Jon Summers: Why Democrats' working families summit is a big deal

Talk to any Republican about 2016 and they’ll crow about how Hillary Clinton lost because Democrats ignored working families. While there’s plenty of room for criticism of that campaign, it’s rich to hear Republicans pretend to care about the middle class when nearly everything they have done over the last two-plus years in Washington has undermined working people across the country.

From raising health care costs to cutting taxes for the rich while sticking it to the middle class, Americans are struggling more under Republican leadership than reaping the rewards of an economy that has continued to steadily grow over the last 10 years.

Democrats have long been the party of working families, and that will once again be on display this weekend at a forum in Las Vegas hosted by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

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With six major presidential candidates participating, voters will hear the accomplishments and vision Democrats have to strengthen the middle class. The forum will also show that ridiculous GOP talking point for the falsehood it is – no matter how much they want to keep relitigating 2016.

While the media coverage about the Democratic primary has largely centered on impeachment and ideas demonstrating an ongoing shift to the left, most of the media have overlooked issues facing the middle class.

Nevada is the perfect place to hold an early forum of this type. In addition to being one of the four early primary/caucus states, it is a microcosm of America.

From casino workers on the Las Vegas Strip to the ranchers in rural counties, Nevada has voters representing every walk of life. But the one thing the vast majority have in common is that they are hard-working middle-class people striving to live the American Dream. About 14 percent of Nevada workers are also union members, an important constituency across the country, including the Rust Belt states Clinton lost in 2016.

While the media coverage about the Democratic primary has largely centered on impeachment and ideas demonstrating an ongoing shift to the left, most of the media have overlooked issues facing the middle class (ironic, no?), so I’m glad to see Democrats taking the bull by the horns. In my view, this will be the most important forum we’ve seen so far because of its focus on working people and creating an economy that works for us all.

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During the forum, I hope moderators ask candidates these three questions: How do you plan to cut taxes for working families while advocating for increased spending in areas like college tuition? What is your vision for strengthening our clean energy economy that creates jobs, produces affordable power, and makes the air we breathe cleaner? And how do we break down the barriers that make it harder for women and people of color to succeed in America?

I hope the forum sparks a national conversation about what we can do to level the playing field for all Americans. I’m impressed by the number of Democratic presidential candidates who are participating, and I hope even more will sign on. But this shouldn’t be a topic debated solely among Democrats. Republicans, including President Trump, must start explaining their vision for America’s working families and defend the actions they have taken that are hurting the majority of Americans.

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