The Sequence

Now that the bubbles are starting to go flat on the campaign champagne, Democrats need to start thinking–and quick–about what their agenda is and what sequence it ought to be dealt with.

Now that the bubbles are starting to go flat on the campaign champagne, Democrats need to start thinking–and quick–about what their agenda is and what sequence it ought to be dealt with. If I’m the Democrats, I actually go a bit slow on investigations–start using committee control to do the background research, but don’t start sending Henry Waxman out full bore yet. Doing otherwise looks vindictive. Waiting has the advantage that whatever revelations come out of oversight hearings will be even nearer the 2008 elections. I would also beg and plead with John Murtha not to challenge Steny Hoyer. Maybe there’s a good argument for it, but it changes the subject from what it ought to be. And nothing that changes the subject is a good idea.

Instead, I think it’s very important that Democrats hit the ground running with a small number of items with very large public support that will be very difficult for Republicans to stop (either by peeling off Dems or by getting Bush to veto) or will be politically damaging if they do. They are, in sequence:

a) Lobbying Reform (on this Dems. should be able to pass almost any bill, regardless of how much it favors them, so long as it says “lobbying reform” on it)

b) Earmark Reform.

c) Reform of House Ethics Committee. Having done (a), (b) and (c) in quick succession (and I mean within weeks), Dems will be able to say that they took the public’s desire for reform seriously. But, again, I think it’s very important that this happen very fast, while public expectations and attentiveness are high. Dems should not act like the voters gave them much rope.

Having done these three (preferably in the first month), Dems. should then move on to substantive issues on which there is large support for their position, even if the White House opposes it. They are:

a) Comprehensive immigration reform. I would make this truly comprehensive by adding very severe employer sanctions with a substantial budget to support enforcement. By passing comprehensive immigration reform, the Dems. show that they can do what the Republicans didn’t. And by adding the most severe employer sanctions possible, they put in place something that will make Republicans squirm, and perhaps attract a veto. Oh, and I also think this is good public policy: compared to border enforcement, sanctions on employers actually have a plausible theory behind them.

b) Allow the government to negotiate drug prices in Medicare Part D. I can’t imagine a Republican member of Congress who wants to run against ads in 2008 saying that he thought this was a bad idea. Do it before comprehensive reform of Medicare Part D (see below).

c) Pass an increase in the minimum wage (which I don’t think is a terribly fantastic idea, but it’s important to the party base).

d) Pass the remaining recommendations of the 9-11 commission.

None of these are, in my mind, of collosal importance. But they are all easy to do, and quickly. Dems should be able to get through the first tranche of reforms in their first month, and then move on to these in their second eight weeks. All of them have been exhaustively debated, so it isn’t as if substantial new vetting of the details is needed. Democrats should consult the White House as little as possible on them, to avoid being slowed up. Just send them up and dare Bush to veto.

It is very important that the party limit itself, to whatever degree it can, to these things and only these things, in roughly this order, so that they have maximum impact on the electorate. Then engage Bush on:

* Social Security reform. Don’t take anything off the table except private accounts. Everything, including cuts in benefits, is on the table. First and foremost, this lets Democrats look reasonable and bipartisan. Second, it needs to be done. Third, it is much better, if it needs to be done, that it be done when responsibility for it can be diffused across the two parties, than after 2008, when (we can hope) Democrats may have unified control of government, and all the responsibility will be on them. This will take a year or more, but as soon as they pass the items above, move on to this with a big flashy announcement. But be very careful about who is put on the panel–in particular, avoid John Breaux at all costs.

* Iraq. When Rumsfeld out, the most important architect of the Iraq disaster is already gone. The Baker-Hamilton commission is moving, and Democrats should basically get behind what they recommend, so long as it is reasonable. Despite most Democrats’ desire to pin the blame on the folks who screwed this up so badly, the most important duty of the party now is to help cauterize the wound. There will be plenty of time later in 2007 to start pulling out the really heavy investigative artillery. Having gotten behind a new strategy in Iraq in the first half of the year, Dems will be in a better position in the 2nd half to really start pinning the blame.

