Dems Making Good on "6 for '06" Planks
by Jonathan Singer, Wed Sep 12, 2007 at 08:11:16 AM EDT
Yesterday I went to a free lunch here at Boalt Hall (UC Berkeley's law school) sponsored by the Federalist Society. (Yes, I know. Worry not. I'm not defecting -- I'm just getting a free lunch.) There the editor of The Weekly Standard, Terry Eastland, gave his outlook of the 2008 elections. You could say it was interesting.
Among the gems put forward by Eastland was the one saying that the Democratic Congress had largely failed to follow through on its promises for profound change. I believe he cited the common wisdom that the Democrats had only made good one a single one of the planks of the "6 in '06" platform. I don't think it would be difficult to argue that the Democrats have not accomplished what they had hoped to on Iraq -- they have been able to secure majorities in both chambers in favor of a timeline for withdrawal of American troops, a feat not expected to be possible at the outset of the Congress, but still far short of actually ending the war. Yet would it be proper to say that the Democrats have failed on their other promises, particularly those relating to domestic matters? The Hill editor Bob Cusack takes a look at the record of the Democratic Congress and writes the following today on the front page of his paper under the heading, "Democrats make progress on their checklist from 2006".
After a slow start, the Democratic-led Congress has started to gain traction on its domestic agenda.
The passage of the student loan bill on Friday is the fourth measure headed to President Bush's desk from the Democrats' "Six in '06" campaign pledge. If Bush signs the education bill as expected, three of the Democrats' high-profile legislative promises will have become law less than nine months into their majority.
Raising the minimum wage, which was the first bill of the Six in '06 pledge signed into law this year, was included in the Iraq supplemental measure. But Democrats were in no mood to crow at the time, having lost the showdown with Bush on timelines for troop withdrawals.
Since then, Democrats have made steady progress on the domestic front.
In early August, Bush signed the bill that implements the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, another item on Six in '06.
That bill, along with the student loan measure, faced tougher-than-anticipated paths to passage. Provisions of the 9/11 measure ran into opposition from wary industry groups that feared enhanced government inspections would hamper commerce. It was also slowed by jurisdictional battles among House and Senate chairmen.
The education legislation faced fierce resistance from the student lending industry and veto threats from the White House. Democrats, however, worked with the Bush administration to alter the bill, and -- to the dismay of lenders -- the president is expected to sign it this month.
So of the six key planks of the Democrats' domestic policy platform, the Democratic Congress will have enacted into law at least three within the first nine months of its inception; sent another one to the desk of the President to be vetoed (increasing federal funding for stem cell research); and passed another one through both chambers, which is now moving through the reconciliation process (energy). In fact, the only plank the Democrats have not been able to pass through both chambers is legislation enabling the federal government to negotiate the price of prescription drugs, legislation that is holed up in the Senate due to a Republican filibuster.
I do not mean to minimize the entirely justifiable disappoitment many have with the Democratic Congress for not having ended the war. I, too, share such a sentiment, even as I acknowledge that the balance of powers make it much more difficult than I believe it should be for a change in power in Congress to effect a change in American foreign policy. At the same time, credit probably should go where credit is due. And the fact that the Democrats have been able to make good on a good number of their domestic priorities does warrant at least some applause from the peanut gallery, so it's good to see an article like this one in The Hill every once in a while.