Democrats bucked historic trends in last week’s midterm elections, thanks to excellent candidates, a record of legislative accomplishments, and an urgent mission to stand up for women’s rights. and against those who refuse to vote. The president made a strong case that democracy and our freedoms are on the ballot, and he deserves credit for better-than-expected results.
Now, Democrats have a chance to build an even bigger and more sustainable majority in the 2024 presidential election. We don’t have to settle for a country that remains bitterly divided between parties. Polls show voters trust Democrats more than Republicans to handle important issues like reproductive rights, climate change, and gun violence. If our party regains confidence in the economy, we will regain the states we carried in the 2008 and 2012 elections.
Driving a compelling economic message will be especially important ahead of the next election cycle. With inflation near a 40-year high, the central concern of many citizens – Democrats and Republicans – is rising consumer prices. There is also fear of an economic slowdown and layoffs, which tech companies in my district in California have already started. We must not only empathize with people’s concerns but also continue to create good paying jobs and address the most important pocketbook items for working Americans – energy costs, housing, and health care. child.
That starts by getting out of the Beltway to promote a “new economic patriotism” — making things American again to build prosperity and wealth. We need to make big investments to bring home manufacturing to the areas that are being harmed by globalization. The bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, which I helped draft to boost semiconductor manufacturing and investment in new technologies, is a start. The bill brought $20 billion to places like Ohio and created thousands of good jobs — more than anything Donald Trump did for the Midwest in his four years as president. Democrats should continue to push a bold production agenda to lower inflation, and restore industries like steel, aluminum, and auto parts. This is especially important considering 63 percent of Americans blame rising prices on inefficiencies in manufacturing and supply chains. One reason we have so much money chasing so few things is that we don’t make semiconductors, masks, latex gloves, or a lot of consumer electronics in America.
We also need swift action to address high gas prices. Pandemic-related supply chain disruptions and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war on Ukraine have left people struggling to afford gas as oil giants post record income. Democrats can make progress by championing a windfall profit tax on Big Oil’s excess profits to send the money back to working Americans.
Americans do not want to be bullied at home by Big Oil or abroad in Saudi Arabia. We must remain firm with Saudi Arabia for siding with Russia to cut oil production. People will rally to our side if they see us standing up to Saudi OPEC+ cuts, which hurt their pocketbooks. President Biden, from his new position of power, should give a speech in the Oval Office announcing that he will stop selling weapons to the US unless Saudi Arabia reverses course.
In the next two years, we must shift the focus from fossil fuels to investing in renewable energy to combat the volatile oil and electricity prices. Moves by Republican politicians like Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire to restrict or ban cleaner forms of energy have sent utility costs soaring. We need to talk about the climate investments we make as a pocketbook issue.
And we need to channel American anger at rising rents and home prices by tightening Wall Street. Private equity firms are buying hundreds of thousands of homes and turning them into rentals to make a profit. Democrats should promise to ban institutional investors from buying single-family homes and fund more housing construction to lower rents and prices — investments that Republicans block.
Providing childcare, which is an investment in the family, is another opportunity for our party to regain economic confidence. We can promise working families that if they vote Democratic, they’ll pay just $10 a day for child care instead of more than 20 percent of their wages – an initiative adopted by Canada that had a lot of success. If Republicans get in the way, they will be responsible for the high day care costs families face. This message should start now.
While Democrats have successfully painted Republicans as threats to democracy, we need to do more to explain why their policies threaten economic security. Republicans have no serious economic plan. Instead, they trot out their tired mantras of tax cuts and deregulation as the solution to everything. Britain’s former prime minister Liz Truss almost destroyed its economy with this plan. We cannot allow Republicans to get away with constantly running the American version of “Trussonomics.”
If Democrats commit to four key economic initiatives – revitalizing American manufacturing, standing up to Big Oil and foreign dictators to lower gas prices, making housing more affordable, and lowering costs of child care – we can reclaim the mantle of the party that provides economic prosperity. That’s how we build a lasting governing coalition and bring this country together.
Ro Khanna is a Democratic US representative from Silicon Valley.