What Democrats should NOT do is go for any long bombs on domestic policy. The obvious one is still universal health care, which is the item that, more than any other, defines what it means to be a Democrat. Democrats should start setting themselves up to pass major comprehensive health care reform after the 2008 election. There’s no point trying to pass anything major on this now (since Bush would veto anything ambitious) but two years gives the party a long time to hold hearings, consider various different proposals, etc., and have a well-designed bill with strong party support ready as soon as a new (Democratic) president is sworn in. It would also give a presidential candidate a major piece of legislation to go to the voters with in 2008. The party should also look very closely at Jacob Hacker’s proposals for broad-based reform and expansion of social insurance, which you can read about here.

None of the items identified above command less than overwhelming party support. That’s why they should be put first and foremost. Democrats should insist that it is their agenda which has privileged access to the floor. Democrats should be especially wary about passing major procedural reform, at least early on. This is especially the case because come 2009, if they try to make a big push on health care, they may need all the procedural muscle they can get. Hopefully the “ethics” provisions described above should take the Mugwump pressure off the party to loosen up Congressional procedure.

A CLARIFICATION:

Some of the comments here pick up on my suggestion that Democrats take the opportunity of divided government to make a deal on Social Security, questioning why we should do anything. I’m on record as saying that I think that most of the criticisms of the program are bull, and that private accounts are a terrible idea, even on libertarian principles. That all said, Social Security does have an (often overstated but real) financing problem. It’s better to deal with it sooner rather than later. It’s better to deal with it under divided government, when the blame for some painful measures can be diffused. The problems with Medicare are also real, but they are largely a function of the larger American system of health care delivery and insurance, which are better dealt with comprehensively, as part of a program of universal coverage. The people who think that Social Security is just fine honestly just don’t understand the numbers, or are so tired (as I am) of the Chicken Little-Pete Peterson overstatement that they’ve been driven to deny that there’s ANY problem. The financing problem in SS isn’t that complicated, requires some fairly modest adjustments, but needs to be done, and the sooner the better.

In short–modest, caution and bipartisanship now. Gain the trust of the voters by doing things with broad-based support, and that put Republicans in a bad light. Then start thinking Second New Deal in 2009.

Author: Steven M. Teles

Steven Teles is a Visiting Fellow at the Yale Center for the Study of American Politics. He is the author of Whose Welfare? AFDC and Elite Politics (University Press of Kansas), and co-editor of Ethnicity, Social Mobility and Public Policy (Cambridge). He is currently completing a book on the evolution of the conservative legal movement, co-editing a book on conservatism and American Political Development, and beginning a project on integrating political analysis into policy analysis. He has also written journal articles and book chapters on international free market think tanks, normative issues in policy analysis, pensions and affirmative action policy in Britain, US-China policy and federalism. He has taught at Brandeis, Boston University, Holy Cross, and Hamilton colleges, and been a research fellow at Harvard, Princeton and the University of London.

53 thoughts on “The Sequence”

  1. To clarify my first sentence, the idea is that lumping Social Security and Medicare together as "entitlements" is inaccurate and hurts us politically. Talk about Medicare reform, and let Social Security reform stand (or fall) on its scant merits.

  2. Mr. Teles is a smart cookie, but he has his blind spots. Videlicet his comment about the minimum wage. Sure, raising it to $50 is probably a mistake, but I wouldn't mind anything up to about $15. What, you can spare another quarter for your morning latte?
    So, when he natters about Social Security, double-check your spreadsheet, and shut your ears. There's nothing to be done there except reassuring voters over and over than unlike those icky Republicans, your party will make sure Social Security exists for them.

  3. One pitfall with pushing the difficult investigations too close to the 2008 elections is you'll need to leave enough time for bullshit presidential privilege arguments to percolate through the courts.

