Saturday, November 18, 2006

Reid: Democrats Will Lead on Iraq, Honest Government, Health Care and Economy

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) gave the Democratic radio address today and spelled out some of the new leadership's goals for the 110th Congress. You can hear Reid's address here.

And here's the text:
Hello. This is Harry Reid from Searchlight, Nevada, and in January, I will become the Majority Leader of the United States Senate.

This week in Washington, members of Congress returned to the Capitol for the first time since the historic mid-term elections. As we've gone about our business in the House and Senate, all within this building have a new sense of hope.

After years of partisan fights and political attacks, the people have spoken. It's time for us to govern, and move America forward.

In the Senate, the Democratic Majority has presented three principles to guide our legislative way.

First, bipartisanship.

In the weeks and months ahead, we intend to reach out to President Bush and our Republican colleagues in Congress. The last four years-in which Republicans controlled the House, the Senate and the White House-have shown that a political party in Congress acting alone can accomplish nothing.

America always works best when Congress and Washington operate as the Founding Fathers intended: with bipartisanship, and a Congress that serves as a separate but equal branch of government, and not a rubber stamp for the Executive.

Second, open and honest government.

The just completed election was a declaration to all that now is the time to change direction in Washington. No longer can we allow special interests and lawmakers to conspire behind closed doors.

We need transparency, new restrictions on lobbying and lawmakers, and a commitment to fiscal responsibility so our government stops bleeding red ink.

Third, results.

For years, Congress has sat on the sidelines, doing nothing - while challenges in Health care, energy, the economy, and Iraq have grown worse.

We believe it's time Democrats and Republicans worked together to achieve results.

One result Democrats will fight for next Congress is an economy that lifts working Americans and the squeezed middle class.

Today in America, the rich are getting richer. The poor are getting poorer. And the middle-class is being squeezed, between higher every day expenses and jobs that pay less and less.

To help, Democrats will reach out to Republicans to raise the minimum wage, provide tax relief for working families, cut the cost of health care, and make college more affordable.

Another result we'll seek is the expansion of stem cell research.

There are millions of Americans suffering from debilitating diseases, like Parkinson's and Diabetes, that advances in stem cell research could potentially treat. For these Americans, stem cell offers so much hope, if only we in Washington would allow it to expand.

Democrats will reach out to Republicans to pave the way for new cures.

We also want results for America's seniors.

After nearly a year, the flaws of the Medicare drug benefit are clear. It's confusing. It has gaps in coverage. And it doesn't allow the government to negotiate for cheaper prescription drugs.

Democrats will reach out to Republicans to fix these flaws.

And finally, from day one, we'll lead the way for new results in Iraq.

For too long, our troops have borne the burden of carrying out a flawed policy set at 16th and Pennsylvania Avenue here in Washington. On behalf of our troops, the American people, and the Iraqi people, it is time to change course.

I am encouraged the President is finally listening to outside experts and members of Congress. Changing the defense secretary was a good start. Now, working together, we must craft a new way forward - one that allows Iraq to be stabilized, and our troops to begin to come home.

On Iraq, and elsewhere, Democrats pray the President will work with us, because we're ready to work with him.

We want to put politics aside, and put bipartisanship, open government, and results in its place.

I'm Senator Harry Reid. Thanks for listening
For those of you left gasping at pledges of bipartisanship from Senator Reid, who has spent the bulk of the last two years getting his teeth kicked in by the Republican majority, I can tell you this: The key sentence in Reid's address is the one where he talks about the midterm elections and how they are "a declaration to all that now is the time to change direction in Washington."

I predict that Reid's willingness to reach across the aisle will disappear quickly -- as will House Speaker Pelosi's -- if Republicans did not receive that message.