Guest Author - Tracey-Kay Caldwell
The Congressional Democrats have a new agenda, Six for 06. This agenda is different from others, in that it provides a compare and contrast. It shows how the Republicans have taken us in the wrong direction, and the new direction that Democrats will take us in setting the priorities for the 109th Congress. They stated that the Bush administrations failures have made us less secure and put the privileged few ahead of the common good. It is with this in mind that they have developed six goals.
First, The Bush administration has weakened our security. They have failed to capture Osama Bin laden or destroy al Qaeda. With manipulated intelligence, they Bush administration rushed to war without a plan to stabilize Iraq. Billions were wasted on no bid contracts for Halliburton and KBR. The non-partisan 9/11 Commission gave the Bush administration failing grades. Our borders, ports, transportation systems, and chemical plants are still not protected. They have strained our military and cut veteran’s health care. The Democrats want to provide real security at home and overseas by reclaiming American leadership. They would transform the failed Bush administration policies in Iraq, the Middle east and around the world. They would require the Iraqis to take responsibility for their country and began the phased redeployment of US forces. They would double the size of Special Forces, destroying Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda. The Democrats would rebuild a state-of-the art military capable of projecting power. They would implement the 9/11 Commission’s proposals, securing Americans borders and ports, screening one hundred percent of cargo containers. They would fully train and equip all first responders, including the National Guard, firefighters, and police. And most importantly, they would fully honor our commitments to out veterans.
Second, The Democrats would address the rising economic insecurity brought about by the Bush administrations policies. The 5.6 trillion dollar surplus that existed under Clinton has become a 3.2 trillion dollar deficit under Bush. The Bush administration has provided subsidies to companies outsourcing American jobs. Since 2001, real family income has declined while CEO’s compensation has soared. The 6.6 million Americans who earn the federal minimum wage have not seen an increase since 1997. The Democrats would turn from these failed policies to provide better American jobs with better pay. They would prohibit Congressional pay raise until the federal minimum wage is raised. They would end the tax giveaways that reward companies for moving American jobs overseas.
Third, under the Bush administration Americans have seen rising college costs. While tuition has soared fifty-seven percent at public universities and thirty-two percent at private universities, Pell Grants have been frozen. The cost of loans has increased and the Bush administration has cut twelve billion dollars from college student aid. The Democrats would make college accessible to all Americans. They would make all college tuition permanently tax deductible. They would cut student loan interest rates and expand Pell Grants.
Fourth, under the Bush administration Americans have seen rising energy prices. Gas is over three dollars a gallon. Our dependence on oil has continued to grow and the Bush administration has opposed the development of energy efficient technology and alternative fuels. Despite record profits, the oil and gas companies have seen billions in new subsidies. The Democrats will free Americans from their dependence on foreign oil and create a cleaner environment with initiatives for the development of energy-efficient technologies and bio fuels as a domestic alternative to oil. They will end the tax giveaways to big oil companies and they will enact tough laws to stop price gouging.
Fifth, under the Bush administration Americans have seen rising health care cost. Since 2000, family health care cost have risen seventy percent; four thousand, five hundred per family. Under the Bush administration, six million more American became uninsured. The confusing prescription drug benefit plan prohibits the negotiation of lower drug prices. In addition, the Bush administration has worked to obstruct stem cell research, setting Americans behind the world in this important research. Democrats would put seniors first by fixing the Medicare prescription drug program. They would negotiate lower drug prices and end the wasteful giveaways to the drug companies. They would give hope to the millions of American families suffering from devastating diseases by promoting stem cell research.
Sixth, under the Bush administration Americans have become less secure in their retirement. Americans have watched employee pensions collapse while CEO’s got golden parachutes. The cut social security benefits for millions of retirees and promoted the substantial privatization of social security. The Democrats would stop any plans to privatize Social Security. They would enact pension reforms that would protect employees’ from CEO corruption and mismanagement. This would include the abuse of bankruptcy laws. The Democrats would expand personal saving incentives.
The Democrats believe that “America should work for everyone—not just those at the top…” They assert that they will enact this agenda “With a firm commitment to honest leadership and tough budget discipline to end record deficit spending.” This new agenda shows Americans how we got on the wrong path and what it will take to turn America in a new direction.