  4. I wonder what would happen if the Democrats sent the exact same stem cell bill to Bush that he's already vetoed — would he veto it again, or find some way to explain that Times Have Changed and Things are Different Now?
    Steven — What exactly do you mean by "earmark reform"? Is there really Congressional support for the kind of reform that people reading or writing blogs would consider meaningful?

  5. Steven's take on universal health care looks sensible. He leaves out two major issues:
    – war crimes investigations: these should be cautious, professional, and absolutely determined;
    – climate change: treat like health care – Bush will veto anything serious, so it's a partisan issue to build a solid Dem policy plank for the 2008 elections.

  6. "That all said, Social Security does have an (often overstated but real) financing problem. It's better to deal with it sooner rather than later. It's better to deal with it under divided government, when the blame for some painful measures can be diffused. … The people who think that Social Security is just fine honestly just don't understand the numbers, or are so tired (as I am) of the Chicken Little-Pete Peterson overstatement that they've been driven to deny that there's ANY problem. The financing problem in SS isn't that complicated, requires some fairly modest adjustments, but needs to be done, and the sooner the better."
    First, it's not actually absolutely clear that it's a problem—it does depend on the future paths of immigration and productivity growth.
    Second, there's currently so much perfidy afoot on the SS issue that it would be unwise to do _any_ reform without first doing a lot of preparatory PR. Front and center: Greenspan's insinuation that the government might not honor the SS Trust Fund, when in fact he's the one who headed the commission (1983) that suggested SS build up a surplus in the first place.

  7. No, Mr. Teles it is you who doesn't understand the numbers. Social Security is fine and will be for 50 years. In 50 years it may have to borrow from the general fund for a few years if immigration grinds to a halt or economic growth follows the Bush path.

  8. "That all said, Social Security does have an (often overstated but real) financing problem. "
    This is a flat-out lie. The only scenarios under which is has a problem are those which assume, for no good reason, that economic growth in the USA will take a substantial hit, for the next half-centure.
    If that happens, of course, stocks will take a substantial hit, so that Social Security still looks good.

  9. On top of that, Steve, please remember that Bush is still Bush, Cheney is still Cheney, and that Bush is president. The Democratic forces are in a much stronger position, but should still not negotiate with Bush anything that they don't have to. Use and grow Bush's lame-duck status as much as possible.

  10. > Lobbying Reform
    If Lamont had won, maybe. With the Democratic DC insiders having beaten back a challenge from the rabble, and feeling cocky about it, I think it is far more likely we will just see K Street pressured to turn the cash over to big-name Dems rather than any sort of reform that might jeapordize the cash flow.
    Cranky

  11. I agree with liberal's points with respect to the clarification, especially point 2. Right now, Democrats can't work in good faith with Republicans on this, especially if the political goal is to get credit for being good sports. And I don't see any particular reason for benefit cuts to be on the table; by the numbers I've seen, even on pessimistic assumptions we could keep Social Security in balance forever by raising the ceiling for payroll taxes a smidge; which would also be good policy on grounds of fairness.

  12. [i]I would make this truly comprehensive by adding very severe employer sanctions with a substantial budget to support enforcement.[/i]
    I'll support this, but I think it's critical that it include 2 things to make it fair and workable.
    1) Some fast, free (or very cheap) way of verifying documentation. Most employers have documentation on file for each employee; the problem is that much of it is forged, and that is (at least, was 10 years ago) not easily detectable by employers.
    2) Protection from anti-discrimination challenges when suspicious documentation is checked.

  13. Also, thanks for recognizing that SS has problems that need fixing.
    For those of you who disagree, here's the problem I see:
    If the SS Trust Fund is to be paid back, the money has to come from somewhere. That "somewhere" is currently the general fund, which is in deficit; to pay back the SS Trust Fund will mean spending less on other things. What are the other domestic things that we should spend less on to free up that money?

