The case for a democratic response to \”A pledge to America\”



On September 22nd, the GOP released its agenda, a \’Pledge to America\’, designed to address the concerns of the Republican constituency: the tea partiers, fiscal conservatives, libertarian independents and of course, their base–social voters.

Despite how unimpressed I am at the legislative proposals (tort reform theories, repealing health reform, extension of all Bush tax cuts, dissolving the remainder of the stimulus), I think it was a wise political move by Republicans. Laying out the party\’s goals and why they want to accomplish those goals is important information that voters should know.

The Democratic Party currently lacks a pledge. They say  \”we don\’t need a pledge, we have a record.\”

Unfortunately for Democrats, voters aren\’t just deciding their votes based on the success of their record. They\’re judging based on what they\’ll do next. The misinformed electorate (courtesy of Fox News Channel and the neo-cons on talk radio) doesn\’t know that the House of Representatives passed 372 bills the past two years that the Senate failed to squeak through. When the Senate isn\’t filibuster proof, the legislative process becomes far less effective.

The DNC needs to understand the fact that legislation is different than vision. Legislation is what is possible to get done.Vision is what you want to get done, and voters need to know that. An agenda describing a promising vision for the future could be extremely beneficial to Democrats running for re-election.

The voters now have that information from Republicans, but they lack it from Democrats, and that could prove disastrous for liberals come November. And Liberals have big things they want to accomplish, but Democrats have stopped talking about those things because they can\’t pass them.

Here are 9 agenda-comprising policies that should be promised to the American people by Democrats. Let\’s call it \’Vision for America\’.

1. The commitment to passing a strong environmental bill that addresses issues like climate change, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions, and promises the inclusion of a cap and trade system. A real energy bill is a well-liked proposal in most states.

2. A payroll tax holiday for all workers who pay it (about 75% of the labor force). This would offer an extremely popular form of stimulus to families that need relief as well as the economy as a whole. According to a chart produced by the National Federation of Independent Business, 31% of small businesses surveyed say that \”poor sales\” are their most important problem. Taxation and regulation, in comparison, lie in the 17-22% range. When the government addresses the issue of soft demand, they\’re essentially addressing the jobs issue.

3. A promise to re-introduce a public option available to all Americans and employers. It should resemble the vastly popular Medicare buy-in concept.

4. A non-compromising end to the Bush tax cuts. No tax cuts for the rich, and a return to pre 2001 fiscal responsibility and a commitment to paying for the programs we create.

5. The introduction of solid campaign-finance reform, such as the Fair Elections Now Act.

6. Dedication to the repeal of Don\’t Ask, Don\’t Tell as soon as possible when elected.

7. The undertaking of a real jobs bill that provides relief and security to businesses who hire American workers, while further addressing the soft demand crises (see no. 2).

8. Protecting our borders by passing comprehensive immigration reforms that actually work. We need to give all immigrants, even illegals, a manageable path to citizenship. Also included should be the repeal of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

9. Ending combat operations in Afghanistan under an 18 month timetable. Ending wars was the reason why Democrats got elected 4 years ago.

Dedication to these nine policies would certainly give the Democrats a set of promises that a large portion of the electorate would find compelling. In the absence of an agenda for Democrats to run on, however, the GOP could reap the benefits of those independent voters who believe they deserve better.