|The American Presidency Project|
|• Democratic Party Platforms|
|Democratic Party Platform of 1984|
|July 16, 1984|
A fundamental choice awaits America—, a choice between two futures.
It is a choice between solving our problems, and pretending they don't exist, between the spirit of community, and the corrosion of selfishness: between justice for all, and advantage for some; between social opportunity and contracting horizons: between diplomacy and conflict: between arms control and an arms race: between leadership and alibis.
America stands at a crossroads.
Move in one direction, and the President who appointed James Watt will appoint the Supreme Court majority for the rest of the century. The President who proposed deep cuts in Social Security will be charged with rescuing Medicare. The President who destroyed the Environmental Protection Agency will decide whether toxic dumps get cleaned up. The President who fought the Equal Rights Amendment will decide whether women get fair pay for their work. The President who launched a covert war in Central America will determine our human rights policy. The President who abandoned the Camp David process will oversee Middle East policy, The President who opposed every nuclear arms control agreement since the bomb went off will be entrusted with the fate of the earth.
We offer a different direction.
For the economy, the Democratic Party is committed to economic growth, prosperity, and jobs. For the individual, we are committed to justice, decency, and opportunity. For the nation, we are committed to peace, strength, and freedom.
In the future we propose, young families will be able to buy and keep new homes—instead of fearing the explosion of their adjustable-rate mortgages. Workers will feel secure in their jobs—instead of fearing layoffs and lower wages. Seniors will look forward to retirement—instead of fearing it. Farmers will get a decent return on their investment—instead of fearing bankruptcy and foreclosure.
Small businesses will have the capital they need—instead of credit they can't afford, People will master technology—instead of being mastered or displaced by it. Industries will be revitalized—not abandoned. Students will attend the best colleges and vocational schools for which they qualify,—instead of trimming their expectations. Minorities will rise in the mainstream economic life—instead of waiting on the sidelines. Children will dream of better days ahead—and not of nuclear holocaust.
Our Party is built on a profound belief in America and Americans.
We believe in the inspiration of American dreams, and the power of progressive ideals. We believe in the dignity of the individual and the enormous potential of collective action. We believe in building, not wrecking. We believe in bridging our differences, not deepening them. We believe in a fair society for working Americans of average income: an opportunity society for enterprising Americans; a caring society for Americans in need through no fault of their own—the sick, the disabled, the hungry, the elderly, the unemployed: and a safe, decent and prosperous society for all Americans.
We are the Party of American values—the worth of every human being; the striving toward excellence; the freedom to innovate; the inviolability of law; the sharing of sacrifice; the struggle toward justice; the pursuit of happiness.
We are the Party of American progress—the calling to explore; the challenge to invent; the imperative to improve; the importance of courage; the perennial need for fresh thinking, sharp minds, and ambitious goals.
We are the Party of American strength—the security of our defenses; the power of our moral values; the necessity of diplomacy; the pursuit of peace; the imperative of survival.
We are the Party of American vision—the trustees of a better future. This platform is our road map toward that future.
Chapter I: Economic Growth, Prosperity, and Jobs
Building a prosperous America in a changing world: that is the Democratic agenda for the future. To build that America, we must meet the challenge of long-term, sustainable, noninflationary economic growth. Our future depends on it.
To a child, economic growth means the promise of quality education. To a new graduate, it means landing a good first job. To a young family, growth means the opportunity to own a home or a car. To an unemployed worker, it means the chance to live in dignity again. To a farmer, growth means expanding markets, fair prices, and new customer. To an entrepreneur, it means a shot at a new business. To our nation, it means the ability to compete in a dramatically changing world economy. And to all in our society, growth—and the prosperity it brings—means security, opportunity, and hope. Democrats want an economy that works for everyone—not just the favored few.
For our party and our country, it is vital that 1984 be a year of new departures.
We have a proud legacy to build upon: the Democratic tradition of caring, and the Democratic commitment to an activist government that understands and accepts its responsibilities.
Our history has been proudest when we have taken up the challenges of our times, the challenges we accept once again in 1984 to find new ways in times of accelerating change, to fulfill our historic commitments. We will continue to be the party of justice. And we will foster the productivity and growth on which justice depends.
For the 1980's, the Democratic Party will emphasize two fundamental economic goals. We will restore rising living standards in our country. And we will offer every American the opportunity for secure and productive employment.
Our program will be bold and comprehensive. It will ask restraint and cooperation from all sectors of the economy. It will rely heavily on the private sector as the prime source of expanding employment. And it will treat every individual with decency and respect.
A Democratic Administration will take four key steps to secure a bright future of long-term economic growth and opportunity for every American:
* Instead of runaway deficits, a Democratic Administration will pursue overall economic policies that sharply reduce deficits, down interest rates, free savings for private investment, prevent another explosion of inflation and put the dollar on a competitive footing.
* Instead of government by neglect, a Democratic Administration will establish a framework that will support growth and productivity and assure opportunity.
* In place of conflict, a Democratic Administration will pursue cooperation, backed by trade, tax and financial regulations that will serve the long-term growth of the American economy and the broad national interest.
* Instead of ignoring America's future, a Democratic Administration will make a series of long-term investments in research, infrastructure, and above all in people. Education, training and retraining will become a central focus in an economy built on change.
The Future if Reagan Is Reelected
" Since the Reagan Administration took office, my wife and I have lost half our net worth. Took us 20 years to build that up, and about three to lose it. That is hard to deal with..."
David Sprague, Farmer. Colorado (Democratic Platform Committee Hearing, Springfield, Illinois, April 27, 1984)
"There's got to be something wrong with our government's policy when it's cheaper to shut a plant down than it is to operate it...The Houston Works plant sits right in the middle of the energy capital of the world and 83 percent of our steel went directly into the energy-related market, yet Japan could sit their products on our docks cheaper than we can make it and roll in there."
Early Clowers. President, Steel Workers Local 2708 (Democratic Platform Committee Hearing. Houston, Texas. May 29. 1984)
A Democratic future of growth and opportunity of mastering change rather than hiding from it, of promoting fairness instead of growing inequality, stands in stark contrast to another four years of Ronald Reagan. Staying the course with Ronald Reagan raises a series of hard questions about a bleak future.
What would be the impact of the Republican deficit if Mr. Reagan is reelected?
A second Reagan term would bring federal budget deficits larger than any in American history—indeed, any in world history. Under the Republican's policies, the deficit will continue to mount. Interest rates, already rising sharply, will start to soar. Investments in the future will be solved, then stopped. The Reagan deficits mortgage the future and threaten the present.
Mr. Reagan has already conceded that these problems exist. But as he said in his 1984 Economic Report to the Congress, he prefers to wait until after the election to deal with them. And then, he plans "to enact spending reductions coupled with tax simplification that will eventually eliminate our budget deficit."
What will Mr. Reagan's plan for "tax-simplification" mean to average Americans if he is reelected?
Ronald Reagan's tax "reforms" were a bonanza for the very wealthy, and a disaster for poor and middle-class Americans. If reelected, Mr. Reagan will have more of the same in store. For him, tax simplification will mean a further freeing of the wealthy from their obligation to pay their fair share of taxes and an increasing burden on the average American.
How will Mr. Reagan's "spending reductions" affect average Americans if he is reelected?
If he gets a second term, Mr. Reagan will use the deficit to justify his policy of government by subtraction. The deficits he created will become his excuse for destroying programs he never supported. Medicare, Social Security, federal pensions, farm price supports and dozens of other people-oriented programs will be in danger.
If Mr. Reagan is reelected, will our students have the skills to work in a changing economy?
If we are to compete and grow, the next generation of Americans must be the best-trained, best-educated in history. While our competitors invest in educating their children, Mr. Reagan cuts the national commitment to our schools. While our competitors spend greater and greater percentages of their GNP on civilian research and development, this President has diverted increasing portions of ours into military weaponry. These policies are short-sighted and destructive.
If Mr. Reagan is reelected, will basic industries and the workers they employ be brought into the future?
The Republican Administration has turned its back on basic industries and their communities. Instead of putting forward policies to help revitalize and adjust, Mr. Reagan tells blameless, anxious, displaced workers to abandon their neighborhoods and homes and "vote with their feet."
America's economic strength was built on basic industries. Today, in a changing economy, they are no less important. Strong basic industries are vital to our economic health and essential to our national security. And as major consumers of high technology, they are catalysts for growth in newly emerging fields. We need new approaches to ensure strong American basic industries for the remainder of this century and beyond.
Can the road to the future be paved with potholes?
Adequate roads and bridges, mass transit, water supply and sewage treatment facilities, and ports and harbors are essential to economic growth. For four years, the Reagan Administration has refused to confront adequately the growing problems in our infrastructure. Another term will bring four more years of negligence and neglect.
If Mr. Reagan is reelected, how many children will join the millions already growing up at risk?
Between 1980 and 1982, more than two million younger Americans joined the ranks of the poor: the sharpest increase on record.
With the Reagan Administration's cutbacks in prenatal care and supplemental food programs have come infant mortality rates in parts of our cities rivaling those of the poorest Latin American nations. Black infants are now twice as likely as white infants to die during the first year of life.
Cuts in school lunch and child nutrition programs have left far too many children hungry and unable to focus on their lessons.
Teenage prostitution, alcohol and drug abuse, depression, and suicide have all been linked to child abuse. The Administration has abandoned most avenues to breaking the cycle of abuse. Funding to prevent and treat child physical abuse has been cut in half. And funds to help private groups set up shelters for runaway youth are being diverted elsewhere.
If Mr. Reagan is reelected, will we ensure that our children are able to enjoy a clean, healthy environment?
Protecting our natural heritage— its beauty and its richness— is not a partisan issue. For eighty years, every American President has understood the importance of protecting out air, our water, and our health. Today, a growing population puts more demands on our environment. Chemicals which are unsafe or disposed of improperly threaten neighborhoods and families. And as our knowledge expands, we learn again and again how fragile life and health—human and animal—truly are.
Ensuring the environmental heritage of future generations demands action now. But the Reagan Administration continues to develop, lease, and sell irreplaceable wilderness lands. While thousands of toxic waste sites already exist, and more and more are being created constantly, the Reagan Administration is cleaning them up at a rate of only 1.5 per year. The environmental legacy of Ronald Reagan will be long-lasting damage that can never truly be undone.
If Mr. Reagan is reelected will we be able to heat our homes and run our factories?
Twice in the past, our country has endured the high costs of dependence on foreign oil. Yet the Reagan Administration is leaving us vulnerable to another embargo or an interruption in oil supply. By failing adequately to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and trusting blindly to the market to "muddle through" in a crisis this Administration has wagered our national security on its economic ideology. One rude shock from abroad or just one "market failure", and our country could find itself plunged into another energy crisis.
The New Economic Reality; Five Reagan Myths
Underlying the Reagan approach to the economy are five key myths: myths that determine and distort the Reagan economic policy, and ensure that it is not the basis for long-term growth.
The world has changed, but Ronald Reagan does not understand.
First, and most fundamental the Reagan Administration continues to act as if the United States were an economic island unto itself. But we have changed from a relatively isolated economy to an economy of international interdependence. In fact, the importance of international trade to the U.S. economy has roughly doubled in a decade. Exports now account for almost 10 percent of GNP—and roughly 20 percent of U.S. manufactured goods. One in six manufacturing jobs now depends on exports, and one in three acres is now planted for the overseas market. Imports have also doubled in importance.
Financial markets are also closely linked. U.S. direct investments and commercial loans overseas now amount to hundreds of billions of dollars. A debt crisis in Mexico will affect balance sheets in San Francisco. A recession in Europe will limit the profits of U.S. subsidiaries operating in the European market. Lower overseas profits wilt limit the flow of earnings back to the United State—one important way the U.S. has found to help pay for the rising tide of imports. Hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign short-term capital invested here are sensitive to small shifts in interest rates or the appearance of added risk. It is only partly bad loans that brought Continental Illinois to the brink of bankruptcy. Heavily dependent on short-term foreign deposits, Continental Illinois was particularly vulnerable. Rumors that were false at the time were enough to set off a run on the bank.
The strength of American steel, the competitiveness of the U.S. machine tool industry, and the long-term potential of U.S. agriculture are no longer matters decided exclusively in Washington or by the American market. America must look to Tokyo, Paris, and the money markets in Singapore and Switzerland. Policy based on the myth that America is independent of the world around us is bound to fail.
Second, this Administration has ignored the enormous changes sweeping through the American work force.
The measuring of the baby boom generation, the sharp increase in the percentage of women seeking work, and the aging of the work force all have to be taken into account.
Decade by decade, more and more women have moved into the work force. This large-scale movement is already changing the nature of professions, altering the patterns of child care and breaking down sex-based distinctions that have existed in many types of employment.
In Ronald Reagan's vision of America, there are no single parent families, women only stay at home and care for children. Reagan's families do not worry about the effects of unemployment on family stability: they do not worry about decent housing and health care: they do not need child care. But in the real world, most Americans do. Providing adequate child care for the millions of American children who need it, and for their parents, is surely not a responsibility which belongs solely to the federal government. But, like the responsibility for decent housing and health care, it is one where federal leadership and support are essential.
The work force is also aging. For the first time in this century, the average American is 31 years of age. Coupled with greater longevity and the gradual elimination of mandatory retirement rules, older workers can be expected to increase steadily their share of the total work force.
Moreover, the kinds of jobs available in our economy are changing rapidly. The combined pressures of new products, new process technology, and foreign competition are changing the face of American industry.
New technologies, shifting economics and deregulation have opened up dozens of new careers both in traditional industrial concerns and in new businesses. Many of them did not exist at all only a few years ago.
And the change is far from over. In setting national policy, a government that ignores that change is bound to fail. In setting national policy, a government that ignores the future is short-changing the American people.
Third, the Reagan program has ignored the fundamental changes that are sweeping through the structure of American industry, the diversity of the economy and the challenges various sectors face. New products and new ways of manufacturing are part of the change. High technology is creating new competitive industries, and holding out the promise of making older industries competitive once again.
Foreign competition has also had a major impact. But the tide runs much deeper than that.
In the past decade, small business and new entrepreneurs have become more and more of a driving force in the American economy. Small businesses are a growing force in innovation, employment, and the long-term strength of the American economy.
Technology itself appears to be changing the optimal size of American businesses. And unlike the conglomerate mergers of the 1960's, renewed emphasis on quality and efficient production has shifted the focus back to industry-specific experience.
An Administration that sets tax policy, spending priorities, and an overall growth program without understanding the new dynamics and the diversity of American industry is weakening, rather than strengthening the American economy.
Reaganomics is based on the theory that blanket-tax cuts for business and the rich would turn directly into higher productivity that private investors and industry would use the money saved to restore our edge in innovation and competitiveness.
In practice, the theory failed because it did not take into account the diversity within our economy. The economy is composed of a set of complex public and private institutions which are intricately interrelated and increasingly influenced by the pressures of international competition. In the international economy, multinational companies and governments cooperate to win trade advantage, often at American expense.
We are coming to understand that in an expanding number of markets, industrial strategies, rather than just the energies of individual firms, influence competitive success. Indeed, success in marketing a product may depend more on the quality and productivity of the relationship between government and business than on the quality of the product. While several foreign industrial strategies have failed, foreign governments are becoming more sophisticated in the design and conduct of their industrial strategies. The Reagan Administration is not.
Fourth, the Reagan Administration has acted as if deficits do not count. The deficits are huge and are expected to get larger—and they are a major negative factor in everything from high interest rates to the third world debt crisis.
—Because of the huge tax cuts to benefit the wealthy, and an enormous military buildup bought on credit, the federal deficit in 1983 was equivalent to 6% of our GNP. In dollars it amounted to almost 200 billion—more than three times larger than the deficit Ronald Reagan campaigned against in 1980.
—Under the budget Reagan proposed to Congress earlier this year, the annual deficit would grow to $248 billion by 1989, and unless he makes major changes in current policy, it will exceed $300 billion. Reagan doubled the national debt during his first term. Given eight years, he will have tripled it. According to the proposed budget, at the end of his second term Reagan by himself will have put this country three times deeper into debt than all our other Presidents combined.
—As the Reagan debt hangs over us, more and more of our tax dollars are going nowhere. By 1989, the percentage of federal revenues to be spent on deficit interest payments alone will have doubled. These unproductive payments will claim a staggering 42¢ on every personal income tax dollar we pay. This huge allocation will do nothing to reduce the principal of the debt: it will only finance the interest payments.
—The interest payments on Reagan's debt are grossly out of line with historical spending patterns. Since 1981, more money has been squandered on interest payments on the Reagan-created debt alone than has been saved by all of Reagan's cuts in domestic spending. Non-defense discretionary spending, to be productively invested in programs to benefit the poor and middle class, and to build our social capital, is being overwhelmed by the enormous sum of money wasted on interest payments. By 1989, the annual payment will account for twice the percentage of federal revenue that we have ever set aside for such discretionary programs.
