Saturday, September 30, 2006

Democrats To Put Our Fiscal House in Order If They Win

After the huge war and tax cut-induced deficits of these last few years under the Bush administration, I have long believed that our first priority should Democrats assume control of the House and/or Senate should be moving toward a balanced budget. Despite the fact that Republicans in House races across the country are trying to run against the idea of "tax and spend, San Francisco liberal" Nancy Pelosi as the next Speaker of the House, she seems to be in agreement.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pledged that if Democrats succeed next year in rolling back President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the money would be used to reduce the federal deficit -- not for new spending...

"Not every single dollar" would go to the Treasury, she said, "but I hope that...we would use the rollback of the tax cuts" to address the deficit since "it is the biggest drain...on the next generation."

...Ms. Pelosi says she is committed to a "pay-as-you-go" budget approach that would require any expansion of federal benefits to be offset by spending reductions elsewhere or new taxes.

Of course, any repeal of the tax cuts would be vetoed by President Bush while he's still in office, but PAYGO the overall message of fiscal discipline is a good one that I think resonates with many Americans, including conservatives, who feel Republicans have bankrupted the country.

When asked to outline the Democrats' agenda, she listed initiatives that she said wouldn't strain the government's coffers: cutting interest rates on student loans, raising the minimum wage and demanding higher royalties from oil companies.

...Ms. Pelosi's appeals for bipartisanship and her relatively modest agenda recognize that even if Democrats take back one or both chambers in Congress in November, the majority would be slim and they would still have a Republican president. Republicans "are dying for us to put out some blimps," she laughs, but she is steering clear of big-ticket health-care proposals, such as universal insurance coverage or even narrower goals such as extending coverage to all children... In this vein, her first health-care goal will be to pass legislation that would allow the federal government to negotiate lower prescription-drug prices in the Medicare program. Such a move would strike at the Republican-backed drug-benefit program, which Democrats have criticized as costly and a "giveaway" to pharmaceuticals companies.

I think these are good plans, at least some of which could pass with a narrow Democratic majority and Bush as president. As much as I'm in favor of universal healthcare and other big progressive ideas, we have to pragmatic. And again, reducing the deficit, which has added $2 trillion dollars to the national debt since Bush came in to office, should be our first priority. It may not be exciting, but it will show Democrats as good stewards of government - something Republicans have shown they are certainly not.

Breaking with many Democrats, Ms. Pelosi also spoke out against earmarking billions of dollars for home-state projects, a practice she calls a "monster" that hurts Congress.

If she becomes speaker in the next Congress, she says, she would press to severely reduce earmarks. "Personally, myself, I'd get rid of all of them," she says. "None of them is worth the skepticism, the cynicism the public has... and the fiscal irresponsibility of it."

Again, I totally agree. Of course, it is not very likely Ms. Pelosi could succeed in eradicating pork-barrel spending entirely, but she could move the caucus and Congress toward such a goal, which would be another drastic different between a House of Representatives controlled by Democrats, and the one currently controlled by Republicans.

If elected the first female speaker in U.S. history, Ms. Pelosi, 66 years old, promises a new beginning and "civility" for the House. "You know I'm a partisan Democrat when it comes to my politics," she says. "But when it comes to being speaker of the House, if that were ever to happen, I view that title as speaker of the House, not speaker of the Democrats."

"Everyone's views can be heard," she says. "Republicans can bring bills to the floor... Hash it out and that's the policy."

Truth or rhetoric? Remains to be seen, but it's likely the Democrats don't want to follow the same iron-fisted, corrupt, and ultimately self-destructive policies that are currently leading to the undoing of Republican rule.

1 comment:

Nat-Wu said...

Sounds like a good plan to me. Now, if they'd quit being so spineless...