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A 100-Hour Dem Agenda? Good Luck With That...

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A 100-Hour Dem Agenda? Good Luck With That...

A 100-Hour Dem Agenda? Good Luck With That...

A 100-Hour Dem Agenda? Good Luck With That...

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Presumed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has a 100-hour plan for implementing the Democratic Party's agenda when they take control of the House of Reprentatives in January. Humorist Brian Unger ponders whether this ambitious plan can be accomplished.


One hundred hours. That's how long House Speaker-in-waiting Nancy Pelosi says she needs to enact an ambitious legislative agenda in the new Democratically-controlled Congress. In today's Unger Report, Brian Unger wonders if 100 hours is enough time.

BRIAN UNGER: In 100 hours, or roughly 4.16 days, the Democrats want to raise the minimum wage, reform energy policy, implement new homeland security measures, expand college-tuition assistance, boost stem cell research, lower drug prices, limit lobbyists, curb spending - and for Iraq, do something about it.

This 100-year plan - correction, 100-hour plan - longer than a Britney Spears marriage, shorter than a speech by Fidel Castro, is ambitious. To create a perfect world even God needed two more days than what the Democrats say they need.

Delivering these results in the time it takes to get your luggage at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is a bold plan in the spirit of a great American virtue: optimism.

But we are a wary, skeptical nation when it comes to promises, having been burned so often by margarine that doesn't taste like butter, by the cable guy who didn't show up, by people who couldn't even deliver a pizza in under 30 minutes. If we can't trust Domino's, can we trust Democrats?

The nation is hungry for change, but it took FDR 100 days to pass the heart and soul of the New Deal that led the nation out of the depression and on to prosperity. According then to the new Democrat math of 100 hours, the country is only one-twenty-fourth as screwed up as it was in 1933. So that's good news.

It also means in order to succeed, Democrats need only accomplish a twenty-fourth of what FDR accomplished. That's like a pay cut or a beer tax, a couple of fireside chats, and it's Obama in '08.

However, on thornier, broader issues like Iraq, Social Security and immigration, the 100-hour plan is likely to go into overtime, which Democrats can simply call a second 100-hour plan, followed by a third, possibly a fourth and so on.

This is not unprecedented. The Soviet Union had 12 five-year plans. And when the sixth five-year plan failed, the Soviets just renamed it the seven-year plan, which lasted for more than 20 years until they were able to resume with the ninth, 10th, 11th, and 12th five-year plans. That's over 60 years worth of five and seven-year plans, until the Soviet Union finally collapsed, making a 13th five-year plan moot.

For Democrats, there is some encouragement in knowing no matter how much they fail in the 110th Congress, they won't suck half as bad as the Soviets did.

But why debase our noble, American political system by even mentioning words like Soviet or suck? Let us look upon this post-midterm period as a new dawn, a time to bury the hatchet, preferably in someone's chest so they can see it coming, not their back; a time to end lingering bitterness and resentment for common purpose: to end a war, to secure the rights of all workers and, for God's sake, to keep our hands off the interns and pages. So it may take more than 100 hours. Who's counting?

And that is today's Unger Report. I'm Brian Unger.

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What to Expect from the Democratic Agenda

White House, Congress Prepare for Change

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Hear a Report on the Democrats' 100-Hour House Agenda

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The Hill's new leaders, from left: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-NY) celebrate on Capitol Hill, Nov. 7, 2006 in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Scroll down for analysis of the Democratic agenda on:

  • Iraq
  • Iran and North Korea
  • Taxes
  • Health care
  • Federal minimum wage
  • Immigration
  • 9/11 Commission's recommendations
  • Environmental policy

"To the victors go the spoils," and so Democratic lawmakers are getting ready to claim the top leadership roles and committee chairmanships in both the House and Senate.

But there's another saying as well: "Be careful what you wish for, you may well get it." And so Democrats, having gotten what they wished for, may now find running the two chambers even more daunting than the last time they held them both at once (1993-94). That could be especially true given the strong-minded Republican president working down the street.

At the same time, the Democrats have come in from the political wilderness for a reason. The party's capture of control of the House and Senate is widely being interpreted as a repudiation of President Bush's policies and of Republican rule. And the president is showing some signs he's getting the message. On the day after the election, he announced the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld, his controversial secretary of defense, and later in the week he met with the new Democratic leaders of the House and Senate.

So now Democratic lawmakers find themselves in the unaccustomed position of setting the agenda — at least for one branch of the federal government. And while party leaders have promised to govern in a spirit of bipartisanship, changes can be expected in congressional initiatives across a broad spectrum of issues — from U.S. policy in Iraq to health care, immigration, the federal minimum wage and the environment.

NPR reporters offer their analysis on what to expect from the new Democratic majority: