The Burden of Power

Hopefully, the latest generic ballot polls, which both show Democrats with huge, double-digit leads, will cause some of the people who were pushing the panic button over the Gallup and Hotline polls to relax a little. People really shouldn't have been panicking anyway, since during this entire election cycle, Gallup and Hotline have been consistently more favorable to Republicans than any other polling outfits. Then again, I recently wrote that we should expect Republicans to close the gap, and I also cautioned people against putting too much stock in national generic ballot tests anyway.

Even with all of that aside, more and more people are starting to forecast Democrats to take over at least one branch of Congress. Yesterday, Thomas Mann forecasted Democrats to win 25-35 seats in the House, and also gave Dems a 50% chance to take control of the Senate. Even Stuart Rothenberg now forecasts Dems to win the House, albeit narrowly. When my House forecast comes out on Monday, I will forecast Democrats to pick up 15-25 seats in the House, enough for a slim majority.

Even though I am probably tempting fate by asking this, with chances that Democrats will actually win control of at least one branch of congress now very real, what should we do once we are actually governing? This is something I have spent virtually no time thinking about, but it is at least worth considering. My first reaction would be to pass a series of bills that Bush could not possibly veto, such as a real minimum wage hike and earmark reform. Then, I think we should move into passing popular legislation that Bush will probably veto, such as rolling back the tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans, fixing the hideous Medicare bills, and global warming initiatives. From that point on, it is time to investigate, investigate, investigate, especially when it comes to all things Iraq. Don't impeach or censure right away, but keep saying that all options are on the table (thus drawing more attention to the investigations without it seeming like revenge for Clinton). Also, we need to make John McCain vote against a lot of things that are popular and progressive too.

Still, I think my governing outline is pretty thin. I know that MyDD is mainly a "hack" site for those interested in building improved progressive political infrastructure and campaigns, but in this post I am calling for the wonks to comment as well. If Democrats do take control of one or more branches of Congress, what should be our legislative plan for 2007? It may seem like we are tempting fate when we are asking this question, but if we in the netroots don't have a plan in the can before the elections even occur, we will have a difficult time agitating our newly powerful caucus into appropriate action.

So, let 'er rip. What should Democrats do if we take control of one or more branches of Congress this year?

Tags: Democrats, governing, House 2006, Senate 2006 (all tags)

Comments

83 Comments

Say it with me...

Universal Health Care and Minimum Wage Increase

by teknofyl 2006-08-26 12:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Say it with me...

Start with some basic things that have a lot of GOP support:

Minimum Wage bill should be first.  

Energy conservation including substantially improved fuel efficiency by 2010 and 2014; kill they hydrogen car and go with the electric and hydraulic hybrids, especially the latter for trucks; incentives for carbon sequestration on new power plants.

Changes to medicare Part D, including negotiation for lower prices.

Commission to look at expanding health care and ending employer-based health care.

Then as part of the budget bill, kill the Bush tax rate cuts as of 2008; freeze the estate tax at the 2007 level.  Don;t extend the other tax cuts past 2008.

And the Iraq Inquiry Commission.

by Mimikatz 2006-08-26 02:09PM | 0 recs
Good Start

Pay as you go.

Bill mandating that all US Flags be made of flame retardant materials.  <snark>  This removes this stupid issue and at the same time eliminates printing budgets with the flag, etc.

by NCJim 2006-08-26 03:52PM | 0 recs
No health care commission

I don't like the idea of some kind of health care commission.  Too Hillaryesque for comfort.

I've always thought that a simple concept would be the best for universal health care -- incrementally build on the incredibly efficient health care programs the government already runs:

1.  make ALL children eligible for Medicaid (could be done incrementally if necessary, i.e. 0-5 year 1, add 5-10 year 2 etc.)

2.  incrementally raise the age at which one ages out of Medicaid

3.  incrementally lower the age of Medicare eligibility

Pay for all this by

1.  Eliminating the cap on Medicare taxation.  (Medicare and SS are the most regressive of regressive taxes!)  

2.  Slightly increasing taxes on businesses, but not as much as they would have paid for their employees' health insurance.  (Make it cheaper for them to pay the tax than the health insurance premiums.)  

-- but all this said, this would have to wait until 2008, probably.  

For now, of course a minimum wage increase.  I think that congressional salary increases should be tied to minimum wage increases -- it's a great soundbite -- "No raise for us wiothout a raise for you" or something along those lines.

by Ms Bluezone 2006-08-27 02:23AM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

If entrusted with one or more houses of Congress, Democrats should simply enact the 2004 Democratic Party platform and put Bush and the GOP in the position of going along or blocking it. If they go along, then it will be good for the people. If they block it, then it will be good for campaign 2008. And if Democrats do that,  Republicans should not be allowed any part in the legislation writing process since all they would allow are bills of THEIR liking anyway.

Ok. Now it's time to take off the rose colored glasses.......

Given that 15-20 Senate, and 40-50 House Dems are in reality de facto Republicans, I would expect them to keep collaborating with Bush and the GOP to enact their agenda rather than a Democratic one (as occured when Democrats controlled the Senate from 2001-03). It's even likely that Bush will get more from a Democratic Congress than the current GOP one from Democratic leaders and NeoDems eager to please.

by Sitkah 2006-08-26 12:19PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

with a slim lead I am afraid you are probably right. too much power to the centrists to muck up shit with their games of capitulation as moderation

by bruh21 2006-08-26 02:10PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

They've disappointed too many times for me to fall for it again.

by Sitkah 2006-08-27 12:49PM | 0 recs
I'm not a Wonk for following MYDD! Here are 10

But, I do agree Chris that we need to have an out of the gate agenda in place before the November 7 elections to force a progressive legislative platform that we can hold our parties feet to fire on, so here we go:

* Defund the Iraq War

  • Fully Fund a War on Terrorism focused on Afghanistan (Finding OBL), Al-Quada and Intelligence police driven rather than military driven crushing of terror cells.
  • Conduct War Profiteering Hearings (ala Truman Commision)
  • Pass re-regulation of the Telecom industry (a modern day Sherman Anti Trust Act)
  • Pass an Energy Bill equivelent to the Manhattan Project and Space Program for energy independence by 2020
  • Conduct Hearings on windfall energy profits
  • Toss medicare Part D and replace with a full Universal Health Care initiative including pharmaceutical, mental health, Early Intervention for children (OT, PT, Speech, special needs) and full substance abuse treatment.
  • Pass a wide sweeping environmental bill to reduce greenhouse gases and correct the abuses of healthy forest, clean sky's and Clean water acts.
  • Fully fund Low Interest College Student Loan and public school education building and 100,000 teacher programs.
  • Pass a comprehensive Veteran Act Program restoring full VA Hospital, Education Grants, Low Interest Mortgages and increased retirement pensions for the armed forces.

by politics64 2006-08-26 12:27PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm not a Wonk for following MYDD!

here's a few of them, which will cut right into the Republican heart:

- toss NCLB and rewrite a new, progressive education reform act.
- pass a narrow border security proposal to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the country, and do not propose anything more. Passing this would avoid the rest of the immigration debate, including controversial things like Guest Worker programs (opposed by many progressives and conservatives alike), "amnesty" (potentially a failure for Democrats) etc., while virtually appeasing everyone.

by KainIIIC 2006-08-26 12:55PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

If Democrats start believing they've got these elections won, they'll lose.  They are being set up for a fall with these predictions.  There's a lot of work between now and November if Democrats are to be successful.

Since I believe the unifying theme is accountability, the first order of business is hearings.  Fact-finding and taking expert information seriously in crafting any legislation.

Of course, the minimum wage is a no-brainer.

But the actual first order of business is committee chairmanships, and already there's talk of bypassing "extreme" Democrats with seniority (i.e. John Conyers).  There's the first fight and it may determine how much help Congress will be in doing anything, and in retaking the White House.  Respect for facts is not extremism.  It's what Americans want at this point.  

by Captain Future 2006-08-26 12:38PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

Oversight, Oversight, Oversight!

by adaplant 2006-08-26 12:40PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

No laws passed by a potential Dem congress will mean anything, unless the separation of powers is addressed. We must determine if signing statements can negate congressional intent at the whim of the executive. Have hearings, file lawsuits, but that issue must be challenged aggressively and disposed of. Bury it forever.

by mikmaher 2006-08-26 12:40PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

"Even though I am probably tempting fate by asking this, with chances that Democrats will actually win control of at least one branch of congress now very real, what should we do once we are actually governing? This is something I have spent virtually no time thinking about, but it is at least worth considering."

With all due respect to Chris, if the folks running for office, or the progressives in party leadership are asking this question right now as well, the Republicans have been right about the Democratic Party all along.

As I'm stumping for Assembly, I make it quite clear what my initiatives will be in Madison:
Health Care
Property Tax Relief
Funding for Schools

Typically, after I get done with the first two, I have a vote. I take the time to explain HOW I'll accomplish this, not merely what needs to be changed. Every one of my supporters can do the same thing.

Netroots and grassroots are the backbone of my campaign. Maybe being a teacher makes me a bit pedantic on the stump, but I want people to know exactly what they support when they vote for me, in contrast to the vague platitudes offered from the Right.

Nationally, we have to be more than just "not Bush", but lay out a vision (that "vision thing" Daddy had problems with) for America. It's what Clinton could do, but many other politicians struggle with. If were uncertain about this at this stage in the election cycle, and we're wonks, there's something wrong.

Don't get me wrong, I'm right in line with Chris' predictions about the number of House seats that will be gained (including my district: WI-08). What concerns me is the "then what?" question.

by Noonan 2006-08-26 12:47PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

Of course, Democrats as a whole believe in quite a bit, like Universal Healthcare or Redeployment of troops from Iraq, but it's an entirely different story to actually implement them with a narrow majority of 5 house seats and 1 Senate seat. To do that, you must get almost all of the blue-dogs to support you (easier said than done) and/or find plenty of 'moderate Republicans', which may very well consist of just Jim Leach and Michael Castle (and a handful of others).

It also depends on whether or not the Republican caucus will virtually unite against Democratic proposals, or whether they will compromise, or whether enough 'moderate' Republicans go along with it to ensure smooth sailing.

The biggest fear of governing is our own caucus faltering, and we need to decide things now to prevent that from happening.

by KainIIIC 2006-08-26 01:05PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

The "then what" question is actually a lot less of a question than is commonly assumed since the media never cover anything the Dems put forward.  To wit, Conyers has put out some very detailed reports that can immediately serve as the backbone of some accountability hearings, but I have heard little or nothing about them in the MSM.

As for your own campaign, for the benefit of all progressives I strongly urge you to abandon the frame "property tax relief".  I'm not a cognitive linguist or anything, but if property taxes really need to be addressed in Wisconsin, I recommend property tax realignment or something.  See cognitive linguist George Lakoff's comments on the frame: http://www.rockridgeinstitute.org/resear ch/rockridge/taxation

by I voted for Kodos 2006-08-26 05:09PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

Except that property taxes really are a burden in a lot of places (I know that's true in Rhode Island, where I am), so the phrase makes sense.  The basic point is that we need property tax relief (good) and, in the case of Rhode Island (and probably something similar in Wisconsin, as well), we need to pay for that by rolling back the income tax cuts (bad) for the richest Rhode Islanders.

Generally, though, you are right about Lakoff, and I am glad other people are looking to follow his lead.

by DanM 2006-08-27 09:11PM | 0 recs
Burden of Power

Democrats should put forward a sensible program to insure the viability of Social Security long-term, as a counter to the bullshit privatization scam that the GOP tried to push.

by global yokel 2006-08-26 12:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Burden of Power

make Social Security a "lockbox" savings account instead of a budget, to allow for the long-term solvency of SS, and to raise the cap to make up for already-lost money.

by KainIIIC 2006-08-26 01:06PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

Actually, if you really want to force a meltdown of the GOP caucus, Dems should bring up some kind of immigration reform bill. Yes, our caucus won't hold either, but the prospect of congressional Republicans openly attacking a GOP administration on this helps pound away at republican/conservative loyalty and confidence in the GOP label going into 2008. Second, draft and promote a relatively radical farm bill that would dramatically shift benefits and incentives away from southern and western agribusiness and toward the behalf of small midwestern farmers and ranchers. Preferably with a focus on incentivizing biofuel production. If you want to break the back of the GOP nationally we need to move aggressively to take back the great plains states, especially Iowa and Missouri. That means reconstituting a rural worker/farmer/labor coalition.

by blueflorida 2006-08-26 01:00PM | 0 recs
fix the tax structure and help rural america

Raise minimum wage and do something about health care. Fix the tax structure (try Wyden's (D-OR) Fair Flat Tax Act of 2005.)

Offer an appropriations bill to move funds from Iraq to things like education, prenatal health care, student loans, etc.

Politics64 mentioned a huge energy independence program -- we at the Weed campaign call it the "New Apollo Project." Agricultural energy could revitalize many struggling and forgotten rural communities in this country.

Fix the VA, fix the VA, fix the VA. It hits rural Americans the hardest.

We really need to fix that tax structure.

by msnook 2006-08-26 01:01PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

The first item on the Agenda must be a all-out witch hunt against Cheney and Bush culminating in their Impeachment.

Then with President Pelosi in office we can:

Get out of Iraq....

Start rebuilding our infrastructure, providing jobs and education at the same time...

'Energise America'....

And yeah I'm serious about the Impeachment. If we do not the world will always think that the populace supported the war in Iraq with devastating consequences for our nation in the future.

We must criminalise the Republicans!

Because they are criminals!

by Pericles 2006-08-26 01:02PM | 0 recs
I hate having to keep saying this

You need 67 senators to remove somebody from office.  We will be lucky to have 51 come November.

IT'S

NOT

GOING

TO

HAPPEN!

Now, an unsuccessful impeachment may occur, although I dunno if that's the right thing to do, especially considering the *last president was unsuccessfully impeached.

by Geotpf 2006-08-26 06:10PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

If Dems retake one or both houses, the #1 priority is to hold comprehensive hearings on the #1 issue on Americans' minds: Iraq. It's not about "revenge", but about finally getting to the bottom of why we went to war, why the intel was so bad, why there weren't enough troops, why the DoD never took a look at the State Dept's comprehensive post-occupation plan yet at the same time had no plan of its own, why the country's falling apart, why we haven't been able to stop the insurgency, why billions of dollars were wasted and/or lost and why we've seen precious little results in return for those billions, why electricity is in shortage and oil pumps aren't pumping, and so on.

We HAVE to have these hearings. And if they happen to incriminate or at least implicate certain members of the Bush administration, so be it. But that is NOT why we'd have to have them. Rather, we' have them to figure out what went wrong with the greatest boondoggle in US history.

Beyond that, of course, we also need to hold hearings on the various illegal surveillance programs, on election tampering, on corporate giveaways and tax cuts, on political corruption, on cronyism and political appointments, on that whole social conservative agenda and how it has intruded upon sound scientific research and teaching, on the non-separation of church and state and the blatant favoratism shown towards pro-Bush churches and religious leaders, on environmental deregulation and misleading environmental initiatives, and so on.

