House Progressives to Offer Alternative Agenda
As it works to flex its political muscle within the Democratic Party, the Progressive Caucus next week will unveil a three-pronged issue agenda designed to appeal to core Democrats and highlight differences with the Republican White House and Congress.
The 57-member group — which represents liberal-minded House Members and is the largest constituency group in the Democratic Caucus — next Tuesday will launch “The Progressive Promise,” an agenda that the group is billing as an alternative to President Bush’s “Ownership Society.”
Details of this Progressive Caucus agenda are forthcoming, but it will generally focus on three major themes: economic justice and security, civil rights and civil liberties, and global peace and security.
The rollout comes as the group works to improve message coordination among Members, to increase its strength within the Democratic Caucus and to raise its voice on key issues. It also comes as centrist and conservative factions within the Democratic Party have sought to wield more influence themselves to bring the party to the middle.
“We’re doing it because our Democratic base is waiting for their voice to be heard and represented, and the Progressive Caucus is that voice,” said Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), a co-chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus.
“We will work with the Democratic leadership and will be able to prove to the nation that the Bush administration and the conservative majorities in this country are out of touch and leading our country in the wrong direction.”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), another co-chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus, said the effort is part of a broader group goal of “formulating our communication and overall strategy to provide a stronger and more assertive agenda.”
“We lay out our agenda every two years, but it’s more important than ever because there is a growing progressive movement in America,” Lee said. “We want to make sure our legislative agenda is consistent with what the American people are demanding of us as Democrats.”
In so doing, the progressives will try to show a major contrast between their agenda and that of the GOP. Bush has continued his call for the creation of an “ownership society” that provides incentives for families to own homes and businesses, and to give them greater control over their finances and health and retirement benefits.
“Inside and outside of the Congress we’re going to talk about a different agenda than the president,” Woolsey said. “Ours addresses the needs of all American people, not just the privileged and the wealthy.”
Lee added: “Democrats are becoming more and more unified, and the American people will recognize that we stand for what they care about in terms of economic security, in terms of peace and in terms of our children.”
The group will follow up its “progressive promise” with an organized offensive on legislation, floor debate and message events.
The effort comes on the heels of last month’s hiring of Bill Goold as a full-time executive director. Goold was charged with helping the Progressive Caucus better organize itself and coordinate its message and agenda.
“This is the re-beginning of the Progressive Caucus,” Woolsey said.