Tuesday, March 16, 2010
How to figure out the minority party's agenda
Whenever one of the major parties is out of power, you can go its party platform to find out what it would do if and when it got back in power.
But isn't it far more certain to see what that party did when it was in power? That's when a party has to put its money where its mouth is.
Right now an omnibus financial services industry reform bill has been introduced by the majority party. The Republicans will say "our plan is better," and offer one as they try to shoot down anything that would crimp the style of their backers on Wall Street--in the name of The People, of course.
But let's recall what the Republican Party did about financial services industry reform during the 12 years they controlled Congress:
Nothing. Unless you count deregulation and hamstringing enforcement of whatever regulations were left by defunding the regulators.
This isn't an argument for or against the Democrats' bill. I'm just pointing out that the alternative to the PIP's (Party in Power's) bills are never the POOP's (Party Out Of Power's) proposals. It's what the POOP did when it was the PIP.
Given the nature of our constitutional democracy, at the federal level we get the bills of one party or the other, and those are pretty much our only alternatives.
It's the same with healthcare reform. I don't have to be a mindreader to know that the Republican alternative--what they'd do if and when they regain power--is nothing at all. Because that's what they did. Not rocket science. Ditto this financial services reform bill.
So please don't compare the Democrats' very flawed efforts with some dream bill--or with what the Republicans are saying they'll do if you put them back in the driver's seat. The Republicans have proven that they're the party of no regulation of businesses. That's the real alternative to what the Democrats have put forth.
Just ask yourself: are these bills better than exactly nothing? Of course Republican hardliners will opt for nothing in a heartbeat. Independents and Eisenhower Republicans--and hard left Democrats, for that matter--should know better.
See what liberal economist Paul Krugman has to say about these bills. He's shown an ability to not let his ideology keep him from living in reality.