Monday, July 24, 2006

The American Dream Initiative

The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), the Democratic group that sits on the party’s right flank and near America’s center, has released a plan on which they want their entire party to run. The American Dream Initiative is the DLC’s vision for what Democrats can achieve for our nation if elected this November.

They call the plan an “opportunity agenda” and provide a list of principles as follows:

• Every American should have the opportunity and responsibility to go to college and earn a degree, or to get the lifelong training they need.

• Every worker should have the opportunity and responsibility to save for a secure retirement.

• Every business should have the opportunity to grow and prosper in the strongest private economy on earth, and the responsibility to equip workers with the same tools of success as management.

• Every individual should have the opportunity and responsibility to start building wealth from day one, and the security and community that come from owning a home.

• Every family should have the opportunity to afford health insurance for their children, and the responsibility to obtain it.

• In order to expand opportunity for all Americans, we must demand a new ethic of responsibility from Washington: to put government's priorities back in line with our values -- and its books back in balance -- by getting rid of wasteful corporate subsidies, unchecked bureaucracy, and narrow-interest loopholes; collecting taxes that are owed; clamping down on tens of billions of dollars in improper payments and no bid-contracts; and restoring commonsense budgeting principles like pay-as-you-go.

Each of these broad statements of principles/goals is fleshed out with more details later in the plan. All said, it’s a fairly comprehensive domestic agenda that is heavy on practicality and light on sweeping reforms. Some will criticize it as too filled with small ideas while Republicans will certainly criticize it as another case of Democrats wanting government to hold too many hands and perform too many unneeded services.

But right now, the DLC is probably most concerned with what its own party will say. The left flank, led by Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean, have previously stated that the choice between Republicans and Democrats is clear and have not pushed to create an agenda outside of the “let’s get rid of those incompetent/evil Republicans” plan.

Without the party leadership’s backing, the DLC plan will never gain traction. Which would be a shame because, even with its cloying name, The American Dream Initiative is a sturdy agenda with reasonable ideas and a clear message that, despite over a decade of power, the Republicans have done a poor job of helping average Americans deal with modern problems. I don’t like every idea they put forth, but I like that they are addressing real issues with some interesting solutions—that’s more than most politicians in either party are doing.


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