Monday, April 18, 2005
Lunch with Lieberman
The Senator was in town today and spoke to a small group of us on a variety of issues. It was interesting to see him work the room. He's very efficient and professional about it. What was most impressive was his reasonableness and competence on a wide range of issues. Among the points he made during the discussion:
1) Kyoto is dead and won't be revived, but he and McCain are working on alternative legislation that incorporates some of the administration's positions and stands a good chance of passage.
2) Energy independence is becoming a strong imperative in Congress with substantial support from both parties. It is now being seen as a national security issue. Look for major legislation in this area soon.
3) Nuclear power has to be part of a national energy policy. Both parties are in denial on this and have been on energy issues for decades, but that is beginning to change.
4) There is opposition developing among Republicans to exercising the "nuclear option" on filibusters because they realize that eventually they will be in the minority again.
5) We are seeing a real improvement throughout the Middle East and Bush deserves a lot of credit for it.
6) A substantial number of Democrats are irrational in their hatred of Bush and this is standing in the way of accomplishing important things in Congress.
7) Global warming is real and has to be addressed. Sentiment for doing so is building in both parties. The administration has advanced reasonable proposals and there is a good chance for progress on this issue.
8) Social Security is ultimately insolvent and has to be fixed, but medicare is a more immediate problem. We also have to take action to reduce the budget deficit and the trade deficits. All of this is going to require bipartisan action.
9) Global competitiveness means that we have to upgrade the quality of our education system, and that's going to cost money.
10) Despite speaking to rabid Oriole fans, he remains faithful to his beloved Yankees.
What was striking was the way in which he kept returning to the theme of bipartisanship. Time and again he sketched out broad areas of agreement where reasonable compromises might be reached. On many issues he and the administration are in substantial agreement. Listening to him realistic solutions to our most pressing problems actually seemed attainable despite the partisan rancor that fills the airways. I sure hope they are.