House and Senate Democratic leaders held a press conference on June 16 to announce their bold, new policy initiatives in a plan called New Direction. Their accompanying press statement promises, “Democrats are ready with a New Direction, with policies to address the real challenges Americans face every day.” Their idea of the “real challenges Americans face every day” does not include fighting and winning the global war on terrorism, restructuring the Social Security and Medicare programs, rewriting the income tax code or cutting federal spending, because none of those issues are included in New Direction. Instead, they proposed more obstruction, more pandering and more deception with new rhetoric.
One new initiative in the Democrats’ New Direction is Ensure Dignified Retirement. Democrats plan to ensure dignified retirement by preventing (obstruction) the so-called privatization of Social Security and expanding savings incentives. Of course, there will be no Social Security program as we know it after 2041, because the program will be completely bankrupt. That date will come sooner if we start giving more benefits to illegal aliens and their families. And the Democrats blew the perfect opportunity to expand savings incentives by opposing full repeal of the estate tax. Memo to Democrats: More taxes equals less savings.
A second new initiative is called Help Working Families. Those ingenious Democrats promise to help working families – but not those doggone nonworking families – by raising the minimum wage (pandering). According to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, in 2004 about 74 million American workers were paid at hourly rates. Of this 74 million, 520,000 workers earned exactly the minimum wage. That is because workers who start at minimum wage do not stay at minimum wage if they are productive. About half of those working at or below the minimum wage are under the age of 25, and about one quarter are between the ages of 16 and 19. In other words, a minimum wage job is a starting job for thousands of workers. Minimum wage is not the lottery for millions of working families.
A third proposal in New Direction that looks surprisingly similar to a proposal in the old direction is Lower Gas Prices And Achieve Energy Independence. Those tough talking Democrats promise to “crack down” on price gouging gas station owners and “invest” in alternative energy sources. Democrats chose to ignore the May Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report presented to Congress that found no evidence that oil companies illegally raised gas prices or constricted their gas supplies. Another memo to Democrats: Congress does not produce gasoline – oil companies do. Imposing more wrong-headed restrictions on profits and domestic drilling will drive prices up. This has been the evidence of the past 30 years, but the Democrats want the public to believe it’s the oil companies’ fault (deception).
If our goal is to increase our energy independence from the Middle East, why not allow our oil and energy companies to achieve this independence for us? It turns out that the oil companies are pretty good at discovering and refining oil anywhere on the planet and distributing it to gas stations. Congress should encourage energy independence by allowing our energy companies to tap domestic sources of oil and natural gas. Congress should also drop the excessive regulations on nuclear energy production. Eliminating regulations would encourage more innovative entrepreneurs to enter the alternative energy market. Energy independence will be achieved through less government regulation and taxation, not more government “investments.”
The rank-and-file House and Senate Democrats must not have received the New Direction plan. The same day it was announced, 42 House Democrats chose a new direction of their own, voting with 214 Republicans for a resolution declaring, “The United States will prevail in the global war on terror, [which is] the struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary.” One hundred fifty-three House Democrats actually went on record with their belief that the United States will not prevail in the global war on terror. A similar vote in the Senate a day earlier was even more revealing, as 93 senators voted against requiring the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and convening a hare-brained “Iraq summit.”
The Democrats’ vision of a New Direction is nothing more than new rhetoric for the same old plan of raise taxes, increase spending and heap the burden on taxpayers and businesses. We don’t need another bumper sticker slogan from Congress. We need Congress to enact the solutions we already know will work to slow rising energy prices, fix the dysfunctional Social Security and Medicare programs and replace the out-of-date income tax code.
That doesn’t require a new direction. It requires leadership.