Big and bold reforms are just what we need -- and what the Democrats need to win. They've been comparing this year to the 1994 Republican sweep. The Republicans had a bold reform agenda in the Contract with America. It included immediate Congressional reforms and an aggressive and much needed ten-point plan including term limits, tort reform, tax reform, and fiscal discipline.
So what's the Democratic "Contract with America?"
[I]ncreasing the minimum wage, cutting costs of prescription drugs, reducing interest rates on student loans, rolling back subsidies for oil companies, and pay-as-you-go budgeting...Not exactly overwhelming. Nothing about Iraq? Civil liberties? National security? Illegal immigration? Health insurance affordability? Surely they must have some ideas. THE ENVIRONMENT? Al Gore is burning up the ozone layer flying all over the country trying to raise awareness about global warming, and his own party doesn't even bother to mention it?
A quick look at what they are proposing:
1) Increasing the minimum wage: an insignificant bone thrown to unions. Will help the few people, many of them teenagers, who still earn minimum wage, unless it results in job cuts, in which case there will be more unemployed teenagers hanging around the malls and street corners. Will raise prices for consumers in mininum-wage industries like fast food.
2) Cutting costs of prescription drugs: re-importation would be a good and cheap way to accomplish this. Expect the Democrats to propose something large, bureaucratic, costly, and punishing to the pharmaceutical companies instead.
3) Reducing interest rates on student loans: student loans are already subsidized and universally available. This is just a cash giveaway to a key Democratic constituent group: the permanent student.
4) Rolling back subsidies for oil companies: pandering! Let's go get the big bad oil companies! I'm sure there are some subsidies that should be removed, but they pale in comparison to the massive taxes imposed on both gasoline sales and oil company profits. This is not a serious policy proposal; it's pandering.
5) Pay-as-you-go budgeting: ostensibly means no tax cuts without spending cuts, and no spending increases without tax increases. Ignores stimulative effect of tax cuts and depressive effect of tax hikes, of course. So we'll get more spending with tax increases, which will bring in less revenue than budgeted, making the deficit worse.