Friday, January 26, 2007

Making Michigan’s Tax Woes Personal

As the governor struggles with the enormous deficit caused by the Republicans and a struggling economy, it is easy to point fingers and raise our voices in arguing over fault and solutions. On the other hand, lowering voices and initiating a conversation that makes complicated issues personal and understandable is more difficult. Eric Barren, writing in today’s (January 26) Morning Sun has done just that: made the issue of government’s role in civic life personal and understandable.

Eric’s editorial centers around his beloved son’s health problems and Eric’s struggles to care for him on very limited resources. As we partisans roll up our sleeves and prepare to throw our brickbats, we should stop and read this touching and insightful account to understand why we are fighting. Politics are, indeed, personal.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

From CMU College Democrats: Introducing Blue Chips!

On behalf of the College Democrats Association at CMU, I am pleased to introduce the official blog of our chapter of the College Democrats..........

Blue Chips!

It is our hope that not only will CMU students find Blue Chips to be an excellent resource for the latest information on the College Democrats, but so will members of the ICDP as well as the rest of Michigan's progressive blogging community.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

It's official: Democrats are in charge on Capitol Hill

The 110th Congress of the United States convened Thursday, with Democrats in control for the first time in twelve years.

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA; pictured) was elected the first female Speaker of the House. Pelosi is the highest-ranking woman in US political history, and as Speaker of the House, she is second in line to become president after the Vice President. (Read the transcript of Pelosi's address on becoming Speaker.)

As an added bonus, Democrats from Michigan will chair two committees, three subcommittees, and the Congressional Black Caucus.

In the Senate, Harry Reid (D-NV) became the new Majority Leader, while Mitch McConnell (R-KY) replaces former senator Bill Frist as Republican Leader. Here's a
transcript of Reid's Opening Speech. Meanwhile, Vice President Cheney gave the oath of office to 10 new senators and 23 Senators who were re-elected in November, including Debbie Stabenow, the #4 Democrat in the Senate. For his part, Carl Levin will chair the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Democrats appear intent on hitting the ground running on Iraq, ethics reform, health care, and renewable energy, among other issues.

Now, skeptics may say that, because Bush still has the power to veto legislation, the Democrats will have little power. First, when the Democrats pass legislation through Congress and fsend it to the White House, one of three things will happen:

1. Bush will sign it.
2. Bush will veto it, but the veto will be overridden.
3. Bush will veto it, and Republicans will stop it from being overridden. If this is the case, then Republicans such as John McCain and Sam Brownback - both of whom are likely candidates for President - will be on record opposing ideas that are likely to be popular.

Second, the GOP Congress has consistently given Bush a 'blank check' to do whatever he wants. If Bush wanted it, Congress gave it to him. With Democrats in charge, he will not be able to get what he wants as easily as he used to. This is what James Madison and the framers of the Constitution desired when they implemented the system of checks and balances into our Constitution. Now let's make sure Democrats in Congress live up to what we expect of them.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Senate Democrats and a weak ethics reform bill

Now that the Democrats (barely) control the Senate, they have the chance to live up to their campaign rhetoric and actually make substantial ethics reforms. But they’re not off to a good start. They are basing their reform package on the weak Republican reform bill from last year that does little more than make cosmetic changes to existing rules.

The Senate will be debating ethics reform next week, and it is certain that amendments will be offered, most of which will attempt to weaken the rules and keep the loopholes that less-than-scrupulous folk took advantage of (for example, Jack Abramoff and Tom “Let Them See Jesus In Me” Delay). The Lieberman-Collins amendment, on the other hand, could strengthen the rules considerably. That amendment calls for the creation of an independent office of Public Integrity. Such an office would be problematic since it calls to mind the old question of “Who will guard the guards?” However, the idea is worth pursuing.

In addition, the Lieberman-Collins amendment would, it is hoped, put the brakes on “Astroturf” groups. In case you are not familiar with the term, these are groups that publicize themselves as grassroots organizations of concerned citizens (like the Stop Overspending (SOS) group that almost made it on the ballot in the last election), but are in fact funded by special interests.

Now is the time to call or write Stabenow and Levin and urge them to support the Lieberman-Collins amendment and any other amendments that will lead to serious ethical reform. In the last election, Democrats put ethics reform as a top priority: now it is up to us to make sure they follow through on their promises.