Starting practical never hurts…..


New polling data out today shows that the American people support the Democrats goals for the beginning of their control of Congress. Dubbed the 100 hour agenda, the Democrats campaigned hard on these issues, and it seems like their message got across. The whole article is here.

First up, the minimum wage:

A boost to the $5.15-an-hour federal minimum wage would be the first since 1997. Democratic leaders have proposed raising it in stages to $7.25 an hour.
President Bush has said he supports the idea, along with help for small businesses. Fully 80 percent of survey respondents favor an increase, too. Support is strongest among Democrats, 91 percent, while 65 percent of Republicans back the idea. Women, men without college degrees and single women all are especially likely to favor a minimum wage hike.

Next, although maybe not in this order, allowing the government to negotiate on behalf of medicare with pharmaceutical companies to lower prescription drug costs, and allow importation for prescription drugs from Canada:

Nearly seven of 10 adults, 69 percent, favor the government taking steps to make it easier for people to buy prescription drugs from other countries, where some medicines cost significantly less than in the U.S. Importing prescription drugs to the United States is illegal, but the Food and Drug Administration generally does not bar individuals from bringing in small amounts for personal use. At the same time, the government has estimated that buying drugs from other countries would do little to influence what they cost here at home.

Third, pass veto-proof legislation to allow federal funding of embryonic stem cell research:

Some 56 percent of adults support easing restrictions on using federal money to pay for research on embryonic stem cells. Supporters say such research could lead to treatments for everything from Parkinson’s disease to spinal cord injuries. Bush and other opponents say the embryos from which the cells are extracted are human lives that should not be destroyed in the name of science. Bush kept a promise in 2001 when he limited federally funded research to lines of embryonic stem cells that had been created by that time. Last summer, he used the first veto of his presidency to reject a bill that would have directed more federal dollars toward embryonic stem cell research. Democrats have pledged to reverse that outcome, setting up a possible veto showdown with the president.

Other portions of their agenda include instituting the 9/11 commission recommendations and enacting ethics reform………

The brilliance of this is it begins to create the framework for discussion for 2008, while at the same time, instills in the American people the notion that the days of the do-nothing Congress are over. The opinion of the Democrats will go through the roof once some of this legislation is passed– it will be very easy to fill the vacuum the Republicans have left……


6 Responses to Starting practical never hurts…..

  1. johncos says:

    Great post. I want to go into the ramifications for 2008 a little more. The 100 hour agenda is more than just a framework for discussion for 2008, it is going to be crucial to Democratic victory in the next election cycle. The Republican Congress had 12 years to govern, but they too started quickly (with the Contract for America) and created the perception that they were working for the American public. Democrats have two years to show that they can be effective leaders controlling Congress. While the presidential nominee will be running against the legacy and policies of the Bush administration, in order to maintain a progressive government, Congress (particularly the precarious Senate) needs to be maintained if not grown. A 100 hour agenda can show the real-world results of new ideas in government and give voters little doubt about the party they want in power in 2008

  2. anoodle says:

    exactly. Come out with a bang, create some momentum, change the national image of the democrats, force the media to forget about the whole nonsense of “the democrats don’t stand for anything”, build up a little political capital, then go for bigger issues. I agree with you– realistically, the congress has about 18 months, at best, probably more like 12 months to make an impact before all the attention will move to Decision 2008.

    Build on some legislative successes, investigate the administration without coming across as shrill, and create a consensus in the country around the progressive agenda more than 50% of them support anyway, and 2008 will be easy.

    2/3 of the senate seats next time up for grabs belong to Republians…..

  3. anoodle says:

    check out this interesting rebuttal to this post from Lawrence O’Donnell, on : He acts as if in 4 days this will all be done and over with. The 100 hours is a gimmick that Pelosi can use to introduce the legislation and get House votes on it. She know the bills will have to be reconciled with their respective senate versions, which will take weeks if not months. In the meantime, she’s applauded, the issues hit the front pages of all the papers and open news casts, and the Dems build momentum….. Now, here’s Mr. O’Donnell (who I usually love, btw)….

    Lawrence O’Donnell

    Pelosi Needs An Agenda for 100 Weeks, Not 100 Hours

    Nancy Pelosi’s first legislative move as Speaker of the House is a mistake. A big one. She is going to cram all the feel-good, easy-to-pass, politically popular legislation she can think of into her first hundred hours without any idea of what she’s going to do for the next hundred weeks.

