Democratic Congress has opportunity

Published 9:39 am Friday, November 7, 2008

OK, you now hold a true majority in both houses of Congress. Not the bulletproof Senate you wanted, but not far from it. So please consider some recommendations for how to stay in the majority.

First, remember that the Republican majority became a rubber stamp for the presidency. Do not do that.

Congress has an oversight function that is different than the role of an administration … and it is an important function. A Congress that ignores oversight is one not functioning effectively.

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We should have known the Republican Congress was completely inept when it exonerated the Bush administration in the go-to-war claims made. Never fall prey to the same loss of purpose.

Second, in spite of all that the Republicans did wrong in leading Congress, there are still a lot of well-intentioned and smart Republicans in Congress. Work with them, even though you do not have to, you should. And the American people want you to work across the aisle.

Republicans may use this time to toss bombs your way, in order to re-capture Congress … in part, that is simply the role of the minority party. Let them do as they will publicly, but quietly and privately work with them. It will make for better laws and a better nation.

Third, restore some fiscal sanity there. We know you may have to continue to revive the economy with another stimulus, but keep in mind we have to stop spending the future today. If you can, find ways to “pay as you go.”

We understand that approach and like it.

Take the waste out of federal spending. You know we do not end failed programs well, and do not oversee military overspending much. Change that and show the American people that you can cut any waste and make the necessary budget cuts.

Oh, and we still are not very supportive of your bailing out the banks, giving tax breaks to Big Oil and letting corporate taxes go uncollected. You dishonor every American taxpayer when you do not collect taxes from the biggest taxpayers.

Fourth, the country needs some innovative thinking right now, and it does not and should not all come from the administration. There are 535 of you … more than enough to discover ways to save money, invest in the nation, and advance national policies that free up entrepreneurs to change the world again.

Fifth, remember the Republicans wanted to govern forever. To do that they re-districted the nation and then went to special interests and bullied them into only supporting Republicans financially. Do not do that.

Governing should not be about you staying in power forever. It should be about you using your time in Congress to serve the people, not the special interests. Try to serve the nation with honor and distinction, not with an eye on the next election.

Sixth, if you have not noticed, the era of Swift Boating has ended. So kindly refrain from demonizing your opponents with untruths. Finally, while most people have come to conclude that all earmarks are bad, they are not. Some valuable local projects could never be completed without special help. So keep bringing those projects up and seek funding for them as it is needed. But pork for the sake of pork (Rep. Murtha, Sen. Byrd, this is for you) needs to be stopped. It is ugly and wrong.

OK, go to work. Work long hours, work hard and think about the opportunity you have to make America a better nation than ever before.