Democrats & Liberals Archives

Six for ’06 Revisited

At the end of April, I criticized Harry Reid for failing to get any of the Democrats’ “Six for ‘06” program passed into law. Although this will not be regarded as the most productive Congress in history, I can now report some progress.

PASSED INTO LAW

Minimum Wage – A minimum wage increase was enacted in May as part of the “U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act”. (You can’t make this stuff up.) An increase of 70 cents an hour to $5.85 is already in place, and it will ultimately rise to $7.25 in 2009.

Security – The “Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act” became law just a few days ago. A good description can be found here. Key improvements include screening of air and sea cargo and an initiative to focus anti-terror funding on high-risk urban areas.

IN CONFERENCE COMMITTEE

Student Loans – HR 2669 increases college financial aid (details here) and makes it unlawful to execute a pregnant woman. Go figure.

Energy – The House and Senate passed fairly different energy bills which will have to be reconciled in committee. The Senate bill raises mileage standards.

VETOED

Embryonic Stem Cell Research – The “Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007” was vetoed by Bush. The House vote fell far short of the 2/3 majority needed to override a veto.

GOING NOWHERE

Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation – As far I can tell, the Democrats have given on up this one until a new President is elected. To be fair, this plank of Six for ’06 was “Affordable healthcare”, so I suppose that anything they accomplish in this arena counts.

So out of the six planks we have two clear successes, a veto (and campaign issue for ’08), and two bills in the works. If I had to give them a grade for their work so far on these issues, I would give an honest C.

Although not part of the “Six for ‘06”, voters clearly hoped the Democrats would do something to improve ethics in Congress. They did pass an ethics bill, which Bush is threatening to veto.


Posted by Woody Mena at August 12, 2007 7:53 AM
Comments
Comment #229079

When they said six for 06, Democrats wisely did not specify the century to which they were refering. Perhaps they mean 2106.

Dems have done what they are good at. They have held lots of hearing that produced a great deal of sound and fury, but not much in the way of results. They enjoy such things.

Perhaps it is good news that they are so result poor, since they might cause actual damage if they got their way on too many things.

The minimum wage will not put too many people out of work, since most firms already pay more than that anyway.

The 9/11 implementation is interesting because it contains the word implementation. It is relatively easy to pass a law calling for something but that implementation thing is the hard part. Let’s see if it gets done. I expect the meta goal of this whole thing is to develop scenarios for blaming Bush for something, which is the essential plank of the Dem platform.

Posted by: Jack at August 12, 2007 8:35 AM
Comment #229081

Jack,

Yes, I expect they will blame Bush if he fails to implement the 9/11 law. After all, he is the guy running the executive branch and he is supposed to execute the laws.

The Democrats promised that the bills would pass the House in the first 100 hours. They didn’t promise to make Bush and the Senate Republicans cooperate, which require a coup d’etat.

Posted by: Woody Mena at August 12, 2007 9:20 AM
Comment #229082
The minimum wage will not put too many people out of work, since most firms already pay more than that anyway.

That kinda goes along with being a minimum. :)

Posted by: Woody Mena at August 12, 2007 9:31 AM
Comment #229087


When it comes to minimum wage increase talk, the business comunity doesn’t wait to see if it happens. They start the inflation which will nulify any wage increase. In 2006, the people of Ohio passed a minimum wage increase. Before it had taken effect, prices had already risen to account for it. The working class got over on the business community during and after the Great Depression. It ain’t going to happen again. They would rather spend billions to assure government cooperation.

Posted by: jlw at August 12, 2007 11:07 AM
Comment #229089

jlw,

In order to nullify the minimum wage increase we would have to have 41% inflation in the next two years. Not gonna happen.

Posted by: Woody Mena at August 12, 2007 11:24 AM
Comment #229090

Woody

Re minimum wage - to the point that the minimum wage will do little harm because most firms are already paying more, politicians can raise the minimum wage only as far as market forces permit. If they raise it too high, it reduces employment. If they raise it up to that point, it really makes little difference, except it creates more bureaucracy and political opportunities to pretend to be doing something. In other words, it is a perfect Democrat priority.

RE implementation - It is very good politics for the Dems and another Dem strength - make a rule that somebody else will have to carry out and then complain when they do not reach the unattainable standard. It will get them points in the short term. When a Dem president comes in they will conveniently forget about it.

