Years ago, Janet Jackson released a song called "What Have You Done for Me Lately?" In politics, the name of that song should be "What Will You Do For Me Next?" Today on NBC's Meet the Press, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) took a giant leap in answering that question for the American public.
After taking the paint off of the Republicans for their failure to live up to their own goals as laid out in the Contract With America, Congressman Emanuel laid out what Democrats will do to improve the country. Here is the partial transcript from the DCCC:
On Democratic ideas:
REP. EMANUEL: Let me go to the question about elections and what does this means politically, given everything that's going on. The American people have rejected the same policies that are giving us the same results and the status quo. They want change. They want big ideas, big reform. This is going to be a big election, a national election because of the challenges this country faces. We can do better than the policies that got us into the position we have right now. And the fact is, the Democrats have an obligation to lay out to the country what those ideas are.
REP. EMANUEL: ...I'll give you five quick ideas. One, we make college education as universal for the 21st century that a high school education was in the 20th.
MR. RUSSERT: And who pays for that?
REP. EMANUEL: The American people, because it offers -- Let me get to it. Second, we get a summit on the budget to deal with the $3 trillion of debt that's been added up in five years and structural deficits of $400 billion a year. Third, an energy policy that says in 10 years, we cut our dependence on foreign oil in half and make this a hybrid economy. Four, we create an institute on science and technology that builds for America like, the National Institutes has done for health care, we maintain our edge. And five, we have a universal health-care system over the next 10 years where if you work, you have health care. That says fiscal discipline and investing in the American people by reputting people first. The policies that the Republicans have offered have gotten us in the ditch we have today.
This is great stuff:
(1)Universal college education;
(2)a Budget Summit to address the $3 trillion in debt run up on the national credit card by Republicans;
(3)Make the U.S. a Hybrid Energy Economy;
(4)Create National Institutes of Science & Technology;
(5)Universal health care for workers.
Democrats should be grateful that some in the leadership are ready to go public with an agenda of ideas. The Republicans only hollow critique is that this sounds like more big government spending. There are two problems with this attack. First, Americans will spend money on things we consider to be priorities. Secondly, the GOP has spent billions of dollars on a war in Iraq for strategically suspect reasons, created a Department of Homeland Defense that could not handle a disaster with days of warning, and they have cut taxes for their wealthy contributors which has increased the deficit without helping average Americans.
I have two suggestions for the leadership as they put forward this agenda. First, they should add something about National Security and talk about it first and talk about it often. We have got to prove to people that we take this issue seriously or they will not trust us to handle anything else. Wesley Clark has great ideas on this.
Secondly, we have to find a way to talk to African Americans, Latinos, union members, suburbanites and independents who are concerned about the struggle families face trying to rise children in a changing culture. How can we help parents deal with the rampant sex and violence that their children are exposed to?
Republicans have proved the air of arrogance that surrounds their party has created a culture of cronyism and corruption in Washington, DC and they can no longer be trusted with leadership of the country. Now DCCC Chair Rahm Emanuel has fired the first salvo in the war to define the Democrats' positive agenda for America. This could be the beginning of something big.