This felt like policy week in the Democratic presidential primary.
No fewer than four of the Democrats running for president announced significant policy proposals this week.
Perhaps it was intentional that so many significant policy papers were published in the wake of the announcement that the special counsel’s report on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election was finished. Perhaps it was a coincidence.
Regardless, it was a week that provided a tall glass of water to Iowa Democratic voters thirsty for policies upon which to differentiate the field of 15 candidates.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, announced her plan to create what she said would be a more competitive playing field for farmers by breaking up large agricultural business mergers such as Dow-Dupont and Bayer-Monsanto. (On its March 29 Opinion page, The Journal published a guest column written by Warren, headlined "Family farmers deserve level economic playing field".)
John Delaney, the businessman and former congressman from Maryland, announced his "Heartland Fair Deal," a set of policies designed specifically to target economic growth, health care and other issues in agricultural and rural communities.
Warren’s and Delaney’s plans were announced just ahead of today's Heartland Forum in Storm Lake, where several candidates will field questions about agricultural and rural issues. That, it can be said with confidence, was not a coincidence.
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, of California, unveiled her plan to boost teacher pay by an average of 23 percent, or $13,500 annually.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota, published a plan to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure, which she said would be her top budget priority.
The marathon race to the 2020 Iowa caucuses is heading into its fourth month, and for the most part candidate introductions are a thing of the past. These policy proposals could help Iowa Democrats who are wrestling with ways to whittle the field to a short list of candidates they'd consider supporting.
In her proposal, Warren said she would appoint to the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission so-called trust-busters who would review and reverse mergers of large agribusiness corporations and break up other large agribusinesses that control significant portions of the market, among other provisions.
"I will tackle consolidation in the agriculture and farming sector head on and break the stranglehold a handful of companies have over the market," Warren said in a statement.
Delaney’s "Heartland Fair Deal" calls for student loan forgiveness for rural Americans, doubling the Earned Income Tax Credit, redesigning anti-trust regulations, and re-entering the Trans-Pacific Partnership international trade deal, among other provisions.
"My plan is designed to allow people to move back to rural America, to start a business in a small town, to end the trade war and give farmers new markets, to boost rural health, and to get more government contracts into rural America," Delaney said in a statement.
Harris’ plan would send federal funding and incentives to state governments in order to boost teacher pay. Harris’ campaign said the goal is to close the gap between pay for teachers and other similarly educated professionals.
"At the most fundamental level, our children are being raised by two groups of people: families and teachers. Yet, we fail to pay teachers their value," Harris wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post.
Klobuchar’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan would focus on funding bridge and road repairs, flood protection, airport modernization, school infrastructure, clean water initiatives and broadband internet expansion, among other elements.
"America needs someone who will deliver on their promises and get things done for this country. This plan is about bringing our country together. Building bridges is not just a metaphor – this is what I’ve done and what I will continue to do as president," Klobuchar said in a statement.
Other candidates have introduced policy proposals as well. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, of New Jersey, has proposed so-called baby bonds: $1,000 savings bonds at birth for every child. Once that child turns 18, he or she can use the money toward an education, buying a home or starting a business.
Andrew Yang, the California businessman, has pitched a proposal for a universal basic income, a $1,000 monthly stipend for every American.
To date, candidates have been introducing themselves and outlining their ideas in broad strokes. This week, we saw a surge of bigger, more-detailed ideas for Iowa Democrats to consider.
Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and government for Lee Enterprises. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ErinDMurphy.