Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Time to Get to Business, Dems

Today would be the day to celebrate, or gloat, if you're a Dem like me.

Dems have taken control of the US House and are currently leading in two contested US Senate races that would give them control of that chamber, too.

Democratic governors across the country also picked up 6 seats to give them a 28-22 lead in governorships, which has importance for those states and the presidential election in two years.

Here in Wisconsin, Governor Doyle was re-elected by a sound margin and the Dems took control of the state Senate.

Other more quirky looks at the results are also gloat-worthy. For instance, not only did Mark Green lose the gubernatorial race, he also was forced to watch as John Gard lost his old House seat to Steve Kagen (Gard's old Assembly seat did stay in GOP hands, as expected). That had to be tough. I can just hear Scott Walker: "It should've been me -- I'm not up for re-election until 2008!"

The GOP did grab the state AG post by a razor thin margin and pulled out both statewide amendments yesterday. But, overall, last night was a good night to be a Dem -- the first time that could be said in an even-year November in quite awhile.

But, putting all of that aside, my excitement is really not about yesterday, it's about what the Dems are going to do now.

At the national level, I expect:
  • Legislation that charts a new course in Iraq
  • Legislation that sets a new energy policy for the country
  • Legislation that creates an accountable prescription drug benefit
  • Legislation that creates a fair immigration policy
  • Legislation that opens the doors to the most promising stem cell research
  • Legislation that's aimed at balancing the budget
  • Legislation that corrects the mistakes of No Child Left Behind and fully funds any educational mandates left behind
  • A stop to ridiculous legislation that distracts from the real business of America (I'm looking at you, flag burning amendment)
Of course, I don't expect many of these pieces of legislation to actually become law in the next two years. Even if the Dems do hold on to the Senate, it will be a razor thin majority there, which isn't going to be enough to override presidential vetoes (although bills like stem cell research may have gotten the boost they need).

At the state level, I expect:
  • Legislation that initiates comprehensive health care reform
  • Legislation that re-does the school funding formula
  • Legislation that revamps the way campaigns are financed in the state
  • Legislation that initiates comprehensive health care reform
  • Legislation that closes any corporate tax loopholes (not tax incentives, but loopholes)
  • A quick defeat of the next incarnation of TABOR
  • Legislation that initiates comprehensive health care reform
  • Legislation that fixes the school voucher funding flaw
  • Legislation that publicly funds the most promising stem cell research
  • And did I mention legislation that initiates comprehensive health care reform?
Of course, like the national level, I don't expect much of this legislation to become law since the GOP still controls the state Assembly. But getting Dem ideas passed in at least one legislative chamber will help to get those ideas out there by grabbing the attention of the media.

When Dems spoke at the national or state level in the past four years, the media was apt to ignore them because their ideas had no chance of going anywhere. And, conversely, the GOP could grab headlines with any hair-brained idea they wanted (again, I'm looking at you, flag burning amendment) because everything they thought of had a chance at becoming law.

Now, though, the Dems have that important outlet to share their ideas with the American public. They need to take advantage of it -- and just in time for 2008.

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