—Interest payments on the debt are rising at an alarming rate. Today the annual payment has already reached $110 billion—twice what it was four years ago. During a second Reagan term, it will double again, reaching $207 billion by 1989.
—The consequences for the individual taxpayer are enormous. Deficit increases under Reagan so far are equivalent to $2,387 levied from every woman, man and child alive in the United States today.
—The consequences for the nation as a whole are also enormous. The massive government borrowing necessary to service the debt will amount to about three-quarters of the entire nation's net savings between 1983 and 1986.
The pressure of the deficits on interest rates has sucked in a wave of overseas investment. Some of those investments have been made in manufacturing plants or other commercial enterprises. Much of the foreign money, however, is in the term of portfolio holdings or even more liquid short-term bank deposits. It is an uncertain source for savings for a long-term investment program. To a limited degree, it puts the country in the same risky position as Continental Illinois Bank which relied heavily on short-term foreign deposits to make long-term domestic loans
High interest rates will eventually take their toll on domestic investment, make their own contribution to inflationary pressure (while eventually slowing growth and inflation), and increase the tensions in the domestic banking system. They will also have a potentially devastating impact on the international economy. Each percentage point rise in U.S. interest rates adds $3-5 billion to the annual debt payments of the developing world. High American interest rates have also put added pressure on interest rates in the industrial democracies, dampening their own prospects for growth, and their ability to buy our goods.
Fifth, and finally, the Reagan Administration has virtually wished away the role of government. When it comes to the economy, its view is that the government that governs best is one that governs not at all.
A Democratic Administration must answer this challenge reaffirming the principle that government must both "provide for the common defense" and "promote the general welfare" as coequal responsibilities under the Constitution. If the Democratic Party can succeed in correcting the present imbalance, it will reverse the cycle of pain and despair, and recapture the initiative in the area of social and economic progress.
The Reagan Administration succeeded in shifting massive resources from human needs functions of the Federal budget to military-related functions and created unprecedented deficits based on the assumption that government should have a diminished responsibility for social progress, and thus, for the welfare of the needy and disadvantaged in society. The resulting Reagan-induced recession caused tremendous suffering, threw millions of people out of work, terminated or reduced benefits, and raised the national misery index.
Mr. Reagan denies government's critical role in our economy. Government cannot, and should not, dominate our free enterprise economy. But American prosperity has been most pronounced when the government played a supportive or catalytic role in the nation's economic fortunes. There are a wide variety of examples stretching back through our entire history: government investments in roads and research, in education and training: government initiatives in opening up new economic possibilities, initiatives that started with the decision to protect domestic markets shortly after the Revolution to the ongoing commercial development of space.
Agriculture is a clear example of government cooperation with a highly competitive private sector that has yielded a harvest of economic results that is the envy of the world. The government helps fund the research, helps spread it through the economy, educates the modern farmer, influences production levels, and helps develop new markets overseas. It is America's most conspicuous example of a successful industrial strategy—combining the cooperative efforts of business, government and our universities.
Reagan's Recession and A Recovery Built on Debt
The Economic Roller Coaster—Following the first oil shock in 1973, the United States embarked on a ten year economic roller coaster. The up and down performance of the economy was paralleled by erratic macroeconomic policy. There were wide swings from stimulative fiscal and monetary policies causing raging inflation, to government-engineered recessions.
The frequency of the cycles created a climate of uncertainty that was tailor-made to discourage and distort investment. Each cycle left the economy weaker than the one before. At the end of each recession the level of inflation was higher, and at the end of each recovery the level of unemployment had risen.
Even more disturbing was the decline in the rate of growth or productivity. By the end of the 1970's, productivity growth first stopped and then fell. Productivity growth has finally resumed—but the rate of growth remains disappointing compared both to our own economic past and the performance of other industrial economies.
Reaganomics and an Election Year Recovery—Ronald Reagan swept into office on the promise of a smaller government and a bigger private sector, of higher GNP and lower inflation, and of the elimination of federal deficits.
First, he proposed huge tax cuts. Mr. Reagan went so far as to suggest that the growth caused by his tax cuts would be so rapid that total tax revenues would actually rise even while tax rates were cut.
Second, he promised a huge defense build-up.
Third, he promised stable prices. How was he going to contain prices while stimulating rapid growth? His answer was tight money.
Fourth, the supply-siders promised growth and stable prices without the intervening pain of a recession. In effect, Reagan promised tight money without tears.
Cut taxes but raise more revenues. Arm to the teeth. Growth with stable prices. Tight money and no hard times. It just did not work out that way. Worse, there was never any reason to expect that it would. Reagan's kind of tax cuts were based neither on rational economic theory nor on any empirical evidence. And wishing simply did not make it so. George Bush was right when he called Reaganomics "voodoo economics".
Instead of growth, the country had plunging production and record unemployment. Instead of increased savings and investment, the country had bankruptcy and economic decline. The Reagan policies, which were supposed to break the cycle of inflation and recession, only made it worse.
Reagan cut domestic programs, but more than offset those cuts with vastly increased defense spending. The Government significantly reduced the growth of the money supply and kept real interest rates high. For a recession, real interest rates reached record highs. These interest rates brought an added problem. They attracted foreign funds and helped drive up the international value of the dollar. American business was faced with a double whammy—empty order books and high interest rates. For the increasingly large part of American business that either sells overseas or competes with imports at home, the over-valued dollar abroad meant their products cost far more compared to the foreign competition.
Reagan effectively created a tax on exports and a subsidy for imports. It was a climate that forced record bankruptcies, enormous unemployment, plant closings, and major corporate reorganizations. It was the largest and most severe economic collapse since the Great Depression.
The Reagan Administration then prepared for the election year by "staying the course" in fiscal policy (pumping up demand with huge deficits) and sharply reversing the course in monetary policy.
The Federal Reserve Board rapidly expanded the supply of money and the economy ceased to decline and began to recover.
The Millions Left Behind—But millions of Americans were left behind. Over the last two years, 1.8 million men and women have became discouraged workers and more than 5.4 million have fallen into poverty. Nearly half of all minority youth are unemployed, and Black males have effectively lost 13 percent of their labor force participation in the last two decades. Unemployment on Indian reservations continues to be among the highest in the nation. The U.S.-Mexico border has been devastated by the currency devaluations and economic crisis in Mexico. Small businesses have closed: American families are suffering hunger and poor health, as unemployment exceeds depression rates. Women continue to receive less than 60 percent of the wages that men receive, with minority women receiving far less. Millions of other Americans, including the growing number of women heading poor households or those who have been hard-hit by plant closings or obsolescent skills, avidly seek training or retraining in occupations that hold real promise for sustained employment opportunities in the future.
Millions of Americans, including those in the industrial and agricultural heartland, have been severely affected by the recent recession and the transformation in American industry that accompanied it. Furthermore, the changes seem to have come very quickly, and they do not seem to be over. Many Americans worked in auto, steel, machine tool, textile, agriculture and small business and related industries. Today for many of them, the recovery is a fiction, or seems very fragile. Plant closings have hit hard and job security and loss of health and pension benefits evoke memories from the past.
Investment in jobs for all Americans constitutes the key investment for the future of the nation. For every one million workers who go back to work, our country produces an additional $60-70 billion in goods and adds $25 billion to the Federal treasury. The Democratic Party will work aggressively to stimulate employment, rebuild trade and encourage labor-intensive industrialization.
Seven Threats to the Recovery
The current election year recovery is in serious jeopardy, threatened by a series of major economic problems:
* Unless corrective action is taken soon, the current $180 billion deficit will balloon even larger by the end of the decade.
* Interest rates are high and rising. The prime rate has jumped one and one haft percentage points. A credit crunch is rapidly approaching in which federal borrowing for the deficit will overwhelm private demand for funds to fuel the recovery. Mortgage rates have risen to a point where home sales and housing starts are beginning to fall. The variable rate mortgage that buffers the thrift industry against high interest rates may, in the near future, put the entire industry under pressure as steadily rising rates put mortgage payments beyond the reach of the average homeowner.
* The Federal Reserve Board faced a deficit dilemma. By expanding the money supply to help finance the deceit, the Federal Reserve runs the risk of runaway inflation. But if it limits growth by restricting the money supply, high interest rates will distort growth or tip the economy back into recession.
* The Reagan Administration has done nothing to solve America's repeated problem of reconciling steady growth with stable prices, except by causing a deep recession. Continuing high levels of unemployment still exist in various communities across the country. Many jobs have disappeared. The Reagan Administration is not interested in new forms of fighting inflation—its anti-inflation program amounts to little more than unemployment, tight money and union busting. It is a highly cynical economic selective service that drafts only the poor and the middle class to fight the war against inflation, Unrestrained by the demands of another election, a second Reagan Administration will be even less concerned about the impact of deep recession on the average working American.
* Our trade deficit is a looming disaster for the national economy. An overvalued dollar, itself the product of high interest rates, helped create a nearly $70 billion trade deficit in 1983. It will be almost twice as large in 1984. Borrowing to support the deficits and buying abroad to maintain a recovery tilted toward consumption are eroding America's position as a creditor nation.
* America is very much a part of the international economy. And the recovery overseas has been slow to catch hold. European economies are strained by the impact of high American interest rates on their own economies. For many developing countries, growth has been slowed or even reversed by the overhang of an enormous burden of commercial and official debt. If they cannot buy our products, our economy must slow.
* The sheer size of the international debt burden is itself a threat to the recovery. It is not only a question of falling exports Latin America. The America and international financial system has been put in peril by the weakening of debtor nations' ability to repay their debt to U.S. banks as interest rates rise.
Howard Baker called Mr. Reagan's policies a "riverboat gamble". We now know the outcome. The very wealthiest in out society have been big winners—but future generations of Americans will be the losers.
The Americans coming of age today face a future less secure and less prosperous than their parents did—unless we change course. We have an obligation to our children and to their children. We Democrats have a different vision of our future.
The Democratic Alternative: A Prosperous America In A Changing World
"There's a lot of people out there only making $3.35 an hour, and that's been since '81. That's a long time to be making $3.35 an hour...Costs of living have gone up considerably. The insurance has gone up, gas, lights, water. It's a whole lot different now, it's not the same as '81. I know times have changed, but why can't the $3.35 change with them? I would like to know that if anybody can answer. I urge the Democratic Party to develop policies and protect working people."
Doris Smith, Steward, SEIU Local 706.(Democratic Platform Committee Hearing. Houston, Texas, May 29, 1984)
"We do not have a surplus as long as one member of my family is hungry. He may live next door or on the other side of the world. However, it should not be the producer's responsibility to provide cheap food at the expense of his own children."
Roberta Archer, Farmer, Springfield, Illinois(Democratic Platform Committee Hearing. Springfield, Illinois, April 27, 1984)
"In the four years prior to Mr. Reagan taking over, I was fortunate to have four years of employment, and I was able to put money aside in savings accounts which since have been exhausted. My unemployment benefits are exhausted too...I may not qualify for any type of public assistance and the standard of living I was accustomed to for my wife and myself and my family has drastically changed...But we as Democrats can join together in harmony and unison and we decide what is the future or the fate of our people and what is good for all of us. So I am very proud to be a Democrat."
James Price, unemployed mine worker(Democratic Platform Committee Hearing, Birmingham. Alabama, April 24, 1984)
Democratic growth is not just a matter of good numbers, but of opportunities for people. Jobs and employment are at the center of Democratic thinking. It is not only a question of legislation or appropriations. Rather, it is a philosophy that views employment as the ongoing concern of the country. Work in America is not an idle concept—but a definition of self, a door to future opportunity, and the key step in securing the economic necessities of the present.
An America at work is a moral obligation as well as the most effective way to return our economy to a high growth path. Employed people stimulate the economy, their taxes pay for the expenses of government and their production adds to our national wealth. Moreover, the social and economic fabric of the nation will be strengthened as millions of Americans who presently are frozen out of productive and dignified employment become contributing citizens.
The potential for America is unlimited. It is within our means to put America back on a long-term path that will assure both growth and broad-based economic opportunity. That is what the next Democratic Administration will do. First, we will adopt overall economic policies that will bring interest rates down, free savings for private investment, prevent another explosion of inflation, and put the dollar on a competitive basis. Second, we will invest for our future—in our people, and in our infrastructure. Third, we will promote new partnerships and participation by all levels of government, by business and labor, to support growth and productivity. Finally, government will work with the private sector to assure that American businesses and American workers can compete fully and fairly in a changing world economy.
Overall Economic Policies: A Firm Ground For Growth
A Democratic Administration will pursue economic policies which provide the basis for long-term economic growth and will allow us to fulfill our commitment to jobs for all Americans who want to work. A key part of the effort will be reducing and eventually eliminating the deficits that currently form a dark cloud over the nation's future. In addition, monetary policy must be set with an eye to stability and to the strengths or weaknesses of the economy. Finally, we will pursue policies that will promote price stability and prevent inflation from breaking out again.
Reducing the Reagan Budget Deficits
After plunging the nation into a deficit crisis, President Reagan refuses to take part in efforts to solve it. He postpones hard decisions until after the Presidential election, refusing to compromise, refusing to address revenues and defense spending seriously, refusing all but a "down payment" on the deficit. The President continues to stand apart from serious, comprehensive efforts to cut the deficit. There must be statesmanship and compromise here, not ideological rigidity or election year politics.
The Democratic Party is pledged to reducing these intolerable deficits. We will reassess defense expenditures: create a tax system that is both adequate and fair: control skyrocketing health costs without sacrificing quality of care: and eliminate other unnecessary expenditures. Through efficiency and toughness, we will restore sanity to our fiscal house.
We oppose the artificial and rigid Constitutional restraint of a balanced budget amendment. Further we oppose efforts to call a federal Constitutional convention for this purpose.
Rational Defense Spending—In the last three years, the Defense Department was told by this Administration that it could have anything it wanted, and at any price. As Democrats, we believe in devoting the needed resources to ensure our national security. But military might cannot be measured solely by dollars spent. American military strength must be secured at an affordable cost. We will reduce the rate of increase in defense spending. Through careful reevaluation of proposed and existing weapons, we will stop throwing away money on unworkable or unnecessary systems; through military reform we will focus defense expenditure on the most cost-effective military policies. We will insist that our allies contribute fairly to our collective security, and that the Department of Defense reduces its scandalous procurement waste.
And above all else, we will seek sensible arms control agreements as a means of assuring that there will be a future for our children and that we as a nation will have the resources we need to invest for the future.
Tax Reform—America needs a tax system that encourages growth and produces adequate revenues in a fair, progressive fashion. The Democratic Party is committed to a tax policy that embodies these basic values.
The present system is unfair, complex, and encourages people to use a wide range of loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. The combination of loopholes for the few and high rates for the many is both unfair and anti-growth. It distorts investment, diverting creative energies into tax avoidance. And it makes the tax code even less comprehensible to the average American.
Our tax code must produce sufficient revenue to finance our defense and allow for investment in our future, and we will ask every America to pay his or her fair share. But by broadening the tax base, simplifying the tax code, lowering rates, and eliminating unnecessary, unfair and unproductive deductions and tax expenditure, we can raise the revenues we need and promote growth without increasing the burden on average taxpayers.
Ronald Reagan's tax program gave huge breaks to wealthy individuals and to large corporations while shifting the burden to low and moderate income families. The Democratic Party is pledged to reverse these unsound policies. We will cap the effect of the Reagan tax cuts for wealthy Americans and enhance the progressivity of our personal income tax code, limiting the benefits of the third year of the Reagan tax cuts to the level of those with incomes of less than $60,000. We will partially defer indexation while protecting average Americans. We will close loopholes, eliminate the preferences and write-offs, exceptions, and deductions which skew the code toward the rich and toward unproductive tax shelters. Given the fact that there has been a veritable hemorrhage of capital out of the federal budget, reflected in part by the huge budget deficit, there must be a return to a fair tax on corporate income. Under the Reagan Administration, the rate of taxation on corporations has been so substantially reduced that they are not contributing their fair share to federal revenues. We believe there should be a 15% minimum corporate tax. In addition, our tax code has facilitated the transfer of capital from the United States to investments abroad, contributing to plant closing without notice in many communities and loss of millions of jobs. We will toughen compliance procures to reduce the $100 billion annual tax evasion.
Our country must move to a simpler, more equitable, and more progressive tax system. Our tax code can let the market put our country's savings to the best use. There must be a fair balance between corporate and personal tax increases. Wealthier taxpayers will have to shoulder a greater share of the new tax burdens. Economic distortions must be eliminated.
Controlling Domestic Spending—A balanced program for reducing Republican mega-deficits must also deal with the growing costs of domestic programs. But this must be done in a way that is fair to average Americans.