  14. I would not put all of your eggs in the Democratic basket as far as legislation being passed based on consensus. I would be ready for Bush to pull plays out the Clinton playbook as far as taking Democratic ideas, such as finding and investing in alternative fuels, and putting a Republican sticker on it.
    I agree that Democrats need to watch their knee jerk reactions for "payback" when it comes to investigations. Otherwise, they will look vindictive and waste precious time to do the "changes" they had promised.
    As far as Social Security, the accounts do need to be privatized. There simply is not enough workers to fund the program, pay for "Baby Boom" expenses and expect money to be their for my retirement.
    Social Security needs to be phased out so workers have "governed" autonomy over their accounts and have some form of self-determination with regard to retirement instead of sitting on our hands and hoping it will be there when we retire.
    Social Security will go bankrupt as Baby Boomers retire. Of course the Dems, could raise taxes to supplement aye?

  15. Barry,
    The SS trustees have a very good reason for projecting a slowdown in economic growth: because population growth is going to slow down.
    That said, what's the point in building up a bigger trust fund now? The Republicans will be in power again sometime over the next 50 years, and they'll just use the SS surplus to fund tax cuts for the rich.

  16. Population growth is going to slow? Riiiiight. And anyhow, if importing more young workers is needed, that's a particular strength of the USA.
    As for the GOP stealing the trust fund, that is a problem. However, the best way to deal with that, IMHO, is to not acknowledge theft as legitimate. They should pay up; we have the power to make them.

  17. SamChevre,
    What you say about the need to repay the SS trust fund is accurate, but does not really reflect a specific problem with Social Security.
    What we have a broad fiscal problem that needs to be solved. You could "solve" it just as well by reneging on Treasury obligations other than SS. You could solve it for real by raising some taxes, cutting other spending, etc. To describe SS as the cause of these problems is wrong.
    If a family runs up excessive debt, it's not accurate to say the problem is the just the Visa balance. It's all the balances, combined with general extravagance and inadequate income.

  18. Barry,
    Calling someone a liar on a blog is pretty par for the course, isn't it? No hard feelings. 🙂
    steve

  19. "When Rumsfeld out, the most important architect of the Iraq disaster is already gone."
    I must say I don't understand this. My impression is that Rumsfeld was never gung ho on Iraq, that the invasion was Cheney's and Bush's baby. Rumsfeld was merely the one given the task of carrying it out. He did that incompetently, but I don't see how anyone could have succeeded given the goals going in. If I had to identify "the most important architect" I'd point to Cheney, Rumsfeld was more the general contractor. Okay, it's harder to get Cheney to resign, given the nature of his position, but that's no reason to scapegoat Rumsfeld, no? At least when we are talking, rather than making decisions about which heads will roll.

  20. Ty Wittstruck wrote, "As far as Social Security, the accounts do need to be privatized. There simply is not enough workers to fund the program, pay for 'Baby Boom' expenses and expect money to be their for my retirement."
    But privatization doesn't solve or even address any of those ostensible problems.

  21. SamChevre wrote, "If the SS Trust Fund is to be paid back, the money has to come from somewhere. That 'somewhere' is currently the general fund, which is in deficit; to pay back the SS Trust Fund will mean spending less on other things."
    It can also come from increased taxation.
    There's all sorts of economic rent collection in the top brackets that can be taxed heavily with no ill effect, efficiency-wise or distribution-wise.

  22. Re. the point above on Rumsfeld. There's lots of blame to go around, of course, but (and here I think I differ from many of our readers) I think that the key error was the way the war was fought and not the decision to fight it (which was questionable, but I still think arguable). Even if you think the war was a mistake from the start, I think it is hard to argue that much of why it has turned out so disastrously has to do with implementation decisions made directly by Rumsfeld.

  23. marcel wrote, "If I had to identify 'the most important architect' I'd point to Cheney, Rumsfeld was more the general contractor."
    I was thinking similar things earlier this morning.
    Rumsfeld is certainly to blame for much of the problem with the execution, but it seems to me that Cheney is partly to blame for that, and also for the decision to invade Iraq in the first place.
    Maybe Rumsfeld is partly neocon-ish, but not nearly as much as Cheney. His decision to play along quite willingly always seemed to me to be because of a desire for a test of his high-tech military reform plans.
    Not that that exculpates him or anything, or that I'm sorry to see him go. But in some fundamental sense I think the bulk of the blame for the strategic disaster of Iraq should fall on Bush and Cheney's shoulders.
    Reminds me of the "Impeach Cheney first!" notion.

  24. Steven Teles wrote, "I think that the key error was the way the war was fought and not the decision to fight it (which was questionable, but I still think arguable). Even if you think the war was a mistake from the start, I think it is hard to argue that much of why it has turned out so disastrously has to do with implementation decisions made directly by Rumsfeld."
    Have to strongly disagree with that. While certainly the various tactical screwups you allude to (including, I assume, having too small an occupation force, disbanding the Iraqi army, too complete a de-Ba'athification, etc) made the situation worse, the twin facts that (1) America had no fundamental strategic interest in deposing Hussein, and (2) post-Hussein Iraq would likely lead to any number of problems (Iraqi civil war, regional destabilization due to Kurdish populations in nearby states, etc) were quite obvious before the invasion.
    And even if you disagree on those points, there's always Daniel Davies point, surely to go down as a classic, that the choices weren't "invade or never invade," but also in addition "wait and perhaps invade later, after Bush is gone".
    It was obvious from Bush's lack of interest in the lack of findings by the inspectors shortly before the invasion that the claimed evidence for WMD was weak or non-existent, and that the WMD rationale was just a ruse. And re the humanitarian and "spreading democracy" rationales, it _should_ have been obvious to anyone with an understanding of history that states simply do not go to war for humanitarian reasons, whatever they might say.

  25. Immigration reform? Really? When I looked at the exit polls from '06 and compared them to '04, the biggest change was in Latino support. In '06, Latinos (8% of the electorate) went for Democrats 69% to 30%. In '04 it was 55% to 44%. This may be enough to explain the more modest shifts in other groups like married and Catholic voters. And it seems like any immigration reform bill would probably jeopardize the trend here.

  26. Posted by: Steven Teles :
    "Barry,
    Calling someone a liar on a blog is pretty par for the course, isn't it? No hard feelings. 🙂
    steve"
    Thanks, Steven, that's gracious of you.
    There are three big reasons why I tend to flip out when people blithely dismiss Social Security as needing to be 'privatized':
    1) As has been noted above, privatization in and of itself solves nothing. Privatization only 'helps' if it involves screwing people out of their money. We don't need that sort of 'help'.
    2) A big and enduring goal of the GOP for decades has been to destroy Social Security. Trying to reform something is very dangerous when one of the parties has destruction, rather than reform, as their goal.
    3) Any economic scenario that I've seen in which it would be difficult to pay Social Security over the next several decades is one in which economic growth and productivity growth in the USA slows down sharply, *below any measured historical trend*, and stays down for multiple decades. Such a scenario bodes ill for money invested in US stocks; considering that the USA is still the single biggest playerin the global economy, it also bodes ill for many international stock funds.
    4) The whole d*mn point of GOP deficits is to spend the money, as much as possible on what they want, and then to use the resulting deficits as an excuse to cut spending that they don't want. If they commit economic fraud (as they have been since Reagan), we are under no obligation to go along with that.

  27. Adding on:
    5) The Greenspan Plan for Social Security, enacted in the early/mid 1980's, was that Baby Boomers would pay extra into the Social Security Fund, above the then-currently needed amount. This would be put into bonds, and then cashed in. Basically, the Baby Boomers would pay extra, some for their parents' retirements, plus some of their own. Reagan eagerly used this extra income to cut taxes on the rich. So has Bush II.
    In retrospect, given that Greenspan endorsed the Bush II deficit fraud, it's clear that the original plan was to try to screw us out of that money. Now, if I try that with my credit card debt, that don't play – the credit card company will take the money that I owe them, by court order if they have to.
    Sauce for the ordinary American goose is sauce for the Republican gander.

