Sunday, April 7, 2019

Please, Dems: Focus on matters that matter

            Behold the one-way window over there. An unseen audience is on the other side.

            Donald Trump preens before it, seeing only his likeness.

            He doesn't realize that on the other side beyond his gaze, viewing him and his party with disgust and alarm, are millions of young voters and independents.

            The one-way window is Youtube, or Reddit, shared video and posts on Facebook and Twitter.

            Young voters don't see everything that affects their lives, but through shared posts they have a front-row seat to the utterly ridiculous.

            They see Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee on the Senate floor saying that to remedy the world's ills, people just need to have babies.

            They see our president enunciate a link between windmills and cancer.

            Anything goes -- any lie will sell -- at a sub-coherent MAGA rally fueled by fear, myth and racial enmity. But those aren't the voters Republicans need in 2020.

            For one, young voters and independents are watching to see if this president has anything to offer – anything at all – for them.

            Tax cuts? Ah, the crumbs emanating from a windfall for stockholders and the hyper-wealthy: Even if benefits did trickle downward, they cost trillions of dollars in new and scary debt that young people will have to pay off.

            One strains to think of anything else Trump has done that deals with the most pressing problems faced by average Americans, particularly younger ones.

            This presents a staggering opportunity for Democrats -- to talk about what they can do. Here are the issues they should be addressing while Trump tilts at turbines.

            College debt -- Make babies, Sen. Lee? Do you realize the financial realities faced by so many? College debt -- $1.5 trillion, exceeding the nation's credit card debt – has tied the pill as America's predominant form of birth control. Or at least the two are working in tandem.

            Sure, most young Americans desire parenthood, but who can afford it with the crushing weight of college loans following them to bed each night?

            Democrats must address this matter hard and heavy. College debt is a far greater crisis than anything Trump can conjure.

            Affordable housing – Along with college debt, this problem sees a vast swath of young Americans trapped by circumstances.

            Ask a 20-something about the prospect of house ownership. He will say he imagines the colonization of Mars before he can afford a home. An affordable apartment is just as fanciful for most.

            Don't look now, but our president assigned noted brain surgeon Ben Carson to lobotomize HUD and bleed federal housing assistance. After all, we need that money for a big, beautiful wall.

            Fortunately, at least some Democrats are talking this up. They need to make it a centerpiece of their agenda. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has called for $450 billion to be invested over 10 years to create and preserve affordable housing, including 3 million new apartments.

            So, we can afford to build whole cities overseas – military bases – yet we can't afford to help address the nation's critical housing needs? Of course we can.

            Health care costs – One area in which the ACA has proved insufficient is in lowering health-care costs. Hence, a troubling report finds that Americans borrowed $88 billion to pay for health care last year.

            Republicans have shown no interest in truly addressing costs, whether for prescription drugs, hospitalization or premiums. Trump's self-proclaimed bold brew about curbing drug costs is really weak tea.

            One of the first things Democrats did after taking over the House was fire off letters to major drug companies in an inquiry over the rapid rise of drug costs.

            For the time being, until the nation can find better alternatives, the best way to curb drug costs is to ensure the viability and survivability of the ACA.

            Democrats are the nation's hope that matters that matter, like these, will not be swept aside by Trump and the party of sub-coherence.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

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