Social Security is one of the most important and successful initiatives in the history of our country, and it is an essential element of the social compact that binds us together as a community. There is no excuse—as the Reagan Administration has repeatedly suggested—for slashing Social Security to pay for excesses in other areas of the budget. We will steadfastly oppose such efforts, now and in the future.
It is rather in the area of health care costs that reform is urgently needed. By 1988, Medicare costs will rise to $106 billion: by the turn of the century, the debt of the trust fund may be as great as $1 trillion. In the Republican view, the problem is the level of benefits which senior citizens and the needy receive. As Democrats, we will protect the interests of health care beneficiaries. The real problem is the growing cost of health care services.
We propose to control these costs, and to demand that the health care industry become more efficient in providing care to all Americans, both young and old. We will limit what health care providers can receive as reimbursement, and spur innovation and competition in health care delivery. The growth of alternative health care delivery systems such as HMO's, PPO's and alternatives to long-term care such as home care and social HMO's should be fostered so that high quality care will be available at a lower cost. We must learn the difference between health care and sick care. Unlike the Republicans, we recognize that investing in preventive health care saves dollars as well as lives, and we will make the needed investment. The states must be the cornerstone of our health care policies, but a Democratic Administration will provide the leadership at the federal level to assure that health care is available to all who need help at a cost we can afford. In addition, we pledge to scour the budget for other areas of wasteful unnecessary spending.
Monetary Policy for Growth
Reducing the deficit is the fine step toward lowering interest rates and establishing the basis for fair tax and budget policies. But even with a Democratic fiscal policy reining in the deficit, the task of the Federal Reserve Board will be critical. Monetary policy must work to achieve stable real interest rates, the availability of capital for long-term investments, predictable long-term policy and stable prices. We reject the rigid adherence to monetary targets that has frequently characterized the Reagan monetary policy. Whatever targeting approach the Federal Reserve Board adopts, it must be leavened with a pragmatic appraisal of what is happening in the harsh world of the real economy, particularly the impact on unemployment, interest rates, and the international value of the dollar.
An Anti-Inflation Program
We have learned that sustained economic growth is impossible in a climate of high inflation or of inflationary expectations. The .Reagan Administration's only prescription for inflation is recession—deliberate high unemployment—coupled with a relentless assault on the collective bargaining power and rights of working men and women. The Democratic Party believes that these tactics are both unacceptable and ineffective.
We will develop the following five-step program to stabilize prices:
—Growth investments in new plants and equipment and research and development. The productivity growth that comes in tandem with new investments will help offset—point for point—any increase in cost.
—Increased flexibility in the marketplace—will also help keep inflationary pressures under control. There is no single policy that will make the U.S. economy more adaptable. Rather, there is a series of smaller steps which will help keep prices stable. In general, competitive markets are more likely to restrain sudden surges of prices than markets dominated by a few large firms. No Democratic Administration will forget the use of old fashioned antitrust policy to keep markets competitive—and prices down.
—Trade policy—is also an important component of any effective anti-inflation program. Expanding world markets for American goods increase the gains from large scale production and stimulate research and development on new products and processes.
—The price-wage spiral—as part of any effective anti-inflation program, serious policies to address the price-wage spirals and other inflationary pressures we have experienced in the past must be developed.
—We believe that an attack on sectorial sources of inflation—in food, fuel, utilities, health care, and elsewhere—is essential if price stability is to be sustained without economic distortions. Our agriculture, energy, and health programs will all promote sectorial price stability while assuring fair treatment for average Americans, including working men and women and family farmers. For example, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is one clear response to reducing the chance of another oil shock. The very presence of reserves in the U.S., Japan, and elsewhere reduces the likelihood of panic buying to replace suddenly threatened oil supplies. In this context, a far-reaching energy policy that emphasizes conservation and the development of alternative energy supplies will also help stabilize energy prices. And lower interest rates from reduced budget deficits will reduce upward pressure on housing costs and bring housing back within the reach of millions of Americans now excluded from the market.
Investing in People
America's greatest resource is our people. As Democrats we affirm the need for both public and private investment —in our children; in out educational institutions and out students; in jobs, training, and transitional assistance for our workers—to build America's future. If we choose wisely, these investments will be returned to our country many times over. They are essential if we are to create an America with high-quality jobs and rising opportunities for all. And they are vital if we are to safeguard our competitive position in the world economy.
Investing in Children
Simple decency demands that we make children one of our highest national priorities. But the argument for so acting goes well beyond that. Programs for children represent the most critical investment we can make in out ability to compete in future world markets and maintain a strong national defense in the decades ahead.
Above all else, the Democratic Party stands for making the proper investment in coming generations of Americans.
Preventive efforts must be at the heart of the broad range of health, child care, and support programs for children. Helping these children makes good moral sense—and sound economic sense. Measles vaccine alone has saved $1.3 billion in medical costs in just ten years. Supplemental food programs for low-income pregnant women and infants save $3 for every dollar spent.
By improving access to medical care before and after birth, we can promote a generation of healthy mothers and healthy babies. Seeing that supplemental food programs for low-income pregnant women and infants reach all those eligible will do more than save the $40,000 now spent to treat one low birth weight infant in a neo-natal ward. It will also reduce the risk of birth defects for such infants.
We recognize that a hungry child is a child who cannot learn. Restoring school breakfast and school lunches for millions of children will improve their alertness and concentration in school.
Child care must also be a top priority. Helping communities establish after-school care programs will remove millions of American children from the serious risks they now face of injury, abuse and alienation by staying at home alone. Encouraging employers, churches, public centers, and private groups to provide quality, affordable child care will give millions of children whose parents must work the kind of adult supervision necessary to thrive. And setting up centers for child care information and referral will assist parents wherever they reside to locate quality care for their children.
Preventing child abuse must be at the forefront of Democratic Party concern. Local, community-based child abuse prevention programs must be strengthened and expanded. A Child who learns first about the risks of sexual abuse in school will be less likely to become the target of repeated victimization. Federal challenge grants could encourage states to make local prevention efforts a real priority.
Prompt intervention efforts must also be provided for children in crisis. If we are to make any headway in breaking the cycle of child abuse, both victims and offenders must have access to treatment programs.
Juvenile offenders must not be left in adult jails where the only skills they acquire are those of the career criminal. Safe shelter and assistance must be available for the hundreds of thousands of runaway children at risk of exploitation in our cities. Local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies must refine ways to locate children who have been abducted. And children in foster care must not be allowed to graduate to the streets at age 18 without ever having known a permanent home.
We must ensure that essential surveys on children's health and welfare status are reinstated. We know more about the number of matches sold than about the number of children across the country who die in fires while alone at home. Likewise, we know less about hunger and malnutrition among children than we do about the health of the nation's poultry stock.
The Democratic Party affirms its commitment to protecting the health and safety of children in the United States. Existing laws mandating the use of automobile child restraints must be enforced, and child safety seat loaner or rental programs and public education programs must be encouraged, in order to reduce significantly the leading cause of death and serious injury among children between the ages of six months and five years—motor vehicle crashes.
The crises devastating many of our nation's youth is nowhere more dramatically evidenced than in the alarming rate of increase in teenage suicide. Over 6,000 young people took their lives in 1983, and for each actual suicide 50 to 100 other youths attempted suicide. The underlying causes of teenage suicide, as well as its full scope, are not adequately researched or understood. We must commit ourselves to seek out the causes, formulate a national policy of prevention, and provide guidance to our state and local governments in developing means to stem this devastating tide of self-destruction. We support the creation of a national panel on teenage suicide to respond to this challenge.
A Democratic Administration which establishes these priorities can reduce the risks for our young people and improve the odds. By so doing it will serve their future...and ours.
Investing in Education
No public investment is more important than the one we make in the minds, skills and discipline of our people. Whether we are talking about a strong economy, a strong defense or a strong system of justice, we cannot achieve it without a strong educational system. Our very future in international economic competition depends on skilled workers and on first-rate scientists, engineers, and managers.
We Democrats are committed to equity in education. We will insist on excellence, discipline, and high standards. Quality education depends on students, teachers and parents performing at the highest levels of achievement.
Today, education in America needs help. But, the Reagan Administration offers misleading homilies about the importance of education while aggressively slashing education programs.
This is intolerable. We know that every dollar we invest in education is ultimately returned to us six-fold. We know that the education of our citizens is critical to our democracy.
There are four key goals that a Democratic program for educational excellence must address: strengthening local capacity to innovate and progress in public education and encourage parental involvement; renewing our efforts to ensure that all children, whatever their race, income, or sex have a fair and equal chance to learn; attracting the most talented young people into teaching and enabling them to remain and develop in their profession; and ensuring that all American families can send their children on to college or advanced training.
Primary and Secondary Education—While education is the responsibility of local government, local governments already strapped for funds by this Administration cannot be expected to bear alone the burden of undertaking the efforts we need for quality education—from teacher training to the salaries needed to attract and retain able teachers, to new labs, to new programs to motivate talented and gifted students, to new ties between businesses and schools—without leadership at the federal level.
Democrats will provide that leadership. We call for the immediate restoration of the cuts in funding of education programs by the Reagan Administration, and for a major new commitment to education. We will create a partnership for excellence among federal, state and local governments. We will provide incentives to local school districts to concentrate on science, math, communications and computer literacy; to provide access to advanced technology. In all of these fields, but particularly in computers, there is a growing danger of a two-tier education system. The more affluent districts have adequate hardware and teachers prepared to use it. Many districts are left completely behind or saddled with a modern machine but no provision for faculty training. Every American child should have the basic education that makes computer literacy possible and useful. Major attention must be given to recruiting the finest young people into teaching careers, and to providing adequate staff development programs that enable educators to increase their effectiveness in meeting the needs or all students.
Vocational education should be overhauled to bring instructional materials, equipment, and staff up to date with the technology and practices of the workplace and target assistance to areas with large numbers of disadvantaged youth. We will insist that every child be afforded an equal opportunity to fulfill his or her potential. We will pay special attention to the needs of the handicapped.
Education is an important key to the upward mobility of all citizens and especially the disadvantaged, despite the fact that racial discrimination and other prejudices have set limits to such achievement.
The Reagan Administration has singled out for extinction the proven most successful education program—compensatory education for disadvantaged children. The Democratic Party will reverse this malicious onslaught and dramatically strengthen support in order to provide educational equity for all children.
Bilingual education enables children to achieve full competence in the English language and the academic success necessary to their full participation in the life of our nation. We reject the Reagan double-talk on bilingual education and commit ourselves to expanding and increasing its effectiveness.
We will emphasize the importance of preventing one-third of our student body nationwide from dropping out of school in the first place. And, we will supplement community-based programs encouraging students who have left school due to teenage parenthood, alcohol and drug abuse, or economic difficulties at home, to complete their education.
Recognizing that young people who are never given an opportunity for a job will be less likely to hold one in adulthood, we will also emphasize training and employment opportunities for youth. In so doing, we need to establish a genuine working partnership with the private sector.
Private schools, particularly parochial schools, are also an important part of our diverse educational system. Consistent with our tradition, the Democratic Party accepts its commitment to constitutionally acceptable methods of supporting the education of all pupils in schools which do not racially discriminate and excluding so-called segregation academies. The Party will continue to support federal education legislation which provides for the equitable participation in federal programs of all low and moderate income pupils.
For its part, when added to the traditional educational institutions of family, school and church, television has enormous promise as a teacher. When children spend more time in front of the television set than they do in the classroom, we must ask how television can help children, and why commercial broadcasters do so little programming for children today despite their legal responsibility as "public trustees" of the airwaves granted to them. The National Science Board, for instance, has recommended that commercial television stations be required to air a certain amount of information/educational programming for children each week. Properly developed, television can be an enormously efficient and effective supplemental teaching tool.
Higher Education—We will make certain that higher education does not become a luxury affordable only by the children of the rich. That is Ronald Reagan's America. In our America, no qualified student should be deprived of the ability to go on to college because of financial circumstance.
The Democratic Party reaffirms the importance of historically Black colleges. Today the survival of many of these colleges is threatened. The programs that assist them, which have been severely weakened in recent years, must be greatly strengthened with funding targeted toward Black and Hispanic institutions.
An explosion in demand for certain types of engineers, scientists and other technical specialists is creating a shortage of faculty and PhD candidates. We must encourage colleges and universities to train more scientists and engineers. More than one hundred years ago the Morrill Land Grant Act provided for agricultural colleges and programs that today still help keep American agriculture the world leader. We need a similar program today to encourage the training of scientists and engineers. At the same time, we must not neglect the arts and humanities, which enrich our spirit. The private sector must also recognize its responsibility to join partnerships which strengthen our diverse public and private higher education system.
Finally, all our educational institutions must adapt to growing numbers of adults returning to school to upgrade their skills, acquire new skills, prepare themselves for entirely new occupations, and enrich their lives.
Investing In the Arts
America is truly growing and prosperous when its spirit flourishes. The arts and humanities are at the core of our national experience. Creativity and the life of the mind have defined us at our best throughout our history. As scholars or artists, the museum-goers or students, craftsmen and craftswomen or the millions who use our libraries, countless Americans have a stake in a nation that honors and rejoices in intelligence and imagination.
The Democratic Party will set a new national tone of respect for learning and artistic achievement. Not only will the federal agencies that support them be strengthened and freed from political intimidation, but the White House itself will once again be a place where American cultural and intellectual life—in all its rich diversity—is honored. Excellence must start at the top.
Finally, the Democratic Party is also committed to the survival of public television and radio stations which allow all Amerces, regardless of ability to pay, to appreciate high quality, alternative programming. We oppose the efforts of the Reagan Administration to enact draconian cuts which would totally undermine the viability of this nation's excellent public broadcasting system, a broadcasting system which has given the country Sesame Street, 3-2-1 Contact, and other superb children's as well as cultural and public affairs programming.
Jobs, Training, and Transitional Assistance
We must have a growing economy if we are to have jobs for all Americans who seek work. But even in a growing economy, the pressures of competition and the pace of change ensure that while jobs are being created, others are being destroyed. Prosperity will not be evenly distributed among regions and communities. We must make special efforts to help families in economic transition who are faced with loss or homes, health benefits, and pensions. And far too many of our young people, especially minorities, do not have the training and skills they need to get their first job. Democrats believe that it is a national responsibility to ensure that the burdens of change are fairly shared and that every young American can take the first step up the ladder of economic opportunity.
Of the 8.5 million Americans still out of work, 40 percent are under 25. Unemployment among teenagers stands at almost 20 percent. Less than three percent of the jobs created in the last three and a half years have gone to young people. Black and Hispanic youth have a double burden. Unemployment for black teenagers stands at 44 percent—a 20 percent increase in the last three years. Hispanic teens face a 26 percent unemployment rate.
As disturbing as these figures are, they do not tell the whole story. The unemployment rate measures only those teenagers who were actively looking for work, not those who have given up, completely discouraged by the lack opportunity. Again the burden falls disproportionately on minority youth.
The Reagan Administration has dismantled virtually all of the successful programs to train and employ young people. Today we are spending less to put young people to work than we were even under the last Republican Administration—70 percent less, when inflation is taken into account. Youth unemployment has skyrocketed, while government efforts to combat it have dwindled to a trickle.
Unless we address this problem now, half of an entire generation may never know what it means to work. America cannot successfully compete in the world economy if a significant portion of our future work force is illiterate, unskilled, and unemployable.
The Democratic Party must give our young people new skills and new hope; we must work hand in hand with the private sector if job training is to lead to jobs. Specifically, targeted efforts are needed to address the urgent problem of unemployment among minority teenagers. We must provide job training for those who have dropped out of school, and take every step to expand educational opportunity for those still in school. We must recognize the special needs of the over-age 50 worker and the displaced homemaker. Through education, training and retraining we must reduce these dangerously high levels of unemployment.
We must provide an opportunity for worker, including those dislocated by changing technologies to adapt to new opportunities: we must provide workers with choices as to which skills they wish to acquire. We know that Americans want to work. We are committed to ensuring that meaningful job training is available—for our students, for housewives returning to the workplace, and for those displaced by changing patterns of technology or trade.
—The federal government will develop a major comprehensive national job skills development policy that is targeted on the chronically unemployed and underemployed. We must train and place these Americans in high-demand labor shortage occupations, working with the private sector so that maximum employment and job creation can be achieved.
—We will overhaul the currently antiquated unemployment compensation system, and adequately fund job search listings of local employment services.
—We will also launch meaningful training programs that lead to job placement for women who receive public assistance, in order to break the cycle of dependence and to raise their standard of living. Instead of punitive reductions in AFDC and other benefits for women who seek training and employment while receiving such assistance, beneficiaries should be given a transition period during which they are permitted to earn income in a formal training program while receiving full benefits.
—We will seriously examine new approaches to training and retraining programs that could be financed directly by government, by labor and management, or by tax free contributions.
