If the Democrats were to present their own ``Contract With America,'' tax relief for ``hard-pressed, middle-income families'' - those earning less than $75,000 - would top the agenda, says House minority leader Richard Gephardt (D) of Missouri.
``For the last 20 years, these are the people who have been moving backwards in terms of income, while their taxes, especially at the state and local level, have been going up,'' Mr. Gephardt told a Monitor breakfast yesterday. Also high on the Democrats' agenda:
Increased minimum wage.
Though most working Americans earn more than the minimum of $4.25, an increase would send a signal as a society ``that we want corporate strategy to be not downsizing compensation and jobs but to be figuring out a long-term vision so that labor in its largest sense is as important as capital.''
Training and education.
Gephardt calls these the underpinnings of the ``core challenge'' facing government, to halt the stagnation of living standards.
Health care reform.
This year, the focus is incremental change. ``Tiny steps for tiny tots,'' says Gephardt. ``Do something and make it work.''