Democrats take aim at big companies in 'Better Deal' economic blueprint

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Democrats are unveiling an economic platform on Monday that they call "A Better Deal" for working Americans by announcing plans to address unfair market competition, rising pharmaceutical costs and stagnant wages.

Democrats will propose standards that companies must meet to complete large mergers and enhanced post-merger reviews, singling out the airline, telecommunications, beer, food and eyeglass industries as areas of concern, according to policy proposals provided to reporters.

The platform is a move by Democrats to regroup ahead of the 2018 midterm congressional elections after Hillary Clinton's loss to Republican President Donald Trump in 2016. Republicans control both the House and the Senate.

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"The number one thing that we did wrong is we didn't tell people what we stood for," Senator Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the U.S. Senate, told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.

Schumer and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi will roll out the plan in the town of Berryville, Virginia at the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley.

Accompanying them will be Senators Elizabeth Warren, Chris Van Hollen, Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner along with Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and David Cicilline, among others.

Democrats want to create an independent government agency that would crack down on pharmaceutical companies that raise prices excessively. They also want to allow Medicare, the government health insurance program for the elderly, to negotiate prices with manufacturers.

Additionally, drug companies would need to justify big price hikes to the government.

The policy proposals singled out a few companies by name, including Turing Pharmaceuticals and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc <VRX.N><VRX.TO>.

One document criticized United Continental Holdings Inc <UAL.N> for the "brutal assault" of a United passenger who would not give up his seat for a crew member.

If AT&T Inc's <T.N> purchase of Time Warner Inc <TWX.N> succeeds it will allow the "resulting behemoths" to "unfairly discriminate" against smaller distributors, one document stated.

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When Anheuser Busch InBev <ABI.BR>, the world's largest beer maker, purchased SABMiller, the second-largest beer company, it put smaller brewers at a disadvantage, the policy documents said.

Mergers between Dow Chemical Co <DOW.N> and DuPont <DD.N>, Monsanto Co <MON.N> with Bayer AG <BAYGn.DE> and Syngenta AG <SYNN.S> with ChemChina "threaten the safety of food and agriculture in America," one document said.

Democrats will also propose doubling federal support for apprenticeship programs, a tax credit for employers that hire and train workers that make a liveable wage and encouraging partnerships between companies and public high schools and community colleges.