Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Question for Liberals

What are the top positive agenda issues you want to hear Congressional candidates talk about in 2012? That is, things that they want to pass, as opposed to bashing Republicans over Medicare and other spending cuts. Note that this isn't quite the same thing as what you want them to do if elected...this question is about what you want them to talk about in 2012, which may or may not be the same thing.


  1. Energy reform. Every time the economy looks like it's about to improve, gas prices spike and knock it back down. Oil dependence keeps us entangled in the Middle East and fossil fuel dependence moves the planet closer to destruction.

    Gas prices will start rising again some day (soon?). Democrats should start banging the drum NOW (or better, yesterday) for ambitious reform, rather than wait until prices rise and short-term inelasticity makes it too late to do anything about it.

    Frankly, it was stupid not to hold out for a massive energy/green jobs stimulus back when Obama first got into office. Even if it meant health care reform would have to wait or be more gradual, it would have been worth it.

  2. I like the energy reform idea--as long as it's focused on improving efficiency and green jobs, which seems like a good message, rather than pretending that we can tap the SPR or something--but I'll steal a page from Yglesias and say expansionary fiscal and monetary policy.

  3. Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.

    Except in my district, which has incredibly low unemployment. Here, I'd like to hear about gas prices and wages.

  4. I agree re: green energy. Also, I'd like to hear about getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan again--it's something that seems to have quietly slunk away as everyone politely turned their heads.

    In theory I'd like to hear more anti-torture rhetoric, just to try and stem the (inevitable) creep of norms regarding torture, but I actually believe that more progress is likely to be made on the policy itself in relative silence, so that one I can let go.

    And in a perfect world I'd love to hear some staunch defense of reproductive rights, but I'm a realist. It's not happening.

  5. Agree with everyone on energy reform and jobs. And I'd like to see such an argument include a positive case for government spending as a stimulus for the economy. (That would probably also include pushing back on deficit hysteria as well as GOP narrative on who is to blame for deficit but I'm straying from the assignment here...) I'd like to hear if there are innovative engineering ideas on making homes more secure against natural disasters and if so, how government could help them. Ditto on technology or security measures that could disrupt terrorists.

    I'd like to see higher taxes on carcinogens but imagine such a subject would be met with fierce resistance based on how much heckling Michelle Obama got from the right for suggesting she wanted to see less childhood obesity.

    And I think suicide gets short shrift. It's a leading killer and I'd like to see efforts to promote better access to mental health treatment that studies show to be more effective.

  6. I'd like to see the Dem needle moved leftward back toward the real center, the center that's been pulled to the right over the last decade into the suburbs of Goldwaterland. That means taking stands--pro-union/working class, pro-gay rights, pro women's rights and especially reproductive rights, pro-environment, pro-education, pro-social safety net, and anti-war, anti-corporate hegemony, anti-gun proliferation, etc.

    Never happen, but I can dream.

  7. I would like to see Democratic Congressional candidate put forth a proposal for a public option and a medicare buy in for for people between the ages of 50-65.

  8. Infrastructure spending and other government investments to promote jobs and lay the foundation for a real economic recovery.

  9. I want to hear new _policies_ on energy and on related infrastructure spending.

    I want to hear _process_ too. For Senators, I want to hear about the process for getting presidential nominees in place. For Representatives, I want to hear about the need for a well-staffed, well-funded, effective government, and for measuring its effectiveness.

    Done right, the process themes can hit lots of the Democratic policy areas too.

  10. Curbing energy and commodity speculation . Enforcing and funding the mechanisms of Dodd - Frank . Funding infrastructure and research .
    Progressive taxation. Hands off Social Security .

  11. I want to hear candidates telling people that jobs and the economy are our short-term problem, and the deficit is a long-term problem. And to escape the tyranny of the media cycle that falsely insists that "dealing with deficits" is essential to improving the economy, explain that cutting spending will not only hurt jobs and economic recovery in the short term, but by doing so it will make dealing with the deficit *harder* in the longer term, because one of the most effective ways to reduce the deficit is to get the economy going again.

    Sadly, from everything I've seen, I expect to be disappointed. Obama is actually reasonably good on this (other than being so wedded to his campaign promise that taxes for <250K won't go up that he accepts continuation of ruinous tax cuts for the wealthy), but most senators and congressmen seem to have completely bought into the idea that voters "really care" about the deficit, not jobs.


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