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The_Professor

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What the Dems Would Do
« on: October 23, 2006, 04:17:37 PM »
What the Dems Would Do
They've waited 12 long years to reclaim the steering wheel. How the party out of power would rule if they retake the House.
By Michael Isikoff and Holly Bailey
Newsweek

Oct. 30, 2006 issue - John Dingell likes to reminisce about the days when Democrats ruled Capitol Hill. Back in the 1980s and early '90s, the irascible Michigan congressman was chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, one of the most influential in the Capitol. Dingell oversaw huge swaths of the U.S. economy, as well as the environment and food and drug laws. At times the chairman seemed more prosecutor than politician. He used his gavel to call dozens of hearings. He'd subpoena high government officials—at the time, that often meant Republicans who worked for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush—and grill them for hours under the hot television lights. Dingell always insisted that witnesses testify under oath, meaning anything less than honest answers could be met with perjury charges. It was Dingell's oversight subcommittee that uncovered the Pentagon's $600 toilet seats and exposed corruption in government agencies. "We emptied the top leadership of the EPA," Dingell recalls with obvious satisfaction. "We put a large number of FDA people in jail."

That was before Dingell was forced to surrender his gavel when the GOP won the House in 1994. If Democrats take it back next month, the party will once again be in charge of all the committees. Dingell—now 80 years old and more ornery than ever—is all but certain to return to his old job. After 12 long, frustrating years as the panel's ranking minority member, a title that left him little more than the power to complain, nothing animates Dingell more than the thought of making up for lost time.

Dingell is careful to say he is not out to get George W. Bush, or the Republicans, and insists he will extend his hand to his GOP colleagues and conduct "oversight thoughtfully and responsibly." He says "there's no list" of things he wants to investigate. But in the next breath, he quickly ticks off a list of things he wants to investigate: The Bush administration's handling of port security and the threat of nuclear smuggling; computer privacy; climate change; concentration of media ownership; the new Medicare Part D program, which he calls a "massive scandal," and the secret meetings of Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force. "This is a hardheaded administration," Dingell says. "So we'll probably have lots of hearings."

The House of Representatives is full of John Dingell Democrats—exiled committee chairmen awaiting the day they can reclaim the center chair on the dais. All carry lists—if only in their heads—of issues and outrages they believe Republicans have failed to probe because such questions would be politically embarrassing to the president. Henry Waxman of California is another Democratic old-timer whose ire never dims. A tireless investigator, he's in line to head the Government Reform Committee, and plans to take aim at Halliburton and alleged rip-offs and contract abuse in Iraq. Then there's Charles Rangel, the New York congressman who's never met a cable show he didn't like. He is set to take over the Ways and Means Committee, and wants to take a hard look at the Bush tax cuts. John Conyers of Michigan has waited for years to head the Judiciary Committee. He's likely to convene hearings on the Patriot Act and domestic wiretapping. In the past, he has suggested the possibility of impeachment hearings for President Bush. "When the Clinton administration was in office, there was no accusation too small for the Republicans to rush out the subpoenas," Waxman says. "When Bush became president, there wasn't a scandal big enough for them to ignore."

Frothy rhetoric like that may appeal to those Democrats who relish the thought of spending the next two years in a state of C-Span-induced euphoria. But much as Democrats might like to see a thousand hearings bloom, there is one thing standing in their way: the Democratic leader herself. Nancy Pelosi, who would presumably become Speaker if the party wins the House, has made it clear that she does not want to turn the Capitol into a courthouse. There will be hearings, and plenty of them, but according to a top Democratic staff member familiar with Pelosi's plans—who, like all aides, wouldn't be named talking about strategy—the would-be speaker intends to keep tight control. The aide says Democratic leaders will have veto power over committee probes—something that in the past was the domain of the committee chairmen themselves.

Pelosi is concerned that too many flying subpoenas would make her party appear petty and revenge-hungry, obsessed with blaming Bush. She does not want anything to interfere with her most important goal: making the Democrats look like leaders instead of obstructionists.
Pelosi knows she probably won't have much success passing laws, not with Bush in the White House and a Senate that may well remain under Republican control. But in a way, that's the point: Pelosi's true focus for the next two years will be to position the Democrats for the 2008 presidential race. (She'll have help from rising star Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the hard-edged former Bill Clinton aide who now runs the House Democrats' campaign committee.)

The idea is to bring popular bills that the GOP has opposed to the floor of the House—a minimum-wage hike, prescription-drug reform—and dare Republicans to vote against them. It's part of a larger package the Dems are billing as Six for '06, their version of the "Contract With America," which the GOP used to win in '94. Demo-crats plan to enact the 9/11 Commission recommendations and screen all containers at U.S. ports, put more money into counterterror operations and increase benefits for veterans. At home, they say they'll vote for tax deductions for college tuition and cut student-loan rates while raising taxes on big oil companies and corporations that move overseas. They say they'll also put a popular stem-cell-research bill up for a vote.

Democratic leaders are largely sticking with domestic issues in part because they have yet to come up with a coherent plan for the biggest problem of all: articulating a clear way out of Iraq. On the campaign trail, Democrats have been content to bash Republican failures and say they'd do better. The Democrats' official line is to promise a "new direction," and to urge, vaguely, "redeployment." If they win, they'll be forced to say what, if anything, that means.

Pelosi began preparing for power early. Over the summer, when polls started tilting toward the Democrats, Pelosi made her first moves to get the control of the chairmen-in-waiting. She assigned 40 members the job of studying the Democratic House rules and let it be known that she might not always follow the tradition of awarding chairmanships based on seniority. It was a clear warning not to cross her. In July, when she noticed few members were bothering to show up for party caucus meetings, Pelosi quietly leaked another possible rule change: attendance at the meetings would be taken into account in her committee selections. The same went for fund-raising. Members who weren't writing checks to support Democratic candidates might hurt their chances of rising in the leadership.