  28. Steve Teles: "Re. the point above on Rumsfeld. There's lots of blame to go around, of course, but (and here I think I differ from many of our readers) I think that the key error was the way the war was fought and not the decision to fight it (which was questionable, but I still think arguable). Even if you think the war was a mistake from the start, I think it is hard to argue that much of why it has turned out so disastrously has to do with implementation decisions made directly by Rumsfeld. "
    Implementation mistakes by Rumsfield which we know of are:
    (1) too few troops.
    (2) absolutely no planning or prep for what to do after the initial blizkrieg [1], up to and including threatening officers when they tried to, not using the State Department's plans, and not even using Desert Crossing plans.
    (3) absolute failure to adapt, at the highest levels, to facts on the ground, as this became obvious during Summer-Fall, 2003.
    (4) De-Baathification, including laying off the Iraqi Army.
    (5) Apparently no effort to secure ammunition depots, or those alleged 'vast stockpiles of WMD's'. It must be nice for a guerrilla force to literally have more ammunition than they can expend.
    (6) Neo-con dumbf*ckery such as crash privatization and destruction of as much of the Iraqi economy as possible, thereby making sure that the supply of guerrillas wouldn't fall short.
    (7) Not even a half-way decent *attempt* to preserve law and order during the Summer of 2003, thereby destroying the reputation of US forces.
    And that's just what has become public knowledge, despite the efforts of the administration to keep everytyhing secret.
    [1] Given how few troops there were, and how little planning was done, it's questionable as to whether Rumsfield's scheme would have survived the feared urban warfare in Baghdad, if that had happened in May, 2003.

  29. I agree with a lot of your suggestions, but some I have to qualify, and two I have to reject or substantially change.
    I would argue that investigations should be staggered, maybe even a general schedule made that would release a 'bombshell a month.' There's certainly enough targets. But I would start almost at once on two subjects, military procurement in Iraq and the Haliburton style corruption in Iraq. Both can and should be portrayed as supporting the troops and correcting some of the messes we caused there, and can easily enlist both supporters of and opponents of the war. (Whatever you think of whether we should have gone, we shouldn't have cut corners at the expense of our troops, and our failure to 'rebuild Iraq' is one of the stronger arguments that is being used against us.)
    [As a side note, if I were Nancy P. I would assign a number of the Representatives to reading Iraqi bloggers to get a better view of what is going on there, and I might even try and get a number of them to testify, particularly those who were driven out of the country by the violence.]
    I would pass lobby reform, earmark reform, and ethics reform — and make sure to tell the ethics committee to go after members of both parties when necessary.
    Agreed on Plan D, on minimum wage, on 9-11 commission.
    I'd also repeal the 'faith-based initiative' in the process detailing its use for political purposes and the way it was biased against any but conservative to radical Christian groups.
    I'd start work on health care coverage for all, and if a sensible and radical bill could be created, force Bush to veto it. (We NEED a radical bill to get universal coverage.)
    A VERY cl0ose watch should be put on Bush's judicial nominees, so the courts are not clogged with Christianist 'strict constructionist' anti-abortion, anti-gay groups.
    Repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
    And finally, I have to strongly disagree with they type of Immigration Reform bill that would likely to come out, even from the Democrats. Immigration has been one of the most powrful forces for good in the history of this country, it still is, and any 'reform' should make immigration easier, citizenship easier, and welcome most of the immigrants already here. (The only area I'd agree with most writers would be controls on those with criminal records, and making it harder to come and work here without starting the citizenship process.)

  30. How about adding media reform to the list?
    OK, we've had quite a few years now of media conglomerates with pretty much no limits on what they can own, and I think it's pretty clear the result has been a disaster.
    All the various advances and whatnot that we were promised would be the result of "increased efficiencies"" that have happened since then we owe to the googles, amazons, youtubes, and most especially bloggers of the world, not to the media conglomerates.
    Meanwhile the groupthink single-simple-minded presentation of events that was predicted has indeed occurred.
    Given that the media have been so relentlessly pro-Republican and given that the majority of Americans have no great love these conglomerates, I think the time is right, on moral, political and payback grounds, to go back to the status quo ante — limited ownership of newspapers, TV and radio stations and so on. (Payback may seem like a poor basis for public policy, but a media that is aware that it can get bitten when the wind changes might be a media that is a little more interested in telling the truth.)

