Democrats Seize Control of House
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:
1. THE MINIMUM WAGE
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.
2. FIXING THE MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG PLAN
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.
3. TAX CUTS
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.
4. TRADE DEALS
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.
5. GET OUT OF IRAQ
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.
6. FIND A WAY TO IMPLEMENT A SINGLE PAYER SYSTEM
FOR HEALTH CARE
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