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Cindy Sheehan: “Our leaders who get us into these messes are the ones who need to be held accountabl

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With New Congressional Majority, Should Democrats Focus on Domestic Agenda as Bush Escalates Iraq War?

Friday, January 5th, 2007

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/05/1539243

On the opening day of the 110th Congress, the Democrats took control of the House and Senate for the first time in 12 years. The Democrats have outlined an ambitious domestic agenda for its first 100 hours in power, including raising the minimum wage and negotiating lower prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients. Peace activists are criticizing the Democrats for not focusing on Iraq amid the Bush administration’s plans for a troop surge. We host a debate between peace mom Cindy Sheehan and Roger Hickey of the Campaign for America’s Future. [includes rush transcript - partial]

 


In Washington, Nancy Pelosi was elected Thursday to be the country’s first female speaker of the house as the Democrats took control of both chambers of Congress for the first time in a dozen years. In the Senate, Harry Reid was elected Majority Leader. Shortly after becoming Speaker, Pelosi addressed the full House.

 

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Hours after the Democrats took control, the House passed what the Washington Post described as the broadest ethics and lobbying revision since the Watergate era. House members or employees are now prohibited from knowingly accepting gifts or travel from a lobbyist, foreign agent or lobbyist’s client. Lawmakers can no longer fly on corporate jets. The ethics committee must now pre-approve any Congressional travel financed by outside groups and all such trips will be immediately disclosed to the public. Only Republican Dan Burton of Indiana voted against the measure.

The ethics rule changes are part of Pelosi’s ambitious plan for the Democrats first 100 hours in power. Pelosi also wants to increase the minimum wage, allow the federal government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients and increase federal support for stem cell research.

But Pelosi’s 100 Hours plan has also come under criticism by anti-war activists for not focusing on Iraq. On Wednesday, Cindy Sheehan and others disrupted a press conference by Rahm Emanuel, the chair of the House Democratic Caucus. As soon as Emanuel began speaking, the activists started chanting "de-escalate, investigate, troops home now." Because of the protests, Emanuel abruptly postponed the press conference. After he left the podium, Cindy Sheehan took over the microphone.

 

  • Cindy Sheehan: “Our leaders who get us into these messes are the ones who need to be held accountable. And if that happens then maybe my grandchildren won't have to be fighting in an illegal and immoral war.”

And Cindy Sheehan joins us live now from Washington, D.C. to talk more about the Democrats first 100 hours in power -- She is the co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace. Her son Casey was killed in Iraq in 2004. And next to Cindy is Roger Hickey. He is the co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future. His organization is part of the Change America Now coalition - a national campaign effort pushing Congress to pass the economic elements of Pelosi’s 100 Hour legislative agenda.

 

  • Cindy Sheehan. Her son Casey was killed in Iraq in April 2004. She is the co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace.

 

  • Roger Hickey. Co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Shortly after becoming Speaker, Pelosi addressed the full House.

    REP. NANCY PELOSI: It’s an historic moment for the Congress. It’s an historic moment for the women of America. It is a moment for which we have waited over 200 years. Never losing faith, we waited through the many years of struggle to achieve our rights. But women weren't just waiting; women were working. Never losing faith, we worked to redeem the promise of America, that all men and women are created equal. For our daughters and our granddaughters, today we have broken the marble ceiling. For our daughters and our granddaughters now, the sky is the limit. Anything is possible for them.

    The election of 2006 was a call to change, not merely to change the control of Congress, but for a new direction for our country. Nowhere were the American people more clear about the need for a new direction than in the war in Iraq. The American people rejected an open-ended obligation to a war without end. Shortly, President Bush will address the nation on the subject of Iraq. It is the responsibility of the President to articulate a new plan for Iraq that makes it clear to the Iraqis that they must defend their own streets and their own security, a plan that promotes stability in the region and a plan that allows us to responsibly redeploy our troops.

