Play Saturday Night Strategist
OK, it’s a Saturday night after the election, and you have heard enough from various people about what the election meant. We seem to have a rough consensus from the new Democratic leadership that they will take power in January and initially pursue the “100 Hour” strategy, seeking quick legislative victories on increasing the minimum wage, implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations, passage of new congressional ethics rules, restoring “pay as you go” budgeting, expanding stem cell research, making college loans more affordable, reforming the Medicare Part D program, and encouraging alternate energy development while repealing Big Oil’s tax breaks. Part of this initial push may also include expanding health coverage to more and more children in the country. Note that several of these initiatives, such as the Medicare Part D changes, repealing Big Oil's tax breaks, and the stem cell research changes may face a Bush veto, which the Democrats would love to see. Bush for his part wants to get his immigration reform bill through the more sympathetic Democratic congress.
But what happens after the initial legislative push on these “100 Hour” items? Chuck Schumer already says that there needs to be a second stage of the Democratic agenda to deal with Iraq and Bush’s deficits in a bipartisan way, before the party can move on to the third phase of an agenda that can help make the case for more Democrats to be elected in 2008. There are others however who feel that the Democratic leadership should cautiously focus on the “100 Hours” agenda, seek bipartisan solutions like the Iraq Study Group on Iraq, and then focus its energy and the base’s passion towards the oversight hearings as a precursor to greater change in 2008. And then there is a third course, where the Democrats get as much of the “100 Hours” agenda enacted as they can, turn the committee chairmen and the oversight function loose, take a harder line towards withdrawal from Iraq at a time when the military is open to new ideas and approaches, and allow for a spirited and defining debate on the budget and taxes among other issues including the Alternative Minimum Tax.
So, on this Saturday night, play the part of chief strategist to either Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid. You know the party wants to lock in its gains this year as a platform for 2008, but you also don’t want to squander any advantages you have like the winning economic message by Sherrod Brown in the bellwether state of Ohio, or opportunities to exploit weaknesses in the GOP among their base.
What course of action do you recommend?