by McQ | June 13, 2008 10:12 am
Billed as a “centerist agenda”, Chris Bowers of Open Left lists the “legislation that is certain to pass if Obama wins the White House, we pick up 20 more seats in the House, and 8 more seats in the Senate.”
1. H.R. 1591, U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007. Withdrawing between 100,000 to 120,000 of the 160,000 American military troops in Iraq.
2. Webb amendment to HR 1585: To specify minimum periods between deployment of units and members of the Armed Forces for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
3. Employee Free Choice Act of 2007. Making it easier to join a union.
4. Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Another worker’s right’s bill.
5. District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act : A bill to provide the District of Columbia a voting seat and the State of Utah an additional seat in the House of Representatives.
6. Rush Holt’s verified voting bill. A verified paper trail for every vote cast in America.
7. Specter amendment to HR 1585: To restore habeas corpus for those detained by the United States.
8. H.R. 976, Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007. Expanding children’s health care.
9. Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act : A bill to amend part D of title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for fair prescription drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries.
10. Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007. Increasing stem cell research.
11. Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act. Increased investment in renewable energy.
12. Harkin amendment to the Farm Bill. Not sure what this is, but it probably will pass when we get six more votes in the Senate.
13. Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act. A centrist global warming bill that doesn’t do much to stop global warming, from what I have heard.
Bowers then describes this list and its supposed “centerist agenda” this way:
Overall, this is pretty much a wave of centrist legislation. We will give troops more time at home, and withdraw about 70-75% of them from Iraq, but not all of them. We will expand health care, but it won’t be universal. We will restore some civil liberties, but not all of them. We will get some immigration reform, but not much. Something will be done about sustainability in energy, global warming and agriculture, but nowhere near enough. So, we are going to begin with a centrist template, but at least we will have to fight to make all of these bits of legislation better. Having even that opportunity will be a dramatic improvement. With Bush in office and only 50 Senators, right now progressive legislation is impossible.
The idea, obviously, is to sell this as a centerist agenda when in fact, it is an incremental liberal agenda.
Look at items 1 and 2. With Obama as president, he could do both of those things without any action by Congress. As commander-in-chief, he can draw down the troops to those levels and he can direct there be minimum periods between deployments. That gives you an idea of how much Congress has attempted to mess with the authority of the commander-in-chief. Imagine, if you will, the outcry if a Republican Congress was attempting to mandate an increase in troops and a shorter time between deployments. What do you suppose the Democratic argument would be if a Democrat were in the White House?
3 and 4 are boilerplate union pandering and more government intrusion and meddling in the affairs of business. Pure payback for union support during this election. The Employee Free Choice Act of 2007 is particularly insidious and you need to read up on it.
5 Washington DC is represented in Congress by the entire Congress. It is a federal district. Giving it a representative with a vote is tantamount to giving it the same rights as a state. It’s not a state and thus shouldn’t have a vote. If DC leaned to the right, this wouldn’t be an issue.
6 I actually have no problem with that bill. I see nothing wrong with requiring a verifiable paper trail be provided when voting machines are used. There may be other things hidden in there with which I might object, but that particular idea is a good one.
7 is moot given the SCOTUS ruling yesterday.
8 is SCHIP all over again and an attempt to incrementally expand government health coverage. If you recall this was the attempt to put families earning up to 80k a year on the roles as well as “children” up to the age of 23. With a Democratic Congress and president, the possibility of its passage is greatly increased.
9 is simply price controls, and 10 is the liberal desire to dump your tax dollars into fetal stem cell research, an area that the market has mostly abandoned for progress on the adult stem cell research side.
11 is another scheme to spend money on whatever government decides is worthwhile in terms of “renewable energy” – that’s worked out well with ethanol hasn’t it?
You have to love 12. It is the porkapalooza of all legislation and while Bowers doesn’t know what it is he’s sure that if Harkin wants it, it must be something progressives want. Well yeah – more spending, more government, more waste.
As for 13, it may not do much of anything except make official the acceptance of the premise that “we have to do something about global warming through government”. And that is its key point. When the acceptance of the premise is made official through passing this legislation, the flood-gates of spending, taxing and regulation are thrown wide-open and will be impossible to ever shut again.
And that’s precisely the value of that bill to “progressives”. In fact, that’s the value of the entire agenda. Frog, pot, warming water.
The most exciting bits are the positive, progressive feedback loops around increasing unionization (the employee free choice act) and election reform (D.C. voting rights, verified paper trails). These are laws that will make the country itself more progressive, thus building a progressive majority down the road. If we can get more of these, including sweeping media reform (about which we should be optimistic), real immigration reform, (about which I am not optimistic) and the progressive budget (which might just happen by 2011, if all goes well), then we will be on our way to a progressive majority in America that will last for an entire generation.
Is this what you want to see?
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