Can The New House Democratic Majority Agree on Health Care, Immigration and 'Green' Issues?
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By John Ubaldi
Columnist, In Homeland Security
The midterm elections are officially over and the Democratic Party has regained the majority in the House of Representatives, but will the party unite or will any of the newly elected progressive lawmakers ironically hinder progress? In January, the Democrats will face the difficult challenge of being one part of the coalition that governs the nation. The Democrats can either unite all of its various branches to work with Republicans – who control the Senate and the executive branch – or be part of a resistance in an effort to gain more power (including the White House) after the 2020 election.
Can Democrats Work With Their Progressive Base?
The incoming progressive freshman representatives – along with young Democratic Senators such as New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and California Senator Kamala Harris (who are both potential Democratic candidates for president in 2020), have all promoted a more progressive legislative agenda as the way forward.
The new incoming progressives want to quickly establish a “Green New Deal” committee – comprised of 15 individuals tasked with putting together a proposal on a 10-year plan to neutralize the output of greenhouse-gas emissions in the U.S. and to adopt 100 percent renewable electricity. Unfortunately, this may not be what incoming chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), has in mind; in fact, he has openly criticized this approach of taking power away from existing committees. That’s just one example of some of the tricky situations facing some factions of the Democratic Party.
‘Medicare For All’ And Other Campaign Promises
Heath care policy is another area where progressives will be challenging the Democratic establishment. In 2018, the progressives ran on a platform of “Medicare for all,” but the challenge will be explaining how they intend to pay for it. Various public policy think tanks such as the libertarian leaning Mercatus Center, and the liberal leaning Urban Institute have each calculated that a “Medicaid for all” health care system would cost around $32 trillion.
Other areas of progressive campaign promises such as a guaranteed federal job with benefits, a $15 minimum wage, free college educations, cancelling of all student college debt, and other programs will cost over $40 trillion by some estimates.
And, then there is the powder-keg plan on immigration. To date, President Donald Trump has touted stronger immigration laws and more secure borders. The president has also supported a pathway to citizenship for those who were brought here illegally by their parents as children under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, with a few provisos – including a border wall between the United States and Mexico.
What is the Democratic immigration policy with regard to immigration? Mark Penn, former chief strategist on Bill Clinton’s 1996 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign and Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, questioned what the Democrats stand for with regard to immigration.
Penn remarked that the president calls the Democrats the “open borders” party, and states the Democrats have no solid plan yet for dealing with illegal immigration – including the caravan of migrants currently arriving at the US-Mexico border.
Democrats’ Big 2019 Headache
The constant drum beat by Democrats is to personally attack the president, replicating the tactic used by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election that failed to win her the election. Is this the Democratic Party’s strategy for the next two years?
It’s easy to criticize the party in power while as the minority party, but now the Democrats will face the same headaches the Republicans faced when they gained control of the House of Representatives in 2010; it’s always easy to criticize but hard to govern.