Ok, so I admit it, the 2007-2009 congressional schedule should basically be about investigating the Bush administration and the previous congress. And, if it indicates the need for impeachment proceedings, so be it. But this NEEDS to happen. And, again, it's NOT about payback. It's about accountability, and about cleaning up the vast mess that BushCo have made.

I'm all for passing necessary legislation that we've needed to pass for years. But until we've begun to clean up this mess, figure out what and who caused it, and hold them accountable, I don't see any point in wasting time on trying to move forward when we're still stuck in the present. We've been hit by a political Category 5+ hurricane these past 6 years, and until we've cleaned out the debris left by it, it's pointless to build anew.

Bottom line, if and when we retake congress, our #1 priority should be to investigate, investigate, investigate, until we begin to figure out just what the hell's gone wrong since Bush took office, why, and what to do about it. The country is in triage mode, and until it has been stabilized, meaningful long-term progress simply is not possible, and should not be attempted.

by kovie 2006-08-26 01:24PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

No leadership positions for DLC members.

After that we can talk about policy. If that doesn't come first, good policy and political ideas will die in committee.

by Bob Brigham 2006-08-26 01:24PM | 0 recs
winning in 08

is a primary concern.  But, how to do it?

I think Iraq is certainly on people's minds.  But, I think we need to turn attention to Afghanistan.  We need to hold hearing after hearing showing how badly AFghanistan is going, how badly it was bungled, and go from there.  This does a few things.

1. Shows dems strong on the war against Osama bin laden, which is how we should label it.

2. Shows the incompetence of the Republicans in teh war on Osama bin laden.

3. Clearly shows that we need more troops in Afghanistan and more money in Afghanistan, which puts pressure on the President to:

  • raise more money through taxes
  • propose huge cuts to government programs people like
  • take troops out of Iraq
  • ignore the threat and look weak on defense.

4. Provides a logical route to start questioning the wasteful spending in defense, which means hearings on no bid contracts, halliburton losing millions of dollars, profiteering, mercs, etc.

I think we start with something that even my Republican dad believes - that we're fighting in the wrong country, then we let that spread like Whitewater did to Clinton.

This weakens the Republicans on Defense.

This strengthens the Democrats on Defense.

This makes bush either move troops, cut programs, or raise taxes.

by Robert P 2006-08-26 01:30PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

Politics64, You're right on...

Defund the Iraq War

Fully Fund a War on Terrorism focused on Afghanistan (Finding OBL), Al-Quada and Intelligence police driven rather than military driven crushing of terror cells.

Conduct War Profiteering Hearings (ala Truman Commision)

Pass re-regulation of the Telecom industry (a modern day Sherman Anti Trust Act)

Pass an Energy Bill equivelent to the Manhattan Project and Space Program for energy independence by 2020

Conduct Hearings on windfall energy profits

Toss medicare Part D and replace with a full Universal Health Care initiative including pharmaceutical, mental health, Early Intervention for children (OT, PT, Speech, special needs) and full substance abuse treatment.

Pass a wide sweeping environmental bill to reduce greenhouse gases and correct the abuses of healthy forest, clean sky's and Clean water acts.

Fully fund Low Interest College Student Loan and public school education building and 100,000 teacher programs.

Pass a comprehensive Veteran Act Program restoring full VA Hospital, Education Grants, Low Interest Mortgages and increased retirement pensions for the armed forces.

Gore/Richardson 2008!!

by sammy1 2006-08-26 01:38PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

Prevent a war in Iran.  I'm with Yglesias on this - powerful voices inside the Admin have been hankering after a war for a while now and have to be stopped.  That means, among other things, refusing to declare war unless we are attacked.

Pass a simple up-or-down bill to raise the minimum wage $2 over the next two years.

I like the idea of having Congress do more to oversee and shape what we do in Iraq, but I'm not sure how it can do that on a going-forward basis.

by TL 2006-08-26 01:41PM | 0 recs
depends

I really think a lot of your governing philosophy hinges on whether we win one house of Congress or both. Winning one house means you still have to be in an obstructionist mindset, because the house you didn't win and the president will still try to initiate things and cram it down our throats in the house we did win. With both houses, however, we would be doing most of the cramming. :)

by dwbh 2006-08-26 01:46PM | 0 recs
Propose something ahead of time

A few months ago Pelosi and Co. took exactly the wrong approach, blabbing about investigations, etc. We should emphasize two or three high profile issues with huge favorables, like upping the minimum wage.

Put that into the public mindset as something Democrats will pursue if we retake the House. Then let the Republicans worry about countering with the fear dialogue of what Speaker Pelosi would mean. Newsflash: they'll do that regardless. There's no need for a laundry list. We inevitably go too far. Just a few big picture simple issues that stick in the thought process of the apolitical types when they're deciding who to vote for, or whether to vote at all.

by jagakid 2006-08-26 01:47PM | 0 recs
Populist Policy

Call for a "complete rethink" regarding international terrorism.  Commit to rebuilding ties with estranged nations, again becoming an honest broker between Israel and her neighbors, marshall international law enforcement to coordinate with military leaders.  Declare the Iraq strategy a failure and commit to moving in a new direction.

Increase Minimum Wage - Bush will sign it.

Push Democrats version of immigration reform - This will crack the Republicans wide open.

Create a group to study health care reform models - get a plan together and test the waters.

Call for an independent investigation of President Bush's abuses while pursuing greater Congressional oversight. - The more people learn about Bush's malfeasances, the less they like him and his party.

Divert Iraq funding to energy independence project.

by Screwy Hoolie 2006-08-26 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

No matter what gains we make in November, our ability to "send bills to Bush's desk" will rely mostly on the cooperation of moderate GOPers (not to mention conservative Democrats) in the Senate.  Remember that, because of the filibuster, the upper chamber is really controlled by a supermajority, not a simple majority.  So the liklihood of us passing anything really controversial is slim, and the liklihood of any such bill becoming law is nearly zero (since even the best projections have us falling far short of a veto-proof majority, obviously).

Our best strategy, IMHO, would be to use our newfound positions of power as a forum to pursue our own narrative and present our own agenda.  As it is right now, we as a power completely shut out of power have had no choice but to respond to the GOP's agenda as best we could.  Sometimes we've done really well at that, be it Social Security or ANWR, but the fact of the matter is that the Republicans have always been the ones choosing which battles to fight.  Once we have a majority in either House, we can start raising our own issues and have the Republicans start responding to our proposals.

I think it would be a mistake to pursue anything as expansive as universal health care, because the possibility of it actually getting passed (or even getting to Bush's desk) is, again, virtually zero, and I'm not convinced that our caucus is anymore united on this issue now than it was in '93.  If we promise a popular and expansive new government program only to see our own party fall into bickering over "Plan A" over here versus "Plan B" over there, we're only going to demonstrate ourselves incapable of governing and we'll likely pay the price in '08.

I think it'd be smart to pursue an agenda composed of two major parts:

Regaining public trust in the government: one reason new government programs have been such a tough sell lately is that many people don't trust government with the jobs they already have.  So let's pursue a real reform of FEMA and Homeland Security, reintroduce PAYGO and start looking for real methods to reduce the deficit, let's revisit educational reform (either before reforming, funding or dropping NCLB), reform Medicare D, raise the minimum wage, stuff like that.  Throw in some serious political reform (in terms of lobbying, earmarks and campaign finance), attack the automatic COLA pay increases for Congress and go after corporate welfare.  The beauty of this is that some of these programs might actually have the GOP support neccesary to become law, but these are all battles we can win just by bringing up the topic.

Holding the Bush administration accountable: with real hearings into topics like war profiteering, the conduct of the war in Iraq, etc.  This is how we can use our power to win the media war and assert some control over the agenda, even if our power to govern will be limited.