  31. Maynard Handley wrote, "Given that the media have been so relentlessly pro-Republican and given that the majority of Americans have no great love these conglomerates, I think the time is right, on moral, political and payback grounds, to go back to the status quo ante — limited ownership of newspapers, TV and radio stations and so on."
    I agree, though I think the most important thing is to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. That would really screw with the right-wing agitprop process.
    (Payback may seem like a poor basis for public policy, but a media that is aware that it can get bitten when the wind changes might be a media that is a little more interested in telling the truth.)
    As I've said on a few blogs, iterated Prisoner's Dilemmas are a basic fact of human existence, and when the other guy defects repeatedly, a reasonable and fair strategy (Tit for Tat) says you have to defect also.

  32. This line of comments demonstrates what happens if the Dems bring up SS now. The discussion just goes 'round and 'round while other issues get dropped. Later with SS changes, if needed.

  33. Uhhhh…anyone wanna do something about the Military Commissions Act, the Patriot Act or NSA domestic wiretapping, or posse comitatus or New Orleans????

  34. I'm all for some moderation, even though I'd like nothing more than to see Bush impeached. I grudgingly concede that it wouldn't do for the Dems to appear (too) vindictive. However, I don't know why habeas corpus, torture, and illegal surveillance of citizens aren't high on your list. I can't see how tackling those immediately could be perceived as vincictive. A little outrage is in order, don't you think? The Dems would appear heroic if they addressed those issues right away, if you ask me. If they ignore them, they'll seem as spineless as they have for a good long while. http://pamela.poole.free.fr/frogblog/

  35. I want to support a previous poster to suggest that voting reform should be high on the Dems agenda. ALL software should be open source and all hardware should be under 24/7 control during the election season. And breaches of protocol should not be punishable by fine but by loss of office. Well, OK, that might need some refinement, but you get my drift.

  36. "Gain the trust of the voters by doing things with broad-based support, and that put Republicans in a bad light. Then start thinking Second New Deal in 2009."
    Bait and switch, in other words.

  37. I agree with everything you say. Our new Democratic Congress has to act quickly to start cleaning up the mess the WH and 109th congress left behind.
    I would like to make on comment about Social Security. I am (too) rapidly approaching the point where it kicks in for me and the most glaring problem with SS is that congress has used it as their personal piggy bank for decades. I understand that the money my generation paid into SS went to support my parent's generation, but not all of it. There are a lot more 'boomers' then there were greatest generation people, so it stands to reason that there should be money left over to off set the fact that the boomer's kids are fewer then us. Except congress used that extra money for God only know what. That is the first thing that has to be changed with SS. Lock the safe and keep the congress out of our money.
    Just my opinion…
    Rick Jacobs

  38. I am a single female middle aged middle income moderate Republican voter. I exercised my franchise on behalf of the Democrats in this election to protest not only the mess that is Iraq and filthy partisan slandering wedge-baiting politics, but to declaim against economic and taxation policies and laws that have favored the wealthy and the corporations and caused stagnation in wages and marginalized my income group and forced me and many others to the edge of bankruptcy as a result. I want a repeal of the banking legislation that raised credit card interest rates and nearly doubled payments and forced many middle income families to live from hand to mouth. I want the United States to stop the "we're an information economy" crap and bring back our manufacturing base from the brink of extinction. I want job opportunities that will pay decent wages and re-regulation of public utilities and socialized medicine to make the basic necessities of living here accessible to all. I want laws against illegal immigration enforced. I want the American Dream to represent what the Founders meant it to be – that this not be a country where only aggressive elites and their progeny and the special interests may prosper, but a place that is a very good home to us all.

