The Moose warns that no progressive reform is safe from the new Congress.
As Congress returns, the Republicans have their job cut out for them - reward the donors and comfort the comfortable. An example of the task ahead of them is reported in yesterday's Washington Post,
"Two-and-a-half years after Congress passed the most sweeping corporate reforms since the Great Depression, trade groups are maneuvering to revise them, arguing that they are too expensive, too time-consuming and too much trouble for small businesses.
"In recent weeks industry coalitions including the trade group AeA, formerly known as the American Electronics Association, and the American Bankers Association have asked their members to gather complaints about costly provisions that require them to tune-up their financial systems to help uncover fraud and mistakes. The effort is part of a broader campaign planned for this year to modify the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, passed after financial blowups at Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc. cost investors billions of dollars and exposed serious lapses in the way companies are governed."
Now that memories of the Enron and other corporate scandals are beginning to fade, industry groups will be eager beavers attempting to undermine the reforms. The Administration and Republican Congress were forced to pass Sarbanes-Oxley in the face of public outrage over the corporate scandals. Although his Administration originally opposed the legislation, President Bush brazenly made it a bragging point in the campaign that he signed the law. Of course, don't count on the Administration to defend it.
Although the Administration and this Congress will occasionally capitulate to public sentiment, their true agenda is striking in its simplicity - the rewarding of wealth and the degradation of work. The Moose wistfully remembers the day when the GOP possessed the redeeming quality of serving as the guardian of fiscal restraint. Our current crop of Republicans, with some exceptions, serve as the bellhops for the Fortune 500. Even when Republicans pass legislation that ostensibly assists the "public" such as the Medicare drug bill, it contains all sorts of goodies for their corporate cronies.
Democrats must not just oppose the rollbacks of progressive policy, but should also seize the opportunity to advance reforms. The potency of the reform issue was underscored by the Republican eleventh hour retreat on the rule change to protect DeLay.
Public financing of political campaigns and stricter rules governing lobbyists should be championed by the donkey. These proposals will not be adopted by this Congress, but by promoting them Democrats can position themselves as the reform party against the entrenched and corrupt Republican establishment. Ed Kilgore elaborates on this issue in a must read piece in the current Blueprint magazine.
Republicans can be defined as the party of reaction only if Democrats become the party of reform.