With a new Congress and soon a new President, the government stands to move pretty far to the left. Still, I imagine for many of Jim McDermott’s constituents it won’t be far enough. Personally, I’d like to see him push an agenda that most likely won’t come to pass, but that is worth pursuing for the long run. Here are some of my suggestions:
– A 50/50 scheme for spending the gas tax. Right now the formula is 80% for road projects, and 20% for public transportation. While the formula will be better for straphangers under the Obama administration than it has been under Bush, the more urban legislators push for, the more riders will likely get.
– Criminal justice reform. While this is mostly a state level issue, the Federal government can do a lot to get out of the way. Lee frequently writes about the federal government getting out of the way of states that want to pursue drug reform. A bill saying the feds won’t interfere if a state goes down the path of legalization is as good a place as any to start. But a conversation at the federal level about moving away from punishment and toward rehabilitation could – even in defeat – help start a conversation in the states.
– Significant reduction of the military. With the war in Iraq coming to an end there will probably be some restructuring of the military any way. I’d suggest Jim try to halve the military budget: not because it’s a brilliant number, or appropriate, but because I’d rather be haggling over the size of the reduction than if we’re reducing the military budget.
Those are it for me, but feel free to leave anything else you think is worth trying at the Federal level even if it’s probably not going to pass.
*For what it’s worth, the idea for this post came from a conversation with Nick, whose new blog is worth checking out, a few weeks ago.