Last week, our nation marked six months since President Trump’s inauguration. For the first time in a decade, the GOP had the White House, Congress and complete control of the legislative process to advance its agenda. But instead of creating good-paying jobs, or rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, or advancing tax reform, Republicans have spent six months trying to raise Americans’ health costs to fund tax breaks for billionaires. Democrats have a better approach – in fact, a better deal. On Monday, House and Senate Democrats are traveling to the town of Berryville, Va., to announce a fresh vision for “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future.” What motivates us is that the costs of living keep rising, but families feel their incomes and wages aren’t keeping up. Special interests are given special treatment, while hard-working Americans are ignored. Working people from the heartland to the cities are struggling in a rigged economy and a system stacked against them. Our agenda is focused on efforts to create jobs and raise incomes for American workers, to lower the cost of living for American families, and to build an economy that gives every American the tools to succeed in the 21st century. It is an ambitious economic agenda that represents a renewed Democratic commitment to the hard-working men and women across the United States who have been left out and left behind for too long. As part of that commitment, Democrats are announcing three new proposals rooted in a bold approach to the challenges facing the United States. First, Democrats are pledging ourselves to the goal of creating good-paying, full-time jobs for 10 million more Americans in the next five years. It is time to ignite a new era of investment in America’s workers, empowering all Americans with the skills they need to compete in the modern economy. We are calling for a new tax credit for employers to train and hire workers at a good wage, and a massive new national commitment to expanding apprenticeships and paid on-the-job training that advances their skills and careers. While we grow jobs, wages and the economy, Democrats know that a better deal for the American people demands strong action to tackle rising costs that are eating up families’ budgets. Prescription drug prices are jacked up, and Americans have fewer options at increased costs. Large communications companies merge, and families see fewer options and higher bills. Agriculture giants consolidate, while farmers struggle and prices in Americans’ shopping carts rise. The price of gas goes down, but plane tickets become more expensive and airlines keep adding fees. With this agenda, Democrats pledge ourselves to breaking the grip of the special interests and confronting the rising everyday costs that families have endured for too long. That is the impetus behind our second proposal, to put economic power back into the hands of the American people, cracking down on the monopolies and big corporate mergers that harm consumers, workers and competition. We will demand that proposed mergers meet tough new standards to protect competition before approval, and will institute post-merger reviews to ensure that consolidated companies keep their promises to American consumers. Third, Democrats will take unprecedented aggressive action to lower the cost of prescription drugs – the single largest factor driving increasing health costs in the United States today. We will leverage the power of Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, force drug manufacturers to open their books and justify cost increases, and create a strong, independent enforcement agency empowered to end outrageous and unjustified prescription drug price-gouging. The past six months have exposed the toxic special-interest priorities at the core of the Republican agenda. The American people deserve better. With a Democratic Congress, a better deal is exactly what Democrats will give them. Published in Daily Times, July 31st 2017.