Four More for The Agenda

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)“>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.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

7 thoughts on “Four More for The Agenda”

  1. Maybe it's good politics to pass a union card check law, I'm not sure. But I am sure that Bush will veto it.

  2. Yeah, that would be vetoed 100%. can you bundle it with something like the minimum wage and extending the working class tax cuts?

  3. Part of this is about forcing your opponents to either support your proposals or openly block them. That's one of the reasons that being able to control the agenda is so nice.

  4. Abolishing the secret ballot. I've yet to see an argument for this that passed the laugh test. Maybe we could do it for federal elections, too?

  5. >>
    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.
    Your summary leaves out the most important part: more funding for contraceptives, which is what will significantly reduce unwanted pregnancies and therefore abortions (even if it does lead to a small increase in sex, it will lead to a LARGE decrease in abortion! — tough choice for fundies who want to control everyone's sex life but want to reduce abortions too)

  6. On #3, instead of trying something new, why not give the unions back their most powerful weapon, and re-legalize secondary strikes?

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