Posted by: Jack at August 12, 2007 11:49 AM
Comment #229092

Jack your republican hypocrisies are shining through. In light of the accomplishments, or wait I believe that was non-accomplishments of the 109th, I hardly think it is fair to try and infer that a republican congress had a more responsible agenda than this one. And speaking of damage control it seems to me that the biggest job the dems face is repairing the damage done over the last six years of an unchallenged republican controlled lockstep congress led by a very poor veto free president. Sounds like dem hatred to me. Or maybe it is just good old republican jealousy showing its disgust for all things not in keeping with their very questionable and not so respectable agenda.

Posted by: RickIL at August 12, 2007 12:24 PM
Comment #229093

Politics, politics, blah blah blah. Can’t these darn Democratic politicians stop being so political?! They even invented three branches of government so they can always blame the other side!

I don’t see how raising the minimum wage creates more bureaucracy. If you want to eliminate the bureaucracy, you have to abolish it.

Posted by: Woody Mena at August 12, 2007 12:29 PM
Comment #229094

Woody

I think your grade of C is a fair and honest assessment. The repbublicans including GW have done everything they can to place obstacles in the way of progress. With regard to that obstructionism the fact that they have accomplished anything is a plus. For me the ethics bill is the most important legislation on the table. Without serious reform in government we will be stuck with nothing more than a continuation of the same old sleazy politics which has corrupted our government to a point of embarrassment.

Posted by: RickIL at August 12, 2007 12:33 PM
Comment #229095

Woody,
Why is the Legislature making so little progress? The answer is simple. Republicans, especially in the Senate, have decided to pursue a policy of obstruction.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/v-print/story/18218.html

The Democrats can promise six in 06, but they cannot overcome the obstacle of a 60 vote supermajority in the Senate, never mind a presidential veto.

The Repubican strategy is simple: tag Congress with the term “do-nothing.” The GOP is on a pace to not only set a record for filibusters, but triple that record.

It is a risky strategy. It is up to Democrats to make voters aware of what is happening- that the issues voters backed in the 2006 midterms are being stopped by Republicans.

The Republicans in Congress have no other options. Their issues are unpopular with most Americans, and they face the prospect of being drubbed in 2008. As a result, they are opting for the only tool left, hoping no one will notice. And they are succeeding.

Posted by: phx8 at August 12, 2007 12:55 PM
Comment #229108

Phx8, perhaps then, since the Democrats do not and never did have the votes to fulfill these promises, they shouldn’t have made them in the first place. When the Republicans were in the majority, they lacked the votes to carry out their promises as well and they suffered for it. That’s the burden of holding the majority, and the risk of making promises you have no way of keeping.

And even then, it doesn’t account for how the Democrats have actually done the opposite of what they’ve promised in several cases, even when they did have the votes to influence the result—as with the recent FISA measure. They waited so long, squandering time and attention on all of their fruitless and ineffectual investigations that they ended up being maneuvered at the last minute into passing something large numbers of them actually didn’t support.

Anyone who enjoys empty political grandstanding, hearings, and dead-end investigations into nothing has a lot more to look forward to from this group of Democrats. Those who might want to see significant work done—not so much.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at August 12, 2007 3:53 PM
Comment #229113

In the past, when one side suffered a rout at the polls, the incoming majority was perceived to have a mandate, and allowed to enact their agenda. The Republicans have chosen not to allow this. They have chosen to filibuster almost all significant legislation. That is their right. Voters need to understand this is happening. If voters are good with it, no problem.

There have been disappointments, but most Democrats voted against the FISA legislation, and the Democrats put together a 52-49 vote in the Senate to craft an ending for the War in Iraq. A presidential veto stopped it.

The oversight hearings and investigations are going well. For example: with the exception of Gonzales, the criminal DOJ leadership has been nearly decapitated. Seven have resigned. Monica Goodling pleaded the Fifth, accepted immunity, and testified about the crimes she committed. Gonzales has repeated versions of “I do not recall,” and directly contradicted the sworn testimony of an acting AG, Comey, and a Director of the FBI, Mueller. Since then, four Bush administration officials have invoked Executive Privilege, and prevented the release of potentially incriminating documents.

Despite a filibuster by a Republican Senator from South Carolina, Reid and Pelosi used a legislative “ping pong” strategy to pass ethics reform.

The Democrats are doing as well as they can, given the strategy of obstruction pursued by congressional Republicans.

Posted by: phx8 at August 12, 2007 4:59 PM
Comment #229115

LO and phx8,

You are both operating from a mistaken premise, namely that the Democrats actually have a majority.

While that is true in the House, isn’t really true in the Senate. What they have in the Senate is a governing coalition with Joe Lieberman. A coalition is weaker than a true majority.

Posted by: Woody Mena at August 12, 2007 5:33 PM
Comment #229120

Two things come to mind.

The Dems collapsed in the face of threats from a president with a %28 approval rating, and gave full funding to a war that %70 of the American people want ended.

The Dems then gave Mr. Bush a FISA law that exceeded even Dick ‘boom-boom’ Cheney’s fondist wish, and made him blush with embarrassment. This alone is a remarkable achievment.

The rest of the agenda is crackers and water for the centrist mayonnaise eaters and the great unwashed who believe that the ‘system works’, as Mr. Ford once said.

The Democrats are worthless—and strategizing in the face of wholesale crimes is immoral. It may even be bad politics—but the voters haven’t decided yet, evidently.

Posted by: black & red at August 12, 2007 6:24 PM
Comment #229128

There are only 2 inescapable implications arising from Democrats defending their lackluster performance as majority party of both houses of Congress. (1) is the argument they need one party control of all of government to do the work they wish to do. (2) is the argument that our current duopoly party system has become a complete failed system in addressing the current and future needs of America.

I personally find the implied argument (1) actually a validation of the implied argument (2). So, when are American voters going to get around to dumping these duopoly parties so the door can be opened to another political reality which has the potential of actually solving more problems than it creates through inaction, incompetence, and corruption.

Hillary Clinton advocates for the corruption of politicians by wealthy special interests. Barack Obama can’t garner even a majority of votes from non-White Americans. Dennis Kucinich and that gray haired man from Alaska embarrass Democrats. The rest of the slate doesn’t have a prayer of winning the primaries. I just don’t see how Democrats can rationally and logically believe their party is the answer to what America needs. But, then, like Republicans, what does rationality and logic have to do with belief?

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 12, 2007 8:00 PM
Comment #229129

Phx8

The Republicans had almost exactly the same majorities in the House & Senate after the 2004 election as the Dems enjoyed after 2006. That year, Republicans also won the presidency. In fact 2004 was also a good Republican year. I do not recall the Dems being particularly cooperative in those times. Or for that matter after the Republican sweeps of 1994.

You guys have a majority in both parts of Congress. NOTHING can pass w/o your approval and you need to convince only a few Republicans in the Senate to get a super majority. If you cannot get your stuff passed, it is entirely your own fault. Maybe Dems do not really want it passed or maybe they know the people are not with them, as with the terrorist surviellence program.

Posted by: Jack at August 12, 2007 8:01 PM
Comment #229136

David:

“…what does rationality and logic have to do with belief?”

Actually, they have quite a bit to do with belief if you are trying to convince someone, say a voter, that said beliefs are grounded in rationality and logic. When beliefs are clearly grounded in illogic and irrationalism, it becomes extremely difficult to ‘sell’ those beliefs to logical and rational people.

Now, whether the majority of Americans, for instance, are rational and logical, if they indeed have the information, facts and the wherewithall to access that information and make an informed decision…what do you think?

Some days, I am optimistic about the savvy of the American electorate. Some days I’m not.

But I have entirely given up on the government and it’s ability to moniter itself, and to govern compassionately, fairly and competently.

And I can’t think of a worse time in the nation’s history to come to that conclusion.

Posted by: black & red at August 12, 2007 8:57 PM
Comment #229147

Jack,

If Democrats fail to pass things in the House, they can’t blame the Republicans. If they don’t pass things in the Senate, it’s fair to point out that they need 10 GOP votes (more than “a few”) to invoke cloture. (When what-is-name recovers from his stroke they will need 9).

The GOP had a 55 Senate majority after 2004. Depending on how you count it, the Dems have 48-51. That is far from “exactly the same”.

Posted by: Woody Mena at August 12, 2007 10:39 PM
Comment #229150

So, Woody

The Republicans had a BIGGER mandate than the Dems and the Dems still did not respect their authoritEE.

Posted by: Jack at August 12, 2007 10:53 PM
Comment #229151

It’s been 38 years since one party held a filibuster-proof majority. And when that happened, they (the Democrats) also held the White House during the Carter administration. And what was the result of that? Among other things, the election of Ronald Reagan.

The Republicans, on the other hand, haven’t held a filibuster-proof majority since 1917.

