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January 24, 2005

The Democratic Agenda

From Harry Reid's website, via the Left Coaster:

The Left Coaster: Senate Democrats Lay Out Opposition Agenda This Morning: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid will do something this morning... an ambitious agenda.... Senate Bill 11 will... increase Army and Marine endstrength by up to 40,000 by 2007, provide a National Guard Bill of Rights.... Senate Bill 12 establishes four interlocking pillars necessary to wage an effective war on terrorism.... Senate Bill 13 addresses Bush’s abandonment of our veterans by ensuring all veterans get the health care they deserve by 2006.... Senate Bill 14... economic opportunity... overtime pay... minimum wage... infrastructure improvements.... Senate Bill 15... Head Start and child care programs... restores the formula for Pell Grants.... Senate Bill 16... safety of prescription drugs... provide coverage to all children and would increase coverage for pregnant women.... Senate 17 deals with voting reform.... Senate Bill 18... removing the prohibition against the federal government negotiating for best price.... Senate Bill 19... restore the Senate pay-as-you-go rule.... Senate Bill 20 deals with reducing unintended pregnancies and reduces abortions through increasing access to family planning services...

Posted by DeLong at January 24, 2005 07:37 PM

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Instead of those bills, we'll instead get Social Security "reform" and permanent tax cut bills. Yeehaw!

Posted by: Unstable Isotope at January 25, 2005 03:38 AM

why not supplemental personal accounts limited to families with incomes below $100 k, say, and paid for by rollback of upper bracket tax cuts?

Posted by: Bob H at January 25, 2005 04:18 AM

And for the environment??? (sound of crickets chirping)

Posted by: a different chris at January 25, 2005 07:49 AM

These days, hearing anyone talk about the "Democratic Party's agenda" makes me think of Gandhi's comment when asked for his opinion of western civilization: "It would be a good idea."

Posted by: Billmon at January 25, 2005 07:57 AM

Another good idea would be if the media gave the American public a view toward what responsible government looks like.

Posted by: Dubblblind at January 25, 2005 09:24 AM

Pure grandstanding and personal political strategy.

If he wanted to d somethingthat showed a little cojones he would put out a statement to all democratic senators that the first one who votes with the GOP on any portion of the Bush agenda is from that point on out of the democratic party. Then enforce that by going to the chair of the DNC (whenever that's decided) to have that person deny financing to whomever the turncoat is.

Introducing bills that have no chance of passage is a nice exercise, but confronting the thugs who are currently running this country into the ground will take more than that.

We need the democrats to walk away from the whole thing like the GOP did to Clinton back in 94 (95?). Enough with the cooperation already!

Posted by: matt at January 25, 2005 09:29 AM

Senator Reid's move is absolutely the smartest thing for the Democrats to do. All of my buddies down at the bar have been yelling this for four years... Start coming up with detailed legislative proposals and basically create a "shadow government," Brit-style. Gives the journalists something else to report, gives the Dems solid postions from which to attack the Repubs, gives the grassroots some focus toward unified national strategy, gives the next Dem candidate a running start on a well-vetted platform. This is a sign that things may get better.

Posted by: Lee A. Arnold at January 25, 2005 09:40 AM

I'm with Lee. This is a really good move. In addition to his (her?) points, it's an answer to the question "well, what would *you* do?"

Posted by: Emma Anne at January 25, 2005 09:46 AM

I think a Dem 'shadow government' is a good idea, and this agenda is a big improvement over nothing at all. But as I said over at MaxSpeak, I'd like a little more 'thinking big' in there: if we're not going to get any of this legislated anyway (which we're not), we need to be able to take the core of this program, and win the hearts and minds of the American people with it.

And that's the proper and necessary goal of our proposals in the 109th Congress: to win the people back to Democratic ideals. So our proposals (or at least some essential core of them) have to be clear, simple, and strong, and define who we are.

Posted by: RT at January 25, 2005 01:42 PM

Well, I do feel matt's pain, but I would like nothing better right now than to work for a shadow Interior Department, or maybe it should be called the Interior Shadow department, since all of Bush's old failed-business investors, and all of THEIR friends too, are finally reaping payback, by exploiting land that has been preserved pristine by generations of workingclass taxpayers. (And they exploited it, with nary a dent in unemployment for three years...!) It should be noted, of course, that Bush's own single success in private business reportedly involved getting the state of Texas to declare eminent domain on some homeowners, to build a sports stadium--so perhaps he already philosophized his own view of Getting Government to Work? (Is this what Boskin was referring to in yesterday's Journal as Bush's "practical business experience"?) Anyway this is how government is NOW to be used, by the Grand Old Party of the United States of America. (You may pause here, to wipe away a tear for a party that has lost all honor, and should go crawl under a rock. But of course you already knew that, from their treatment of John Kerry.) In Bush & Crew at Interior, we have one of the all-time remarkable examples of government failure in a democracy. And among other mirthful hypocrisies, Secretary Norton's stated solution to this, is to privatize government resources! This is the position of "freemarket environmentalism," and it would a mere intellectual joke, if she weren't in deep cahoots with the plundering captains. (Clearly hers is a rubber-stamped diploma, and she hasn't studied Nobelist Vernon Smith's evidence for "ecological rationality"!!!) (...although that itself is ANOTHER phrase perhaps not cleared with ecologists--you can just imagine the pecksniffing, if things happened the other way, and ECOLOGISTS were to misappropriate a term from ECONOMICS...) Why, just today they approved oil and gas drilling on the sensitive Otero Mesa grassland in New Mexico, and against the wishes of the governor and the people. (And maybe also God?) So this grass is raped, and just two days ago there was a news item that the BUSH-APPOINTED chairman to the IPCC (the International Panel on Climate Change; and the chairman is Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, who was put forward by Bush because Exxon said the prior chair complained too much that Global Warmup is a serious threat), I repeat, the BUSH-APPOINTED chairman to the IPCC told a worldgroup that he believes carbon dioxide has ALREADY reached a "dangerous" level, and there must be "very deep" cuts or people won't "survive." (!) So why are we drilling for more gas and oil if we should be burning less? And in a wildland, which will need as much area as possible to chance to survive the warming? Exactly where IS the Bush Administration on this issue? (Robots, report!) (And clean up Pachauri's statement, for American republishing!) Why do they suppose their only responsibility is to "free-up" the "markets," which then will naturally work on their own to choose climate mitigation? Don't we ELECT people to do that, in this system? Are they really and truly just market-libertarian halfwits--who also believed, for example, that post-war Iraq would find "spontaneous order" through the workings of "market forces?" Or just nihilists who believe winning elections is everything?

