Sunday, August 06, 2006

Democrats see an opening to grab control of Congress

Sabrina Eaton
Plain Dealer Bureau
Sunday, August 06, 2006

Washington - After a dozen years of trying to wrestle congressional control from Republicans, Democrats are tantalizingly close to their goal.

"There's gonna be a tidal wave" in the November election, predicts Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat from Niles. Anger over rising gas, health care and college tuition costs, and displeasure with the Bush administration's mismanagement of Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war, are all signs of impending electoral change, he says.

Democrats are expected to say such things, of course, as they plot a different course for Washington, but a number of political analysts agree that the minority party has a good chance of retaking at least one house of Congress. Brookings Institution congressional expert Thomas Mann gives Democrats a 60 percent chance of taking control of the House of Representatives and a 40 percent chance of winning the Senate.

What would that mean for Congress, for the Bush administration and, most important, the country?

Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have taken to passing out a six-point "New Direction for America" agenda they plan to implement if voters put them in charge. Copies distributed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California are laminated - presumably to withstand the elements when Ryan's tsunami hits the Capitol.

The Democrats' agenda, which goes by the slogan "Six for '06," features boosting the minimum wage and ending tax breaks for big oil companies and corporations that move jobs overseas. Democrats say they would improve the Medicare prescription drug system and halt any effort to privatize Social Security. College tuition would be tax-deductible and student loan rates cut.

On foreign policy, Democrats would require "Iraqis to take responsibility for their country" and begin the phased redeployment of U.S. forces. They aim to secure U.S. borders and double the size of the Special Forces contingent assigned to hunt down Osama bin Laden.

"Millions of Americans across the country have had enough," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada declared as he and Pelosi officially unveiled the platform. "They're tired of coming in second to Big Oil, big drug companies and the radical right."

Republicans acknowledge that they've lost ground in polls but say they expect to retain control of both houses of Congress this November. Although Democrats liken this election to 1994, when Republicans took over Congress, Springfield Republican Rep. David Hobson says it's not an apt comparison.

"The difference between now and 1994 is that they weren't expecting us at all and we have effectively prepared for the onslaught," says Hobson.

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"See an opening"??? It's a damn sad day when, with all the f__king CRAP that's been handed to the American people since '94 (especially these past six years), the Democrats "see an opening". If the voting American public is that damn stupid, then there's the argument the U.S. is not deserving of existence!


Buck