—If cancellations of specific weapons systems result in significant economic dislocations and job loss, it is a national responsibility to address the human consequences of national policy.
Investing In Infrastructure
Economic growth requires that America invest in our infrastructure as well as in our people. Investing in infrastructure means rebuilding our bridges and roads and sewers, and we are committed to doing that. But it also means investing in our cities, in decent housing and public transportation, and in regulatory systems for finance and telecommunication that will provide a sound basis for future economic growth
Investing in our Cities
The Democratic Party recognizes the value of prosperous local government, and within that context we recognize that a healthy city is essential to the well-being of the nation, state, county and surrounding local governments.
Our nation's economic life depends on the economic growth of our cities. Our cities are not only the treasures from which the nation draws its wealth: they are the centers of industry, the centers of art and culture, the breeding ground for economic innovation, and home to the majority of the America people. Our cities are among this country's greatest achievements, and they can be our country's greatest engine of economic growth.
Cities can be active partners with the federal government and private enterprises for creating new growth. They can be a dynamic entrepreneurial force—by encouraging education and research, by incubating promising new industries, by steering resources toward those most in need, and by fostering new cooperative arrangements among public agencies and private business. Cities can be a leading force for rebuilding the nation's economy.
But to do this, cities need state and national leadership which values the role of city and county government. Cities need a President willing to work and consult with mayors and county executives. They need an Administration which puts the needs of urban America on the top of the national agenda—because no plan for economic strength will survive when our cities are left behind.
Today, the Reagan Administration has turned its back on the cities. By sapping our cities strength, this Administration is sapping out country's strength. Only the intervention of the Congress has prevented further and more devastating cuts in city-oriented programs. The Democratic Party believes in making our cities' needs a federal priority once again: We want to see again cities where people have jobs and adequate housing, cities whose bridges and mass transit are being maintained, and whose neighborhoods are safe to live in. And that will take a commitment by our federal government to help our cities again.
Toward that end, the Democratic Party pledges:
—a commitment to full employment. We believe the federal government must develop a major, comprehensive national job skills development policy targeted on the chronically unemployed and underemployed. We must launch special training programs for women who receive public assistance. We need to increase government procurement opportunities for small and minority firms and to encourage deposits of federal funds in minority-owned financial institutions. And to build for the future, the Democratic Patty calls Party calls for a new national commitment to education, which must include raising standards, insisting on excellence, and giving all children a chance to learn, regardless of race, income or sex.
—a commitment to rebuilding the infrastructure of America. We need to inventory facility needs, set priorities and establish policies for the repair, maintenance, and replacement of public works by all levels of government. We need to create a federal capital budget to separate operating and capital outlays. We will consult local governments in decisions affecting the design and performance standards of facilities constructed under federal programs. And we need to create a national reconstruction fund to provide affordable loans to states and localities for infrastructure projects. This will not only rebuild the infrastructure of our cities but provide badly needed employment for people who live there.
—a commitment to housing. We must restore government's positive role in helping all Americans find adequate and affordable housing. We reaffirm our commitment to public housing for the most disadvantaged members of our society. We must strengthen our commitment to the operation and rehabilitation of current government-assisted housing. We must maintain and expand the flow of mortgage capital, and bring interest rates down with sensible economic policies. We must pull together the patchwork of housing programs and cut through the red tape to make it easier for cities to receive the assistance to meet their own unique needs. We must upgrade and replenish housing in minority communities and create more units for poor and low-income people. And we must enforce fair housing standards to prohibit discrimination in the housing market.
Our Party must be a vehicle for realizing the hopes, the aspirations, and the dreams of the people of this country. And that includes the people who live in cities.
This nation's physical infrastructure—our bridges and roads, our ports, our railroads, our sewers, our public transit and water supply systems—is deteriorating faster than we can repair it. The gap between the necessary improvements and available resources grows every year. State and local governments, strapped by Reaganomics, have been forced repeatedly to defer maintenance, and to abandon plans for construction.
As Democrats, we recognize that infrastructure is the basis for efficient commerce and industry. If our older industrial cities are to grow, if our expanding regions are to continue to expand, then we must work with state and local government to target our investment to out most important infrastructure. There is work to be done in rebuilding and maintaining our infrastructure, and there are millions of American men and women in need of work. The federal government must take the lead in putting them back to work, and in doing so, providing the basis for private sector investment and economic growth. We need to inventory facility needs, set priorities, and establish policies for the repair, maintenance and replacement of the public works by all of government. We need a capital budget to separate paying for these long-term investments from regular expenditures. Furthermore, we need a national reconstruction fund to provide affordable loans to state and localities for infrastructure projects.
At the heart of our economy is the financial infrastructure: a set of diverse interdependent institutions and markets which are the envy of the world. We must preserve that strengths. Until very recently, the United States operated with a domestic financial system that was built in response to the stock market crash Of 1929, the massive series of bank failures that accompanied the Great Depression, and the speculative excesses of the stock market. There was an emphasis on placing different types of financial activities in different institutions. Commercial banks were not to float stock market issues. Investment bankers could. Neither took equity positions in individual companies. savings and credit institutions were established to support housing and consumer durable. Soundness of the system, liquidity, investor and depositor protection, neutrality of credit and capital decisions, and a wide variety of financial institutions to serve the varying needs of business and consumers have been the fundamental goals.
Bit by bit, the American financial system began to change. The domestic financial market became closely tied to the international market, which in turn had become larger, more competitive, and more volatile. Inflation, technology, the growth of foreign competition, and institutional innovation all combined to create strong pressures for change. The 1980's brought a deregulation of interest rates and a wave of deregulatory decisions by financial regulators.
These changes raise serious threats to our traditional financial goals. Before leaping into a highly uncertain financial future, the country should take a careful look at the direction deregulation is taking, and what it means to our financial system and the economy.
Telecommunications is the infrastructure of the information age. The last decade has seen an explosion in new technologies expanded competition, and growing dependence on high quality telecommunications.
Nationwide access to those networks is becoming crucial to full participation in a society and economy that are increasingly dependent upon the rapid exchange of information. Electronically-delivered messages, and not the written word, are becoming the dominant form of communication. A citizen without access to telecommunications is in danger of fading into isolation. Therefore, the proper regulation of telecommunications is critical. We must encourage competition while preventing regulatory decisions which substantially increase basic telephone rates and which threaten to throw large numbers of low-income, elderly, or rural people off the telecommunications networks. We must also insure that workers in the telecommunications industry do not find their retirement or other earned benefits jeopardized by the consequences of divestiture.
This electronic marketplace is so fundamental to our future as a democracy (as well as to our economy) that social and cultural principles must be as much a part of communications policy as a commitment to efficiency, innovation, and competition. Those principles are diversity, the availability of a wide choice of information services and sources; access, the ability of all Americans, not just a privileged few, to take advantage of this growing array of information services and sources; and opportunity, a commitment to education and diverse ownership, particularly by minorities and women, that will give every American the ability to take advantage of the computer and the telecommunications revolution. We support the Fairness Doctrine and Equal Time requirements, along with other laws and regulations on the electronic media which encourage or require responsiveness to community needs and a diversity or viewpoints.
Decent, affordable housing has been a goal of national public policy for almost half a century, since the United States Housing Act of 1937. The Democratic Party has remotely reaffirmed the belief that American citizens should be able to find adequate shelter at reasonable cost. And we have been unwavering in our support of the premise that government has a positive role to play in ensuring housing opportunities for less fortunate Americans, including the elderly and the handicapped, not served by the private market.
In the last four years this long-standing commitment to decent shelter has been crippled by the underfunding, insensitivity, high interest rates, and distorted priorities of the Reagan Administration.
The Democratic Party has always accorded housing the high priority it deserves. One essential quality will characterize this commitment in the future It must and will be comprehensive.
By advocating a comprehensive policy which addresses the totality of our housing needs, we do not mean to suggest that all concerns have an equal claim on resources or require the same level of governmental intervention. The bulk of our resources will be concentrated on those most in need, and government must take a leadership role where others cannot or will not participate.
Within a comprehensive framework for policy development and constituency building, we will establish priorities according to principles of compassion and equity. We would like to see a special effort in two areas in the first years of a new Democratic Administration.
First, we must intensify our commitment to the adequate operation, management, and rehabilitation of the current inventory of government-assisted housing. This housing stock is not one, but the only option for the least fortunate among our lower income families and senior citizens. It is the right thing to do and it 'makes economic sense to preserve our own economic investment.
Second, we must maintain and expand the flow of mortgage capital. The America dream of home ownership will fall beyond the reach of this generation and future ones if government fails to help attract new sources of capital for housing.
We will draw on our historic commitment to housing, and the best insights and energies of today's Democratic Party, to address the future housing needs of all the American people. The Democratic Party will develop short-range emergency responses to the problem of homelessness as well as long-range solutions to its causes. The Democratic Party will support upgrading and replenishment of the housing stock in minority communities, with more affordable units available so that poor and low income people can buy units with low interest loans. Also, fair housing standards need to be vigorously enforced by the federal, state and local governments in order to deal with persistent discrimination in the housing market for buyers and renters. Finally, the expansion of public housing and other publicly-assisted housing programs is a necessity due to the growth in the homeless population and in the high cost of commercially available units.
Democrats vigorously support the concept of promoting competition in transportation and the elimination of unnecessary and inefficient regulation of the railroad industry. Democrats also insist on insuring a fair rate for captive shippers. It was the Democratic Party which was primarily responsible for the passage of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which was designed to accomplish these objectives.
The Democratic Party is committed to a policy of administering the transportation laws in a manner which will encourage competition and provide protection for captive shippers.
A comprehensive maritime policy that is tailored to the realities of today's international shipping world and to the economic, political, and military needs of the United States is a necessity. Such a policy should address all facets of out maritime industry—from shipping to shipbuilding and related activities—in an integrated manner.
The private express statutes guarantee the protection and security of the mail for all Americans. They are essential to the maintenance of the national postal system along with retaining rural post offices to assure the delivery of mail to all Americans.
A Framework for Growth
The American economy is a complex mix, incorporating any number of different actors and entities—private businesses, professional societies, charitable institutions, lair unions, regional development councils, and local school boards. The economy is driven by millions of individual decisions on spending and saving, on investing and wages. Government is only one force among many woven into the fabric of American economic life. Just as the wrong overall economic policy can disrupt the best private decisions, the best government economic policies will not put us on a path to long-term growth unless business, labor, and other private institutions meet their responsibilities and rise to the competitive challenge of a new era.
Private Sector Responsibilities
In many cases, the private sector is already playing a major role in laying the basis for future growth and meeting broad community responsibilities. In other cases, however, short-term considerations have been allowed to predominate at the expense of the long-term needs of the national economy.
A recent wave of mergers has been particularly troubling. Any number of large corporations have focuses their energies arranging the next merger or defending against the latest takeover bid.
Many of our major competitors have targeted their efforts on investments in new methods of producing cheaper, high-quality products. To respond to the growing pressure of foreign competition. America's private sector must meet several challenges:
—Investing strategically—the more U.S. companies focus on long-term strategies to improve their competitive positions, the better off the entire economy will be.
—Managing cost and quality—U.S. companies will have to place similar emphasis on controlling costs and quality to effectively meet the best of the foreign competition.
—Competing internationally—U.S. business like other institutions in the country need to pay greater attention to the international market place.
Partnership, Cooperation and Participation
Partnership, cooperation and participation are central to economic growth. We need new cooperative institutions, and a steady redefinition of how labor and management, universities, the private sector, and state and local governments can work together.
—National cooperation—In developing a long-term growth strategy, there are several particularly important functions that today are poorly performed or poorly coordinated by the government: coordination and policy coherence;
developing and disseminating useful economic information; anticipating economic problems; and developing long-term consensus between public and private sectors. To better accomplish these tasks, it is time that a national Economic Cooperation Council was created, Its charter would be simple and basic: (1) to collect, analyze, and disseminate economic data; (2) to create a forum where the gap between business, labor, and government is bridged, where all three develop the trust, understanding, and cooperation necessary to improve productivity; and, (3) to identify national priorities, make recommendations on how best to reach those goals, and help build consensus for action.
—State involvement—Under the guise of increasing the power of state government, the Reagan Administration has actually given the states only the power to decide what programs to cut or eliminate, because of the substantially decreased funding it has made available to the states. Should it be baby clinics, child immunization against disease, day care, maternal health, or youth services? The Democratic Party believes a strong partnership of federal, state and local governments is basic to effective and efficient decision-making, problem-solving, and provision of adequate services. We must also encourage cooperation between states and the private sector. State development agencies are already seeking closer ties to both business and universities. And universities are increasingly looking to the private sector in setting their research agendas.
—Local and community involvement—Citizen involvement in governance should be as great as possible. The responsibility for general governance, the delivery of programs and services, and the resolution of problems should be with the level of government that is closest to the citizenry and that can still discharge those responsibilities effectively and efficiently. These levels of government must assure basic civil liberties and justice for all citizens. They must not be abrogated by any local jurisdiction. The federal government should focus on the importance of local initiatives. For example, vocational education is an area where local schools and local business will increasingly be brought together. Financial stability and adequate authority are essential prerequisites to developing successful public-private partnerships and maximizing citizen involvement in governance.
Government financial and technical assistance programs should give preference to viable worker and/or community—owned or -run businesses, especially as a response to plant shutdowns.
Broadening Labor-Management Cooperation
We support greater employee participation in the workplaces. Employees should have an opportunity to make a greater contribution to workplace productivity and qualify through actual ownership of the company, employee representation on corporate boards, quality work circles, and greater worker participation in management decisions. The government should encourage employee participation and ownership, particularly as an alternative to plant shutdowns. It is destructive of labor-management relations when concessions extracted from labor to preserve jobs are converted after the restoration of profitability, into management bonuses, rather than restoring the concessions that the workers made. Such practices offend our sense of fairness, as does the Reagan Administration-inspired union-busting. Essential to fairness in the workplace is the basic right of workers to organize collectively.
The Democratic Party strongly reaffirms its commitment to federal programs which are designed to enhance and protect the health and safety of all Americans. Under the Reagan Administration, the critical missions of agencies such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have been ignored and subverted.
The Reagan Administration proposed abolishing the CPSC, which has recalled over 300 million dangerous and defective products in its 10 year history. When it failed to accomplish this, the Administration attempted to submerge CPSC in the Department of Commerce. Also failing in this attempt, the Reagan Administration inflicted massive budget and personnel cuts on the Commission. The impact has been far reaching: recalls declined 66%, inspections were cut in half and over half of CPSC's regional offices have been closed. The result has been a paralysis of mission and an America more susceptible to dangerous product.
The record at the NHTSA, the agency mandated to reduce the appalling annual highway deaths of more than 50,000 Americans, is just as shameful. The President has appointed administrators with no safety background and even less commitment to the public health mission of the agency. Critical lifesaving safety standards, such as one requiring automatic crash protection in cars, have been revoked. The enforcement of defect and recall programs, designed to remove dangerous vehicles from our roads, has been cut back. Recalls are at an all-time low and only one safety standard has been proposed in four years.
At OSHA and MSHA, we have witnessed a retreat from agency mandates to provide safe and healthful working conditions for this nation's working men and women. Existing standards have been weakened or revoked and not one single new standard has been implemented. Similarly, at the FDA there has been an important shift away from removing dangerous and ineffective drugs in favor of weakening standards for products. The FTC has run roughshod over the nation's antitrust laws, allowing 9 of the 10 largest mergers in history to occur.
The dangerous trends in all these areas must be immediately reversed to allow these vital health and safety agencies to pursue their missions aggressively, to protect and enhance the health and safety of all Americans.
The Democratic Party's commitment to full equality is as much a part of prodding individual opportunity as it is part of a program of social justice. At the heart of our values as a nation is our belief in independence. Anyone who has brought home a paycheck, bought a car, or paid off a mortgage knows the pride that economic self-sufficiency brings. And anyone who has lost a job, watched one's children go hungry, or been denied a chance at success knows the terrible indignity that comes with dependence.
As Democrats, we share that belief in independence. Our goal is to allow the greatest number of people the greatest opportunity for self-sufficiency.
As a Party, we are committed to preparing people to stand on their own: that is why we insist on adequate nutrition for our children and good education for our young people. We are committed to permitting independence; that's why wee believe discrimination on any basis must come to an end. We believe that independence should be prolonged for as long as possible; to ensure it continues even after retirement, we support Social Security and Medicare. And we believe we must preserve the self-respect of those who are unable to be completely self-sufficient—the very young, the unskilled, the disabled, the very old—and to help them toward as much independence as possible. As much as it is a strategy for long run economic growth, individual empowerment must itself be an operating philosophy. in the welfare system, in education, and in the laws affecting everyone from shareholders to the average voter, the Democratic Party will ask if the individual is being made stronger and more independent.
