Today, after months of waiting, the Democrats have come up with an agenda for 2006. First, some noticeably missing items.
Iraq. For as much as the Democrats continue to criticize the President's mishandling of the war, the peace, or whatever you want to call it, their direction does not highlight any meaningful alternative. How do they believe a free and secure Iraq should be created? Well, if Murtha has his way, apparently by surrendering to Al Qaeda.
National security. Apparently terrorism is not a problem because the polar ice caps are melting. Perhaps we were mistaken, it wasn't planes that flew into the World Trade Center on 9/11, it was chunks of ice from the North Pole. So while they are ignoring national security, they're stumping for Gore's movie.
Immigration. Millions of immigrants took to the streets in protest in recent months. Millions more legal residents have also made their views known. No matter where you stand, this is one of the most charged and important issues on the minds of the people, and on this issue the Democrats are silent.
Moving on to some of the core items of the Democrats' platform from items that simply haven't been on the public radar to making current problems worse…
Raising minimum wage. Despite the fact that every time the minimum wage has been raised unemployment has gone up, they believe that having no job is better than being paid less than some arbitrary number. There are more intelligent ways to get people earning enough to provide for their families, but raising the minimum wage isn't one of them. There is a finite amount of money in circulation; those wage increases need to be paid for somehow. It ends up being either layoffs, benefit cuts, higher prices (and cost of living), or a combination of all three.
Price gouging. Who isn't against price gouging? However, for as much as that legal term has been thrown around, there has not been any evidence provided to support that it is happening. After about two years of hearing that companies are breaking the law to stick it to Joe Consumer, I'd expect that someone would be able to prove it to nail their ass to the wall for it. However, after two years of complaining they haven't found any evidence, it is doubtful that giving them a majority will accomplish anything except more hearings with legislators bloviating on TV so it looks like they are "doing something."
Fiscal responsibility. One of the most appealing parts of the platform is restoring fiscal responsibility, however, the likely way of doing this will be to increase income to the treasury, not reducing spending. One of the key items to pay attention is that they specifically reference the fiscal discipline of the 90s… i.e. when Congress was run by Republicans. Cutting taxes is one thing, you have to cut spending along with it. At least on this point the Democrats are intellectually honest. They'll at least raise taxes to pay for their spending. If we want to talk about fiscal responsibility, let's start with earmark reform.
Slash student loan costs. This is pandering at its worst because student loans are almost essentially free. I know, because I have them. My wife's student loans are consolidated for an APR of 1.65%. In other words, I could take the money, put it in a savings account, and use the interest to pay off the loan and still turn a profit on the loan. I know students who take student loans for the express purpose of using that money and investing it earning 8%+. Student loans are an incredible deal. Inflation is about 3%, which makes those loans essentially trivial interest. The only thing that could be done to make those loans cheaper would be to pay students interest for taking them out.
Stop tax giveaways for outsourcing. If by tax-giveaways you mean that other countries don't tax the crap out of companies like we do, than you're right. However, how exactly are you going to start taxing companies that aren't in the US? Tariffs? Bring the entire world under the United States tax structure? No one is paying businesses to leave the US and outsource, it's simply far cheaper to hire labor overseas in some industries.
Stop wasteful subsidies, Support stem-cell research. These two items are directly at odds. If there are wasteful subsidies, by all means eliminate them. However, funding stem-cell research (particularly embryonic which is what they are talking about) is in itself a wasteful subsidy. Adult stem cell research is curing people, it works. Private money is coming in hand over fist for adult stem cell research. Embryonic stem cell research does not work, which is why they have no investors and need a handout. While it might give the Democrats yet another chance to kill millions more babies and start treating people less as human beings and more as crops to be cultivated for parts, it remains that this science doesn't work.
The Democratic platform here doesn't address most of the issues important to Americans. The three top issues are Iraq, gas prices, and immigration for Congress. Health care is low on the list. Social security is absent. Stem cell research is absent. The minimum wage is absent.
Once again, we're faced with a party unwilling to tackle the big issues that Americans care about. It would be nice in 2006 to have a real choice between candidates, and it looks like the Democratic party has deprived us once again.