I'm not advocating us to pussyfoot around, I think we should be real agressive and we should really, seriously fight for every single item we place on the agenda.  But for this reason, it is absolutely essential that we pick our fights carefully.  The Gingrich militants of the '94 election might have managed to hold onto their majorities in '96, but they also helped rescue Clinton from political irrelevancy by making a showdown out of the budget - a fight that they lost and paid dearly for.  They were much more successful when they took on the issue of welfare reform, which was an item that was broadly popular enough with the public (and with moderate Democrats) that they managed to actually get it enacted, proving that they were a party that was actually capable of running government.  That's our task right now: prove that we can govern.  If we succeed, we will reap the rewards in 2008.

by Ryan Anderson 2006-08-26 01:59PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power
I did a post over at my blog about an '08 GOP presidential straw poll.  Please come by and check it out.  Let me know what you think.
America's Least Wanted
by budpaul 2006-08-26 02:14PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

Having spent the day writing an article, but also reading various diaries and going to places like Ezra Klein's site as well as diaries on Warner's inability to denounce Lieberman (which I see as a character flaw on someone I have been indifferent to), I am now ready to predict that sadly 2007 and 2008 will see the Democrats get played by the Republicans. At this point, after also talking to other friends who like me follow politics, but aren't in 'it' they have convinced me that the real problem is that there is an entire generation of Democratic leadership that buys the CW and what the Republicans tell us the country is like rather than what voters actually are. These Democrats even with this win are battered, beholden to special interests, afraid to appear to "liberal" which means really "not conservative", will be coming out of an almost geeky high school girl at her first prom mode of thinking that I don't see changing? Also having ask some friends on the hill, t hey pretty much (not being able to disclose or give reasons why) think that with a slim majority the Congress will also be ineffectual because you won't have a governing coalition based on any real left of center power shift. What you will have is a shift where by the centrists who are more organized will take credit for the sucess although they didnt take credit for the failures. How do we change this? I honestly think its a generational thing. People have to die and get tired first and be replaced by peo not stuck in the 1960s or 70s. Why are we still for example discussing McGovern or others of tha that era.

What would I like to happen:

a) A state based block grant (similar to a combo of VA and Medicaid/Medicare) with some basic requirements system of public health reform. ANd one other good idea I heard- changing hospitals from for profit to non profit. caps on advertising by drug cos. etc

b) focus on student programs

c) focus on minimal wage as a wedge rather than strickly poliical issue

d) elimination of dont ask dont tell which has ruined 50 thousand american lives for no good reason other than bigotry

e) re do telecommunications act- return of requirement of providing public good so that ads for elections can get cheap again- end the military build of capital on both sides. constitution amend to change the federal law regarding elections

f) voter reforms0 non partisan districting. cant be done here but bullypulpit

g) level headed oversight of foreign policy
'
f) level  headed trade agreements

h) revisiting the baknruptcy bill

i) cutting the debt

j) and world peace (kidding!) but seriously a focus on national secure to make us more secure but not pretend we can ever be totally safe. nothing in life is toally safe.

by bruh21 2006-08-26 02:25PM | 0 recs
Christmas in November

The danger of counting our chickens has to be weighed against the danger of running around like chickens with our heads cut off after the election. We need to quickly demonstrate that we create a more effective government.

A censure Bush may be in order at the end of the Iraq investigation, but I don't think Democrats should launch impeachment proceedings. Once neutered, he's a Republican albatross, let them start the impeachment process. They are the experts anyway.

I'm not at all certain what can be done with such a narrow majority (although defeating Lieberman would help with party discipline), but my prioritized list is:

  1. Crush the concept of the imperial presidency in all its manifestations
  2. Expose and punish all those associated with torture and human rights violations
  3. Get our fiscal house in order: roll back all of the Republican tax cuts to status quo ante and refocus the IRS on the corporations and the rich
  4. Adopt a rational energy policy and fund major technology initiatives
  5. Actually take the steps that will increase our collective security

There should be conscious themes to the investigations. I think that is preferable to a Katrina investigation, an Iraq investigation, etc., etc.:

  • Republicans selling off outsourcing our government to corporations
  • Unqualified and incompetent Republican appointees politicizing critical government functions
  • Use of the threat of terrorism to advance unrelated agendas and failure to take practical, effective measures.

I think we need to burn this episode into the bureaucratic psyche so that people are less likely to facilitate such politicization in the future.

Congress can't replace Bush's worst appointees, but they can subpoena them regularly and otherwise humiliate them publicly. They'll find rocks to scurry under soon enough. Career civil servants who actively abetted their agenda need to be disciplined / demoted. To that end, we need to insure that the internal agency investigative teams are fully engaged.

by tentakles 2006-08-26 02:50PM | 0 recs
Restore Moral Authority

I  have no idea how to do any of this, but what the heck:

1. Shut down Guantanomo - issue subpoenas

  1. Force Generals to speak in public hearings on Iraq
  2. Restore FEMA as independent agency
  3. Healthcare for all children (e.g. Edwards' plan)
  4. Give U.S. Gov power to negotiate prescr. drug prices
  5. Raise minimum wage
  6. Rase CAFE standards
  7. Pass home-owners mortgage industry regulation bill

by Jeffrey Feldman 2006-08-26 03:06PM | 0 recs
Can't resist (being a wonk)

In no particular order but all of these are the quick and doable fist things (unlike universal health insurance, comprehensive immigration reform, total redrafting of NCLB,  or other mega programmatic changes).

1) Replay stem cells -- quick to introduce if we are in the leadership. Make the moron choose between vetoing it again or giving into the latest research that includes methods to extract cells from embryos without damaging the embryo.

2) Take away the tax breaks for big oil and shift it into alternative energy R&D.

3) Oversight: hearings with subpoenas on:

a) pre-Iraq war intelligence fixing (what Reid shut the Senate down for but has still seen no results from).

b) War profiteering.

c) Warantless wiretaps.

d) Where's Osama?

e) Katrina.

f) Torture.

4) Minimum wage.

5) Airplane cargo and shipping container inspection.

6) Veterans' services.

My candidate website.

by demondeac 2006-08-26 03:14PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

Just one thing that I pledge to do, is if/when the Democrats get back in power, I will hold them to a higher standard than I did in 1990 and previously.    

They had better not take their role for granted, nor start any abuse of power, because i plan on coming down just as hard on them as I have on Republicans.     (And this from a yellow dog Democrat who is old enough to be you guy's Mother!)

by Bergs 2006-08-26 03:20PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

agree with that- no more pass go. my friend at work says that every one of them should be primaried at least every other election cycle just to remind them they are there through our graces

by bruh21 2006-08-26 04:22PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

Don't forget to check out this:

What Do You Want from a Democratic Congress?

by tgeraghty 2006-08-26 03:48PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

I don't think we are going to win 25 seats. I predict 13 seats. A 220R control Congress. Falling short of winning IL, CT4, OH 18, and CT5. I think the Senate will be a 4 seat gain winning OH, PA, RI, and MT. Lets see if a wave develops. As for now election projection got that projection.

by olawakandi 2006-08-26 03:52PM | 0 recs
That's basically where I am

Plus 3 or 4 in the senate and just short in the House. I admittedly tend to project on the cautious side, but overall I'm worried we're counting on too many tossup races to break against the incumbent or the natural partisanship of the district.

Seems to me we'll have to win an extraordinary percentage of the close races to take control, and the Republican GOTV strength will probably prevent that.

