The American Dream Initiative

The American Dream Initiative


The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), the Democratic group that sits on the party’s right flank and near America’s center, has released a plan on which they want their entire party to run. The American Dream Initiative is the DLC’s vision for what Democrats can achieve for our nation if elected this November.

They call the plan an “opportunity agenda� and provide a list of principles as follows:

• Every American should have the opportunity and responsibility to go to college and earn a degree, or to get the lifelong training they need.

• Every worker should have the opportunity and responsibility to save for a secure retirement.

• Every business should have the opportunity to grow and prosper in the strongest private economy on earth, and the responsibility to equip workers with the same tools of success as management.

• Every individual should have the opportunity and responsibility to start building wealth from day one, and the security and community that come from owning a home.

• Every family should have the opportunity to afford health insurance for their children, and the responsibility to obtain it.

• In order to expand opportunity for all Americans, we must demand a new ethic of responsibility from Washington: to put government’s priorities back in line with our values — and its books back in balance — by getting rid of wasteful corporate subsidies, unchecked bureaucracy, and narrow-interest loopholes; collecting taxes that are owed; clamping down on tens of billions of dollars in improper payments and no bid-contracts; and restoring commonsense budgeting principles like pay-as-you-go.

Each of these broad statements of principles/goals is fleshed out with more details later in the plan. All said, it’s a fairly comprehensive domestic agenda that is heavy on practicality and light on sweeping reforms. Some will criticize it as too filled with small ideas while Republicans will certainly criticize it has another case of Democrats wanting government to hold too many hands and perform too many unneeded services.

But right now, the DLC is probably most concerned with what its own party will say. The left flank, led by Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean, have previously stated that the choice between Republicans and Democrats is clear and have not pushed to create an agenda outside of the “let’s get rid of those incompetent/evil Republicans� plan.

Without the party leadership’s backing, the DLC plan will never gain traction. Which would be a shame because, even with its cloying name, The American Dream Initiative is a sturdy agenda with reasonable ideas and a clear message that, despite over a decade of power, the Republicans have done a poor job of helping average Americans deal with modern problems. I don’t like every idea they put forth, but I like that they are addressing real issues with some interesting solutions�that’s more than most politicians in either party are doing.

  • Jimmy the Dhimmi

    If you take out the word “responsibility” from each of those bullet points, it sounds like the Republican agenda for the past 40 years.

    The only thing individuals have a “responsibility” for is to accept the consequences of their own actions if they fail to earn a degree, save for retirement, or purchase affordable health insurance.

    Its kind of creepy – almost Orwellian – how the DLC uses the word “responsibility” here. Its like a loophole to explain why the government would end up managing all of these things under a Democratic leadership. “We are just making sure everyone is living up to their responsibility.”

  • DosPeros

    Is “responsibility” another way of saying it is mandatory? Is there a political translator in the house?

  • Lonely Federalist

    Can’t wait to read it. I’ll go on the record beforehand that I suspect each and every bullet point is some lifelong federal entitlement program shrouded within a grandiose name.

  • wj

    The part about “responsibility” would be better if, instead of a “responsibility to earn a college degree,” it said something about actually learning the material. Or, for a start, actually learning the material that ought to be, but too often is not, required to graduate from high school. The degree is only significant if it actually reflects having learned something.

  • Michael Reynolds

    I think you guys are overthinking the “responsibility” thing. It means: If we the government make sure that affordable health insurance is available, you the citizen need to buy it and not blow the money on cigarettes, beer and lottery tickets.

    The document is fine as far as it goes. But it needs a couple of marquee items, some things that make people sit up and think, “Yeah, that’d be cool.”

  • Jimmy the Dhimmi

    Well then they are Republicans. If responsibilty means as you say, then the DLC would not advocate a single payer national-socialist health care system, and they would favor privatizing social security.

    Excuse us for being so skeptical of the Democrat’s newspeak. Lets face it, they are the liberal-socialist party of the United States; and with the advent of the Kos-kidz, they are going to get even worse. Why would they all-of-a-sudden steal the Republican’s thunder and do a 180 to be the party of limited government and personal responsibility?