  39. Not just a minimum wage bill, but a min wage bill with built in COLA, is the ticket. C'mon, Teles, show some actual progressive bones about doing something because it's right, not because "it appeals to the base.
    Geez

  40. Great thoughts except for one really foolish comment: yes we absolutely must blame this mess (Iraq)on the Republicans. Do not undermine or interfere with the blame-Republicans message. Three reasons:
    1. It is their fault.
    2. No matter what the facts may be, they have in the past and will in the future blame us. Don't b naive about it.
    3. They have to blame us because their only selling point is the myth of their superiority in defense and foreign affairs. They got this rep by blaming us for Vietnam. Now we can see what they do when they have the power. They deserve to lose their reputation for superiority in this area. Don't be an enabler.
    We shouldn't be unfair and vengeful to thhe Republicans. But we shouldn't be naive about them either. The bully is only temporarily chastened. They need to be labeled as wrong in the areas where they in fact were wrong and Iraq is their biggest fuck up of all.

  41. The looming Federal budget and debt crisis could be eased with a war tax, levied against the corporate military indutrial complex-rate 99% of net profits. Those military contractor executives should be taxed 100% of all income/benefits above 300k annual income… for the good of our country. In addition, Those who have benefitted the most from our great Country, those who stand to lose the most if we are over run by invaders…should be assesed an emergency war tax: 50% of all earned and investment gain above $200k/year. We shall see who wants war when it is not so profitable…We may as well make solar panels and construct more energy efficient transportation systems. Or we could pay down the debt…Or both.

  42. None of the reforms that concern lobbying and ethics suggested above are likely to occur with Steny Hoyer in place as Pelosi's second-in-command. He is as resistent to lobbying/ethics reform as any republican. I'm not sure Murtha is any better on this issue but at least he (unlike Hoyer) won't be actively working to bring Pelosi down.
    As a former Marylander, I say, beware Hoyer. And as one of your current constitutents, I say, Nancy, watch your back!!!

  43. The looming Federal budget and debt crisis could be eased with a war tax, levied against the corporate military indutrial complex-rate 99% of net profits. Those military contractor executives should be taxed 100% of all income/benefits above 300k annual income… for the good of our country. In addition, Those who have benefitted the most from our great Country, those who stand to lose the most if we are over run by invaders…should be assesed an emergency war tax: 50% of all earned and investment gain above $200k/year. We shall see who wants war when it is not so profitable…We may as well make solar panels and construct more energy efficient transportation systems. Or we could pay down the debt…Or both.

  44. To blindnomore: Nothing could be further from the vision of the Founders than your desires for the United States today. They believed in individual liberty, freedom of opportunity and limited government ( which is why we have a Constitution) You want your government to take care of you make all your decisions for you. Everything you want exists today in France. It's called socialism. Maybe that is where you should be living.
    As for the rest of the ideas in this blog let me point out that on Tuesday, 28 or so out of 435 congressional districts and 6 or so out 100 senate seats changed hands mostly by very slim margins. A very small shift indeed. I would hardly call this a mandate for the Democrats or an utter rejection of Republican policy. But with the very slim margin of political control held by Democrats, what I'm hearing proposed are payback politcal witchunts under the name of "oversight". Economic policy based on increases in taxation but only on the rich. I never cease to be amazed at how low the "rich" threshold really is. Two teachers with a combined income of $90K per year can be "rich". The fact is that the top 10% of income earners already pay 90% of the income taxes is a fact not often discussed among the "tax the rich" crowd.
    That all of social security's problems will be solved by just a slight increase in the tax. FDR promised the original tax rate would never go above 3%. It's now abiout 7.5% with your employer paying that much again in matching payments. It's about 15% if you are self emplyed. It is paid across the board by all wage earners with after tax income. Talk about your regressive taxation.
    I could go on but I am reminded of two axioms:
    1. The more things change, the more they stay the same;
    2. When all is said and done, more will be said than done.

  45. Exit polls

    The 2006 exit polls are out (you can see this in PDF form here), and they give some insight into why the vote went the way it did. (See here for a guide on how to read the poll.) I…

Comments are closed.