    AMY GOODMAN: Hours after the Democrats took control, the House passed what the Washington Post described as the broadest ethics lobbying revision since the Watergate era. House members or employees are now prohibited from knowingly accepting gifts or travel from a lobbyist, foreign agent or lobbyist client. Lawmakers can no longer fly on corporate jets. The Ethics Committee must now pre-approve any congressional finance by outside groups, and all such trips will be immediately disclosed to the public. A correction on our headlines: only Republican Dan Burton of Indiana voted against the measure.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: The ethics rule changes are part of Pelosi’s ambitious plan for the Democrats’ first 100 hours in power. She also wants to increase the minimum wage, allow the federal government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients and increase federal support for stem cell research. But Pelosi's 100 Hours plan has also come under criticism by antiwar activists for not focusing on Iraq. On Wednesday, Cindy Sheehan and others disrupted a press conference by Rahm Emanuel, the chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

    AMY GOODMAN: As soon as Congressmember Emanuel began speaking, the activists started chanting, “Deescalate! Investigate! Troops home now!” Because of the protest, Emanuel abruptly postponed the news conference. He left the podium. Cindy Sheehan took over the microphone.

      CINDY SHEEHAN: Our leaders who get us into these messes are the ones who need to be held accountable. And if that happens, then maybe my grandchildren won’t have to be fighting an illegal and immoral war.

    AMY GOODMAN: Cindy Sheehan joins us now from Washington, D.C., to talk more about the Democrats' first 100 hours in power. Co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, Cindy Sheehan’s son Casey was killed April 4, 2004, in Iraq. Next to Cindy is Roger Hickey. He is the co-director of the Campaign for America's Future. His organization is part of the Change America Now Coalition, a national campaign effort pushing Congress to pass the economic elements of Pelosi’s 100 Hour legislative agenda. We welcome you both to Democracy Now!

    Cindy Sheehan, let's begin with you. Can you describe further what happened on Wednesday, who was with you and why you interrupted a Democrat’s news conference, Rahm Emanuel?

    CINDY SHEEHAN: Well, we had about 80 activists from all over the country join Gold Star Families for Peace in our Walk for Change. We wanted the Democrats to know that we’re not going away, that we are going to hold their feet to the fire as much as we did the Republicans, and that the most important item on an agenda for our country is to bring the troops home.

    George Bush is going to set out a plan in a few days, you know, coming up soon, and we know that it’s going to be a bad plan. Everything single thing he’s done since the invasion -- well, and including the invasion -- have been disorder. It’s been totally wrong. It’s been wrong for America. My son is dead because of it. And the Democrats should not be waiting for George Bush to articulate his plan, because they know it’s going to be a bad plan, and they know it’s probably going to include an escalation of troops.

    The Democrats need to have a plan. They need to have the courage and the strength and the integrity to know that George Bush cannot fix this mess that he has gotten our country into. The Democratic congress is going to have to be the ones to fix the mess. And they’re going to have to have the strength, and they have to know that the peace movement is solidly behind them, almost three-quarters of the country are behind them, and that we need a higher minimum wage, we need universal healthcare, we need lower interest rates on college loans.

    And that will help my family. Everybody in my family will benefit from the Democrats’ social plan, but where are they coming up with the money? Our country is spending $10 million an hour in Iraq. We can’t afford to borrow any more money from China. We can’t afford it. My great-grandchildren will be paying this debt off.

    And just as important as bringing the troops home is to hold George Bush accountable for this. We just buried Gerald Ford, and everybody said, “Oh, he healed the nation during Watergate.” Well, if he had healed the nation, Casey would still be alive. If Richard Nixon had paid for his war crimes and crimes against humanity, maybe George Bush wouldn’t think he is above the law, and maybe he wouldn’t have gotten our country into another illegal and immoral war.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: Roger Hickey of the Campaign for America’s Future, what about this issue that the war was the overriding issue in the recent election, but in her plan, her ambitious plan, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are leaving the war issue aside and concentrating more on the economic questions?

    ROGER HICKEY: Well, I agree with Cindy that this election was driven by the American people's rejection of the war in Iraq and of George Bush's policies. There was a parallel rejection of his domestic policies and the policies that have hurt the people in their pocketbooks -- just bread-and-butter issues. But she’s also right, the Democrats, as a caucus, have much more of a consensus around these domestic issues --

    AMY GOODMAN: Roger Hickey, we have to fix your microphone. We’re going to go to an early break, and then we’ll come back to this discussion. Roger Hickey is co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future. Cindy Sheehan with us, her son was killed in Iraq.