America in a World Economy
The reality of international competition in the 1980's requires government policies which will assure the competitiveness of American industry and American workers. Democrats will support and encourage innovation and research and development in both the private and public sector. We will seek to strengthen America's small businesses. And we will pursue trade policies and industrial strategies to ensure that out workers and our businesses can compete fully and fairly in the international arena.
Innovation—in process and product technology—is at the heart of our ability to compete in a world economy and produce sustained economic growth at home. And research and development, critical as it is for our growing high technology industries, is no less important for our basic industries. In the past generation, our world leadership in innovation has been increasingly jeopardized. We have not invested enough—or wisely enough—to match our major competitors.
Research and Development—Since the mid-1960's, all the other major industrial nations have increased their expenditures for research and development more rapidly than we have. Over the past decade, manufacturing productivity rose more than four times faster in Japan, more than three times faster in France, and more than twice as fast in both West Germany and the United Kingdom than in the United States. And the number of patents granted to Americans each year has plunged by 40 percent.
The United States should revise its downward trend and increase the percentage of GNP devoted to commercially-related R&D as a long-term spending goal. We must be at the cutting edge, and we will not get there without cooperation between the government and the private sector. As Democrats, our goal is to increase civilian research and development in this country, to expand its commercial application, and to provide more industries with the opportunity to take advantage of it.
At the national level, this means enhanced support for undergraduate and graduate training in science, mathematics, and engineering; increased support to refurbish a modernize university research laboratories; increased support for the National Science Foundation and similar efforts; and a commitment to civilian research and development.
Centers of Excellence—In the past generation, scientists and engineers, together with educators and business leaders throughout the United States, have begun countless new, high technology businesses such as those in Boston, Massachusetts, California's Silicon Valley, North Carolina's Research Triangle, greater Denver, Colorado, and Austin, Texas to establish this country as a leader in the next generation of high technology industries—biotechnology, polymer sciences, robotics, photovoltaics, marine sciences, microelectronics. The Democratic Party will encourage and support centers that provide for cooperation of academic and entrepreneurial excellence, thereby strengthening our scientific and technological resources and creating tomorrow's jobs.
Small and Minority Business
The Democratic Party recognizes that small businesses create many, if not most of the new jobs in our country, and are responsible for much of the innovation. They are thus our greatest hope for the future. Our capacity as a nation to create an environment that encourages and nurtures innovative new businesses will determine our success in providing jobs for our people. In the private sector, spurring innovation means paying special attention to the needs of small, including minority and women-owned, and rapidly growing businesses on the cutting edge of our economy.
This will require incentives for research and development and for employee education and training, including relaxing certain restrictions on pension fund investment; targeted reform that stimulates the flow of capital into new and smaller businesses: a tax code that is no longer biased against small and rapidly growing firms: vigorous enforcement of our antitrust laws, coupled with antitrust policies that permit clearly legitimate joint research and development ventures; expanded small business access to the Export-Import Bank and other agencies involved in export promotion; and targeted reform that provides for the delivery of community-based, community-supported management assistance, and innovative means of making seed capital available for companies in our large cities, as well as our rural communities.
Rules and regulations should not weigh more heavily on new firms or small businesses than they do on the large well-established enterprise, Risk taking is a key to economic growth in a modern industrial society. If anything, rules and regulations should encourage it.
The Small Business Administration must once again be responsive to the needs of entrepreneurs, including minorities and women. In addition, the heads of the Small Business Administration, the Minority Business Development Administration and other government agencies must ensure that the needs of smaller minority businesses are met at the regional and local levels. To further meet the needs of smaller minority businesses, we favor increasing government procurement, opportunities for smaller minority firms, encouraging deposits of federal funds in minority-owned financial institutions, and vigorously implementing all set-aside provisions for minority businesses.
The Democratic Party pledges to bring about these reforms and create a new era of opportunity for the entrepreneurs who have always led the way in our economy.
Meeting the Challenge of Economic Competition
Thirty years ago, half of all goods produced in the world were made in the United States. While we have greatly expanded our output of services, our share of manufactured products is now just one-fifth of the world's total. Once dominant U.S. industries are now hard-pressed. In April, our trade deficit reached a stunning $12.2 billion for one month. At that rate, we would lose two million or more jobs this year alone. We will not allow our workers and our industries to be displaced by either unfair import competition, or irrational fiscal and monetary policies.
Some of these difficulties we have brought on ourselves, with shortsighted strategies, inadequate investment in plant, equipment, and innovation, and fiscal and monetary policies that have impaired our international competitiveness by distorting the value of the dollar against foreign currencies. But other difficulties have been thrust upon us by foreign nations.
The reality of the 1980's is that the international economy is the arena in which we must compete, The world economy is an integrated economy: the challenge for our political leadership is to assure that the new arena is in fact a fair playing field for American businesses and consumers. We are committed to pursuing industrial strategies that effectively and imaginatively blend the genius of the free market with vital government partnership and leadership. As Democrats, we will be guided by the following principles and policies.
—We need a vigorous, open and fair trade policy 'that builds America's competitive strength, and that allows our nation to remain an advanced, diversified economy while promoting full employment and raising living standards in the United States and other countries of the world; opens overseas markets for American products; strengthens the international economic system; assists adjustment to foreign competition; and recognizes the legitimate interests of American workers, farmers and businesses.
—We will pursue international negotiations to open markets and eliminate trade restrictions, recognizing that the growth and stability of the Third World depends on its ability to sell its products in international markets. High technology, agriculture and other industries should be brought under the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs. Moreover, the developing world is a major market for U.S. exports, particularly capital goods. As a result, the U.S. has major stake in international economic institutions that support growth in the developing world.
—We recognize that the growth and development of the Third World is vital both to global stability and to the continuing expansion of world trade. The U.S. presently sells more to the Third World than to the European Community and Japan combined. If we do not buy their goods, they cannot buy ours, not can they service their debt. Consequently, it is important to be responsive to the issues of the North/South dialogue such as volatile commodity prices, inequities in the functioning or the international financial and monetary markets, and removal of barriers to the expert or Third World goods.
—If trade has become big business for the country, exports have become critical to the economic health of a growing list of American industries. In the future, national economic policy will have to be set with an eye to its impact on U.S. exports. The strength of the dollar, the nature of the U.S. tax system, and the adequacy of export finance all play a role in making U.S. exports internationally competitive.
—The United States continues to struggle with trade barriers that affect its areas of international strength. Subsidized export financing on the part of Europe and Japan has also created problems for the United States, as has the use of industrial policies in Europe and Japan. In some cases, foreign governments target areas of America's competitive strength. In other cases, industrial targeting has been used to maintain industries that cannot meet international competition—often diverting exports to the American market and increasing the burden or adjustment for America's import-competing industries. We will ensure that timely and effective financing can be obtained by American businesses through the Export-Import Bank, so that they can compete effectively against subsidized competitors from abroad.
—A healthy U.S. auto industry is essential to a strong trade balance and economy. That industry generates a large number of American jobs and both develops and consumes new technology needed for economic vitality. We believe it is a sound principle of international trade for foreign automakers which enjoy substantial sales in the United States to invest here and create jobs where their markets are. This can promote improved trade relations and a stronger American and world economy. We also believe U.S. auto makers need to maintain high volume small car production in the U.S. With the U.S. auto companies' return to profitability (despite continued unemployment in the auto sector), we urge expanded domestic investment to supply consumers with a full range of competitive vehicle. We support efforts by management and labor to improve auto quality and productivity, and to restrain prices.
—Where foreign competition is fair, American industry should compete without government assistance. Where competition is unfair, we must respond powerfully. We will use trade law and international negotiations to aid U.S. workers, farmers, and businesses injured by unfair trade practices.
—We need industrial strategies to create a cooperative partnership of labor, capital, and management to increase productivity and to make America competitive once more. Our keystone industries must be modernized and rebuilt, through industry-wide agreements. Where necessary, through Presidential leadership, we must negotiate industrial modernization and growth agreements that commit management to new domestic investment, higher levels of employment and worker training, as well as commit labor to ease the introduction of new technologies.
—There must be a broad consensus and commitment among labor, business and financial institutions that industry should and can be assisted, and in a particular way. We believe that all parties to modernization agreements must contribute to their success and that the government must be prepared to use a range of tools—including tax, import, and regulatory relief, and appropriate financing mechanisms—to assist this revitalization. There should be a primary emphasis on private capital in any such agreements.
—The problems of individual industries, rather than industry as a whole, is another area in which an Economic Cooperation Council will be effective. In the case of a particular industry, the Council would select sub-councils to solve specific problems. Key members of the interested businesses and unions, financial institutions, academic specialists and other concerned and knowledgeable parties would meet to hammer out proposed strategies and agreements. It is not a question of picking winners and losers. Nor is it even always a question of some industries being more important than others. Rather, it is an opportunity for government and the private sector to forge a consensus to capture new markets, to restore an industry to competitive health, or to smooth the transition of workers and firms to new opportunities.
—We want industries to modernize so as to restore competitiveness where it is flagging. If temporary trade relief is granted, the quid pro quo for relief will be a realistic, hardheaded modernization plan which will restore competitiveness involving commitments by all affected parties. The public is entitled to receive a fair return on its investment. Where government initiatives are necessary to save an industry like steel, auto or textiles, we must see that those initiatives meet the needs of the whole community—workers as well as executives, taxpayers and consumers as well as stockholders.
—To facilitate the efforts of workers and communities to keep plants open and operating and in cases which closings are unavoidable, to help workers and communities to adapt, we support a requirement that companies give advance notification of plant closings or large-scale layoffs to their employees, surrounding communities and local governments. Where plants are nonetheless closed, we will help workers and communities to adapt.
—Finally, we need a vigorous effort to redress the currency distortions that are undermining our international competitiveness. In addition to reducing our budget deficit, we will press for improved economic coordination with the major industrialized nations; work with Japan and other countries to further liberalize currency and investment regulations; :and negotiate toward agreements that will blunt speculative currency swings and restore stability and predictability to the international monetary system.
Agriculture—America's largest, most fundamental industry—has been plunged into its worst depression since Herbert Hoover presided over the farm economy's collapse half a century ago. During President Reagan's stewardship of our nation's agriculture economy: real prices paid to farmers for their commodities have plummeted by twenty-one percent; real interest rates paid by farmers have increased be as much as 1,200 percent; real farm income has fallen to its lowest level since 1933; debt owed by U.S. farmers and ranchers has swelled to $215 billion; and farm foreclosures and forced sales have tripled.
Ronald Reagan has hung a "for sale" sign on America's independent, family-based system of agricultural production. While these farmers have raised their production efficiency to record highs, Reagan's policies have forced down their prices, income, and financial worth.
The Reagan Administration has been unwilling to take sensible, fiscally responsible action needed to halt this accelerating downward cycle in agriculture. Because of this failure of leadership, nearly 200,000 good farmers and ranchers, including minority farmers, have gone out of business since he took office in 1981. This is a rate of more than 1,000 families pushed off their land every week, the equivalent of all the farms and ranches in California and Iowa, our two largest agricultural states. Hundreds of thousands of the remaining enterprises teeter on the brink of bankruptcy and cannot survive another four years of this Administration's agricultural mismanagement.
This collapse is happening despite the fact that Ronald Reagan has squandered taxpayers' money on his farm policies, spending $31 billion on his programs last year alone. That is six times more than any other
The Democratic Party strongly opposes the Reagan Administration's policy or aggressively promoting and further subsidizing nuclear power. Today, millions of Americans arc concerned about the safety of nuclear power plants and their radioactive waste. We recognize the safety and economic factors which bring into question the viability of this energy source.
We will insist on the highest possible standards of safety and protection of public health with respect to nuclear power, including siting, design, operation, evacuation plans, and waste disposal procedures. We will require nuclear power to compete fairly in the marketplace. We will reexamine and review all federal subsidies to the nuclear industry, including the Price-Anderson Act's limits on the liability of the industry which will be considered for re-authorization in the next Congress. A Democratic Administration will give the Nuclear Regulatory Commission the integrity, competence, and credibility it needs to carry out its mandate to protect the public health and safety. We will expand the role of the public in NRC procedures.
The Democratic Party believes high-level radioactive waste and other hazardous materials should be transported only when absolutely necessary. We will guarantee states full participatory rights in all decisions affecting the movement of high-level radioactive waste within their borders. We will require radioactive waste and hazardous materials emergency response plans along transportation routes, similar to those required for nuclear power plants. The Democratic Party will act swiftly to ensure stales' authority to regulate routes and schedules for radioactive and other hazardous shipments.
We will ensure that no offshore oil and gas exploration will be taken up that is inconsistent with the protection of our fisheries and coastal resources. The leasing of public lands, both onshore and offshore, will be based on present demand and land use planning processes, and will be undertaken in ways that assure fair economic return to the public, protection of the environment and full participation by state and local governments. The Coastal Zone Management Act should be amended to require initial leasing decisions to be consistent with federally approved state and territorial coastal zone management plans. Interior states should be given consultation and concurrence rights with respect to onshore leases comparable to the rights afforded coastal states with respect to offshore leases.
We believe that synthetic fuels research and development support should emphasize environmental protection technologies and standards and hold out reasonable hope of long-term economic viability. The Democratic Party proposes to reevaluate the Synthetic Fuels Corporation.
The high cost of producing and using energy now constitutes a substantial share of U.S. capital spending. Energy conservation has become essential to our economy as well as our national security.
Strict standards of energy efficiency for home appliances, for example, could save enough money in the next 15 years to avoid the need for 40 new power plants. Better insulated houses and apartments can sharply reduce power and heating bills for families throughout America, and help utilities avoid the high cost of building more expensive power plants.
Ronald Reagan sees no role for government in conserving energy, and he has gutted promising conservation efforts. The Democratic Party supports extension of the existing tax credits for business and residential energy conservation and renewable energy use, and expansion of the tax credits to include the incorporation of passive solar designs in new housing. The Democratic Party also supports faithful implementation of existing programs for energy efficiency standards for new appliances: upgrading of fuel efficiency standards for new automobile; establishment of comparable fuel efficiency standards for new light trucks and vans; and development of an energy efficiency rating system to be used to advise home-buyers at the time of sale of the likely future energy costs of houses.
Lifeline Utility Rates
Recognizing that the elderly and the poor suffer most from high energy costs, the Democratic Party supports special, lower electricity and natural gas rates for senior citizens and low-income Americans.
The Democratic Party recognizes that recovering and recycling used materials can conserve energy and natural resources, create additional jobs, reduce the costs of material goods, eliminate solid waste and liter, and avoid pollution. We will increase efforts to recover and recycle useful materials from municipal waste.
Protecting Our Environment
Americans know that industrial production and economic development do not have to mean ruined land or polluted air and water. Sound resource management, careful planning, and strict pollution control enforcement will allow us to have a prosperous economy and a healthy environment. For the last four years the Reagan Administration has assumed a radical position, working to eliminate the environmental protections forged through years of bipartisan cooperation.
Ronald Reagan's first appointees to key environmental positions have already been forced to resign. But the American people are entitled to more than the absence of scandal—they demand real action to protect the health and safety of our families and communities. The Democratic Party supports revitalizing the Environmental Protection Agency by providing it with a budget increase adequate to allow it to carry out its substantially increased responsibility to protect the people and enforce the law.
Thousands of dump sites across America contain highly dangerous poisons that can threaten the health and safety of families who live nearby or who depend on water supplies that could be contaminated by the poisons. Although Congress his established the Superfund for emergency cleanup of these dangerous sites, President Reagan refuses to use it vigorously. The Democratic Party is committed to enforcing existing laws, to dramatically increasing Superfund resources to clean up all sites that threaten public health, and to assuring that everyone whose health or property is damaged has a fair opportunity to force the polluters to pay for the damage. This increased support should be financed at least in part through new taxes on the generation of hazardous wastes, so companies have an economic incentive to reduce the volume and toxicity of their dangerous wastes.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act should be expanded to include major new requirements for safer management of newly generated toxic waste. High priority must be given to establishing and implementing a program to phase out the land disposal of untreated hazardous waste, requiring instead that it be treated by chemical, biological, or thermal processes that render it harmless and safe for disposal. The Environmental Protection Agency also should adopt standards to ensure that the safest possible methods of managing particular wastes are used, and that available methods are used to reduce the volume and toxicity of waste produced by industry.
Clean Air and Water
The Democratic Party supports a reauthorized and strengthened Clean Air Act. Statutory requirements for the control of toxic air pollutants should be strengthened, with the environmental agency required to identify and regulate within three years priority air pollutants known or anticipated to cause cancer and other serious diseases. The Democratic Party calls for an immediate program to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 50% from 1980 levels within the next decade; this program shall include interim reductions within five years of its enactment. In addition, significant progress will be made to further reductions of nitrogen oxide emissions. Our effort should be designed to reduce environmental and economic damage from acid ram while assuring such efforts do not cause regional economic dislocations. Every effort should be made to mitigate any job losses associated with any national acid rain program.