Were Carter and his allies in Congress doing the will of the people simply because they had all the power? That’s not what the people thought, as the elections in 1980 pretty well demonstrated.

Beyond that, you’ll get nowhere attempting to avoid blame because you don’t have complete power even though your party is in marginal control. In fact, the very ineptitude displayed in making promises you can’t keep is a pretty good reason for voters NOT to give you even more power.

I said it after the 06 elections and I’ll say it again. Had the Republicans maintained their bare majorities in either the House or the Senate in 06, they’d be in a far weaker position in 08 that they will be. This is especially important since the Democrats seem poised to nominate a presidential candidate from a Congress with lower approval ratings than George Bush, who isn’t even running.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at August 12, 2007 10:53 PM
Comment #229163


L.O.: I agree that the best thing that could have happened to the Democrats would have been to gain seats without gaining the majority. The best possible outcome in the Senate would have been 50-50 with Dick Cheney breaking the ties. He would have helped the Republican party to meltdown. As it stands now, the Democrats stumbling and bumbling is leaving the door open for a Republican comeback.

Posted by: jlw at August 13, 2007 12:36 AM
Comment #229175

black and red, good answer! Another good answer is that rationality and logic are not required for belief to exist, at all. A personal intervening divinity responding to prayer is a perfect example. Billions of prayers are made each day, less than a chance number of them are met with a positive response. Yet, even atheists in a tight spot, have found themselves resorting to prayer. It is not rational, nor logical, but, most find it necessary psychologically when the chips are down.

The same phenomena can be found in the realm of faith in political parties and candidates, despite all evidence to the contrary. Just look at the 29% who still insist Bush is doing a great job for the country.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 13, 2007 2:31 AM
Comment #229183

Jack,

You could interpret the numbers that way if you like (especially if you are a Republican). I just want to get them straight.

LO,

I’m not just saying that the Dems don’t have a filibuster-proof majority. I’m saying that they currently need 10 GOP votes to block a filibuster. And that doesn’t even count Joe Lieberman.

Look, I gave the guys a C. They are not impressive. But you can’t pretend that all majorities are equal. It’s like putting ankle weights on someone and complaining that they are slow.

You could be right that the Dems would be in a stronger position if they had lost. On the other hand, losing makes you look like a loser. And they are still in a pretty darn strong position.

If the Republicans want to gamble on the “win by losing” strategy in 08 that’s fine with me.

Posted by: Woody Mena at August 13, 2007 8:03 AM
Comment #229206

My understanding is that the national minimum wage increase only affected less than 20 states, it’s closing in on $8 an hour here in the Land of Lincoln. The so-called right to work states always object to increasing it under any circumstances. My step-daughter worked for a bank in Florida. When she moved to Nevada, she was paid about double for exactly the same job.

Posted by: ohrealy at August 13, 2007 11:58 AM
Comment #229223


Ohrealy: In my opinion, the minimum wage is basically a hoax. Any increase in the minimum wage is inflated away before any worker sees a dime of the increase.

Workers in this country have been going backwards every since Reagan was elected in 1980 and will continue to do so until they are willing to ignore the right wing propoganda and organize themselves and confront capital in a united effort.

Posted by: jlw at August 13, 2007 1:09 PM
Comment #229227

“Any increase in the minimum wage is inflated away before any worker sees a dime of the increase”

Not to worry jlw, five full-time and 7 or 8 “labor source” positions where I work no longer have to worry about that, those jobs are being phased out.
The min wage increase really helped those people.

Posted by: kctim at August 13, 2007 1:54 PM
Comment #229229

People should move to where there are more jobs and the jobs pay more. One of the downsides of some welfare programs is that they encourage people to keep living in areas where there is little work. This benefits some seasonal local employers who are able to pay lower wages as a result.

Posted by: ohrealy at August 13, 2007 2:09 PM
Comment #229237

Jack
There is plenty of evidence min. wage increases create jobs.Maybe we could compromise. It is government interference in the market though. You hate that.Perhaps we could compromise and get rid of even more government interference. We drop minimum wage and repeal the Taft- Hartly Amendments, taking the handcuffs off labor unions.Now there is a free market solution that would work for working people.Less government ,Jack. Don’t you just love that?

Posted by: BillS at August 13, 2007 2:32 PM
Comment #229271


Kctim: Perhaps those workers will be better off if they find employment with a company that pays their workers a decent wage.

