October 22, 2006

Yes Virginia, the Democrats have a Plan

"The secret to a Democratic victory isn't reframing issues, it's offering new ideas that work. Here's the plan..."

That's the teaser for "Breaking out of the Frame Game", an excerpt from "The Plan: Big Ideas for America", a book by Rahm Emanuel & Bruce Reed.

The piece appears in the latest issue of the Democratic Leadership Council's online magazine "Blueprint", which is brimming with new and forward looking ideas from Democratic leaders, ideas which routinely are ignored by the press and which the right pretend don't exist.

From the excerpt:
The Bush White House was so obsessed with how to profit politically from its agenda that it never even asked whether its policies would actually work. It should come as no surprise that they didn't.

President Bush served as Hack-in-Chief even when he studiously pretended not to be doing so. He came into office promising to be a compassionate conservative, soon left us yearning for a competent conservative, and seems destined to be remembered for presiding over the heyday of the corrupt conservative.

Republicans have learned the hard way that the American people are a lot smarter than either the Hacks or the Wonks imagine. For all the talk in both parties about the urgent need to win one constituency or another, most Americans apply the same political yardstick: They vote for what works. There aren't enough Hacks, even in Washington, to sell policies that don't work -- although that never stopped Bush from trying. (More here)

What's the DLC plan? Below is an outline of their policy goals for the future.

1. A New Social Contract: What You Can Do for Your Country, and What Your Country Can Do for You.
First, we need a new bargain between the people and their government, based on four new mutual obligations: universal citizen service, universal college access, universal retirement savings, and universal children's health care. The terms of this bargain may be new, but the bedrock principle is not: You do your part, and your government, your company, and your country will do theirs.

Universal Citizen Service. Citizenship is a responsibility, not an entitlement program. If your leaders aren't challenging you to do your part, they aren't doing theirs. We need a new patriotism that brings out the patriot in all of us by establishing, for the first time, an ethic of universal citizen service. All Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 should be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic civil defense training and community service. This is not a draft -- nor is it military. Young people will be trained not as soldiers, but simply as citizens who understand their responsibilities in the event of natural disaster, epidemic, or terrorist attack. Universal citizen service will bring Americans of every background together to make America safer and more united in common national purpose.

Universal College Access. We must make a college degree as universal as a high school diploma. We have an education system built in the last century. In this new era, college will be the greatest engine of opportunity for our society and our economy. Just as Abraham Lincoln gave land grants to endow our great public universities, we should give the states tuition grants to make college free for those willing to work, serve, and excel. A College Tax Credit should replace the five major existing education tax incentives with a simple $3,000-a-year credit -- fully refundable and available for four years of college and two years of graduate school. It would help 6 million full-time students cover more than half the average cost of tuition at a public university.

Universal Retirement Savings. From now on, every job ought to come with a 401(k). An aging society cannot afford to keep saving less and risking more. We need new means to create wealth. Employers should be required to offer 401(k)'s, and workers will be enrolled unless they choose otherwise. If they switch jobs, they should be able to take their account with them. When their paycheck goes up, so should their savings. Instead of a workforce in which only half the workers have retirement savings plans, every American will have one.

Universal Children's Health Care. We need to cut the cost of health care so that every business can afford it, and every child in America at last can get it. We can save hundreds of billions by adopting electronic medical records, rewarding outcomes instead of procedures, providing incentives for personal responsibility, and starting a National Cure Center to cure chronic diseases. As we achieve those savings, we should use them to give small businesses access to the same health plans as members of Congress -- and to make sure all parents in America have the responsibility and the means to afford health insurance for their children.

2. Fiscal Responsibility and Ending Corporate Welfare.

We'll never build a new social contract if we don't repair the broken contract between the American people and their leaders. We can only achieve universal service, college, pensions, and children's health care if we're willing to cut and invest to pay for them. The place to start is by ending corporate welfare and the Hack-ridden government that fuels it.

One prominent Bush appointee allegedly threatened to fire a career government actuary if he told Congress how much the prescription drug bill would explode Medicare spending. Remember the good old days when Republicans went to jail for covering up burglaries and conducting covert wars against Communism? Now they're under investigation for covering up massive social spending. No wonder conservatives are unhappy. It's as if Oliver North were running a secret Head Start program in the White House basement.

3. Tax Reform to Help Those Who Aren't Wealthy Build Wealth.

Americans shouldn't have to start rich to get rich, and ordinary Americans shouldn't have to hire an accountant to get ahead. We propose a tax reform plan that makes sure no middle-class family with an income of under $100,000 will ever have to pay an effective income tax rate of more than 10 percent. Our plan cuts the number of tax brackets in half, closes dozens of loopholes by setting a corporate flat tax, and simplifies the tax code by offering four superincentives: a $3,000 refundable college tax credit, a universal mortgage deduction, a simplified family credit for families with children, and a universal pension that replaces the current hodgepodge of 16 existing IRA-type accounts.

