Thursday, November 09, 2006

Where Do We Go From Here? - Pt.1-

And How Do We Get There?
Well, that was a nice party, and it was really good for morale to have won an important battle so decisively. Now it's time to remember that the battle is not the war, there is plenty of work left to do, and lots still to be enraged about. The Military Commissions Act War Criminals' Protection Act is still tentatively the law of the land, for instance. Its repeal would require a veto-proof bill by the new congress, an impossibility. Or it could be declared unconstitutional by a Supreme Court that consists of 7-2 Republican/Democratic appointees. If it can be brought before a court. One of the more odious provisions of the act is that it cannot be challenged, and that courts have no jurisdiction in detainees' cases. A legal catch-22 and an absurdity that no judge worthy of the name could possibly countenance. More on this most enraging of outrages later.
Let's kick off the discussion with the stated objectives of the new Democratic caucus, what Nancy Pelosi calls the 100 hours plan, and see where that takes us. Here's what she is calling for;
  1. -Break the link between lobbyists and legislation. aka 'drain the swamp.'
  2. -Enact all recommendations of the 9/11 commission.
  3. -Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step.
  4. -Cut the interest rate on student loans in half.
  5. -Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.
  6. -Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds.
  7. -Roll back tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans that have enriched them at the cost of bankrupting the country.
Keep in mind this list was printed in WaPo on Monday, before the magnitude of the Democratic victory was known. The program is probably being ambitiously expanded as I type this. The clear theme though, is the reinstatement of the idea of governing for the people, not just the rich people. Pelosi has a nice blog at HuffPo describing what happens in 100 hours thanks to the policies of the Administration. It all favours the rich.
Take item one; is small town America likely to be comfortable with the fact that another small town, population around 30,000, lives on K street? That's right. Amazingly there are more than 60 registered lobbyists in Washington for every congressperson and senator. There are a lot of alligators in those swamps, where Jack Abramoff so recently wallowed in the muck.
Are Americans comfortable with the fact that they live in a country where, "The wealthiest 1 percent of households owns roughly 33.4% of the nation's net worth, the top 10% of households owns over 71%, and the bottom 40% of households owns less than 1%." ? (2001 figures. It's gotten much worse in the last 5 years.) Logic suggests that 90% would say no, but the myth of the American Dream keeps people in a psychological state where they expect someday to rise into the ranks of the 'haves and the have mores' - consequently they identify with a tax bracket they will never occupy.
Are Americans happy with the fact that, thanks to Jack Abramoff and his Republican cohorts, some of those ultra-wealthy made scads off of slave labour in Saipan, and their profits trickled down streamed gushed out of the country into offshore tax shelters? Or back into the pockets of lobbyists and corrupt legislators to enable more of the same?

Continuing investigations into Abramoff, Foley, and others may force even more Republicans out of their seats, notably John Doolittle and Dennis Hastaert. This will be an opportunity for further Democratic gains before 2008. Hopefully this will embolden them to tackle even more pressing problems facing the country. In an upcoming post I will discuss my list of things not on Nancy Pelosi's list, and consider the best tactical route to get where we need to be.

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