Congress has a unique opportunity to not only do a lot of good for the country but to be shrewd and position themselves for the future with young voters. They would have tons to run on: They would have elected young people, females and minorities and addressed a lot of issues those constituencies care about. They would also disarm the Left of their silly “war on women” meme. Even if Obama vetoes them the Republicans would still score points and position the issues for future success under a Republican President.
1 End the federally imposed 21-year-old drinking age. The limit was dreamed up in the 1980s as a bit of political posturing by then-secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole. It has been a disaster. College drinking hasn’t been reduced; it has just moved out of bars and into dorm rooms, fraternities/sororities and house parties. The result has been a boom in alcohol problems on campus. While drunken driving has declined, it was declining before the age was raised and has declined just as fast in Canada, where the drinking age is 18 or 19 depending on the province.
As John McCardell, vice chancellor of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., writes, “If you infantilize someone, do not be surprised when infantile behavior — like binge drinking — results.” . . .
2 Decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. Many states have legalized marijuana, but it remains illegal under federal law. That’s bound to change sooner or later — and the GOP might as well get ahead of it. Would Obama veto it? Doubtful. . . .
3 Repeal the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This awful law passed in the Clinton era is a giveaway to the entertainment industry. It places major burdens on Internet and computer users and electronic innovators. In fact, we should reform copyright law in general: A 28-year term was good enough when America was new; double that would be fair enough now as opposed to the nearly perpetual duration copyrights enjoy today. Shorter copyrights would encourage Hollywood and the music industry to produce new material, instead of endlessly recycling old stuff.
Bonus for Republicans: The entertainment industries hate them, so this would be a species of payback. Would Obama veto this, protecting fat-cat industry types who were his own big contributors? Probably, but it wouldn’t look good.
4 Make birth-control pills available over the counter. Cory Gardner made this a part of his winning platform in Colorado’s Senate race. Let women choose. If Obama vetoed this, Republicans could accuse him of waging “war on women.”
5 End public-sector employee unions. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker eliminated dues-withholding for public employee unions in his state. The unions were so angry that they organized a recall campaign against him. They lost. They then tried to recall a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who upheld his action. They lost. They then tried to beat Walker in last week’s election. They lost again.
President Franklin Roosevelt opposed public employee unions because he thought that people whose salaries came from the taxpayers shouldn’t have the right to collectively bargain against citizens whose taxes were being collected by force, and that collective bargaining by public employees was a conflict of interest. He was right. Obama would veto this, but his veto would be highly unpopular and set up an issue for 2016.
6 Institute a “revolving door” surtax on those who make more in post-government employment. Leave a Treasury job making $150,000 a year to take one in private industry paying $750,000, and you’ll pay 50% surtax on the $600,000 difference. Most of the increased pay is based on knowledge and connections you got while on Uncle Sam’s dime, so why shouldn’t Uncle Sam get a share? An Obama veto would be unpopular.