2018. It is currently represented by Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock and it stretches from just outside Washington to more rural parts of the state.

Writing in The Washington Post on Sunday, Pelosi said that since taking the reins in January, Republicans have squandered opportunities to help average Americans. "[Instead] of creating good-paying jobs, or rebuilding America's crumbling infrastructure, or advancing tax reform," she said, "Republicans have spent six months trying to raise Americans' health costs to fund tax breaks for billionaires."

Democrats need to wrest 24 Republican-held seats in the House to gain control of that chamber. In the Senate, however, they are playing defense, fighting to retain Democratic-held seats in states won by Trump.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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