The Democrats came out with a "New Direction" platform earlier this week. I am actually quite glad they did. I have included a copy of it below and my comments are in red.
MAKE HEALTHCARE MORE AFFORDABLE. Fix the prescription drug program by putting people ahead of drug companies and HMOS, eliminating wasteful subsidies, negotiating lower drug prices and ensuring the program works for all seniors; invest in stem cell and other medical research.
Bad. Fixing prescription drug program AND ensuring the program works for all seniors. It needs to be killed entirely. We cannot afford it. The entire program is just an expansion of the Great Society. Kill it.
Good. Eliminating wasteful subsidies AND negotiating lower drug prices with bulk discounts. I agree with both of these.
Not sure. Invest in stem cell and other medical research. Our medical companies are making record profits along with the oil companies. Can't they fund their own research?
Overall I think this one is a wash. They could refine it, add importing drugs from Canada, allow small businesses to pool together, and streamline the FDA drug approval process and make this a winning plank with a little effort.
LOWER GAS PRICES AND ACHIEVE ENERGY INDEPENDENCE. Crack down on price gouging; eliminate billions in subsidies for oil and gas companies and use the savings to provide consumer relief and develop American alternatives including biofuels, promote energy efficient technology.
Bad. Crack down on price gouging. There is none. The only price gouging are the Federal and State gas taxes we are forced to pay.
Good. Eliminate subsidies to oil and gas companies. This should be expanded to all kinds of other businesses and industries as well. Farmers, sugar, etc.
Not sure. Provide consumer relief, develop American alternatives, and promote energy efficient technology. This sounds good on the surface; but, we have been spending BILLIONS on these ideas for years and it has not worked.
I think I have to call this plank a wash too. It has a feel good rhetoric to it. If we were to repeal Federal and State Gas taxes I could then agree with this plank.
HELP WORKING FAMILIES. Raise the minimum wage; repeal tax giveaways that encourage companies to move jobs overseas.
Bad. Raising the minimum wage is utterly stupid. Please...
Good. Repeal tax giveaways that encourage companies to move jobs overseas. I would need to see which ones they are talking about; but, this could help.
Another wash. Helping American families is a great line; but, the way to help them is to eliminate government and regulation...
CUT COLLEGE COSTS. Make college tuition deductible from taxes; expand Pell grants and cut student loan costs.
Good. Making college tuition deductible from taxes. Often-times IT IS deductible; however, it would be a good idea to make it always deductible.
Bad. Expanding Pell grants. DUMB. DUMB. DUMB. Why do you think college costs are increasing people? Because the government keeps mindlessly throwing money at the problem. This is a bad idea.
Bad. Cutting costs on student loans is just another subsidy that will allow colleges to increase tuition even faster. DUMB. DUMB. DUMB.
I have to be overall against this plank. It should be re-written to say SPEND EVEN MORE MONEY on education.
ENSURE DIGNIFIED RETIREMENT. Prevent the privatized of Social Security; expand savings incentives; ensure pension fairness.
Bad. Social Security is BROKEN. We have to either double payroll taxes or halve benefits TODAY to fix it. We need to fix it not play with it.
Good. Expand savings incentives. If done correctly this is a good idea. I assume they mean increasing the limits on IRA's and the like which is a good thing.
Not Sure. Ensure pension fairness. The Dems need to explain this more. Our pension system is BADLY broken. Companies in bankruptcy are shedding their pensions on the Federal Government right and left. This is wrong. Both Parties allow it right now. This must stop. The Fund that picks them up is badly in debt and needs to be fixed as well.
Another wash, good ideas mixed in with bad. They could make this good by doing Pension reform correctly!
REQUIRE FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY. Restore the budget discipline of the 1990's that helped eliminate deficits and spur record economic growth.
Good plank, could use some more explanation. We need to cut spending now. The Dems need to explain where they will cut spending. They need to be specific.
I will consider this a good plank; however, it is too vague.
These items below are quoted in The Boston Globe as also being part of The Democrats new plan:
INCREASE ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE.
Not sure what this means. Is it going to cost a lot of money? Cannot evaluate without more information.
ENSURE THE TEACHING OF EVOLUTION.
This is quite bad. The Federal government has absolutely NO BUSINESS telling the fifty states what to teach. You have got to be kidding me. This is far too Socialist for my taste.
INCREASE FUNDING FOR COMMUNITY COLLEGES.
Quite bad. It is not the Federal Governments job to fund colleges. Colleges are a business and they are making record profits... Do not subsidize them from The Federal level. If a State or local government wants to subsidize them, so be it.
CUT STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATES BY HALF.
Another bad idea, just another subsidy. Tuition costs are rising about 8-10 % a year, the last thing we need are more subsidies.
ENSURE ACCESS TO FAMILY PLANNING METHODS AND ABORTION.
Very bad. NOT the Federal governments job AT ALL.
FUND INFANT AND CHILD-CARE.
We already fund them. There are about 100 Federal programs that do this now. Do they want more programs? Come on. Having children is a responsibility that belongs to parents, not the government.
INCREASE EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS.
Bad. Keep government out of private businesses.
ENACT FUNDING RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE 9/11 COMMISSION.
Not sure. I would have to know more about this. This may in fact be a good idea.
INSTITUTE LOBBYING REFORM.
Not sure, please tell me what kind of lobbying reform. The last time McCain-Feingold passed lobbying reform they made the system WORSE. Please provide details. Please.
IMPLEMENT BALANCED BUDGETS.
YES. This is a great plank. I need details. Almost everything listed above will cost tens of billions more then what we spend now. Please list what you will cut.
PAY DOWN THE NATIONAL DEBT.
Yes, read note above. Where will you cut all of the spending.
ENACT TAX CHANGES TO BENEFIT ENTEPRENEURS.
Our tax code is already 60,000 pages long. I would need a lot more details about this.
FOCUS NATION'S SECURITY STRATEGY TO NATIONS BORDERS.
Yes. I agree with this. Why is The Democratic Party currently fighting erecting a wall on the Mexican border? Based on their recent voting record I do NOT believe them on this plank currently.
INCREASE PORT SECURITY.
Yes, but this will require more spending. I see a lot of spending proposals and no spending cuts. That will not balance the budget people.
FUND MORE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION.
No. Utterly stupid. Amtrak loses money EVERY year. Let's not spend more. Socialism is for Europe.
PROMOTE ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION.
Need more info. Sounds like a feel good statement.
Overall, I think The Democrats could have done much better. On the one hand I am PROUD OF THEM for at least coming up with a platform; though it needs a lot more details. The Democrats currently have more of a platform then The Republicans. That is good for The Democrats in my opinion.
This platform is NOT what they need to sweep the elections. It spends too much money. It is NOT designed for middle America.
I am pretty sure that The Democrats think that all of these spending increases will be offset by letting Bush's tax cuts lapse. That is one way to balance the budget. As long as they actually balance the budget I would be ok with it in principle.
I hope they provide a lot more details. I am interested.
I really want to know what you all think of this. Please be VERY specific.