But last Novmber both Kaine and Corzine managed several points better than I expected so perpaps I'm underestimating the national mood.

by jagakid 2006-08-26 04:20PM | 0 recs
Re: That's basically where I am

Larry Sabato is predicting a close House contest and close senate contest to take control, but he isn't predicting that either house will have Democratic control. I think we need OH 18 and Shays and Johnson and Roskam seats to win the House and so far we don't have them yet.

by olawakandi 2006-08-26 04:46PM | 0 recs
Re: That's basically where I am

Oh you said that is basically where you are my mistake.

by olawakandi 2006-08-26 04:47PM | 0 recs
No problem

That's interesting you are narrowing it down to specific House races as most vital. I'll have to pay much closer attention this year and do the same.

It will be strange this year on election night since House races normally receive an "oh by the way" third tier emphasis on political blogs, but this time many of them may be front and center.

by jagakid 2006-08-26 05:14PM | 0 recs
13 seats based on micro factors... that is a wave

If you're looking purely at individual races and you're willing to predict a 13 seat pickup, that is a wave.

I wish I had the link on me, but one of the front-pagers here wrote about waves from elections past. The gist was that whenever one party makes big gains, they usually win the vast majority of all competitive races.

by msnook 2006-08-26 07:54PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

(1) new 40% and 45% tax brackets for taxable income over $400,000 and $1,000,000 respectively.

(2) abolish the Alternative Minimum Tax.

That second one will cause a lot of folks to go along with the first.

by wrog 2006-08-26 04:19PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

Democratic tax reform act(Real tax reform)

1.  Re-instate the 39.6% marginal tax rate for individuals earning over $1,000,000 annually(about .1% of all taxpayers).

2.  Apply a 31% rate to capital income in excess of $1,000,000 annually.  

3.  Allow families earning up to $400,000 annually to deduct up to $12,000 in education expenses.  Right now it is only $3000 that is allowed.

Real Social Security Reform:

1.  Apply social security taxes to capital income in excess of $100,000 a year.  As of now, capital income escapes payroll taxes.

2.  Apply a new 3.25% payroll tax on income in excess of $500,000 annually.  As of now, only the first $90000 is taxed.

3.  Implement means testing in order to slowdown benefits for very wealthy retirees.  For example, no $900 monthly checks to Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

Republicans would look absolutely foolish to object to any of the above.

Real National Security:

1. Immediately decrease troop levels in Iraq and apply more resources to other areas where the threat is real.

2.  Rebuild alliances and focus on undermining terrorism at its birth.

We must remember that we will NOT walk away with this election.  It is NOT in the bag and we will have to work very hard and find every possible Democratic voter and turn them out in order to even come close to winning a House or Senate majority.  

by Toddwell 2006-08-26 04:59PM | 0 recs
instead of higher tax brackets...

You don't need higher tax brackets if you're treating capital gains and inheritance the same as all other income.

That's why I like the Wyden tax bill, but the specific piece of legislation isn't important. The point is, it's going to be really easy to tell Joe Voter that you're going to treat all income the same -- far easier than telling him that someone is paying 40% to the gubmint.

by msnook 2006-08-26 08:02PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

A plan that would allow anybody to buy into medicare would also be a nice idea.

by Toddwell 2006-08-26 08:13PM | 0 recs
Don't jinx the pitcher

Let's win it first.

1. Follow the lead of DC Dems. A single, loud mediocre message is at least 100 times better than 100 excellent messages scattered at random.

2. Hammer Katrina until you're ready to throw up. Then you've probably repeated it just about enough. It takes six times for anybody to hear anything once.

3. Spend some among real people, not just family. Here's one idea:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/08/2 6/politics/main1936812.shtml

IF the patron saint of campaign managers and that bitch goddess Fortuna decide to cut us a huss and actually take the House, touch wood,

How about a nice, fresh, steaming bill of impeachment?

by stevehigh 2006-08-26 05:00PM | 0 recs
The Official Plan

The Democrats, in all their committee-everything-to-death wisdom, have come up with an answer to the question blandly called A New Direction for America: http://www.housedemocrats.gov/news/libra rydetail.cfm?library_content_id=780

The crux of the plan is that it doesn't offer a unique vision so much as "like Republicans but different" shopping list.  Various pieces of what the actual vision should be are fortunately being developed by groups like the Apollo alliance (http://www.apolloalliance.org) and politicians like Dorgan (http://www.airamerica.com/alfrankenshow/ node/4626) and Conyers (http://www.truthout.org/docs_05/010605Y. shtml) and are just waiting to be synthesized and prioritized.

by I voted for Kodos 2006-08-26 05:15PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

i'd really like to see some sex ed/family planning reform... shut down the abstinence only stuff, bring back the education and policies that actually work.  i'm not sure the political climate is right for a big push, but there have to be some minor, reasonable reforms that we could get some support for.  something big enough he'd have to veto, but small and popular enough that people would be annoyed by it.  

by tadrinth 2006-08-26 05:16PM | 0 recs
Lobbyist Reform

make every bill that comes through, one that, for any anonymous rider - the member of congress has to stand up and declare their support on the floor.

also create mail lists for legislation that passes the house and senate so that pdf versions can be read online.

geez. its saturday night. what about, just returning us to an america we can be proud of again?

by heyAnita 2006-08-26 05:31PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

Democrats need to convince voters that we can provide the leadership needed to help the Iraqi people to create peace and order out of the current chaos of the war. A lot of voters are angry about Iraq - they are voting for Democrats because they want us to fix the current mess. Without an intelligent plan for Iraq, Democratic gains in 2006 won't stick for 2008 and John McCain will be the next president.

by tgypsy jcs 2006-08-26 06:38PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

you do realize that gain control of congress isnt the same as the presidency? i say this because winning congress wont change iraq in terms of the policies set- that is at the end of the day an executive function. the best we can do in congress is oversight which has been missing. but to expect us to lay  out a plan for iraq is kind of pointless and would be setting us up to lie to the american peoiple about where power  lies in this issue.

by bruh21 2006-08-26 07:58PM | 0 recs
Bankruptcy reform

We need to scrap most of the 2005 amendments to the bankruptcy act. They destroy the most unfortunate middle-class homes, keeping them debt slaves. Further, they are mostly a hand out to the credit-card companies.

by TexasDem 2006-08-26 06:39PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

Investigate, investigate, investigate, . . . about Iraq is a mistake.  The thing to do first is to squelch, in no uncertain terms, the unitary executive theory.  Relative to the principle of constitutional supremacy, no mere policy proposal has any weight at all.  

by drlimerick 2006-08-26 06:42PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

We should think about reversing some of the most egregious crap that Bush has passed since 2001:

Economy

Environment and Public Health

  • Strengthen civil rights laws to end discriminatory environmental outcomes
  • Establish Bureau of Environmental Statistics charged with generating information about toxic chemicals, creating guidelines for collecting environmental data, collecting and analyzing comprehensive statistics on environmental quality, and disseminating the results.
  • Require EPA to conduct regular and public evaluations of how well state environmental agencies are meeting their obligations, based on a uniform set of criteria.
  • Require environmental impact assessments whenever private corporations do something that could produce a major effect on the environment.
  • Get the environmental cops back on the beat by increasing the number of inspectors and prosecutors dedicated to enforcing environmental laws.
  • Require companies to disclose any corporate activity that poses a significant threat to public health and the environment, whether or not the activity is regulated.
  • Revisit Bush administration decisions on global warming; mercury contamination of fish; aging, high-polluting power plants; auto-emissions standards; opening up environmentally sensitive places to oil and gas drilling; permitting steady destruction of wetlands; "mountain-top removal" mining; clean air deadlines for cities; logging in national forests, etc.

