Remember the time-period between the November elections and the official Democratic-takeover of Congress in January? If you do remember correctly, there was a lot of bluster from the Democrats. They were going to “make government work” and push through dozens of domestic policy initiatives. It was this bluster that led to much fanfare from columnists and bloggers around the country, including myself.
That being said, what has the Democrat-controlled Congress accomplished during their first 100 days?
For starters, the minimum-wage bill has failed to reach the President’s desk in a timely manner because Democratic leaders in both the House and the Senate used the bill as a tool to fight an internal power dispute within the party, which led to a lack of compromise on some of the language within the bill. This was exacerbated because Republicans, understandably, wanted to provide tax breaks for small businesses, and the Democrats completely balked on that idea, despite their “for the working class“ posturing. This sorely disappointed me, as I was very much in support of the federal minimum-wage increase.
The interest-rate reduction on student loans, the implementation of suggestions by the 9/11 Commission, the funding increase for stem-cell research…all of these policy initiatives were hyped to no end. All of the aforementioned initiatives were part of the “First 100 Hours” the Democrats were hyping as they rode a wave of momentum coming off the November elections. None of the measures introduced in the “First 100 Hours” have made it past the compromise process between the House and the Senate (both controlled by the Democrats). This means that none of these bills have had the opportunity for President Bush to review and/or sign into law.
Part of the problem lies within the Democratic party switching gears and focusing on Iraq, after stating they would focus more on domestic issues. This means that one of the issues that got the Dems into power has been abandoned for the time being. Democrats have focused on going after President Bush and the GOP, instead of pushing policies. This completely contradicts their entire stance from their 2006 campaign.
Nancy Pelosi has now decided that instead of working with President Bush (as she constantly stated she would do from the time she was announced as Speaker of the House), now she’s attempting to subvert the President’s authority by attempting to act as a diplomatic authority in the Middle East. Pelosi attempted a high-profile visit to Syria, which ended up in her sending mixed messages, and even some outright lies about “possible peace talks” between Syria and Israel. Many believe that the intentions of her trip was to simply act defiant in the face of the White House.
So much for “working with the President”, as it didn’t even take her 4 months to attempt to undermine executive policy.
Nonetheless, the lack of real action put forward by the Democrats in regards to their initial intentions has shown up in independent polling. I was reading a public opinion poll by the Pew Research Center, and their results showed that the public actually has a disapproving view of Democratic policies. Democratic policies only held a 37% approval rate, while 42% disapprove and 21% don’t know what to think.
In the same poll, Pelosi herself carries a 48% approval rating, with only 22% disapproving of her job, but a curiously large section of those polled (30%) don’t know whether or not to approve or disapprove of Pelosi’s job. Harry Reid’s numbers are further intriguing (32% approve, 22% disapprove, and a whopping 46% “don’t know”). These poll results can be found at http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=315
I personally chalk up the large percentages of “don’t know” due to simple inability of the Democratic party to truly “work with the Republicans”, as they had promised. Until the Democrat’s attention switched from improving domestic policies to “Iraq, Iraq, Iraq”, it seemed like we had a glimmer of bi-partisan hope. Republicans seemed fairly willing to work with the Democrats on domestic issues.
Once Pelosi and company switched up gears, they effectively tossed their bi-partisanship efforts right out the window. Now that things in Congress have slowed to a snail-like pace, people don’t know what to think. Both parties are waging publicity wars against each other (what’s new there), and op-ed columnists and bloggers alike are taking to their keyboards in a war of words.
The question that remains in my mind is…was the bluster and relative bust of the “100 Days“, as well as the abandoning of their initial objectives, signs of things to come from the Democrats?
I guess we shall wait and see…