When Will Hillary Offer A Choice, And Not An Echo?
Hillary went before the Democratic Leadership Council today to lay out the DLC’s “American Dream Initiative” and presumably her domestic policy agenda as the party’s nominee in 2008. No one should be surprised that she chose the DLC to make this speech, nor should anyone be surprised that she avoids having a “Sister Souljah” moment with the DLC over Iraq, as she isn’t talking about Iraq at all to the DLC. And why would she? Her husband today is doing a fundraiser for Joe Lieberman at the same time, and both Clintons seemingly want the party to avoid talking about Iraq directly, although Hillary did insert one reference on Iraq that offers hope she may be “getting it”:
"The American Dream Initiative focuses on policies here at home. But we will not let the president and Republicans off the hook for the mistakes they have made and the disastrous policies they have followed abroad."
Both Clintons think that it is more important to focus on beating Republicans than it is to have intraparty litmus tests over Iraq, choice, and Supreme Court judges. Perhaps they are correct, yet we hear over and over again that voters want the Democrats to show how they are different than Republicans. But how can we do that if the Clintons want to avoid talking about Iraq and would prefer to act as GOP-lite?
What exactly are the DLC and the Clintons offering America for 2008 for a domestic agenda that will give voters a choice? Let’s see what the DLC’s American Dream Initiative contains:
On government spending, do the Clintons and the DLC challenge the waste and growth in the Pentagon budget? Nope. Instead, they offer this:
-Create an independent, non-partisan commission to scrutinize and propose the elimination of wasteful, outdated business subsidies.
-We should increase transparency over government by making information on contracts and grants available to the public so they have a better sense of whether their tax dollars are being spent wisely.
On education, do they talk about making large parts of college tuition tax deductible? Nope. Instead, they offer this:
-We should simplify the tax code by replacing the HOPE tax credit, the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit, and the higher education deduction with a single, refundable $3,000 college tuition tax credit to help offset undergraduate and graduate costs for all families.
-We propose a new, performance-based American Dream Grant that will award states money each year based on the number of students that attend and graduate from their colleges and universities. Over the next decade, this block grant will provide states $150 billion to increase graduation rates and reduce the cost of college.
On retirement security, do the Clintons and the DLC start from a point of insisting that Social Security be protected from privatization and strengthened in its current form? Incredibly, nope. Instead, we hear about new mandates upon employers for required IRAs:
-We should require every firm with more than five employees to enroll its workers automatically in a traditional defined benefit plan or a 401(k).
On health care, do the Clintons and the DLC take a stab at reducing the number of uninsured as cities, states, and large health plans have already advocated? Nope, all we get is a push for a reauthorization and increased funding of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the worthy call to allow small employers to participate in insurance pools. As for Medicare Part D, do the Clintons and the DLC call for eliminating the program and having Medicare provide the benefit itself more cheaply through best price negotiation? Nope. Instead, the DLC wants the program and the donut holes to continue, as well as the HMO subsidies, and is only calling for the ban on best price negotiations to be eliminated.
This is a preview of the Clinton/DLC domestic policy agenda for 2008: relatively small, bite-sized initiatives that will not displease Corporate America too much.
There is nothing here about public financing of congressional campaigns.
There is nothing here about election reform.
There is nothing here about actually closing personal or corporate tax shelters or abuses, or real tax reform.
There is nothing here at all on preserving the environment.
There is nothing here on expanding health coverage to uninsured adults.
Immigration reform is never mentioned. Neither is infrastructure investment on a day when the nation's power grid is collapsing.
And there is nothing here to end the Medicare Part D donut hole or protect Social Security from privatization, or to look into the Cheney Energy Task Force and the oil industry’s role in the rise of gas prices.
Keep in mind that Clinton worked on this for a year.
It sounds like a DLC script for Clinton to run as a GOP-lite candidate that would leave millions of voters not knowing the difference between the parties, while giving seniors and the rest of our base no good reason to come out and vote. And this is just on domestic policy.
I guess we shouldn't be "dreaming" about these issues, and just let Bill, Hill, and Joe Leaverman steer the party back to victory.