Next Up: Financial Reform
Byline: The Register-Guard
Buoyed by passage of landmark health care legislation, President Obama and Democrats in Congress wisely have chosen financial regulatory reform as their next legislative target.
There is no shortage of other issues requiring attention. High priority items remaining on Obama's domestic legislative agenda include curbing greenhouse gases and overhauling the nation's immigration laws.
Strong arguments can be made for tackling both immigration and climate change in the current session. On March 28, more than 200,000 people rallied on the National Mall to urge immigration reform, and the nation's immigration system remains a dysfunctional, lurching mess. Climate change remains the major challenge of our time, surpassing even the economy in scope and long-term consequences.
Despite their success on health care reform, Democrats probably lack the clout, cohesion and votes necessary to pass either comprehensive immigration or climate legislation in the current session. Both issues are particularly vulnerable to the tactics of distortion, half-facts and conspiracy theories that delayed and nearly defeated health reform.
Despite the Democrats' end-zone dance over health reform, their success on other legislative fronts is far from assured.
Republicans, still seething over their loss, have served notice that they will not cooperate with Democrats on any new initiatives. And they already have begun what promises to be a fierce repeal campaign that will target health reform as November's congressional elections grow near.
Democrats had a critical strategic advantage in their final push on health care. The basic package of reforms already had passed the Senate before the arrival of the Senate Republicans' filibuster-sustaining "41st vote," Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown. Neither immigration nor climate change - nor financial reform, for that matter - has cleared that pivotal Senate hurdle.
Yet Democrats rightly believe that they can pass financial reform. …