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Democrats take aim at big business, drug prices, in economic campaign


U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during a rally in front of the Capitol March 22, 2017 in Washington, DC.

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U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during a rally in front of the Capitol March 22, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Democrats are rolling out a new economic platform in hopes of winning over President Donald Trump’s populist base with promises to take on big businesses, lower the cost of prescription drugs and create jobs.

The campaign — “A Better Deal” — is intended as a counterpunch to the president’s frequent criticism of the lackluster recovery and stagnant wages under President Barack Obama and Trump’s vow to restore the economy to 3 percent annual growth. Democrats are also searching for ways to reconnect with working-class voters whose deep frustration with their own economic prospects helped drive their support for Trump.

“Democrats know that America can have unprecedented economic growth that produces better jobs, better wages and a better future,” strategy documents released Monday said. “We believe the best way to grow the economy is to grow and strengthen the middle class, instead [of] going back to the failed trickle-down economies of the past.”

Among Democrats’ top agenda items is greater scrutiny of corporate mergers, including tougher standards that incorporate consumer privacy, product quality and the impact on wages and jobs. Democrats are also seeking more frequent post-merger reviews and greater enforcement authority.

Those responsibilities would be carried out by a new competition advocate that Democrats have nicknamed the “Trust Buster.” One of the deals that could be targeted is AT&T’s $85 billion bid for Time Warner, which is awaiting regulatory approval. Other sectors that could wind up in the crosshairs include the beer industry, airlines and eyeglasses.

“We will revisit our antitrust laws to ensure that the economic freedom of all Americans — consumers, workers and small businesses — come before big corporations that are getting even bigger,” the document read.

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