The polling since the conventions shows that Democrats are doing better than expected. President Obama now apparently has a clear lead over Mitt Romney. Democratic Party control of the Senate seems likely to survive this election year of many more Democratic rather than Republican Senate seats up for election. And, even in House races, it looks like the Democrats will pick up a number of seats; though whether they can pick up enough seats to take back the House is still an unlikely prospect, and without the House President Obama’s second term is likely to be much like his last year and three-quarters, rather than his first two years.
So, what ought to be done to ensure a Democratic victory in the House and perhaps even a no loss of seats Senate outcome? My view is that the Democrats need to make some strong promises to the voters, conditional on those voters returning the Democrats to majority control of both Houses of Congress. Here’s my list of promises Democratic candidates for office should make to voters to ensure a return to a majority in both Houses of Congress.
– I promise to vote No on any bill that will cut spending on Medicare, Social Security, or Medicaid during my term of office. I also promise to vote no on any procedural vote that would facilitate a vote to get such a bill out of any committee I serve on; or any procedural vote to facilitate a floor vote of any such bill. My promise includes any bill that would raise the age of eligibility for full Medicare benefits, or that would change the Social Security cost of living adjustment formula unless the change proposes increases to the COLA by taking into account the disproportionate Medical and pharmaceutical expenses seniors pay compared to people under the age of eligibility.
– I promise to vote Yes on any bill providing for $1000 per person revenue sharing payments from the Federal Government to the American States so that State and local employees who have lost their jobs since the onset of the present Wall Street-induced recession, may be hired back and State public services fully restored. I promise to vote Yes on any motion to report such a bill out of any committees I serve on, and I also promise to vote Yes on any procedural motion facilitating a floor vote on such legislation, and to vote NO on any motion blocking a floor vote on such legislation.
– I promise to vote Yes on any bill providing for a Federal Job Guarantee (JG) program, guaranteeing a job offer at a living wage with full fringe benefits to anyone who wants to work full time and is capable of performing the job. The jobs involved will defined by local community organizations and non-profit sector organizations in a variety of service sectors and will be comprised of work that creates valuable outcomes fulfilling the public purposes of the United States. I promise to vote Yes on any motion to report such a bill out of any committees I serve on, and I also promise to vote Yes on any procedural motion facilitating a floor vote on such legislation, and to vote NO on any motion blocking a floor vote on such legislation.
And for Senate candidates:
– I promise to vote No in January 2013 on any set of rules for organizing the Senate which provides for unlimited debate without or without rules for shutting off unlimited debate through cloture. In other words, I promise to vote No on any set of rules continuing the practice of the Senate filibuster. I make this promise because I realize that without the routine rule of the majority in matters of debate and procedure in the Senate, all the previous promises I’ve made would be empty promises because a majority of Democrats in the Senate would not be sufficient to keep the conditional promises I’ve made earlier.
This simple list of promises, conditional only on winning a majority in both Houses will most likely persuade the unemployed and the under-employed that when the Democratic Party says that it will be fighting to fix the economy to lower unemployment, that it means what it says about ending the unemployment problem. It will also persuade seniors that the Democratic Party isn’t planning to, and won’t sell them out in the next two years by making a “grand bargain” either after the election, or in the next Congressional term to cut the social safety net for the sake of bipartisanship. So, these promises should win for the Democrats two constituencies in this election which have been eluding them and the President: an undivided working class, which will, at least temporarily, come home to the Democratic Party; and the senior demographic, a remaining bastion of Republican support that is ripe for the taking due to Republican attacks on SS, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Democrats, including the President, talk about a long- and even medium-term deficit and debt reduction problem, that doesn’t exist. For better or worse, that is seen as code for selling out the safety net, and refusing to deficit spend to create jobs or extend unemployment benefits and food stamps to those who need them. People now mistrust Democrats on safety net and employment issues, even though they still trust them more than Romney/Ryan and Republican candidates generally.
In order to remove mistrust and to swing seniors and working people strongly enough into the Democratic camp to regain control of Congress, I urge Democrats to make and keep these promises: direct, unequivocal commitments with no qualifications saying essentially “we know that we are talking about your bread and butter with these promises, and under no conditions will we vote to take away any of your bread and butter and give more to the rich! This we solemnly promise! Hold us to it in 2014!
(Cross-posted from New Economic Perspectives.)