The Democratic Party is committed to strengthening the Clean Water Act to curb both direct and indirect discharge of toxic pollutants into our nation's waters, and supports a strengthened Environmental Protection Agency to assure help to American cities in providing adequate supplies of drinking water free of toxic chemicals and other contaminants.
The Democratic Party believes all Americans in their workplaces and communities, have the right to know what hazardous materials and chemicals they may have been exposed to and how they may protect their health from such exposure. The Democratic Party supports appropriate funding levels for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, reversing the Reagan budget cuts in that agency; vigorous enforcement of occupational safety and health standards; and worker right-to-know requirements.
Pesticides and Herbicides
The Democratic Party is committed to establishing standards and deadlines requiring all pesticides and herbicides to be thoroughly tested to ensure they do not cause cancer, birth defects, or other adverse health effects. We support rigorous research and information programs to develop and assist farmers with the use of integrated pest management and non-chemical pest control methods to reduce the health risk of controlling agricultural pests, and the establishment of strict deadlines to ensure that pesticides are fully tested and in compliance with health and safety standards. The Democratic Party is committed to ensuring that our nation's food supply is free of pesticides whose danger to health has been demonstrate, and believes it is irresponsible to allow the export to other nations of herbicides and pesticides banned for use in the U.S. and will act swiftly to halt such exports.
The Democratic Party opposes the Reagan Administration's budget cuts, which have severely hampered the effectiveness or our environmental programs. The Environmental Protection Agency should receive a budget that exceeds in real dollars the agency's purchasing power when President Reagan took office, since the agency's workload has almost doubled in recent years.
The Democratic Party strongly opposes the Reagan Administration's abandonment of the United States' historic leadership role in international efforts to control pollution, contrary to our interests and those of our allies. We will restore immediately our nation's leadership on international environmental issues, making the United States once again the best example of an industrial nation committed to protecting its land, water and air resources, as well as those of its neighbors.
The Democratic Party will require all federal activities, including those associated with the Departments of Defense and Energy, to comply fully with federal health, safety and environmental laws.
Managing our Public Lands
The Democratic Party believes in retaining ownership and control of our public lands, and in managing those lands according to the principles of multiple use and sustained yield, with appropriate environmental standards and mitigation requirements to protect the public interest. The Democratic Party supports the substantial expansion of the National Wilderness Preservation System, with designations of all types of ecosystems, including coastal areas, deserts, and prairies as well as forest and alpine areas. Congressional decisions to designate wilderness should include evaluations of mineral resources and other potential land values. Further, the Democratic Party believes that publicly owned timber resources should be priced at levels that reflect their true market value, taking into consideration their true costs to the government. Grazing on our public lands should not impair our grassland resources.
The Democratic Party believes the process of designating rivers for inclusion in the national wild and scenic rivers system, halted by the Reagan Administration, should be preserved in their free-flowing condition for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.
The Democratic Party supports adequate funding of and restoration of federal programs to protect fully national parks, wildlife refuges, and wilderness areas from external and internal threats. Development activities within national wildlife refuges which are not compatible with the purposes for which the refuges were designated should not be allowed. The letter and the spirit of the Alaska National Interest Lands Consolation Act of 1980 should be followed, with an end to unsound land exchanges and other efforts to circumvent the law.
A new Democratic Party will provide adequate appropriations for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Wetlands—The Democratic Party supports coherent and coordinated federal policies to protect our nation's valuable and disappearing wetlands, which are critical nurseries for commercial fisheries and vital ecological, scenic, and recreational resources. These policies will include more active efforts to acquire threatened wetland areas, consideration of new tax incentives to encourage private efforts to preserve instead of develop wetland, and elimination of current incentives that encourage wetlands destruction.
Wildlife—Fishing, hunting, and enjoyment of America's wildlife can continue to be an important part of our natural heritage only through active programs to maintain the diversity and abundance of plants, animals, and natural habitats. The Democratic Party supports protection of endangered species, land management to maintain healthy populations of wildlife, and full United States participation to implement international wildlife treaties.
Water Policy—The Democratic Party recognizes that finite and diminishing quantities of water, and often antiquated, inadequate, or inefficient water supply systems, threaten economic growth and the quality of life in all regions of the country. We recognize that federal leadership is necessary to meet these needs, and to do so in environmentally sound ways.
The Democratic Party supports the creation of a national water resources planning board and a comprehensive review of the nation's water needs. We support major new water policy efforts addressing several national needs:
—We will help meet our nation's infrastructure needs, including the construction of new projects which are economically and environmentally sound. New water project starts, by the Corps of Engineers throughout the country and by the Bureau of Reclamation in the West, are critical. In all cases, we will consider innovative and nonstructural alternatives on an equal basis.
—We will examine the water quantity and water quality issues associated with providing adequate water supply.
—We will help meet navigation, flood control, and municipal water supply system needs, with new assistance to urban areas needing financial help to rebuild deteriorating water systems.
—We will give new priority attention to improving efficiency in the use of water, recognizing that more efficient water use is often the least costly and most environmentally acceptable way to meet our water needs and achieve the fullest possible beneficial use of our water resources.
—We will carefully coordinate federal water policy efforts with affected state governments, making possible not only cooperative financing of water investments but a commensurate sharing of decision-making authority and responsibility.
—We will provide assistance to states addressing the growing problems of groundwater depletion and contamination.
Chapter II:Justice, Dignity and Opportunity
Fulfilling America's highest promise, equal justice for all: that is the Democratic agenda for a just future.
For many of our citizens, it is only in the last two decades that the efforts of a broad, bipartisan coalition have begun to give real meaning to the dream of freedom and equality. During that time Democrats, spurred by the Civil Rights Movement, have enacted landmark legislation in areas including voting, education, housing and employment.
A nation is only as strong as its commitment to justice and equality. Today, a corrosive unfairness eats at the underpinnings of our society. Civil rights laws and guarantees—only recently achieved after hard-fought battles, personal sacrifice and loss of life—are imperiled by an Administration that consciously seeks to turn the clock back to an era when second-class citizenship for women and minorities, disenfranchisement, and de jure and de facto segregation were very much the facts of life for well over half of America's population. Moreover, justice encompasses more than our nation's laws. The poor, the female, the minority—many of them just like boats stuck on the bottom—have come to experience an implacable and intractable foe in the Reagan Administration.
A new Democratic Administration will understand that the age-old scourge of discrimination and prejudice against many groups in American society is still rampant and very much a part of the reason for the debilitating circumstances in which disadvantaged peoples are forced to live. Although strides have been made in combatting discrimination and defamation against Americans of various ethic groups, much remains to be done. Therefore, we pledge an end to the Reagan Administration's punitive policy toward women, minorities, and the poor and support the reaffirmation of the principle that the government is still responsible for protecting the civil rights of all citizens. Government has a special responsibility to those whom society has historically prevented from enjoying the benefits of full citizenship for reasons of race, religion, sex, age, national origin and ethnic heritage, sexual orientation, or disability.
The goal for the coming decades is not only full justice under the law, but economic justice as well. In the recent past, we have put our nation on the road toward achieving equal protection of all our citizens' human rights. The challenge now is to continue to press that cause, while joining a new battle—to assure justice and opportunity in the workplace, and in the economy.
Justice for all in today's America and the America of tomorrow demands not one, but two broad guarantees. First, we must guarantee that our nation will reinforce and extend its commitment to human rights and equal opportunity. And second, we must guarantee progress on the new frontier for the future: economic and social justice.
We are determined to enforce the laws guaranteeing equal opportunity, and to complete the civil rights agenda cast aside by the Reagan Administration. No President has the right to do what this Administration has done: to read selectively from the United Sates Code and simply ignore the laws ensuring basic rights and opportunities because they conflict with this Administration's ideology. As Democrats, we pledge to reverse the trend towards lawlessness which has characterized this Administration, and to keep our commitments to all in our community who look to the government for defense of their rights.
But we recognize that while a first step toward a just society is to guarantee the right of all workers to compete equally for a job, the next step is assuring that enough new jobs are created to give meaningful employment to all our workers for the future.
If in past decades we won the right for minorities to ride at the front of the bus, in coming years we must assure that minorities have the opportunity to own the bus company.
It will not be enough to say that our nation must offer equal access to health care—we must put comprehensive health care within the reach of all of our citizens, at a price all can afford.
It will not do simply to guarantee women a place in the work force—women deserve an equal chance at a career leading to the board of directors.
As Democrats, we believe that human rights and an economy of opportunity are two sides of the same coin of justice. No economic program can be considered just unless it advances the opportunity of all to live a better, more dignified life. No American is afforded economic justice when he or she is denied an opportunity to reap the rewards of economic growth.
Economic justice is also economic common sense. Any who doubt that should consider the toll of welfare, crime, prisons, public housing and urban squalor on our national wealth. We will pay a high price for all the disadvantaged or disenfranchised if we fail to include them in the new economic revolution.
As Democrats, therefore, we pledge to pursue a new definition of justice that meets the new demands of our time. Under a Democratic Administration, equality and fairness under the law will be matched by justice in the economy and in the workplace.
The Future If Reagan is Reelected
"Twenty years after the Equal Pay Act should have eradicated the last vestige of economic discrimination against women, employers have made little progress in integrating their work force. It is the Republican governor of Washington State, and the Republican County Executive of Nassau County, New York, who are committing public resources to mount a legal defense for their jurisdictions blatant sex discrimination practices...The Reagan Administration from the outset has made it abundantly clear that civil rights and economic justice are to be sacrificed on the altar of corporate greed..."
Diana Rock, Director of Women's Rights, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (Democratic Platform Committee Hearing, Cleveland, Ohio, May 21, 1984)
"The Reagan Administration, upon taking office in 1981, set upon a concerted effort to roll back civil rights protections. This attack is underway in agency enforcement, court litigation, legislative initiative, and nominations of federal appointees."
Virna M. Canson. Regional Director, West Coast Region, NAACP (Democratic Platform Committee Hearing. Los Angeles, California. May 14, 1984)
The neglect of our historic human rights commitment will already be recorded as the first legacy of Ronald Reagan's years in the White House. But suppose Mr. Reagan is reelected.
What would become of America's commitment to equal justice and opportunity if Mr. Reagan is reelected?
The hard truth is that if Mr. Reagan is reelected our most vigorous defender of the rule of law—the United States Supreme Court—could be lost to the cause of equal justice for another generation. Today, five of the nine members of that Court are over 75. Our next President will likely have the opportunity to shape that Court, not just for his own term—or even for his own lifetime—but for the rest of ours, and for our children's too.
There can be little doubt that a Supreme Court chosen by Ronald Reagan would radically restrict constitutional rights and drastically reinterpret existing laws. Today, the fundamental right of a woman to reproductive freedom rests on the votes of six members of the Supreme Court—five of whom are over 75. That right could easily disappear during a second Reagan term. Already, the protections against employment discrimination have been restricted by the Court: a Reagan Court surely would reduce them further. The same is true for the right of workers to have a healthy and safe workplace, and to organize collectively in unions. Although the statute protecting voting rights has been extended through a massive bipartisan effort, opposed by the Reagan Administration, a Reagan Supreme Court could still effectively nullify it simply by erecting impossible standards of proof. Not long ago, the Court decided it should hire independent counsel to argue that tax exemptions for racially discriminatory schools were unlawful because the Justice Department refused to do so. Can anyone imagine a Reagan Court doing that? How much easier it would be for a Reagan Court simply to agree with a Reagan Department of Justice.
/f, Mr. Reagan is reelected, who would protect women and minorities against discrimination?
In the first year after the Reagan Administration assumed office, the number of cases involving charges of employment discrimination filed in court by the EEOC dropped by more than 70 percent. During this Administration, the EEOC has refused to process a single comparable worth case filed by a woman. Meanwhile, the Reagan Justice Department has sought to destroy effective affirmative action remedies, and even to undermine private plans to reduce discrimination in employment. The actions of the Reagan Administration serve only to delay the day when fairness is achieved and such remedial measures are, therefore, no longer needed.
It is now clear that if Mr. Reagan is reelected, women and minorities seeking protection of their rights would be forced to contend not only with their employers, but with a hostile government. Equal employment opportunity and equity would remain elusive dreams.
If Mr. Reagan is reelected, who would assure access to justice?
Since the day of its inauguration, the Reagan Administration has conducted a continuous, full-scale war against the federal Legal Services Corporation, whose only job is to ensure that the poor are fairly heard in court, and that they get equal access to our system of justice. Thirty percent of the Corporation's lawyers have been laid off, and the Administration exhausted every means it could find to stack its Board with people hostile to the very concept of equal justice for the poor.
In the America of Ronald Reagan, you will only get as much justice as you pay for.
If Mr. Reagan is reelected, who would protect the rights of workers?
The Republican Administration has consistently viewed the dollar costs to businesses of providing a safe workplace as more important than the impact of injury and disease on working men and women. It has appointed officials to the National Labor Relations Board who openly oppose the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively. The Department of Labor has ignored its mandate to enforce fair labor standards and has sought to reverse hard won gains in protections for worker health and safety.
What would happen if Mr. Reagan is reelected? Will the right to bargain collectively be eviscerated through Republican-approved abuses of the bankruptcy laws? Will the National Labor Relations Act be converted into a tool that limits working men and women and empowers only their employers? Who will ensure that our next generation does not suffer the effects of toxic substances in the workplace—substances whose existence is not even revealed to the worker?
If Mr. Reagan is reelected, who would protect the rights of senior citizens?
Speaking at Philadelphia in 1980 during his campaign, Ronald Reagan vowed to a large audience of senior citizens his strong support for Social Security. He assured thousands of senior citizens on that occasion that as President he would see to it that every commitment made by the federal government to the senior citizens was faithfully kept.
Ronald Reagan violated that promise shortly after he became President. In 1981, speaking to a joint session of Congress, President Reagan said, "We will not cut Medicare." In a matter of weeks thereafter Present Reagan asked the Congress of the United States to cut $88 billion in 1981 and the following four years from Social Security programs. He proposed to reduce by a third the number of people protected by the disability insurance program. He proposed to reduce by a third the benefits a senior citizen would receive if he or she retired at 62. He proposed to cut out the burial program for recipients of Social Security.
He proposed to cut millions from programs that Democratic Administrations had provided for the education of the children of the elderly covered by Social Security, slashing the list of beneficiaries of these programs by hundreds of thousands of sons and daughters of men and women covered by Social Security. And he called for the abolition of the $122-a-month minimum benefit program, which would have dropped over three million people from Social Security altogether.
The American people then revolted, and so did the Congress. The Democratic Party put a stop to the decimation of the Social Security program, but not before President Reagan had cut $19 billion from Social Security benefits in 1981 and the ensuing four years. Democrats in Congress forced the restoration of the $122-a-month minimum benefit program to those who were covered before the Reagan cuts, but never succeeded in extending coverage to the additional 7,000 people a month who would have become eligible after the Reagan cuts.
Instead of keeping his word that he would not cut Medicare, Reagan forced Congress every year beginning in 1981 to cut billions from the Medicare program. When Social Security developed financial problems due to massive unemployment in 1982, the Reagan Administration moved to "solve" them by cutting benefits further. Only the Democrats on the Social Security Commission prevented him from doing that.
If Mr. Reagan is reelected, how would we teach our children to respect the law?
We cannot teach our children to respect the law when they see the highest officials of government flaunting it at their will. Lawlessness has been a pattern in this Administration—and it is a pattern that is unlikely to be altered if Reagan and the Republicans stay in the White House.
More than forty top Republican officials have already been implicated in all kinds of wrongdoing. Murky transactions on the fringe of organized crime, accepting gifts from foreign journalists and governments, misusing government funds, lying under oath, stock manipulations, taking interest-free loans from wealthy businessmen who later receive federal jobs—all of these are part of business as usual with Ronald Reagan's appointees.
The Republicans profess to stand for "law and order." But this is the same Administration that voted the bipartisan anti-crime bill in 1982. And when it comes to laws they do not like—whether they concern toxic wastes, pure food and drugs, or worker health and safety—this Administration simply makes believe they do not exist. The same is true overseas: this Administration is just as willing to ignore international law as domestic law. When we finally learned of illegal mining of Nicaragua's harbors, the Reagan Administration hastily attempted, the night before Nicaragua sued us, to withdraw jurisdiction over the question from the World Court. But even this maneuver was carried out in an illegal fashion that the World Court later set aside.
This Republican Administration has been unprecedentedly eager to limit public debate by instituting "security agreements" that censor ex-officials, "revising" the Freedom of Information Act, refusing visas to foreign visitors who might provide another perspective on American policies overseas, and denying our war correspondents their historic position alongside out troops. This comes as no surprise: in the first term, the Reagan Administration had a lot to hide. What would happen in a second?