  • Michael Reynolds

    Your kind of approach to politics just makes me weary. Tired 90’s era Limbaughism.

    And please, please, do not tell me the GOP is the party of small government. See that gross national debt clock on the right of this page? That’s been all GOP for the last six years. Get the GOP to stop spending money like Keith Richards on a coke binge and then you can crank up all that weak baloney about socialism.

  • Alan Stewart Carl

    Speaking in very broad generalizations, Republicans care a lot about an individual’s responsibility to society but have little interest in supporting programs that promote society’s responsibility to the individual.

    Democrats care deeply about society’s responisbility to the individual but have little interest in promoting an individual’s responsibility to society.

    What the DLC is trying to do, at least rhetorically, is balance those two sides. They’re saying, the government will help you get started but it’s up to you to take charge and follow through. It is, essentially, the centrist mindset at work. And, despite statements on this thread to the contrary, the DLC does not represent the current mainstream of the party–it’s to the right of most others in the party.

    Now, we can debate whether this new plan is truly Centrist or just typical Democrat programs dressed-up in centrist language — but I don’t think it helps for people to reflexively consider the plan some socialist program. It’s not.

    Personally, I agree with Michael (and alluded to as much in my post) that what this plan is missing is a marquee item that will make people say “YES, now THAT’S a good idea.”

  • Michael Reynolds

    Just slightly off the topic, but was it Hendrick’s gin you were pushing? Because I bought a bottle and I’m liking that stuff.

  • Justin Gardner

    Get the GOP to stop spending money like Keith Richards on a coke binge and then you can crank up all that weak baloney about socialism.


  • Alan Stewart Carl

    Yep, that’s the stuff.

  • Lewis

    Don’t we have all those opportunities already? Maybe I was raised old fashioned but my parents instilled in me that I have a personal responsibility to do all those things for myself (which I have more or less done). And also I have a responsibility to raise my kids with the same understanding about their responsibilities as adults and to help them get started towards those goals as they grow up. You know, study and work hard, excel at all you do, and make wise choices. Plus understand that life is not fair all the time and never will be.

  • Michael Reynolds

    I have a son and a daughter. My son is a certified genius. My daughter has a learning disability. My son will have offers from MIT and Harvard before he’s sixteen. My daughter probably won’t. So, as you say, life isn’t fair.

    Let’s say that despite all her hard work my daughter can never do better than a minimum wage job. She will not be able to afford health insurance. Is it necessary that life’s unfairness deprive my daughter of a chance at a decent life?

    I get annoyed by this careless moralizing because I know full well that life is not just about wise choices and hard work. I’m well off. Not because I worked hard and made wise choices — I barely work and I made choices so stupid you really wouldn’t believe it. But I was born with a profitable talent, so life is good to me.

    There are millions of people who make smart choices and work their asses off and still cannot maintain a decent life. I don’t mind the government taking some of my money for them.

  • Jimmy the Dhimmi

    See that gross national debt clock on the right of this page? That’s been all GOP for the last six years. Get the GOP to stop spending money like Keith Richards on a coke binge and then you can crank up all that weak baloney about socialism.

    Fine. Then the GOP is responsible for the 250% increase in GDP over the last 6 years as well, right? I suppose you will give credit to the GOP for balancing the budget in 2008,after inheritting a recession in 2000? Federal tax revenues have increased by 20% under Bush compared to Clinton despite (or should I say because of) tax cuts.

    Who is the party that wants to privatize social security and make the tax cuts permanent (or even increase the cuts)? Now, who is the party that wants a socialist health care system, a tax increase, and means-testing for social security?

  • Jimmy the Dhimmi

    excuse me, the GDP increased by about 5 trillion$, over the past 6 years which is about a 50-60% increase in GDP

  • Lewis


    You’ve got me figured all wrong about “moralizing”. If you want to be succesful in life, then hard work and wise choices are a fundamental requirement. Not only, actually working hard to achieve things is what makes one appreciate life and gives one true satisfaction. That’s not moralizing, that’s the way things are.

