But where are the Big Ideas? Or any fundamental challenge to the Bush administration? Sure, some Democrat chairmen are planning committee hearings on the war in Iraq, and a handful of Democrats want to take on the president's tax cuts -- but don't expect anything revolutionary to happen, and for good reason.
The Democrats' margin is too slim to accomplish major changes in direction on either the war in Iraq or domestic policy. Americans may be unhappy with the conduct of the war, but their discontent hasn't developed into a real anti-war movement. There won't be any cuts on funding for the war anytime soon, nor will millions take to the street in protest of our involvement in Iraq.
And the Democrats can't claim much of a mandate on other issues either. Raising taxes -- even if Democrats argue it is only on "the rich" -- doesn't play well with most Americans. Immigration, another important issue that should be dealt with, is nettlesome for the Democrats as well as the Republicans. And real Social Security and Medicare reform would entail hard choices about limiting future benefits, which Democrats are terrified of addressing.
So for all the hoopla and the changing of the guard, it's not likely much of real significance will happen in Congress in the next 100 hours, days or even weeks. Ten or 12 years from now, we'll likely look back on this week as more atmospherics than substance.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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