Once she'd gotten their attention, Pelosi met privately with several senior House members and told them they would get their committees. But she wanted it understood that she was running the place. Pelosi was especially firm with Conyers. She told him she didn't want any "out-of-control investigations," a senior House aide says; not another word about impeachment, she warned. "The impeachment talk gave the other side exactly what they wanted, which was an opening to talk about 'those liberal Democrats'," says the senior House aide. "It couldn't keep happening. We were writing their campaign ads for them."

So far, Pelosi's strategy appears to be working. The closest Conyers now gets to slamming Bush is his promise to conduct "robust oversight" of the administration. But Pelosi's authority wouldn't be put to a meaningful test until after the election, once chairmen assume control of their new committees and are less susceptible to threats and pressure from the top. If an errant chairman disobeys Pelosi and goes off message—or if preapproved hearings just so happen to take a detour and end up as bitter Bush-flogging sessions—it won't be easy to pry him from his chair, if it were possible at all.

The Republicans are playing up just that scenario. In campaign speeches, GOP heavies have taken to spooking voters with a picture of liberals gone wild. At a Kansas fund-raiser, Dick Cheney conducted a roll call, naming Conyers, Waxman and Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, the outspoken liberal who stands to head the Financial Services Committee. As if Cheney's point weren't clear enough, he drove home the message: "I don't need to tell you what kind of legislation would come to us by way of committee chairmen like [them]," he said. On Nov. 7, Americans will decide which scares them more: the message, or the messengers.

With Mark Hosenball and Eleanor Clift


URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15365610/site/newsweek/


Plane

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Re: What the Dems Would Do
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2006, 12:03:07 AM »
If there was ever an election to loose this would be the one.


Imagine the extrimity of Liberalism flaunting itself for two years and reminding everyone why they voted as they did in '94.



Can they help themselves?


I doubt it , if they bring popular legislation to the floor and pass it , the president will sign it and give a big cerimonial speech about it and pass pens around to all the sponsors.

As if the ideas were his own.

Haven't we seen this ?

sirs

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Re: What the Dems Would Do
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2006, 01:17:07 AM »
Off the top of my head,

- slow the economic boom by raising taxes on "the rich"
- drag the economy down even more by increasing the minimum wage
- facilitate a greater dependence on foreign oil by ceasing any new domestic drilling efforts and furthur impede any Oil Refinement construction, not to mention not approving monies for any new nuclear power plants
- attack the 1st amendment by lobbying for the re-establishment of the Fairness Doctrine
- Pass a resolution condemning Bush for being a moron

ok, the last one might be a bit over the top, though I'm sure it must be running in many of their minds
« Last Edit: October 24, 2006, 04:11:24 AM by sirs »
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

larry

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Re: What the Dems Would Do
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2006, 07:30:46 PM »
If the Dems should regain control of the congress. I expect the dems will move to repeal and, or amend a number of acts signed by Bush expanding the power of the president. I believe there are going to be many investigations revisited. I also believe a plan will be established to exit Iraq. The Dems will have only two years to prove they are not republicans in dems clothing. This is not a good time to B/S the core of dems support. The professor could be right- dumping this mess on the Democrats might be the best long term strategy for the Reps.

sirs

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Re: What the Dems Would Do
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2006, 07:58:45 PM »
I also believe a plan will be established to exit Iraq. The Dems will have only two years to prove they are not republicans in dems clothing.

Strange that we already have one (exit plan), but if the Dems wish to add to it, or present their own, I'm sure we'll be all ears
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

larry

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Re: What the Dems Would Do
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2006, 08:54:35 PM »
If Bush had a real exit plan, Bush, would not have James Baker trying to find one for him. What Bush has is rhetoric and way to many "IF's"

Religion is one issue, but Iraq's oil is a bigger issue. The truth be known now about the intent of the Curds. They were in fact conspiring with the U.S. against Saddam. What the Iraqis need to do is cut the U.S. out of the Iraqi oil debate, and use the Iraqi oil fields as a rallying point for Iraqi Nationalism. Iraqis should never allow their country to be partitian. I think the U.S. exit strategy should come from the Iraqis and not from Washington. When they tell the U.S. to get out of Iraq, the sectarian violence will stop, when those stirring the conflict are gone.

sirs

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Re: What the Dems Would Do
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2006, 11:10:42 PM »
If Bush had a real exit plan, Bush, would not have James Baker trying to find one for him. What Bush has is rhetoric and way to many "IF's"

No, Baker is looking at other ways to expediate our exit plan.  And your opinion of "rhetoric" is another's of an actual exit plan
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

Xavier_Onassis

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Re: What the Dems Would Do
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2006, 10:35:31 AM »
- slow the economic boom by raising taxes on "the rich"
- drag the economy down even more by increasing the minimum wage


Yeah, sure. Give the poor another couple of dollars on the hour,and that would cause inflation.

Or we could return money to the rich, and that somehow would have an opposite effect.

============================================
When the poor piss their meager $2.00 away on food, clothing and lodging, that money vanishes *poof!* and the economy suffers.

When the rich pay less in taxes, somehow it all gets invested in more jobs.

Get real.

What happens is that the poor have to find jobs through some asshole agency, which collects $8.00/hr from the employer and pays them the minimum for three to six months. If the minimum is raised, then the employer will pay $10.00/hr and the poor will get a higher minimum, which will still not even make up for the increase in their rent.

Your knowledge of economics appears to conical in form.

It can fit more easily in your pointy head that way. 
"Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana."