Democrats are doing more on the campaign trail than just bashing President Donald Trump.

While national pundits fret over how engaging Trump on racism could mean the party doesn’t talk enough about bread-and-butter issues with voters, Democratic presidential candidates seem to have no problem doing both here.

From a proposal to appoint a director of manufacturing to a plan to guarantee two weeks paid vacation to a plan to out-compete China by improving STEM funding, 2020 contenders have pitched plans to get people working again this past week in Iowa. Here’s just a few examples.

“I will, within the first few days I’m in office, appoint a chief manufacturing officer that will report directly to me, and we will put together an economic policy,” said Rep. Tim Ryan at the Progress Iowa Corn Feed in Cedar Rapids. “We will begin to manufacture things again here in the United States of America.”

Ryan said he wants the U.S. to dominate the electric vehicle market, the battery market and the charging station market.

“You know who dominates that market now?” Ryan asked. “China. They control 40 to 50 percent of the electric vehicle market.”

Ryan said his chief manufacturing officer will help America dominate the solar panel market so “we’re actually putting people back to work in the United States of America, to make things and to actually make a good wage.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said her plans to out-compete China start in grade school.

“I’ve worked on STEM for grade schools,” Gillibrand said at an event in Maquoketa. “I’ve put a lot of legislation in place to give grants to schools that will engage particularly young kids, but also young girls and children of color who are often disproportionately steered away from STEM.”

“That works when you give public schools money to teach a third grader how to build a rocket, teach a fifth grader how to build a robot,” Gillibrand said. “Hands-on learning, particularly in STEM, is what allows kids to get interested in it, and not just the kids who can do math from day one.” 

She also has a plan to provide students with debt-free college options to anyone who’s willing to tackle a few years of national public service projects to further their STEM education.

“China is tough because they will try to out-compete us, and that’s why I want to have the green energy race with China,” Gillibrand said. “I really want to engage them, engage the country in competition to spur innovation and to just spur nationalism in a positive way.” 

John Delaney said in Cedar Rapids his father’s union — his dad was an electrician — helped pay for his college.

“The declines of unions have led to the decline of quality of jobs in this country, and I think we’ve got to stand up against these right-to-work laws,” he later told reporters. “We’ve got to make sure the workers have the right to unionize like my dad did.” 

Meanwhile, Bill de Blasio spent his trip to Iowa on Saturday talking about his plan to offer every working person two weeks of paid vacation time.

“We are in a wonderful country, but we are the only industrialized country in the world that does not give working people any guarantee of time-off or vacation time, no matter how hard they work. There’s no law guaranteeing that in America,” de Blasio said in Ankeny. “In New York this year, we’re passing a law: two weeks paid vacation for every working person. Guaranteed. So people can actually have a life.”

He said he’d like to take that plan nationwide.

Of course, few of these economic policy proposals make it into the 24-hour cable news cycle, one dominated by Trump’s latest statements and the reaction to them. But it’s helpful to remember that this actually is what Democratic candidates are talking on the ground with voters, whether it makes national news or not.

 

by Paige Godden
Photo by Julie Fleming
Posted 7/18/19

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