    Pelosi’s hundred-hour agenda is a smart one; it’s the hundred hours that’s the problem.
    The biggest minimum wage increase in history is long overdue and very popular with voters. Why cram it into a frenzied legislative session with a bunch of other bills that will have a claim on headline space? Why not let the minimum wage increase have a hundred hours all to itself? Why not let each of the Pelosi agenda items have their own week in the media sun? Each of those weeks should be chosen carefully to maximize the political benefit with voters. That’s the way successful Speakers used to play their winning hands. If they were going to cut interest rates on student loans in half, they would do it in June or September when the interested parties are intensely focused on getting out of or going back to school. Pelosi should be trying to find the right week or two for each of her easy agenda items, which is admittedly difficult in a year when the Iraq war/occupation/troop surge can dominate news coverage at any time.

    What’s the rush? The Senate is not going to pass any of Pelosi’s agenda very quickly, and the president will probably veto some of it — like increased stem cell research — so none of this is going to become law in a hundred hours.

    After her first hundred hours, Pelosi will have 96 news weeks left to manage before the next Congressional election. She needs legislative cards to play in 2008, preferably easy, popular ones. If she uses every one of those in her first hundred hours, she will be foolishly counting on voters to have very, very long memories.

  4. comm5ttee says:

    Fantastic observations. I have a few concerns though.

    First, I’m unsure if the Democrats will be able to sustain this momentum through the new Iraq plan to be unveiled by the President next week. It seems that if, as many are now predicting, Bush will state that more troops need to be sent, Congress has an interesting decision to make. Will it acquiesce to the Executive and let the consequences run their course? Will it decide that enough is enough and refuse to fund the war effort? Will it take over the handling of the war? It seems that should Congress step in to the waging of war, the domestic agenda, which is what people now care about, will be out the window. Additionally, for each of those above questions, while there might be a right answer it can be spun the entire opposite way.

    The second pothole in the Democratic agenda could come from the media attention to the in-fighting surely to start occurring within the rank-and-file about the who’s who in for the 2008 nomination. It seems that if the Democrats are smart and want to sustain power and momentum, they will slow the nomination process down and widdle down an already exponentially growing group of candidates. Already damaging is Hillary’s summation of the Obama candidacy.

    Just some thoughts, but I couldn’t agree more that this 100 hours is going to be an exciting time to see what the Democrats are capable of.

  5. johncos says:

    While I think that President Bush will attempt to steal the media coverage and momentum of the 109th Congress by announcing his “new and exciting” plan for Iraq, I can’t believe that Democrats will acquiesce to the President because they understand that they received a mandate on November 7th. This mandate stated that the days of the rubber-stamp Congress are over and the policies of the President are misguided and lethal. The “consequences” of this war are to grave to watch impassively. It is the job, the obligation, of Congress to fund the war effort or at least sanction this War and I do not believe it will. I believe that domestic and foreign policy can be adjudicated simultaneously. Pelosi needs to be a strong House leader (a la Newt as much as it hurts me to say) in order to maintain the goals Democrats possess.

    I think you’re other point is far more likely. But I don’t see the infighting preventing the 100 hours agenda of Congress from happening for two points. 1) The Presidential Campaign is going to happen in a bubble away from and seperate of Congress. Other than Kucinich (bless his little heart) there are no House members running and I don’t see either Obama or Clinton arguing maliciously against the other in the primary stages. The primaries will be about vision and about eloquence. I don’t know how easy it is to slow the growth of presidential candidates, but I think that the pure financial restraints of running will limit the race once it actually becomes intense. Plus, they politicians don’t want to be seen as a cause of Congressional failure, so they’ll do their best get through legislation that they can be proud to have their names and votes attached to.

  6. anoodle says:

    A couple of points–
    1– The Dems will not have the cojones to cut the funding for the war. They may try some legislative gimmickry to “hold up” the funding while they debate and investigate, but I don’t expect them to cut the cash at this point. I think they should– I think it’s what the country wants, but I don’t think they have it in them……. I think they will avoid a vote on the funding of the additional troops altogether, and will try to a weasly way to provide “oversight” I’m not sure I blame them– cutting the funding while troops are in harms way is a tough sell, and even though the country wants the troops home, leaving troops on the battlefield sans the resources they need could be politically disastrous. As much I hate to admit it, they might be better off passively acquiescing, or more likely, not actively objecting, and letting the McCain doctrine be the failure that it is…… time will tell.

    2– The Dems will pursue their domestic agenda simultaneously for the same reason– they can change the subject as much as possible, and still point to legislative accomplishments.

    3– Once everyone is formally in, i.e. they all announce, they are going to tear their hearts out, and HRC will be the worst culprit. Your forget who works for her– she has at her disposal the most ruthless, the most heartless, the most skilled people in the entire democratic establishment. The House will pass legislation quickly, the Senate will deliberate more and some bills will get held up, but part of the reason they chose this agenda is any potential 2008 contender supports all of it. They are keeping the subject on things the entire party can coalesce around, rather than tackle tougher issues. At some point, the honeymoon will end legislatively, but even then, I think the bills introduced will be agreed upon by all candidates. The real fight will happen outside of the Senate chamber….

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