Democrats Seize Control of House & Senate
By Region 8 Webmaster John Davis

On November 07, 2006 America’s middle class families sent a collective voice to Washington, ending the 12-year reign of terror by the Republican controlled Congress and Senate. The wealthy and big business has seen every advantage as the GOP showered billions in paybacks to their big money supporters. Finally, the disappearing working class said, “Enough is enough” and voted out the Republicans, returning control of both the House and the Senate to the Democrats. However, just as the preverbal dog chasing a car, now they have caught it, what will they do with it?

While we celebrate the change in Washington, the Democrats will inherit a mountain of issues from the Republican controlled political system. The question remains as to what changes we as voters and taxpayers should expect. It is naïve to think that all our problems with big money in government will disappear with the coming of the Democrats. The big dollar contributors do not limit their agenda to the Republicans. They are willing to pay who ever is in office to continue their leverage. The question will be whether or not the Democrats are willing to place the American pubic ahead of big money. It will be up to us – the working class to keep the pressure on the new incoming majority to make certain that our issues are heard and addressed. To take advantage of this win, the working class must continue to follow the political process into the next Congress.

While there are many issues that must be tackled, here are a few suggestions for the incoming Democrats to tackle first:

It has been 10 years since the minimum wage has been increased and the time has long over due to give working families at the lower end of the scale a raise. Senator Ted Kennedy plans on introducing legislation to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 over a two-year period. Kennedy has also pledged to increase Pell grants and lower the interest rates that are charged for student loans.
A minimum wage increase would mean a raise for almost 15 million Americans, with 80% of those being over the age of 20. Another 7.3 million children would see their parents getting raises because of this increase.

Once President Bush’s Medicare Prescription Plan was bullied on America, the beneficiaries began counting their blessings. Unfortunately, the beneficiaries were the pharmaceutical companies. The plan is both confusing and expensive, as Medicare’s ability to negotiate prices has been eliminated. For all practical purposes, the plan has been outsourced to private companies that offer multi plans that are so confusing you need a doctor, accountant, pharmacist, lawyer and fortune teller to make an informed decision.

The New York Times recently quoted a lobbyist from the pharmaceutical industry stating, “that it would be unfair to let the government negotiate drug prices because “the government doesn’t negotiate prices - it dictates prices.” Tell me how this is a bad thing? After all, it is our tax dollars that fund the research for most of the drugs that are on the market today. So, our taxes develop them and the pharmaceutical industry profits from them. With this misguided Medicare program, seniors shell out hard earned dollars to pay for less than they can get without the plan. A recent study showed the average senior can buy their drugs straight up from Costco for 3% less than they cost through the Medicare Prescription Drug plan – and that doesn’t include the money spent on premiums.

This one is easy to fix – simply do nothing. The tax cut will expire without being extended by Congress. The benefit has been sharply skewed to the rich with the wealthiest 1% seeing 90% of the cuts. It is time the wealthiest Americans paid their share.

The White House recently negotiated a trade deal with Columbia. Now it has to be passed by Congress. The time is way overdue to stop these trade deals that allow American Corporations to strip jobs from our workers and send them to countries where the workers there will be taken advantage of. For example, everyone wonders why the influx of illegal aliens into the U.S. from Mexico. In the twelve years since NAFTA was enacted, the average Mexican workers wages have fell 40%. Their inability to provide for their families has driven many across the border.

The debate over whether or not invading Iraq was a good idea will continue for years. The fact of the matter now remains on how do we exit Iraq and stop the slaughter of our service men and women and stop the gigantic hole this war is digging into our children’s future. Recent reports show that in addition to the 140,000 troops we have in Iraq, there are an additional 100,000 military contractors in Iraq who earn much more than our troops.

There are 50,000,000 Americans with no health care coverage. This represents a 7,000,000 person increase since 2000. This accounts for 15% of the general population. These numbers are for a country that leads the world in health care spending. The common misconception is that the uninsured are people with no job, when actually 80% of the citizens with no health care live in a family unit with two or more jobs.

In 2004 George Bush stated his victory was a mandate from the American people on his policies and ideas (even though he won by one of the smallest margins in history). If that is the case, then the midterm elections are a landslide mandate on the population’s opinion on the job the White House is doing. Democrats must take advantage of this shift in power and make a positive impact for America’s working families.

Other Essays By John Davis

The Fox In The Spin House

Dr. King - Remembering the Dream and the Dreamer

12 Miners Found Dead In Mine Explosion

The School of the Americas Vigil: One Member's Perspective

The Delphi Dilemma

Informational Picket Clears Muddy Waters At Delphi

Giving Thanks

CAFTA: A Tale of Two Horses

Dirty Little Secrets - Dirty Little Lies - The School of the Americas

“Happy Hippos” Enjoy Tax Breaks

Voting - Your Right - Your Privilege - Your Duty

Labor Day 2003: The Struggle Continues

A Matter of Faith

Buying Power? Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

Putting The
"Labor" Back In Labor Day

We Remember 911

UAW Supports Locked Out Local 1832 Members

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