The Democratic leadership has two big goals if they win back control of the House next month.
First, there will be nonstop political theater and grandstanding as they haul various Trump officials before their committees in an effort to expose (not necessarily punish) the sordid corruption. Second, they will "shoring up" such corporation-friendly enterprises as the Affordable Care Act and the increasingly watered-down Dodd-Frank financial reform package.
Since Democratic members with the most longevity lead committees and control the House legislative agenda, there will be no real efforts to implement Medicare For All and living wage legislation, nor will the Democrats move to reverse Trump's massive, trillion dollar-plus transfer of wealth to the already financially bloated ruling class contained in his tax package.
Why should they? As the New York Times reported over the weekend, the Democratic Party is getting about a third more Wall Street money than the Republicans are for the midterm elections.. A huge wad of this cash comes courtesy of billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who just registered as a Democrat for a possible run against Trump in 2020.
The Hill interviewed the Democratic committee leaders about their big, bold and "ambitious" plans to make life absolutely great for the "good rich" and maybe even just a wee bit better for the rest of us.
Nita Lowey, Appropriations: Lowey, who's represented wealthy Westchester County in New York for the past three decades, is already satisfied with the bipartisan bill just passed, which added a billion dollars to the 2017 spending package, with extra funds to fight opioid addiction and aid medical research. If you want to know what she'll do if she wields the gavel next year, look for more of the same bipartisanship. Because cooperation and "order" in the House mean so very much to her. There is no word from her on addressing the root causes of addiction (not least of which are the despair and poverty engendered by neoliberal corporatism) or the fact that medical research is another name for pharmaceutical industry subsidies, that is, corporate welfare.
Adam Smith, Armed Services. The Washington State Democrat will not do anything so drastic as to slash eternal war machine's obscene, nearly-trillion dollar annual budget, although he does think we probably have too many nukes. He also thinks that as long as we wage so many wars, the American public might appreciate a little more "transparency" about the damage and death being caused in all our names, especially in Africa. That would supposedly tamp down all the protests and anti-war sentiment currently tearing us apart. Of course, I jest. There is nothing close to an anti-war movement, given that it's mainly the poor and minorities who serve endless tours of duty out of sheer financial desperation. Smith, fine identity politics Dem that he is, also wants more financially desperate transgender people to retain their full rights to fight and die for oil companies and other multinationals.
John Yarmuth, Budget: It's the era of Big Data and oppressive algorithms, so this Kentucky rep wants his committee to have more of a data-gathering role and duplicate the work already being done by the Congressional Budget Office. Regular people don't need more money as much as our lawmakers require as much "discussion and analysis"as possible in order to maintain the status quo.
Frank Pallone, Energy and Commerce: Late-stage capitalistic commerce requires endless polluting energy to help speed humanity over the environmental cliff. So this might be why the twin evils are joined into one handy committee, to avoid any more silly redundancy. New Jersey's Pallone states that "stabilizing Obamacare" and keeping private insurers comfortable and their investors energized with never-ending profits will be his most pressing concern if his party regains power. He also just can't wait to rail against the "culture of corruption" which exists only in the nasty old Trump administration, which seriously undermines whatever protections that health care "consumers" enjoy while going broke paying their high premiums and deductibles.
Maxine Waters, Financial Services: This California Democrat is among the least-bad of the party leaders and therefore strikes a lot of theatrical fear into the heartless hearts of the Republicans. She was even known to occasionally criticize Barack Obama, back when he was overseeing the biggest transfer of wealth from the working class and poor to the plutocracy in modern US history. Therefore, she looks forward to hauling Trump officials before her committee, and has reportedly singled out HUD Director Ben Carson and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin for special scrutiny. This should make for some pretty good reality TV and plenty of campaign cash for presidential contenders from both parties.
When Trump editorialized that the Democrats are raging socialists who want to remake the country in the image of Venezuela, he was no doubt thinking of Waters's possible control of a committee which has the potential power to somewhat discommode the oligarchy. These people can't stand even the mere thought of a drop of anticipatory nervous sweat marring their pristine privileged selves.
Bennie Thompson, Homeland Security: The ranking member from Mississippi hopes to call more attention to the Trump administration's abysmal response to Hurricane Maria as well as to expose the "vulnerabilities" in the Transportation Security Agency's sometimes lackadaisical screening of American airline travelers, a/k/a suspected terrorists. Rather than stupidly support Trump's stupid border war to keep out Mexican and Central American immigrants and refugees, Thompson wants to push "smart technology" to give bipartisan anti-immigrant sentiment a nicer, and less openly paranoid and medieval, feel. He also wants criminal gangs to be deported before non-offending undocumented people are deported. Unlike Trump, his priorities are in order.
Adam Schiff, Intelligence: The former prosecutor from California aims to enhance his already glowing media star quality to near-blinding proportions. Therefore, RussiaRussiaRussia. And then when he's done with that, RussiaRussiaRussia. And Russia.
Jerrold Nadler, Judiciary: The only justice that the liberal faction of the Ruling Class wants us to care about is the Mueller investigation of Donald Trump. Therefore, Nadler will make no real effort to impeach either Trump or Justice Brett Kavanaugh if he wins control of the gavel. So besides "delving into" family border separations, lax gun laws and protecting the for-profit insurance industry from more Trumpian depredation, Nadler will also "fight for" legislation to protect Robert Mueller's job. Don't you feel better already?
Raul Grijalva, Natural Resources: This Arizona progressive is also among the tiny less-bad faction of the party leadership. Therefore, his most pressing task in preventing a quicker death for our rapidly ailing planet will be to demand accountability from corrupt Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and perhaps gain a little more time for all living things without really changing the trajectory. To his credit, Grivalja is one of those rare committee leaders who wants to do more than simply rein in or embarrass Trump. He gives priority to strengthening - not just restoring - laws protecting our air and water and endangered species.
Elijah Cummings, Oversight and Government Reform: The rep from Maryland is one of the most powerful Democrats in the House. As such, he will maintain the status quo of private, for-profit health care. He also plans a deluge of political theater in an effort to embarrass Trump and damage his chances for re-election. He told The Hill he hasn't exactly figured out how to do this yet, but by golly, this "tearing apart of the foundations of our democracy has got to stop!" Maybe he can even stage some more sit-down protests and walkouts to show how hard he is Fighting For Us while issuing his hundreds of subpoenas.
Peter De Fazio, Transportation and Infrastructure: This Oregon Democrat is also one of the good, or less-bad guys. He wants to protect airline passengers from financial abuse by the transportation oligarchs, and he actually has detailed legislation in hand for the repair of the nation's crumbling bridges and roads. These positive goals take precedence over any desire on his part to shame the Trumpies in nationally televised hearings.
Richard Neale, Ways and Means: The Massachusetts Democrat says he wants to "revisit" the way that Trump's massive tax overhaul was rammed through Congress. "Democrats are not opposed to the tax package on the whole, but are eyeing changes that would shift the benefits from the corporations and the wealthy to middle class workers," The Hill quotes him as saying.
This is another way of selling debunked, right-wing trickle down economics. When Democrats talk about "middle class workers," they're talking about their base - the merely affluent professional class, or the top 10 percent of income earners, whose property tax deductions have taken a big hit in the Trump tax code.
But lest all you tired, poor, or retired people feel left out, Ways and Means under Democratic control would also have the power to seize Trump's tax returns and read them behind closed doors. That should make the oppressed and struggling feel ever so much better.