Posted by: jlw at August 13, 2007 6:36 PM
Comment #229274

kctm
Any of those workers Latino perhaps? If so I suspect they are being “phased out” because the DHS is starting to enforce employer sanctions.
At any rate it will not be long now before lower end workers with papers will be hard to find. Good they can command more pay than that paltry minimum wage increase.

Posted by: BillS at August 13, 2007 7:28 PM
Comment #229308

Jlw

Minimum wage is essentially a hoax. You are right, but for the wrong reasons.

Labor competes not only with other labor, but with machines, technologies, techniques and the option of doing nothing.

Take a simple example. What if I want my lawn mowed. A guys comes up and offers to do it for $5. I think that is good, so I employ him. Now what if he says a fair wage is $10. I may pay the $10 or I may buy a better mower so I do not need the help, or I may cut my grass half as often, or I may plant ground cover, or I may just choose not to cut the grass at all. You cannot push the wage up beyond what people are willing to pay.

This is just the truth and very simple. That is why a minimum wage is a hoax. It is either at or below what the market is willing to pay, or else potential employers will find ways to get the job done with fewer workers.

Personally, I wish we would have wages high enough to drive all those guys with the leaf blowers out of work.

BillS

I am for free choice in business arrangements and against forms of coercion, whether they are from government, employers or unions. When skills are less common, the price will go up. Skills that are common or not much use get the pay they deserve.

Posted by: Jack at August 13, 2007 11:05 PM
Comment #229318

phx8,

You referenced an article above trying to blame Republicans for the Democratic Congress not getting anything done. It states:

“Seven months into the current two-year term, the Senate has held 42 “cloture” votes aimed at shutting off extended debate — filibusters, or sometimes only the threat of one — and moving to up-or-down votes on contested legislation. Under Senate rules that protect a minority’s right to debate, these votes require a 60-vote supermajority in the 100-member Senate.”
By sinking a cloture vote this week, Republicans successfully blocked a Democratic bid to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by April, even though a 52-49 Senate majority voted to end debate.
This year Republicans also have blocked votes on immigration legislation, a no-confidence resolution for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and major legislation dealing with energy, labor rights and prescription drugs.
Nearly 1 in 6 roll-call votes in the Senate this year have been cloture votes. If this pace of blocking legislation continues, this 110th Congress will be on track to roughly triple the previous record number of cloture votes — 58 each in the two Congresses from 1999-2002, according to the Senate Historical Office.

Perhaps, this means that Republicans in 1999- 2000 who had control of Congress were writing favorable legislation with President Clinton, supported by huge majorities of Americans, and not such legislation as pulling troops out from under him, trying to remove the Attorney General,
amnesty for illegal aliens, etc., etc.

Perhaps, the larger number of cloture votes being forced signifies a more radical majority agenda, rather than a more obstructionist minority.

JD

Posted by: JD at August 14, 2007 12:00 AM
Comment #229367

Latino workers are being phased out? More liked phased in. At the fast food joints hear you have to speak Spanish to be able to communicate with the workers, or you can just point at the pictures. Hieroglyphics may be the wave of the future.

Posted by: ohrealy at August 14, 2007 11:12 AM
Comment #230230

Instead of pretending this do nothing democrat congress is a success and trying use propaganda to pump success from failure. I think we should discuss why America feels this congress is a MASSIVE failure.

I’d start with Harry Reid. Harry Reid is a massive failure. A corrupt individual caught taking bribes from Abramoff and doing dirty little property deals in Vegas. Hardly the one to “end the culture of corruption” which he is so massively getting rich off of.

No wonder the US feels this congress is a massive failure.

No “end to the culture of corruption”.

No fix for social security.

No Fix for our very broken and soon to be broke Medicare.

No fix for national health care.

No fix for the southern boarder.

Massive pork spending, more than Republicans, when they claimed they would clamp down on it.

no balanced budget and spending more than republicans when the dem platform was they would be more responsible and spend less.

And of course, they trashed the idea of working with Republicans to resolve issues.

Broken promise after broken promise. WE got what many of us expected. A big spending, corrupt, democrat, big government congress that thrives on corruption and has no intention of doing the hard work of reaching across the isle and resolving major social safety-net issues of our day.

All we hear is “once we have absolute power we will dictate our will and fail until then”. Not much of a good excuse for failure.

Posted by: Stephen at August 22, 2007 5:26 AM
Comment #230949

What a bunch of trite!!

Posted by: -DAVID- at August 29, 2007 4:43 AM
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