Foreign Policy and Defense

  • Homeland security - enact the Turner recommendations for biodefense, port, aviation, chemical plant, rail security, and enhancing first responder capabilities (full .pdf report here).
  • Re-establish a national commitment to the War Powers Act and the right of Congress to declare war, the Geneva Conventions for treatment of military prisoners, prohibition of torture, the rights of the accused in terrorism cases.
  • Fully investigate potential Bush administration abuses in the use of intelligence agencies for domestic spying, contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, failure to properly plan for the Iraq war, misuse of intelligence, etc., etc.
  • Revisit the Patriot Act, keeping provisions essential for national security while limiting incursions on civil liberties. Fully investigate potential abuses of the provisions of the act.

Political Reform

What, you say this list is too long? You want priorities? Pick your favorites!  These are mine:

  1. Minimum wage increase;
  2. Fix the Medicare prescription drug plan;
  3. Re-establish the Clinton ergonomics standard;
  4. Reverse egregious Bush environmental decisions;
  5. Establish Bureau of Environmental Statistics;
  6. Enact the Turner homeland security recommendations;
  7. Enact comprehensive voting reform.

Actually I love them all, but let's start there.

by tgeraghty 2006-08-26 06:55PM | 0 recs
Open government

Did I mention reversing all of the Bush initiatives to increase secrecy in government should be one of our highest priorities?

From the first days of his administration, President Bush has taken steps to tighten the government's hold on information and limit public scrutiny of its activities. Expansive assertions of executive privilege, restrictive views of the Freedom of Information Act, increasing use of national security classification, stonewalling in response to congressional requests for information - all these were evident even before the September 11 attacks. Since then, the clamps on information have only tightened.

Regulatory Deception

. . . the Bush administration has worked assiduously to monkeywrench the regulatory process through a variety of means . . . One of the biggest obstacles to effective regulation and mitigation of hazards, however, is the White House's obsession with secrecy. This takes the form of distortion of information needed to effectively deal with threats to health and safety; the outright censorship of scientific data generated by regulatory agencies; and the suppression of facts that don't fit the administration's political and ideological agenda.

Executive Privilege

The Bush Administration, by contrast, has taken up the banner of executive privilege with a vengeance. Expressing a determination to halt what they see as an "erosion" of the prerogatives of the Presidency (and even the Vice Presidency), Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft and other administration figures have asserted a sweeping view of executive privilege to impede public access to historical records of prior Presidents and Vice Presidents, to completely block public release of large numbers of Justice Department documents, and to thwart congressional investigators and public interest groups from even learning who was a part of the Vice President's Energy Task Force (let alone what they did).

Restrictions on the Freedom of Information Act

. . . the Administration, as a matter of policy, has announced that it views the exemptions in FOIA as . . . excuses to withhold information from the public. . . . The Ashcroft memorandum . . . expressly encourages agencies to look for reasons to deny access to information, and to rely on FOIA's exemptions from disclosure even when no harm would result from disclosure.  And it assures the agencies that if they have even an arguable basis for withholding a document, the Justice Department will back them up in litigation.

In other words, hide the ball if you can get away with it.

The Ashcroft memorandum has been followed up with memoranda from White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and from the director of the Information Security Oversight Office, encouraging agencies to attempt to use FOIA exemptions to find ways to withhold "sensitive but nonclassified" information--that is, information that doesn't qualify for FOIA's national security exemption.  Again, the Administration's objective seems to be to use FOIA exemptions as an excuse not to release "sensitive" documents.

Abuse of the "National Security" Excuse

With the Administration's emphasis on national security has come an increased tendency toward restricting of information through national security classification. . . . provisions that make it easier to reclassify documents that were previously declassified and to classify previously unrestricted information. . . . significantly delay the "automatic" declassification of historical documents that was called for in a prior order issued by President Clinton. . . . expanded the number of government agencies and officials who have classification authority.

. . . Federal agencies, such as the National Archives and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, have restricted public access to formerly open materials in their reading rooms and have pulled information from the internet.  The White House and the Information Security Oversight Office have encouraged agencies to withhold "sensitive but unclassified" information from FOIA requesters.  And the Homeland Security Act, in addition to creating a new federal department, has also given birth to a vaguely defined new category of information that is exempt from release under FOIA: "critical infrastructure information" that is voluntarily submitted by private businesses to the Department of Homeland Security.

The Administration has also invoked national security as the rationale for even more troubling forms of secrecy:  Secret detention and deportation of aliens, and indefinite, incommunicado detention of foreign citizens and U.S. citizens alike when the government has concluded--based, of course, on secret evidence--that they are "enemy combatants."  While these actions may be unlikely to touch most Americans directly, other actions, such as secret surveillance, may hit closer to home.  In particular, the Patriot Act has given the government powers broad new powers to engage in domestic surveillance, including the ability to issue secret subpoenas to libraries and bookstores to check up on the reading habits of citizens--subpoenas whose recipients are forbidden, on pain of criminal punishment, from disclosing their existence to the individuals they target.  And increasingly, the issues arising from these powers are decided in secret by courts in sealed proceedings in which only one side--the government--can meaningfully participate.


by tgeraghty 2006-08-26 07:10PM | 0 recs
Audit the Defense Department

While we are on the topic of investigating, how about we do a comprehensive audit of the defense budget?

. . . would be well advised to focus less on increasing our defense expenditure, and, instead, worry much more on how, where and why we utilize our existing resources (and who profits) - especially in the light of the fact that, as of right now, and for many years in the past, the Government Accountability Office has been unable to audit them. The latter point, expressed bluntly, is not a technical matter. It means we really, truly, and absolutely do not know where our hard earned taxpayer dollars are going. . . .

If all expenditures relating to National Security (the real Defense Budget in most people's minds) are added to the official Pentagon originated Defense Budget [about 4% of GDP] - which conveniently fails to include War Supplementals, Department of Energy spend on nuclear matters, Homeland Security, the Veterans Administration, Black Budgets, and much else besides, then the true spend figure quickly climbs to about $750 billion, or about 5.5% of GDP; and that may be optimistic.

This widespread lack of awareness of the scale and significance of our true spend illustrates the point that this Administration, and the Department of Defense, are quite remarkably careless with the taxpayers' money; and/or have a tendency to be less than honest with the American people. . . .

In fact the situation is so appalling that, according to the Controller General, over 3,000 different financial systems are in use, audits have been impossible for years, and the most recent Pentagon proposal gives 2016 as the nearest achievable date for an audit. . . .

We are not taking about a few clerical errors here and there. We are talking about decades of gross financial mismanagement and negligence - blended with large quantities of obfuscation, outright lying and malfeasance. . . .

Here's what one analysis found:

Without diminishing America's ability to fight terrorists, America can safely trim $60 billion (15 percent) from President George W. Bush's proposed fiscal year 2006 Pentagon budget, freeing up much-needed funding for America's broader national security needs.

Here's where these savings would come from:

  • About $13 billion would be saved by reducing the nuclear arsenal to no more than 1,000 warheads, more than enough to maintain nuclear deterrence.
  • About $7 billion would be saved by cutting most of the National Missile Defense program, retaining only a basic research program to determine if this attractive idea, which has proven to be an utter failure in actual tests, could ever work in the real world.
  • About $26 billion would be saved by scaling back or stopping the research, development, and construction of weapons that are useless to combat modern threats. Many of the weapons involved, like the F/A-22 fighter jet and the Virginia Class Submarine, were designed to fight the defunct Soviet Union .
  • Another $9 billion would be saved by eliminating forces, including two active Air Force wings and one carrier group, which are not needed in the current geopolitical environment.
  • And about $5 billion would be saved if the giant Pentagon bureaucracy simply functioned in a more efficient manner.

If Congress and the president make these cuts, not only would they have more money to spend on other priorities, but they would also make our military stronger, allowing our soldiers to focus on the weapons, training, and tactics they need to do their jobs and defend our nation.

by tgeraghty 2006-08-26 07:27PM | 0 recs
Rebuild Energy Infrastructure

Something along the lines of the Apollo Alliance or Energize America plans that combine R&D investments in sustainable energy sources and energy-efficient vehicles and applainces, upgrading infrastructure, offices and factories, and housing with an eye to saving energy, and subsidies for "smart-growth" metropolitan land-use and transportation planning reforms.

A new Democratic congress ought to explore how we can get started on this kind of program.

by tgeraghty 2006-08-26 07:40PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power
  1. living wage legislation
  2. ratchet down the percentage of media outlets one entity is allowed to own and reapply the fairness doctrine
  3. remove all IGO offices from the executive branch and have them become responsible to the appropriate congressional oversight committee
  4. have John Murtha head a commission similar in function to the WWII Truman commission
by Demo Dan in Dayton 2006-08-26 07:29PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

I'd certainly hope that some of the bright people the Dems have at places like the Center for American Progress are prepping for a Dem majority.  In 1994, the Repubs largely let the House and Senate Committees do the political strategy/execution while the Heritage Foundation, CATO Institute, etc generated tons of policy ideas which could be implemented once a majority had been achieved.

Some ideas I would pursue are:

Minimum Wage Increase
Energy Independence including a 10 year plan to wean America off middle east oil through renewable sources and conservation/efficiency
Iraq Withdrawal Timetable
Fixing the Medicare Drug Bill
Universal Healthcare (assuming with a slim majority you could craft something that could pass both houses)
Campaign finance/lobby reform (you can't fix lobbying without fixing campaign finance.  They are intertwined)

I agree with investigate, investigate, investigate.  It fits nicely with the accountability theme.  I would not touch censure or impeachment because of the lessons of the Clinton impeachment - don't overplay your hand.  It is one thing to have an unpopular President (Bush) or one that has done something unpopular (Clinton) but that doesn't mean the public wants him removed from office via impeachment.  They are two separate and distinct things.

by John Mills 2006-08-26 07:54PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

Actually, I think that the original sketch is astute ... indeed, since the things that the Republicans will struggle to act against are the things that the conservative Democrats will also struggle to act against, also astute in terms of getting the different factions of the caucus back into the habit of being the majority:

  • minimum wage, increase and index (to poverty line, CPI or increase in median wage ... just index it annually to something)
  • close loopholes in 1986 employee work status verification rules
  • One year moratorium on new Interstate Highway construction, with funds used on maintenance backlog
  • Shift Gulf Coast reconstruction funds from corporate welfare to employing community residents

Then there are the things that can be done on rolling back the wealth tax cut:

  • Project Energy Independence
  • $1,500 first time home buyers tax credit
  • fully fund VA
... and so on, but that is in parallel with oversight and investigation. Use hearings to determine what gross incompetence is taking place along the way of working out what can be proposed. Project Energy Independence is an opportunity to trawl through subsidies to Big Oil and force the Republican Chamber or the WH to veto the removal of tax breaks.

Craft the simplest possible Universal Basic Health coverage that can be funded in some straightforward way, like lifting the cap on the SS payroll contribution ... it's more important that it is universal and funded than that it is comprehensive ... once people without health coverage receive UBH coverage, and those individuals and firms see the reduction in the cost for what is now "supplemental" coverage, it will be hard to push against expansions of coverage as the funding is sorted out. Of course, that is why the WH will veto it ... important to make the WH veto bills, and to force Republican'ts to uphold vetos.

Indeed, with the roll back of the tax cut for the wealthy, it should be possible to fully fund all of the 9/11 commission recommendations, which is something that is awfully hard on the Republican't "strong on terror" platform in 2008.

It goes without saying, get cabinet officers failing to follow the law on the basis of signing statements to testify to that effect under oath, and then take it to the Supreme Court. Find the ugliest sounding consequence of failing to uphold the law possible as the test case. And if necessary freeze all funding for "discretionary" activities in a department's budget until the cabinet officer agrees to do abide by his oath.

by BruceMcF 2006-08-26 08:10PM | 0 recs
I like Carville and Begala's finance plan

Paraphrasing, but it's a pretty simple plan. Raise every congresscritter and senator's pay to the same as the preznit, and tell them they can't take gifts from anyone outside their immediate family.

Raise the cap on personal contributions (actually I think C&B suggest eliminating it) and forbid incumbents from raising any money. For every dollar a challenger raises, the incumbent gets 80 cents.

With a setup like this you can ban PAC contributions, lobbyist contributions, anything really. Plus I like the idea of congressmen never having to raise money again. Then they might be more focused on people-power and, you know... legislating.

by msnook 2006-08-26 08:29PM | 0 recs
Election reform is also good

Election reform, if done properly, could be very hard to oppose. Not an issue that'll get people to the polls, but very hard to oppose. Without both the house and the Senate, it might be one of those things like Sitkah said, where Bush gets to sign a bunch of bipartisan incrementalist "reform" bills.

If we get both houses, I think we should go after a few "process" issues really hard, but only after fixing some major bread-and-butter problems.

Election reform; campaign finance/lobbying/earmarks; PaYG budgeting; dismantling the imperial presidency... any others I've forgotten?

by msnook 2006-08-26 08:55PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

We may not get to keep the House very long.  I'd like to think we will have it more than two years, but a lot can happen between now and the 2008 election.

So given that, I think we need to RUSH to use the two years that we have to expose all the dirty laundry.  Getting subpoena power is the Holy Grail.  

1. Launch a real 9/11 investigation.  Make it public, with people under oath, no questions off limits.  Let's get the ugly truth out there about what our fearless leaders were doing on that day.

2. Launch an investigation of the failures of leadership and intelligence (not just "pre-war intelligence") that led to the fiasco in Iraq.  Expose the lies, the exaggerations, the facts they intentionally kept from us.  Expose the strategies that were chosen and used to sell the war.

3. Investigate the war profiteers, companies like Halliburton and Bechtel and Custer Battles and Blackwater.  Make them explain what they did with the money, and how they got their sweet contracts.

4. Find out exactly what Bush has been doing with all this NSA spying stuff.  And I'd like to know who, exactly, John Bolton was spying on when he was at State.  You know there has to be some skullduggery there.

So, that's what I suggest.  A presidency that has operated with such hubris, and with such secrecy, has to have a lot of things that they thought would never be exposed.  Let's dig it out.  Make it part of the permanent record, the history books, something that the neocons can't ever spin or hide from.

by Dumbo 2006-08-26 09:28PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

My guess is that we won't be free to pick an agenda, instead, circumstances will force us to confront certain pressing issues

1.  a post-housing bubble recession, with frightening impact upon over-extended banks

so we will need to address two things, folks out of work, and bank regulation

I suspect this will lead to a lot of chaotic floundering to find a regulatory policy, the usual economic band aids to help the unemployed, and dithering in general

But we need to be energetic, and do the best we can.  First, because it is the right thing.  Second, because everyone will be watching.

2  Iraq and Iran.

Say firmly to get the hell out.  Make a case that gwb is making us less safer.

3.  Domestic spying.  Dismnantle the infrastructure for a police state.

by jwp26 2006-08-26 09:45PM | 0 recs
My wishlist

My wishlist:

1) living wage

  1. revoke AUMF & defund Iraq war
  2. reinstitute Fairness Doctrine
  3. reform defense spending:
  • eliminate cost-plus contracts
  • sealed bids
  1. voting integrity
  2. Part II of investigation of how we got into Iraq war - focusing on use of intelligence (the Pat Roberts special)

Oh - and a pony.