Multiply these subplots by the many dozens, and you get the dimension of the disaster! This whole show is a complete travesty of science, economics, ethics, and religion. Indeed Bush policy, domestic and foreign, is so all-encompassingly contradictory and hypocritical and shortsighted that it is almost perfect dramatic material. Of a Goethean dimension. In addition, it is just ridiculous, for endless comic relief, in the Shakespearean mode... C'mon, admit it, this is going to be fun! Now look again: the real world begins to confound them, so we get to see their little brain-pans aboil, which were formerly used only to "tepid." And how saleable is a script without extreme mental distress? Call your agent, you fool! Here is the big secret: Bush policy constitutes an intellectual and emotional disaster of the most profound type--it stretches back into the Enlightenment. Yet it is explainable to a mere child. There are so many great stories, and the Theme comes through, just like in all great tales. Just like in the Bible. It is the sin of pride--the image of Narcissus--and one of his firstborn, who was called "Greed." It is a total fucking scandalous feast!

So, if Freedom of Information gives us access to all economic actors on federal lands, and Harry Reid introduces hopeless legislation to criminalize everything not registered, --I would be the happiest clam in the heavy-metal mudbank, to report from the Shadow of the Interior ...

Posted by: Lee A. Arnold at January 25, 2005 07:37 PM

“So why are we drilling for more gas and oil if we should be burning less?”

So we can reduce our imports of foreign oil. Even if we want to reduce our total oil consumption, we still want to import less to improve our trade deficit. But if we really want to reduce global co2 emissions then China has to consume less, and China has no intention of doing that. Quite the opposite as China seeks out new sources of petroleum. Note that the US Senate rejected the Kyoto treaty before Bush became president. One reason was that developing countries were exempt. Even the ardent supporters of global warming theory admit Kyoto would have only a marginal effect on future temperature increases. If global warming is a serious threat then we really need a global reduction in co2 emissions, and that includes the countries that have the biggest increases in petroleum consumption.

Posted by: A. Zarkov at January 26, 2005 04:36 AM

Brad DeLong, this reminds me that I really liked your article in the new Atlantic, and we might add, that the rolling crisis of displaced labor over the next decades is going to create massive political pressure for development of our remaining wildlife reserves.

A. Zarkov, I guess the great thing about Adam Smithianism is that any depredation can be justified as for the common good! Never mind that these guys should find another way to make a buck, so to bring down the trade deficit; or that for the Bushkies, the whole issue is likely nothing more than a silly smoke screen. As another example, if my faulty memory serves my ego correctly, Bush's tax cuts were posed to give the "people" back the "Clinton surplus" (a.k.a. the "Social Security Trust Fund"), and then, when the economy went south, the cuts were posed as necessary to rev it up again, by giving these same top stock-gamblers some refill to their depleted bank accounts--after which, as aforementioned, the economy still floundered, employment- and consumption-wise, as honest economists predicted it would. So the reasons change with the seasons.

Indeed, the Contingent Valuators came to our neighborhood, and they knocked on the door to ask how much I WOULD PAY to preserve this little grassland, and in silence I quickly calculated that the Present Value of the Natural Creation into Eternity is Infinity, --but of course you can never have an infinite amount of money, so I settled at the figure of $800 quadrillion, a nice round sum. I don't have THAT kind of money either, but I would spare it, if I had it! However, they declined to write this number down, saying it had "too many zeroes" to fit on their little pieces of paper, and I also heard them mumble as they went back down the sidewalk, that "he's just a poor bum anyway--let's go find another mark who will play our stupid game."

Of course Adam Smith himself would have been shocked, because he had a far-reaching and encyclopedic mind, and he would have observed that these people simply refuse to follow cost-benefit analyses beyond the bounds of their own grubbing. Never mind, to follow the linkages of cost and benefit into the near-imponderables of wildlife evolution. And again, he would have noted that they service their greed by throwing up just as many reasons as are needed. Such as by claiming that "sound science" has not yet "predicted" what an ecosystem, or the climate system, will do. Or, we hear that Kyoto was rejected, and there's an end to it. No suggestion to re-write its terms.

What odds would you give, by the way, on whether China mandates some forms of climate mitigation before the U.S. does?

Posted by: Lee A. Arnold at January 26, 2005 12:47 PM

The original Democratic Agenda


Posted by: -JS at February 6, 2005 09:06 PM

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