Local Commentary

Jim Moran’s News Commentary

With less than two weeks left in what is shaping up to be a historic midterm election, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has released our party’s 100 hour plan, citing what priorities House Democrats will advance in the first 100 hours of a new Democratic House Majority.

Two weeks is still a lot of time and the political winds can shift at a moments notice. But Democrats are poised to retake the House for the first time in 12 years. At the top of the House Democrats priority list should they regain the majority is to break the link between lobbyists and legislation that has become the rule rather than the exception under the Republican leadership. >From the Medicare Part D drug program to the Energy bill, the legislative agenda is being guided by lobbyists for their lobbying interests, not the needs of the American people.

The second major action taken by a new Democratic Majority would be to fully implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations. This year, the Commission released its scorecard rating Congress’ performance in implementing their national security recommendations. The grades, 14 D’s and 5 F’s, were abysmal. Unlike the current House Leadership, a new Democratic Majority would waste little time passing legislation to enact the recommendations the bipartisan Commission of experts spent over a year developing.

The third action taken by a new Democratic Majority in the first 100 hours would be to raise the minimum wage. It has been almost ten years since the minimum wage was last increased. Standing at $5.15 an hour or $10,712 per year ($6,000 below the poverty level for a family of three), the purchasing power of the minimum wage has plummeted to its lowest level in more than half a century. The average CEO now earns 821 times more than a minimum wage worker, earning more before lunchtime than minimum wage worker earns all year. Put simply, Americans are working more and making less.

Four other proposals are on the agenda for Democrats should they take the majority November 7th. They include cutting the interest rate on student loans in half, allowing the government to negotiate directly with drug companies in order to lower prescription drug prices for Medicare patients, overriding the Bush veto of stem cell research and reinstating of “pay as you go” budget rules that helped bring projected surpluses under the Clinton Administration.

While too complex an issue to be debated in just the first 100 hours, a new Democratic Majority would also seek a new direction in Iraq, one that would turn Iraq over to the Iraqi people and bring our troops home. A majority of Democrats in the House understand that our presence in Iraq is not making us safer and is serving to inflame hostilities in the region. Look to House Democrats to buck President Bush’s flawed “stay the course” strategy and bring about change in a misguided war that has now cost us 2,804 brave men and women and over $375 billion.