4. A New Strategy to Win the War on Terror.

If Karl Rove could have had his way, Bush's re-election slogan would have been, "Four More Wars!" Rove invented a perpetual motion machine: Republicans fail on national security, which invites Democratic criticism, which lets Republicans attack Democrats for lack of resolve, which buys them more time to fail on national security.

We need a new strategy that uses all the tools of American power to make our country safe. America must lead the world's fight against the spread of evil and totalitarianism, but we must stop trying to win that battle on our own. We should reform and strengthen multilateral institutions for the 21st century, not walk away from them. We need to fortify the military's "thin green line" around the world by adding to the Special Forces and the Marines, and expanding the Army by 100,000 more troops. We should give all our troops a new G.I. Bill to come home to. Finally, we must protect the homeland and our civil liberties by creating a new domestic counterterrorism force like Britain's MI5.

5. A Hybrid Economy that Cuts America's Gasoline Use in Half.

When we were kids, we used to watch Shell gasoline ads of drivers on the Bonneville Salt Flats trying to prove that the company's "extra mileage ingredient" would squeeze out a few more yards per gallon. Today, we can achieve real breakthroughs. We can cut our use of gasoline in half over the next decade by accelerating energy research and by embracing a technology that already exists -- the plug-in hybrid, which in combination with alternative fuels has the potential to deliver 100 miles per gallon.

America should usher in the Hybrid Economy, a new era of energy efficiency and innovation that can save the auto industry and the planet at the same time. Instead of sending tens of billions a year to support corrupt regimes whose neglect and corruption keep terrorism alive, we can end our dependence on a dangerous region that harbors many who wish us great harm.

Great ideas? Good ideas? Lousy ideas? A winning plan?

When confronted with the undeniable reality that the Bush administration has been a miserable failure at nearly everything it's touched, right-wingers routinely respond like trained seals by, yep, you guessed it, pointing the finger of blame somewhere else, ignoring of course thatdoing so does absolutely NOTHING to excuse or explain their incompetence.

One of their constant refrains when their failures are brought up is the rather idiotic defense of pointing out, falsely, that Democrats "don't have a plan" for Iraq or other issues.

They're such good lemmings that it's been impossible to avoid hearing this nonsense almost daily.

Of course, it's not the job of the Democrats to pull the Republican government's ass out of the fire by telling them how to lead, how do their jobs, they ran saying they were the "grown-ups", remember? The CEO administration...the competent guys. What a joke!
And it's particularly ironic that they expect the Dems to tell them how to govern since the Republicans haven't listened to a word the Dems have said for years, which is a prime reason we're in this mess to begin with.

There have been many plans and options on all issues, including Iraq, put forward by Democrats, but of course, they were a bit more complex and reality-based than "Stay the course", so naturally the press didn't pay attention, and the public didn't have the attention span to listen to them anyway.

So here's yet one more "plan" from the Democrats.

What's do you think?

It looks pretty good to me, though I notice that they pull up short of advocating government funded healthcare for all children, saying instead they will "make sure all parents in America have the responsibility and the means to afford health insurance for their children", a worthy goal, how do they propose to achieve it?

Will it appeal to the public? What are the best points? The worst points? What do you like or dislike about it and why?


At 10/22/2006 11:04 PM, Anonymous Saul said...

I don't really have any warm fuzzy feelings for the DLC at all, and this confirms my opinion. Not only is there no mention of Iraq, but they even call for expanding the army by 100,000? The DLC is trying to out-right the right wing again. The Iraq war is not supported by the American people. There's no need to take such a position. Kerry's failure to take a coherent position against the war, at a time when he should have known better (which he now admits), earned him the name "flip flopper", and this was one of the things that lost him the election.

The DLC democrats are trying to push this issue to one side and avoid seriously debating it, thinking that if they do so they can concentrate on their domestic agenda. It's this kind of thinking that got many democrats to refrain from voting against the war in the first place. We all see what a disaster that has caused. By now, there's no question that the majority in this country opposes the war. Calling for pulling out of Iraq is not only a winning position, it's the right position.

At 10/23/2006 12:02 PM, Blogger Carl Nyberg said...

I strongly suspect any policies that sound progressive are merely ploys to win votes, not serious policy proposals.

The DLC's true agenda seems to be something different than incrementalist progressivism.

At 10/23/2006 12:08 PM, Blogger Carl Nyberg said...

BTW, how have DLC Dems done in Congress?

What legislative initiatives have they implemented and championed?

Rep. Bernie Sanders gets lots of stuff passed. He's to the Left of most of the House.

Since the DLC types work hard to maintain close relationships with the GOP, has this translated into making incrementalism work?

At 10/23/2006 7:08 PM, Blogger nicodemus said...