If Mr. Reagan is reelected, what would happen to our unfinished civil rights agenda?
The answer is clear: an Administration which refuses to enforce the laws that are on the books can hardly be expected to respect—or even recognize—the rights of those who are not already specifically protected by existing law.
Nowhere is this Administration's hostility to equal rights and equal justice more apparent than in its attitude to the Equal Rights Amendment. As soon as the Reagan faction took control of the Republican Party at its convention in 1980, it ended that Party's forty-year commitment to passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. So long as this Administration remains in office, the proponents of unamended ERA have nothing less than an enemy in the White House. And if this is true for the women of America, it is equally true for disadvantaged minorities who must depend on this government's sense of justice to secure their rights and lead independent lives.
Since assuming office, the Reagan Administration has shown more hostility—indeed, more outright and implacable aggression—toward the American ideal of equal justice for all than even its harshest critics would have predicted in 1980. Given its first-term record, even our most pessimistic forecasts for four more Republish years may well fall short of the mark. No one knows the full extent of the damage Reagan could wreak on this country in another term. But we do know one thing: we cannot afford to find out.
The Democratic Alternative:Equal Justice for All
"The Democratic Party is challenged as never before to redirect the present dangerous course of our nation and our world, and to provide meaningful work at adequate pay for all our citizens and justice for all Americans.
"The dream of a nation fully committed to peace, jobs, and justice has fast became a nightmare under this Administration...
"Our choice today is to become just a new party in power in November with new faces and new pledges—or a truly great party with the courage to develop a new vision and a new direction for the sake of our nation and our world."
Coretta Scott King (Democratic Platform Committee Hearing, Washington, DC. June 11. 1984)
"The Equal Rights Amendment is the only guarantee of full equality the women of this nation can trust and count on. We have seen in the past three and one-half years an administration that has gone out of its way to prove that laws, court decisions, executive orders, and regulations are not enough—they can be changed by a new majority, overturned, swept aside, underfunded, or rescinded. Only when the legislative protections against such discrimination are in the bedrock of the Constitution can we at the vagaries of changing political climate or a hostile administration will not wipe out those protections."
Judy Goldsmith. President. National Organization for Women (Democratic Platform Committee Hearing, Washington, DC, June 12, 1984)
Equal justice for all, in a Democratic future, means that every individual must have a fair and equal opportunity to fulfill his or her potential, and to be an independent, working member of our society—and it is the commitment of our Party to secure that opportunity.
We are determined to build an America of self-sufficient, independent people. We will enforce the laws guaranteeing equal opportunity and human rights, and complete the unfinished civil rights agenda. We will keep our commitments to all of the members of our community who rely upon our word to stay, or to become, independent—our senior citizens, those who served in our Armed Forces, the handicapped and disabled, the members of our American family who are trapped in poverty, and all Americans who look to government to protect them from the pain, expense, and dislocation caused by crime. And in fulfilling these and all the duties of government, a Democratic Administration will stand as an example to all of integrity and justice.
Equal Justice Under Law
Many have suffered from historical patterns of discrimination and others, because of their recent immigration in sizeable numbers, are subject to new forms of discrimination. Over the years, the Democratic Party has voiced a commitment to eradicating the injustices. In 1948, the Democratic Platform for the first time contained a plank committing this Party to the cause of civil rights. For almost forty years, we have fought proudly for that cause. In 1964, a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress enacted the landmark legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment and public accommodations. And for nearly two decades, a bipartisan commitment has existed in Congress and in the White House to expand and enforce those laws. Until Ronald Reagan.
This Administration has sought to erode the force and meaning of constitutionally-mandated and court-sanctioned remedies for long-standing patterns of discriminatory conduct. It has attempted to create new standards under each of our nation's civil rights laws by requiring a showing of intent to discriminate, and case-by-case litigation of class-wide violations. Its interpretation of two recent Supreme Court decisions attempts to sound the death knell for equal opportunity and affirmative action.
In one case, the Administration interpreted the Court's decision as requiring that equal opportunity mandates associated with the receipt of all federal the special needs of the disabled. This Administration has closed its eyes to those needs, and in so doing, violated a fundamental trust by seeking to condemn millions of disabled Americans to dependency. We will honor our commitments. We will insist that those who receive federal funds accommodate disabled employees—a requirement this Administration sought to eliminate. We will insist that benefits be available for those who cannot work, and that training is available for those who need help to find work.
The Democratic Party will safeguard the rights of the elderly and disabled to remain free from institutionalization except where medically indicated. The rights of the disabled within institutions should be protected from violations of the integrity of their person. Also, we will promote accessible public transportation, buildings, make voting booths accessible, and strictly enforce laws such as the entire Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Opportunities for Veterans—This country has a proud tradition of honoring and supporting those who have defended us. Millions of Americans in the years after World War II went to college and bought their homes thanks to GI benefits. But for the latest generation of American veterans, needed support and assistance have been missing.
The nation has begun to welcome home with pride its Vietnam veterans, as reflected in the extraordinary Vietnam Veterans Memorial which was built through public contributions. The Democratic Party shares the nation's commitment to Vietnam veterans.
No President since the beginning of the Vietnam War has been so persistently hostile to Vietnam veterans programs as Ronald Reagan. He has sought to dismantle the Readjustment Counseling Centers, opposed employment and Agent Orange benefits, as well as basic due process at the Veterans Administration, including judicial review.
The Vietnam War divided our nation. Many of the rifts remain, but all agree on the respect due Vietnam veterans for their distinguished service during a troubled time. The Democratic Party pledges to reverse Ronald Reagan's Vietnam veteran policies, helping our nation come together as one people. And we believe it is especially important that we end discrimination against women and minority veterans, particularly in health and education programs.
We believe that the government has a special obligation to all of this nation's veterans, and we are committed to fulfilling it—to providing the highest quality health care, improving education and training, providing the assistance they need to live independent and productive lives.
Opportunities for the Poor—For the past four years, this Administration has callously pursued policies which have further impoverished those at the bottom of the economic ladder and pushed millions of Americans, particularly women and children, below the poverty line. Thanks to the Reagan budget cuts, many of the programs upon which the poor rely have been gutted—from education to housing to child nutrition. Far from encouraging independence, the Administration has penalized those seeking to escape poverty through work, by conditioning assistance on nonparticipation in the workplace. The figures tell part of the story:
—Today, 15 percent of all Americans live below the poverty line;
—Over three million more children are in poverty today than there were in 1979;
—Over half of all black children under age three live in poverty;
—More than one-third of all female-headed households are below the poverty line, and for non-white families headed by women with more than one child, the figure is 70 percent.
But the numbers tell only part of the story; numbers do not convey the frustration and suffering of women seeking a future for themselves and their children, with no support from anyone; numbers do not recount the pain of growing numbers of homeless men and women with no place to sleep, or of increasing infant mortality rates among children born to poor mothers. Numbers do not convey the human effects of unemployment on a once stable and strong family.
As Democrats, we call upon the American people to join with us in a renewed commitment to combat the feminization of poverty in our nation so that every American can be a productive, contributing member of our society. In that effort, our goal is to strengthen families and to reverse the existing incentives for their destruction. We therefore oppose laws requiring an unemployed parent to leave the family or drop out of the work force in order to quality for assistance and health care. We recognize the special need to increase the labor force participation of minority males, and we are committed to expanding their opportunities through education and training and to enforcing the laws which guarantee them equal opportunities. The plight of young mothers must be separately addresses as well; they too need education and training and quality child care must be available if they are to participate in such programs. Only through a nation that cares and a government that acts can those Americans trapped in poverty move toward meaningful independence.
The Hungry and the Homeless—In the late 1960's, the nation discovered widespread hunger and malnutrition in America, especially among poor children and the elderly. The country responded with a national effort, of which Americans should be justly proud. By the late 1970's, medical researchers found that hunger had nearly been eliminated.
Since 1980, however, hunger has returned. High unemployment, coupled with deep cutbacks in food assistance and other basic support programs for poor families have led to conditions not seen in this country for years. Studies in hospitals and health departments document increases in numbers of malnourished children. Increasing numbers of homeless wander our cities streets in search of food and shelter. Religious organizations, charities and other agencies report record numbers of persons standing in line for food at soup kitchens and emergency food pantries.
Strong action is needed to address this issue and to end the resurgence of hunger in America. The Democratic Party is committed to reversing regressive Reagan policies and to providing more adequate food aid for poor families, infants, children, elderly and handicapped persons. It is time to resume the national effort, jettisoned in 1980, to ensure that less fortunate Americans do not go without adequate food because they are too poor to secure a decent diet. As Democrats, we call upon the American people to join with us in a renewed commitment to fight hunger and homelessness so that every American can be a productive, contributing member of our society.
Hunger is an international problem as well. In many countries it shortens peace and stability. The United States should take the lead in working with our allies and other countries to help wipe hunger from the face of the earth.
A Democratic President will ensure that the needs of the world's children are given priority in all U.S. foreign assistance programs and that international assistance programs are geared toward increasing self-reliance of local populations and self-sufficiency in food production.
Integrity In Government
As Democrats, we believe that the American people are entitled to a government that is honest, that is open, and that is fully representative of this nation and its people, and we are committed to providing it.
After four years in which the roll of dishonor in the Administration has grown weekly and monthly—from Richard Allen to Rita Lavelle, from Thomas Reed to James Watt—it is time for an end to the embarrassment of Republican cronyism and malfeasance. Our appointments will be ones of which Americans can be proud. Our selection process in staffing the government will be severe. We will not tolerate impropriety in a Democratic Administration.
We must work to end political action committee funding of federal political campaigns. To achieve that, we must enact a system of public financing of federal campaigns. At the same time, our Party should assure that a system of public financing be responsive to the problem of under representation of women and minorities in elective offices.
We Democrats are not afraid to govern in public and to let the .American people know and understand the basis for our decisions. We will reverse current Administration policies that permit the widespread overclassification of documents lacking a relationship to our national security. We will rescind Reagan Administration directives imposing undue burdens on citizens seeking information about their government through the Freedom of Information Act.
We will insist that the government, in its relations with its own employees, set a standard of fairness which is a model for the private sector. We believe, moreover, that an Administration that cannot run its own house fairly cannot sere the American people fairly. We will ensure that government's number one priority is the performance of its mission under the law, and not the implementation of the narrow political agenda of a single Party. Sound management and fair government cannot be administered by a politicized work force. Neither can it be accomplished by a demoralized work force. A Democratic Administration will not devalue the pay, benefits, and retirement rights of federal workers guaranteed under the law. We will work to reverse personnel policies, including the contracting out of work traditionally performed by public employees, that have made it impossible for current federal employees to recommend a career in federal service to our nation's young people.
Our judicial system must be one in which excellence and access are the foundations. It is essential to recruit people of high integrity, outstanding competence, and high quality of judgment to serve in our nation's judiciary. And we oppose efforts to strip the federal courts of their historic jurisdiction to adjudicate cases involving questions of federal law and constitutional right.
No problem has worried Americas more persistently over the past 20 years than the problem of crime. Crime and the fear of crime affect us all, but the impact is greatest on poor Americans who live in our cities. Neither a permissive liberalism nor a static conservatism is the answer to reducing crime. While we must eliminate those elements—like unemployment and poverty—that foster the criminal atmosphere, we must never let them be used as an excuse.
Although the primary responsibility for law enforcement rests at the local level. Democrats believe the federal government can play an important role by encouraging local innovation and the implementation of new crime control methods as their effectiveness is shown. And when crime spills acres state borders, the federal government must take the lead, and assume responsibility for enforcing the law. This Administration has done neither. It has talked "law and order" while cutting law enforcement budgets. It has decried the influence of drugs, while cutting back on customs enforcement.
As a result, drug trafficking and abuse have risen to crisis proportions in the United States. In 1983, an estimated 60 tons of cocaine, 15,000 tons of marijuana, and 10 tons of heroin entered the United States, clear evidence that we are losing the effort overseas to control the production and transshipment of these and other dangerous drugs. Domestically, the illicit trafficking in drugs is a $100 billion per year business; the economic and social costs to our society are far higher.
Today, in our country, there are 25 million regular abusers of marijuana, close to 12 million abusers of cocaine, and half a million heroin addicts. Since 1979, hospital emergency room incidents—including deaths—related to cocaine have soared 300 percent; incidents related to heroin have climbed 80 percent. According to the 1983 National High School Survey on Drug Abuse, 63 percent of high school seniors have tried an illicit drug, and 40 percent have tried a drug other than marijuana. Alcohol abuse is also a serious problem which must be faced.
—For this reason, the Democratic Party believes it is essential to make narcotics control a high priority on the national agenda, and a major consideration in our dealings with producer and transshipment countries, particularly if they are recipients of U.S. assistance.
—At the national level, the effort must begin by introducing a comprehensive management plan to eliminate overlap and friction between the 113 different federal agencies with responsibilities for fighting crime, particularly with respect to the control of drug traffic. We must provide the necessary resources to federal agencies and departments with responsibility for the fight against drugs.
—To spur local law enforcement efforts, establishment of an independent criminal justice corporation should be considered. This corporation could serve as a means of encouraging community-based efforts, such as neighborhood citizen watches, alternative deployment patterns for police, and community service sentencing programs, which have proven effectiveness.
—Violent acts of bigotry, hatred and extremism aimed at women, racial, ethnic and religious minorities, and gay men and lesbians have become an alarmingly common phenomenon. A Democratic Administration will work vigorously to address, document, and end all such violence.
—We believe that victims of crime deserve a workable program of compensation. We call for sentencing reforms that routinely include monetary or other forms of restitution to victims. The Federal government should ensure that victims of violent federal crime receive compensation. We need to establish a federal victim compensation fund, to be financed, in part, by fines and the proceeds from the sale of goods forfeited to the government.
—We support tough restraints on the manufacture, transportation, and sale of snub-nosed handguns, which have no legitimate sporting use and are used in a high proportion of violent crimes.
—We will establish a strong federal-state partnership to push for further progress in the nationwide expansion of comprehensive, community-based anti-drunk driving programs. With the support of citizens, private-sector business and government at all levels; we will institutionalize fatality and injury reduction on the nation's highways.
—We support fundamental reform of the sentencing process so that offenders who commit similar crimes receive similar penalties. Reform should begin with the establishment of appropriately drafted sentencing guidelines, and judges deviating from such guidelines should be required to provide written reasons for doing so.
—Finally, we believe that the credibility of our criminal courts must be restored. Our courts should not be attacked for failing to eliminate the major social problem of crime—courts of justice were not designed, and were never intended, to do that. A Democratic Administration will encourage experimentation with alternative dispute-resolution mechanisms, diversion programs for first and nonviolent offenders, and other devices to eliminate the congestion in our courts and restore to them an atmosphere in which they can perform their intended job: doing real individualized justice, in an orderly way.
Chapter III:Peace, Security, and Freedom
Building a safer future for our nations and the world: that is the Democratic agenda for our national security. Every responsibility before our nation, every task that we set, pales beside the most important challenge we face—providing new leadership that enhances our security, promotes our values, and works for peace.
The next American President will preside over a period of historic change in the international system. The relatively stable world order that has prevailed since World War II is bursting at the seams from the powerful forces of change —the proliferation of nuclear and conventional weapons, the relentless Soviet military buildup, the achievement of rough nuclear parity between the Soviet Union and the United States, the increasingly interdependent nature of the international economic order, the recovery and rise of European and Asian powers since the devastation of the Second World War, and the search for a new America political consensus in the wake of Vietnam and Lebanon and in the shadow of a regional crisis in Central America.
The greatest foreign policy imperative of the Democratic Party and of the next President is to learn from past mistakes and adapt to these changes, rather than to foist or ignore them. While not underestimating the Soviet threat, we can no longer afford simplistically to blame all of our troubles on a single "focus of evil," for the sources of international change run even deeper than the sources of superpower competition. We must see change as an opportunity as well as a challenge. In the 1980's and beyond, America must not only make the world safe for diversity; we must learn to thrive on diversity.
The Domestic Party believes that it is time to harness the full range of America's capacity to meet the challenges of a changing world. We reject the notion that America is beset by forces beyond its control. Our commitment to freedom and democracy, our willingness to listen to contrasting viewpoints, and our ingenuity at devising new ideas and arrangements have given us advantages in an increasingly diverse world that no totalitarian system can match.
The Democratic Party has a constructive and confident vision of America's ability to use all of our economic, political, and military resources to pursue our wide-ranging security and economic interests in a diverse and changing world. We believe in a responsible defense policy that will increase our national security. We believe in a foreign policy that respects our allies, builds democracy, and advances the cause of human rights. We believe that our economic future lies in our ability to rise to the challenge of international economic competition by making our own industries more competitive. Above all, we believe that our security requires the direct, personal involvement of the President of the United States to limit the Soviet military threat and to reduce the danger of nuclear war.
