The first issue idea I have is on the topic of Tort Reform. Currently this issue is being dominated by republicans in two ways. The first is the anecdotal, which given that anybody can sue anyone for anything, is a rich source of "evidence" of a system gone haywire. The other way they have attacked the issue is in limiting what juries can award. As long as this is what defines the issue for people, the dems will look foolish defending it.
But what if there was a populist alternative? There is, though it makes some squirm a bit. The alternative is simple; let the people (the juries) decide. If a jury does not deliver a single vote in favor of the moving side (the side that brought the suit)then, with instructions from the judge, they can vote whether to make the moving party liable for all costs. This includes lost wages and time as well as the legal costs for wasting everyone's, including the jury and taxpayers, time and evergy.
Think about it, everyone wins. The lawyers would have to screen their cases better, an outcome that everyone wants. But it would not rise to the level of deterrent that they would not invest in a case, especially a good case. Defendents would have less reason to settle cases that they thought they could win but "settled" just to avoid the rising legal costs, thereby lowering legal payouts that are a real problem. Lawyers cost so much that it is often cheaper to pay a plaintif than to pay the attornies, let alone risk a runaway jury.
This solution would put the incentives where they belong. It is not as extreme as in Britain where the winners essentially take all which dampens if not eliminates average people having recourse to the courts to settle disputes. It puts the lawyers in a put up or shut up position And we can trust "the people" to have sound judgement as to what is frivolous.
I have sat in on negotiations between attornies on settlements many times. Even without cigars there is an awful lot of smoke blown around, but if there was a chance that the defending party could turn the tables on the attacking party, the air would clear pretty fast. For the record, I think this is a bogus issue on the part of republicans in terms of caring about the law or health care. Rather they just want to nail a significant source of funding for the democrats, the trial lawyers. But I think this solution would not offend trial lawyers too much, tweak to the better some of the problem, and be a decent populist view for the democrats. It would also give (especially Edwards) a sistah Souljah moment that would be politically smart, very smart.