Friday, December 14, 2007

Democrats: Plan B

American people plan B: Tax Revolts and Consumer Strikes. Money is the only thing they understand.

We have waited for too long for leadership out of Washington, while millions lose their homes, thousands lose their relatives in the sands of Iraq for GOP corporate supporters' bottom lines, more and more Americans go without healthcare every year and many, many more have inadequate healthcare.

It's time for the American people to act. What are we paying taxes for? Just think about it.

We have already consumed ourselves into deadly obesity, more and more gadgets that we don't need and we don't know what effect these gadgets are having on us and/or our kids, fossil fuels that get more and more expensive everyday and are killing the planet at a rapid pace, and we have, as a nation and as individuals, lived way beyond our means for over 40 years now.

It's time for Plan B, alright, but Plan B belongs to the American people and we need to act on it.

Plan B For Pelosi And Reid

By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Friday, December 14, 2007; A39

Congressional Democrats need a Plan B.

Republicans chortle as they block Democratic initiatives -- and accuse the majority of being unable to govern. Rank-and-filers are furious that their leaders can't end the Iraq war. President Bush sits back and vetoes at will.

Worse, Democrats are starting to blame each other, with those in the House wondering why their Senate colleagues don't force Republicans to engage in grueling, old-fashioned filibusters. Instead, the GOP kills bills by coming up with just 41 votes. Senators defend themselves by saying that their House colleagues don't understand how the august "upper" chamber works these days.

If Bush's strategy is to drag Congress down to his low level of public esteem, he is succeeding brilliantly. A Post-ABC News poll released this week found that only 33 percent of Americans approved of Bush's handling of his job -- and just 32 percent felt positively about Congress's performance. The only comfort for Democrats: The public dislikes Republicans in Congress (32 percent approval) even more than it dislikes congressional Democrats (40 percent approval).

The Democrats' core problem is that they have been unable to place blame for gridlock where it largely belongs, on the Republican minority and the president.

In an ideal world, Democrats would pass a lot of legislation that Bush would either have to sign or veto. The president would have to take responsibility for his choices. The House has passed many bills, but the Republican minority has enormous power in the Senate to keep the legislation from getting to the president's desk. This creates the impression that action is being stalled through some vague and nefarious congressional "process."

Not only can a minority block action in the Senate, but the Democrats' nominal one-vote majority is frequently not a majority at all. A few maverick Democrats often defect, and the party runs short-handed when Sens. Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd and Barack Obama are off running for president.

And Bush is learning that even when bills reach his desk, he can veto them with near impunity. On Wednesday, Bush issued his second veto of a bill to extend coverage under the State Children's Health Insurance Program to 10 million kids. Democrats have the high ground on the issue and more than two-thirds support in the Senate, but the bill lacks a veto-proof House majority.

Bush has nothing to lose. He can't run again. He doesn't have to face the voters again. He can do pretty much as he pleases, until he runs up against someone else with nothing to lose, and he and the Republicans are creating more of them every day.

After Bush vetoed the first version of the SCHIP bill, Democrats changed it slightly to make it more attractive to Republicans. And the new version passed both houses, too. When Bush vetoed the SCHIP measure again, almost nobody paid attention. The Post ran a three-paragraph story on the corner of Page A18; the New York Times ran a longer story -- on Page A29.

Democrats can't even get credit for doing the right thing. If Congress and Bush don't act, the alternative minimum tax -- originally designed to affect only Americans with very high incomes -- will raise taxes on about 20 million middle- and upper-middle-class people for whom it was never intended.

Sounds like another reason for a tax revolt. That is about the only thing that will get anyone's attention

Democrats want to protect those taxpayers but also to keep their pay-as-you-go promise to offset new spending or tax cuts with tax increases or program cuts elsewhere. They would finance AMT relief with $50 billion in new taxes on the very wealthiest Americans or corporations. The Republicans say no, just pass the AMT fix.

Here's a guarantee: If the Democrats fail to pass AMT relief, they will be blamed for raising taxes on the middle class. If they pass it without the tax increase, deficit hawks will accuse them of selling out.

What's the alternative to internecine Democratic finger-pointing of the sort that made the front page of yesterday's Post? The party's congressional leaders need to do whatever they have to do to put this year behind them. Then they need to stop whining. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid should put aside any ill feelings and use the Christmas break to come up with a joint program for 2008.

They could start with the best ideas from their presidential candidates in areas such as health care, education, cures for the ailing economy and poverty reduction. Agree to bring the same bills to a vote in both houses. Try one more time to change the direction of Iraq policy. If Bush and the Republicans block their efforts, bring all these issues into the campaign. Let the voters break the gridlock.

If Democrats don't make the 2008 election about the Do-Nothing Republicans, the GOP has its own ideas about whom to hold responsible for Washington's paralysis. And if House and Senate Democrats waste their time attacking each other, they will deserve any blame they get next fall.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

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