But I wholeheartedly agree with Chris's analysis (w/Courage Campaign) of Busby race:
Pick a fight.  Any fight.

I think the how is vastly more important than the what.  Now's the time for Dems to get cracking on that brand development thing.

Did I mention a pony?

by vernonlee 2006-08-26 10:19PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

i may have missed this is the previous comments; but, i would strongly recommend a post 9-11 review of american policy in the mid east ...

we need to ask the question ... what policies can we moderate to stop the growth of radical islam ... just stopping the immoral occupation is not enough ... we must demonstrate to the arab world a willingness to things differently in the future.

by bamabarrron 2006-08-26 10:56PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

Because these actions are treasonous:

Contractor abuse and war profiteering in the war on terror/Iraq

Ripoffs and fraud in the New Orleans/Gulf rebuilding.

by Bob H 2006-08-27 02:51AM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

I am sure some other posters will agree that the first order of business is to revoke Bush's war authority. That means immediate end to spying on Americans and means troop removal from Iraq. Then, yes, impeach the bastard. Why are some liberals so hesitant about that? The guy is a criminal. If people want to regard this as revenge against Clinton then - so what? It is not.

by pwax 2006-08-27 03:44AM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

You impeach a President in the lame duck portion of his final term for political advantage ... and there may not be any. Certainly, investigate. Certainly push to have the Supreme Court rule on whether some particular flagrant and ugly example of a signing declaration is constitutional ...

... but I think the primary tactic used again Grant is likely to have a greater political payoff. Uncovering disreputable behavior by his underlings ... and whenever possible behavior that is both disreputable and unconstitutional ... is a gift that keeps on giving.

by BruceMcF 2006-08-27 10:43AM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

Divide Iraq up into three separate states:  Shiiti, Sunni and Kurds. Then get the hell out.

End the $69 billion a year failed War on Drugs. Remove the War on Drugs as the cornerstone of our foreign policy.

Legalize all things hemp. Get us on the road to renewable, sustainable, decentralized energy independence.

by Hempy 2006-08-27 05:38AM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

There are some good ideas here.  I think the key thing to understand that if the Democrats gain control of the House, they are simply not going to be able to pass any substantive public policy legislation.  They would need an administration interested in public policy for that to happen.  We don't have that.

Therefore, the Democrats have to be prepared to be very cynical if they gain control of the House.  They have to years in which to try to hold the administration accountable, which they have a constitutional duty to do anyway, and to put out an agenda which will appeal to the public in 2008, even if it doesn't make it into law.  And since the agenda won't make it into law, it doesn't have to be completely responsible.  Everything has to be filtered through preparing the way for 2008.

Another problem on the policy front is that about two dozen Democratic Congressmen are conservative "blue dogs", representing deep red districts.  Unless the Democrats can get more than 250, which is very unlikely, their votes will be needed to pass anything.  In fact, if the Democrats gain a narrow majority, say 218-222, I wouldn't be surprised if a couple of conservative Democratic congressmen formally switched sides, allowing the Republicans to gain control (Cuellar being the most obvious candidate).  The Democrats did something similar in 1995, to sabotage Republican control of the California State Assembly, and the tactic worked.

The best thing they can do politically, impeach Rumsfeld.  They would avoid having to deal with people's deference to the president, which would be the problem with trying to imeach Bush or even Cheney.  Force the Republicans to defend how the defense department is being run.  The hearings would also be a great platform to carry on some needed investigation.

by Michels 2006-08-27 06:44AM | 0 recs
committee chairmanships

On a sort of related note, yesterday's NY Times had this article about committee chairmanships, which of course is a major factor in what agenda the committees will take up, including the prospect of:

...a Judiciary Committee headed by Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, a banking committee steered by Barney Frank of Massachusetts, a tax-writing committee led by Charles B. Rangel of New York, and an energy panel under the leadership of John D. Dingell of Michigan."

by scottmaui 2006-08-27 08:33AM | 0 recs
sounds damn good to me...

anyone second that???

by wintersnowman 2006-08-28 09:57AM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power
All of the above are wonderful ideas, but none of them stands a 'snowball's chance' without the support of the electorate.
Problem #1: Standing directly between the concerned and the conservative people in this country is the media.  Unless something is done immediately about the media in this country, we will revert to more of the heated, inane, vicious rhetoric that transpired during the Clinton administration. Have you forgotten?  You couldn't turn on your TV day or night for eight years without listening to the pundits assassinate and crucify the Democrats and especially, the Clintons. This was in spite of a successful economy and tremendous well-being throughout the country. And it will begin all over again. Whatever good gets accomplished in the Congress by the Dems will be lost in a 24/7 condemnation of the Democratic party, individuals, their records and their legislation. This is why the Republicans were able to take back the Congress in '94.
What to do?  Well, this country could not have gone from supporting 58 different bipartisan media companies in 1983 to only 6 Republican-owned companies in 2006 without a total lack of oversight from the SEC and the Justice Department on buyouts and mergers.  Just initiating a few anti-trust suits (which will run for years, folks) will put them on notice that IF the Democrats put a candidate in the White House in '08, the media is in deep doodoo. You might even try boycotting products on the talkshows and letting those manufacturers know why.
Problem #2: Those GD*!+? Diebold, ESS, and Sequoia voting machines. They stand between honest elections in half of the states right now. Solution? Prosecute the companies for voter fraud and suppression, election irregularities. Think up some more violations. Sue and sue for a LOT of money...put them or at least these divisions of those companies out of business.
Do these two things first and everything else will fall into place. You've got great ideas for putting this country back on the right track, people....keep those ideas flowing!
by bboop 2006-08-27 10:16AM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power
DO something about these horrible no-bid contracts--and the "foreign" workers who are being treated like slaves.
Make some some immediate change in procedures -- in addition to conducting investigations about all of recent corportate crimes. Then start refering the war profiteers and thieves to the justice department.
Right away--Put everything on the public record, as in the bill Obama is sponsoring (that someone has secretly put a hold on).
Put a tax break on solar energy construction for business and individuals.  Right away.  Simple, that's all-- all by itself, not in an omnibus bill that adds and takes away and has lots of secrets.
And start to tax polluters.  Right away  Write a serious tax on all polluting industries, that they can have abated as they reduce their pollution--either through technology or any way they choose to reduce it.  
Start writing a bill for universal health care.
Thanks for doing this.
--sandra
by syolles 2006-08-27 11:29AM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

Re-instate the Fairness Doctrine.

by mlr701 2006-08-27 02:41PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

I agree with a lot of what's been said, but I think the other REALLY REALLY CRITICAL agenda item is getting a real peacekeeping force into Darfur that protects civilians and camps, with a long-term plan for ending the genocide more sustainably.  Without U.S. leadership, the people there are going to continue to be abused horribly.

by DanM 2006-08-27 09:14PM | 0 recs
Re: The Burden of Power

It seems to me that none of us should count our chickens too soon. Even Nancy Pelosi is getting in on the act now. It really feels like bad karma.

by pml28205 2006-08-28 08:37AM | 0 recs
Release the hounds

Waxman, Waxman, and more Waxman.  With a dash of Conyers or any other tenacious Dem... limp Dems need not apply.

Investigations and consequences for the incompetence.  Pre-war intelligence should be reopened and as bombshells are released a growing drumbeat to pull out of Iraq.  War profiteering and no-bid contracts should see the light of day.  Gitmo should be shut down.  Torture should be banned and investigated.  The public should learn the full extent of NSA spying.  As Iraq draws down, more focus should be put on Afghanistan and the Taliban should be no more.  We should actually try and find OBL.

by wintersnowman 2006-08-28 09:54AM | 0 recs

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