    I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t be OK with helping people to help themselves. It’s helping those who don’t help themselves that I have a big problem with. It’s like pissing into the wind.

    I don’t know how to change people like that. I do know that giving them help they don’t deserve or appreciate is the wrong thing to do. I think the only hope for them is to let them suffer the consequences. That sometimes will wake them up.

  • Paul Brinkley

    I confess, I nearly bit at ADI, but after reading some of the comments here, I am more timid now. I’m not siding completely with Jimmy or anything like that. Rather, I’m looking at at least one bothersome thing:

    All of these initiatives seem to call for more government intervention, not less. Except for that last part. And just look at that last part. They mushed all the stuff I’d really like the Dems to do (and that I hoped the Reps would do) into one bullet point, and all the things I’m “meh” about are at the top. I wonder which things they’re going to give most emphasis to…

    …sorry, Dems. Maybe if you started supporting the war, and started leaving more things up to the people, I’d vote for you. (Hank Johnson aside.)

  • sleipner

    So then Lewis, you’re ok with the thousands of schizophrenics and other mental patients being thrown out onto the streets a couple decades ago since the Republicans didn’t want to pay for the mental hospitals any more?

    What about single mothers who have no education and several children? Exactly how are they supposed to pay for childcare and take care of them on minimum wage? Hell, even 2 people working full time at minimum wage can’t afford even basic housing in many areas of the country these days.

    I’m definitely not a fan of huge government spending on entitlements, but I do think that programs that help these people help themselves are a necessary part of any compassionate society. A safety net to keep people from falling through the cracks and into the dumpster is our duty as a civilized people. Instead of using the 3% of people on those programs who cheat to dismantle the entire program, we should make the program harder to cheat, and make sure the money goes where it helps most.

  • wj

    Let’s be clear. the mentally ill ended up on the streets (and being a big part of the “homeless problem”). But not because “Republicans didn’t wnat to pay for mental hospitals”. The driving force was a Democrat push for “community-based care” rather than institutionalization. Unfortunately, while they succeeded in closing the state mental hospitals, they neglected to fund (or even plan for) the community-based care that they were touting.

    Personally, I have (and had at the time) doubts that the whole idea was the cure-all it was made out to be. But it wasn’t a Republican initiative at all at all.

  • Lewis

    Holy Cow!

    Can’t a person expect those who are capable should be held accountable without being labeled as not compassionate? That’s pure hogwash. I expect, no I demand that those who can help themselves by becoming a responsible adult do so. And if that requires some short term sacrifice and hard work on their part, then they need to step up. I’m not about to bust my rear every day and then help support some lazy and irresponsible jerk off, period. Helping people like this is not compassion, it’s stupidity. They’ll never learn unless forced to face the ugly consequences of their actions. And that’s their fault, not mine.

    Please Note – this does not mean I would refuse to help those in true need or those who just need a kick start to get on their feet. Been there and done that on a personal level (not via the government handout). Got burned a few times but helped some too.

  • Michael Reynolds

    The GNP is produced now, as it has always been, by the people — workers and investors.

    The debt is produced by the government. (Elected by the people.) That government is 100% controlled by the GOP.

  • Michael Reynolds

    We do not have a problem of the government supporting people who won’t work. There is no more welfare for able bodied adults. That’s been gone since the Clinton/GOP welfare reform. That’s not where our money goes.

    Our money goes from young to old, not from hardworking to lazy. The transfer is from workers to retirees. We pay debt service, we pay defense, we pay for indigent health care, we pay a tiny amount toward education and infrastructure, and we pay a huge, heaping pile for old people.

    If you seriously want to cut the budget you need to look at where the money goes, not some leftover Reaganite fantasy of welfare queens.

  • Jimmy the Dhimmi

    The debt is produced by the government.
    Not all of it; about 40% of it. Also, GNP is taxed and therefore you can expect more revenue with a higher GNP. Thats why the budget will be balanced by 2008 or 2009, faster than expected.