Vox: Democrats say they need a better economic message. Ohio’s Sherrod Brown thinks he has one.
Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio is offering one corrective vision for what Democrats hoping to retake the Midwest should do. Brown, 64, is already being written about as a 2020 presidential contender. He’s widely regarded as one of the caucus’s most left-wing members, but also speaks with the credibility of having won multiple statewide elections in purple territory by big margins.
And earlier this congressional session, Brown released a detailed, 77-page plan detailing a suite of economic policy proposals that suggest what his “economic populism” would look like for Democrats. His ideas include greater bargaining rights for union workers, a $15 minimum wage, a crackdown on employers who treat full-time workers as independent contractors, and a “Benefits Bank” for workers whose employers don’t save for retirement.
None of these have any chance of being implemented with a Republican-controlled congress and White House. But in an interview on Tuesday, the Ohio senator detailed one of his most ambitious proposals — a “Corporate Freeloader Fee” that would penalize large corporations that pay their workers less than $24,000, while also giving tax breaks to those businesses that pay above a living wage and offer retirement and medical coverage.
“Corporations that pay good wages, take care of health benefits for their employees, those whose employees don’t have to rely on the social safety net — they should get a lower tax rate than those companies who are paying very low wages,” Brown said in an interview.