I agree with Steve’s agenda and Mark’s addendum. But I think that the Democrats can do more that can attract a broad base of Democratic support and put the party in a good position for 2008. I’d be interested to see what people think.
1) Raise the CAFE standards. This works as environmental policy and national security policy.
2) Abortion Reduction Act/95-10. As I have mentioned before, the idea behind this is to invest in support for pregnant women and enhance adoption programs. These are good policy ideas in and of themselves (although I remain deeply skeptical that they would reduce abortions by 95%). They are of course also good politically. In my view, Amy Sullivan is overoptimistic about Democrats’ ability to attract evangelical votes, but we don’t need to attract a majority–just a strong minority. Not all evangelicals are Dobson and Sheldon clones. And it would buttress Democratic support among Catholics.
3) http://www.prospect.org/weblog/2006/10/post_1713.html“>Union card-check. This idea would allow union certification by signing a card, as opposed to an extensive election with a secret ballot, which has proved a recipe for management intimidation. I am less certain that this would attract unanimous support among Democrats; it would be interesting to see where the Blue Dogs are on this. But we will be able to do nothing about the growing class divide in this country without a stronger labor movement, and–importantly–this involves no new government programs and no new bureaucracies. My working assumption here is that economic populism plays well in cultural conservative districts. I would support a compromise allowing an automatic secret ballot re-certification election two years after, in order to ensure that the card-check process itself did not cause too much labor intimidation.
4) Universal health coverage for children. Steve is right that we should not try for long bombs in this Congress, but I am not sure that this is, in fact, a long bomb. As John DiIulio has pointed out, programs such as Medicaid and CHIP already cover a healthy percentage of children anyway; making all Americans 18 and under Medicare-eligible would not be radically expensive because children are less expensive to ensure; it would be very popular in the states, who are not excited about rising Medicaid costs. Again, it would not involve the creation of a huge new bureaucracy. Perhaps I am being overly ambitious here.
Essentially, all of these ideas would foster progressive goals, be good politically, and–most importantly–not invovle the creation of new bureaucracies or involve large new spending programs. At least that’s the concept.