I am going to read Rahm Emmanuel's book. Nobody can say that I am close-minded or "incurious" like Dubya.

The mind, stretched to the dimensions of a new idea, never retains it's original size"-Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Now we'll just see if if this plan offers anything new, or if it is just boilerplate stuff.

I also ordered Obama's book. Personally, I thought his autobiography was boring- we'll see if he has anything to say this time. I don't usually read liberals anymore. Perhaps my reading these books will balance out Newt Gingrich's book which I am now halfway through. He was always a smart man, and with Denny Halfwit as Speaker, I miss Newt even more.

As far as hybrid cars or a real energy policy, I believe it is long, long overdue. Jerry Brown was the man with the plan. If we would have had him for a president (instead of Reagan, instead of Slick Willie) think of where we would be today.

Heck I remember when I was a kid and they told us that "in the year 2000" we would all be driving cars that resembled Luke Skywalker's hovercraft or the Jetsons. Well, here were are in 2006 and my gas-guzzling jeep gets like 15 mpg.

Yes, we need alternative energy and hybrid cars and we need to adapt the policies set forth in the Phoenix Project. http://www.phoenixprojectfoundation.us

At 10/23/2006 9:28 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

My hat's off to you for being willing to plow through policy stuff from one side, let alone both. It's not known for being exactly exciting material.

But you'll certainly have a handle on at least what these particular factions want to do.

I run hot and cold on Newt, mostly cold.

He's a huge science wonk, and due to that, he's unable to take some of the idiotic stances that other conservatives do on environmental issues. So for that I give him props.

But every time I start thinking he's making sense, he goes and veers off into la-la land on foreign policy or some other area and loses me. And of course I can't quite forgive him for what he did to encourage and literally teach Republicans in the art of wedge politics and how to go way over the top in demonizing all liberals or Democrats, and turning the Republicans into a party more concerned with winning power than actually governing.

I truly believe that he was the architect of the current polarized situation we find ourselves in today.

Of course Rove perfected it, but Gingrich started it.

I also respect you for having read Obama's autobiography. I must admit that I have an interest in it, but not enough to actually read it.

I've read a review of his "Audacity" by David Brooks, and he seemed to come away very impressed. Brooks notes that Obama seems to consider both sides of arguments before coming to a conclusion, as if that alone is simply amazing. I suppose it might be after the reign of Republican ideologues who can't be bothered with stuff like facts and reality.

But if you do read his book, you'll be better informed about what he's about than 99.999% of people, who will likely base their impressions more on looks and the celebrity buzz which has grown around him.

At 10/23/2006 10:08 PM, Blogger demgorilla said...

I love the plan by Rahm Emanuel and Bruce Reed. If our party is smart enough to start talking about 75% it we'll be in 150% better shape than we are now as a party and a nation.

At 10/27/2006 11:13 AM, Anonymous havinfun said...

Nancy Pelosi, the likely next 'Speaker of the House' apparently shows her agenda by her votes...

NO - on the Border Security Bill.
NO - on making tax cuts permanent.
NO - on eliminating the marriage penalty.

NO - on eliminating the death tax.
NO - on creating Health Savings Accounts.

NO - on the Defense of Marriage Act.
NO - on the 1996 Welfare Reform Law
NO - on its reauthorization.
NO - on protecting the Pledge of Allegiance.

NO - on banning Partial Birth Abortion.

NO - on requiring photo ID's to ensure that only legal voters vote.

NO - on the Patriot Act.
NO - on authorizing domestic tracking of terrorists.

NO - on military tribunals and new interrogation rules for terrorist detainees.

Now that is an agenda!

At 10/27/2006 12:29 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Sounds like a welcome return to reason over emotion to me.
Great agenda in defense of long-established constitutional rights, and sane policy based on fact rather than blind ideology and a sense of near panic over the fear of boogie men.

An appeal to intellect, compassion, unity, and strength, rather than constant appeals to fear, distrust, selfishness, biggotry, and trying to justify hate and division, and an over-riding belief in "I've got mine, screw YOU!" as a basic guiding principle for society.

The country will be far better off. I can't wait.

At 10/29/2006 6:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would agree with havinfun,that if reasonable people understood Pelosi's voting record, they would pull the 'R' lever...

At 10/29/2006 9:46 AM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Reasonable people like me agree with Pelosi. I have actually met her and think she would be a vast improvement over that slug Hastert who did nothing to stop the Foley mess and led his own party into disaster.

The leadership of Bush's agenda is crumbling and it's time for someone with more common sense like Pelosi to take the reins.

Pelosi is thoughtful and articulate and would be a fine speaker and could make history as a great woman leader to inspire future generations of girls and women to enter politics.

The only people who do not like her are the right wing Bush Republicans because she is a threat to them -- like my friend havin fun above most certain is very Republican in his/her views.


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