I think Indivisible, in Indivisible on Offense, offers some of the best ideas on how: messaging bills, must-pass bills, investigations, and defense. Investigations, I think, are the strongest of these, because the House can conduct them without a need for Senate Republicans. Investigate Kavanaugh. Investigate the Trump/Republican Russia connections. Investigate medical price-gouging. The House Democrats cannot unilaterally pass legislation, but they can embarrass the Republicans, and that can be powerful. If we make them look like weak fools, their popular support will shrink.
The House can propose budgets. It could also reinstate the Gephardt rule, saying that when a budget was passed, the debt ceiling would be raised, thereby avoiding debt ceilings.
House Committees can hold hearings and explore ideas. When it again becomes possible for Democratic bills to become law, these could become the outlines of bills. Topics I would like to see explored are:
1. Climate change!
2. New economic policies. The economic policies we have been relying on since Reagan have proven to be abysmal failures, leading to a boom and bust economy, poverty for many, and poor employment conditions. We are in dire need of reforms and I would like to see the possibilities explored.
3. New foreign policy. The US is now supporting Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. The House cannot stop this, but it can at least hold hearings. Beyond that there is an enormous need to deescalate conflicts worldwide and resolve the emerging conflicts that environmental destruction will bring. Even with the full power of the US government this would be difficult but, again, we can at least explore possibilities.
4. Bankruptcy reform. I would like to see the House explore the possibility of returning to bankruptcy law that allows for dignified fresh starts. The Republican bankruptcy reforms of 2005 made bankruptcy much harder on individuals, and this arrived just in time to make the crash of 2008 even harder. Likewise, dignified bankruptcy ought to be allowed for people who will never be able to pay their student loans. Let’s have Senator Warren testify on this.
5. New immigration policy. What we have now is cruel and expensive. Let’s explore possible reforms!
6. New firearms policy. Our far-too-lenient firearms policies are literally terrorizing our children. Let’s discuss changing this.
7. New domestic terrorism policies. On the one hand, we put our people at risk with useless surveillance. On the other hand, our biggest terror threat – domestic far right terror – is also our least policed threat. Easy access to firearms may also make it easy for foreign terrorists to act on US soil.
8. Policing reform. Our police forces are shot through with racism. Let’s discuss what to do about this.
9. And on, and on.
Finally, I have a personal hobby-horse: I would like to see the House unilaterally reestablish the Office of Technology Assessment, destroyed by Newt Gingrich and the Republicans in 1995.
During its 23-year history, OTA provided Congressional members and committees with objective and authoritative analysis of the complex scientific and technical issues of the late 20th century. It was a leader in practicing and encouraging delivery of public services in innovative and inexpensive ways, including distribution of government documents through electronic publishing.
Right now, I would like to see the OTA look into the genetic engineering of children, the impact of social media, and, yes, climate change. I’m sure there are many more topics that would bear investigation.
Even if the House doesn’t take these up immediately, we can push them to do so.
So let’s get started!