This [agenda from the 111th Congress] is incredibly ambitious—Douthat says as much earlier in the post—and more importantly, ongoing: under four more years of an Obama administration, Democrats will work to implement these policies. In addition, they still hope to sign laws on climate change—building upon the cap and trade legislation passed in 2009—immigration reform, and tax reform. It’s simply ridiculous for Douthat to say that “there’s no liberal agenda to speak of at the moment,” especially when Republicans devoted themselves to constant obstruction throughout the 111th Congress.Now, realistically, there's an excellent chance that climate and immigration legislation go nowhere in a divided Congress if Barack Obama is re-elected, partially because Democrats are not, in fact, totally united on those issues. But that doesn't mean that Obama and most Democrats have dropped them, or wouldn't pass those measures if they had the votes. As for tax reform...I actually suspect that one has a pretty good chance if we get a status quo election.
Part of what's going on here is Douthat (and he's not alone) so focused on the deficit hawk agenda that he absolutely misses the possibility that there are other possible policy plans that a party might have. The other part is that Douthat foolishly buys into the idea that the Senate's choice to duck budget votes is a meaningful indication of a lack of interest in budget politics. That's just not the case; the Senate, for good or bad, is ducking those votes for a variety of reasons, but it doesn't really tell you about what they would do if Democrats had unified government.
At any rate, the Democrats certainly do have an agenda. Just no confidence that they'll be able to pass it anytime soon. Nice catch!