We have no illusions about the forces arrayed against the democratic cause in our time. In the year made famous by George Orwell, we can see the realization of many of his grimmest prophecies in the totalitarian Soviet state, which has amassed an arsenal of weapons far beyond its defensive needs. In the communist and non-communist world, we find tyrannical regimes that trample on human rights and repress their people's cry for economic justice.
The Reagan Administration points to Soviet repression—but has no answer other than to escalate the arms race. It downgrades repression in the noncommunist world, by drawing useless distinctions between "totalitarian" and "authoritarian" regimes.
The Democratic Party understands the challenge posed by the enemies of democracy. Unlike the Reagan Administration, however, we are prepared to work constructively to reduce tensions and make genuine progress toward a safer world.
The Democratic Party is confident that American ideals and American interests reinforce each other in our foreign policy; the promotion of democracy and human rights not only distinguishes us from our adversaries, but it also builds the long-term stability that comes when governments respect their people. We look forward to the 21st Century as a century of democratic solidarity where security, freedom, and peace will flourish.
Peace, freedom and security are the essence of America's dream. They are the future of our children and their children.
This is the test where failure could provide no opportunity to try once more. As President Kennedy once warned: "We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world—or to make it the last."
The Future If Reagan Is Reelected
"Star Wars is not the path towards a less dangerous world. A direct and safe road exists: equitable and verifiable deep cuts in strategic offensive forces. We must abandon the illusion that ever more sophisticated technology can remove the perils that science and technology have created."
Statement by Dr Jerome B. Wiesner, Dr. Carl Sagan, Dr. Henry Kendall, and Admiral Noel Gayler (Democratic Platform Committee Hearing, Washington, D.C., June 12, 1984)
"The minister of the apartheid government recently boasted of the fruitful relationship between Pretoria and Washington since the advent of the Reagan regime. Now apartheid South Africa has acquired the military muscle to bomb, to maim, to kill men, women, and children, and to bully these states into negotiating with apartheid through the threat of increased military action. This may be hailed as a victory for apartheid and for the Reagan Administration, but in truth it can only create anger and contempt in the African people."
Professor Dennis Brutus, Northwestern University (former political prisoner in South Africa) (Democratic Platform Committee Hearing, New York, New York. April 9, 1984)
Suppose Mr. Reagan is reelected. How would he deal with the serious threats that face us and our children?
Under Mr. Reagan, the nuclear arms race would continue to spiral out of control. A new generation of destabilizing missiles will imperil all humanity. We will live in a world where the nuclear arms race has spread from earth into space.
Under Mr. Reason, we would continue to over-emphasize destabilizing and redundant nuclear weapons programs at the expense of our conventional forces. We will spend billions for weapons that do not work. We will continue to ignore proposals to improve defense management, to get a dollar's worth for each dollar spent, and to make our military more combat-effective and our weapons more cost-effective.
Under Mr. Reagan, regional conflicts would continue to be dangerously mismanaged. Young Americans may be sent to fight and die needlessly. The spread of nuclear materials to new nations and the spread of sophisticated conventional weapons to virtually every nation on earth will continue unabated.
Can America afford a President so out of touch with reality that he tells us, "I think the world is safer and further removed from a possible war than it was several years ago"?
Can America afford the recklessness of a President who exposed American Marines to mortal danger and sacrificed over 260 of them in a bungled mission in Lebanon against the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and brought upon us the worst U.S. military disaster since the Vietnam War?
Can America afford the irresponsibility of a President who undermines confidence in our deterrent with misleading allegations of Soviet nuclear "superiority" and whose Administration beguiles the American public with false claims that nuclear war can be survived with enough shovels?
Can America afford the unresponsiveness of a President who thwarts the will of the majority of Americans by waging a secret war against Nicaragua?
In a second Reagan term, will our heavens become a nuclear battleground?
In 1980, candidate Ronald Reagan promised the American people a more secure world. Yet, as President:
—He has raced to deploy new weapons that will be destabilizing and difficult to verify. He has pressed for a multi-billion dollar chemical weapons program. He has launched his trillion dollar "Slat Wars" arms race in space.
—He has relaxed controls on nuclear proliferation, thus enhancing the risk that nuclear weapons will be acquired and used by unstable governments and international terrorists.
—He has become the first President since the Cold War to preside over the complete collapse of air nuclear arms negotiations with the Soviets.
—He has rejected SALT II, threatened the ABM Treaty, and abandoned the goal of a complete ban on nuclear weapons tests that that has been pursued by every President since Eisenhower. He has refused to seek negotiations to limit anti-satellite weapons that could threaten our vital early-warning and military satellites. Over 250 strategic missiles and bombers that would have been eliminated under SALT II are still in Soviet hands.
Con we afford four more years of a Pentagon spending binge?
In 1980, candidate Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party promised the American people a defense spending increase "to be applied judiciously to critically needed programs." Yet as President:
—He has initiated the largest peacetime defense build-up in our history with no coherent plan for integrating the increased programs into an effective military posture.
—He has slighted training and readiness of our conventional forces in favor of big ticket nuclear items, "preparing," in the words of General Maxwell Taylor, "for the least possible threats to the neglect of the most probable."
—He has brought us the worst-managed and most wasteful Defense Department in history. Under the Pentagon's wasteful purchasing system, the American taxpayer has paid $435 for a $17 claw hammer, $1100 for a 22-cent plastic steel cap, over $2000 for a 13-cent plain round nut, and $9600 for a 12-cent Allen wrench.
Can we afford four more years of dangerous foreign policy failures?
In 1980, candidate Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party promised "to put America on a sound, secure footing in the international arena." Yet, as President:
—He has contributed to the decline of U.S.-Soviet relations to a perilous point. Instead of challenges, he has used easy and abusive anti-Soviet rhetoric as a substitute for strength, progress, and careful use of power.
—He has strained vital U.S. alliances through his bungled efforts to stop the Soviet natural gas pipeline, his inflammatory nuclear rhetoric and policies, and his failure to support the efforts of our democratic allies to achieve a negotiated political solution in Central America.
—He has had as many Middle East policies as he has had staff turnovers. First, he offered strategic cooperation to Israel as if it were a gift. Then he took it away to punish Israel as if it were not our ally. Then he pressured Israel to make one-sided concessions to Jordan. Then he demanded that Israel withdraw from Lebanon. Then he pleaded with them to stay. Then he did not accept their offer of medical help for our wounded Marines. He undercut American credibility throughout the Middle East by declaring Lebanon a vital interest of the United States and then withdrawing.
—He has failed to understand the importance for the United States of a solid relationship with the African continent—not only from the perspective of human decency, but also from enlightened concern for our own self-interest. By his lack of sensitivity and foresight, he has ignored the fate of millions of people who need our help in developing their economies and in dealing with the ravages of drought, and he has jeopardized our relations with counties that are important to U.S. security and well-being.
—He has brought us a strategy in Central America and the Caribbean that has failed. Since he took office, the region has become much more unstable; the hemisphere is much more hostile to us; and the poverty is much deeper. Today in El Salvador, after more than a billion dollars in American aid, the guerillas are stronger than they were three years ago, and the people are much poorer. In Nicaragua, our support for the contras and for the covert war has strengthened the totalitarians at the expense of the moderates. In Honduras, an emerging democracy has been transformed into a staging ground for possible regional war. And in Cost Rica our backing for rebels based there is in danger of dragging that peaceful democracy into a military confrontation with Nicaragua. In Grenada, Mr. Reagan renounced diplomacy for over two years, encouraging extremism, instability, and crisis. By his failure to avoid military intervention, he divided us from our European allies and alienated our friends throughout the Western hemisphere. And by excluding the press, he set a chilling precedent, greatly hampering public scrutiny of his policies. After three and one-half years of Mr. Reagan's tunnel vision, extremism is stronger, our democratic friends are weaker, and we are further than ever from achieving peace and security in the region.
—He is the first President to fail to support publicly the ratification of the Genocide Convention. His Vice President has praised the Philippine dictator for his "love of democracy," his first Secretary of State announced that human rights would be replaced as a foreign policy priority, and his first nominee for Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights was rejected by the U.S. Senate as unfit for that post. He has closely identified the United States with the apartheid regime in South Africa, and he has time and again failed to confront dictators around the globe.
This is an unprecedented record of failure. But President Reagan is content to make excuses for failure.
President Reagan blames Congress and the Democratic Party. He rebukes Americans deeply and genuinely concerned about the threat of nuclear war. He rails at the Soviet Union—as if words alone, without strategy or effective policy, will make that nation change its course.
It is time for Democrats and Americans to apply a tough standard to Ronald Reagan. Let us paraphrase the question he asked in 1980: Are we safer today than we were three and a half years ago? Are we further from nuclear war? After more than a thousand days of Mr. Reagan, is the world anywhere less tense, anywhere closer to peace?
Americans throughout this land are answering with a resounding no.
President Reagan himself is responsible—responsible for four years of a failed foreign policy. America elects its President to lead. It does not elect its President to make excuses.
The Democratic Party believes that it is time to harass the full power of America's spirit and capacity to meet the challenges of a changing world.
The Democratic Party has a different and positive vision of America's future. What is at stake may be freedom and survival itself.
The Democratic Alternative:A Safer Future for Our Nation and the World
"I do not see why we think of our nation as so weak and so vulnerable. Let us for heaven's sake have some confidence in America and not tremble, fearing that our society will fall apart at the least rattle of the door. If I were constructing this platform, I would ask that its planks be carved out of self-confidence, and planted in belief in our own system."
Historian Barbara Tuchman (Democratic Platform Committee Hearing. New York, New York, April 9, 1984)
"The Democratic Party requires a foreign policy which approaches the problems that confront us primarily in their national and regional contexts, rather than viewing them, as the Reagan Administration does, almost exclusively as a manifestation of the "evil empire's" efforts to extend its sway over the entire globe. What we need is a foreign policy which promotes the cause of human rights by opposing tyranny on the part of left as well as right wing governments, rather than a foreign policy like the one we have now, which supports virtually every reactionary and repressive regime that professes to be anti-communist."
Honorable Stephen J. Solarz, U.S. Representative. New York (Democratic Platform Committee Hearing. New York, New York, April 9, 1984)
There is no higher goal for the Democratic Party than assuring the national security of the United States. This means a strong national defense, vigorous pursuit of nuclear arms control, and a foreign policy dedicated to salvaging the interests of America and the forces of freedom and democracy in a period of global transformation. This will require new leadership, strong alliances, skillful diplomacy, effective economic cooperation, and a foreign policy sustained by American strength and ideals. And to hold the support of the American people, our leaders must also be careful and measured in the use of force.
The Democratic Party is committed to a strong national defense. Democrats know that a relentless Soviet military build-up—well beyond its defensive needs—directly challenges world security, our democratic values, and our free institutions. On the nature of the Soviet threat and on the essential issue of our nation's security, Americans do not divide. On the common interest in human survival, the American and Soviet peoples do not divide.
Maintaining strong and effective military forces is essential to keeping the peace and safeguarding freedom. Our allies and adversaries must never doubt our military power or our will to defend our vital interests. To that end, we pledge a strong defense built in concert with our allies, based on a coherent strategy, and supported by a sound economy.
In an age of about 50,000 nuclear weapons, however, nuclear arms control and reductions are also essential to our security. The most solemn responsibility of a President is to do all that he or she can to prevent a single nuclear weapon from ever being used. Democrats believe that mutual and verifiable controls on nuclear arms can, and must be, a serious integral part of national defense. True national security requires urgent measures to freeze and reverse the arms race, not the pursuit of the phantom of nuclear superiority or futile Star Wars schemes.
The Democratic Party believes that the purpose of nuclear weapons is to deter war, not to fight it. Democrats believe that America has the strength and tenacity to negotiate nuclear arms agreements that will reduce the risk of nuclear war and preserve our military security.
Today we stand at one of the most critical junctures in the arms race since the explosion of the first atomic bomb. Mr. Reagan wants to open the heavens for warfare.
His Star Wars proposal would create a vulnerable and provocative "shield" that would lull our nation into a false sense of security. It would lead our allies to believe that we are retreating from their defense. It would lead to the death of the ABM Treaty—the most successful arms control treaty in history—and this trillion-dollar program would provoke a dangerous offensive and defensive arms race.
If we and our allies could defend our populations effectively against a nuclear war, the Democratic Party would be the first to endorse such a scheme. Unfortunately, our best scientists agree that an effective population defense is probably impossible. Therefore, we must oppose an arms race where the sky is no longer the limit.
Arms Control and Disarmament
Ronald Reagan is the first American President in over twenty years who has not reached any significant arms control agreements with the Soviet Union, and he is the first in over fifty years who has not met face to face with Soviet leaders. The unjustified Soviet walkout from key nuclear talks does not excuse the arms control failures of the Administration.
To reopen the dialogue, a Democratic President will propose an early summit with regular annual summits to follow with the Soviet leaders, and meetings between senior civilian and military officials, in order to reduce tensions and explore possible formal agreements. In a Democratic Administration, the superpowers will not communicate through megaphones.
A new Democratic Administration will implement a strategy for peace which makes arms control an integral part of our national security policy. We must move the world back from the brink of nuclear holocaust and set a new direction toward an enduring peace, in which lower levels of military spending will be possible. Our ultimate aim must be to abolish all nuclear weapons in a world safe for peace and freedom.
This strategy calls for immediate steps to stop the nuclear arms race, medium-term measures to reduce the dangers of war, and long-term goals to put the world on a new and peaceful course.
The first practical step is to take the initiative, on January 20, 1985, to challenge the Soviets to halt the arms race, quickly. As President Kennedy successfully did in stopping nuclear explosions above ground in 1963, a Democratic President will initiate temporary, verifiable, and mutual moratoria, to be maintained for a fixed period during negotiations so long as the Soviets do the same, on the testing of underground nuclear weapons and anti-satellite weapons; on the testing and deployment of all weapons in space; on the testing and deployment of new strategic ballistic missiles now under development; and on the deployment of nuclear-armed, sea-launched cruise missiles.
These steps should lead promptly to the negotiation of a comprehensive, mutual and verifiable freeze on the testing, production, and deployment of all nuclear weapons.
Building on this initiative, the Democratic President will:
—update and resubmit the SALT II Treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent.
—pursue deep, stabilizing reductions in nuclear arsenals within the framework of SALT II, in the meantime observing the SALT II limits ourselves and insisting that the Soviets do likewise.
—propose the merging of the intermediate-range and strategic arms limitations negotiations, if the President judges that this could advance a comprehensive arms limitation agreement with the Soviet Union.
—immediately resubmit to the Senate for its advice and consent the 1974 Threshold Test Ban Treaty and the 1976 Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty.
—conclude a verifiable and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
—reaffirm our commitment to the ABM Treaty, ensure U.S. compliance, and vigorously demand answers to questions about Soviet compliance through the Standing Consultative Commission and other appropriate channels.
—actively pursue a verifiable, anti-satellite weapons treaty and ban on weapons in space.
—seek a verifiable international ban on the production of nuclear weapons-grade fissile material, such as plutonium and highly enriched uranium.
—undertake all-out efforts to halt nuclear proliferation.
—terminate production of the MX missile and the B-1 bomber.
—prohibit the production of nerve gas and work for a verifiable treaty banning chemical weapons.
—establish U.S. nuclear risk reduction centers and other improved communications for a crisis.
—invite the most eminent members of the scientific community to study and report on the worldwide human suffering and the long-term environmental damage which would follow in the days after a nuclear war, and take into account as fully as possible the results of such study in the formulation of our nuclear weapons and arms control policies.
—strengthen broad-based, long-term public support for arms control by working closely with leaders of grass-roots, civic, women's, labor, business, religious and professional groups, including physicians, scientists, lawyers, and educators.
—provide national leadership for economic adjustment for affected communities and industries, and retraining for any defense workers affected by the termination or cutbacks in weapons programs.
—initiate, in close consultation with our NATO allies, a strategy for peace in Europe including:
—achieving a balance of conventional forces in order to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons and to permit the Atlantic Alliance to move toward the adoption of a "no first use" policy;
—mutually pulling back battlefield nuclear weapons from the front lines of Europe, in order to avoid the necessity of having to make a "use them or lose them" choice should hostilities erupt in Europe;
—negotiating new approaches to intermediate nuclear force limits along the lines of the "walk in the woods" proposal, and then seeking to move closer to zero INF deployments by the U.S. and U.S.S.R.;
—negotiating significant mutual and balanced reductions in conventional forces of both NATO and the Warsaw Pact, and confidence-building measures to reduce the dangers of a surprise attack.
We are under no illusion that these arms control proposals will be easy to achieve. Most will involve patience and dedication, and above all leadership in the pursuit of peace, freedom, and security. The Soviets are tough negotiators and too often seek to use arms control talks for propaganda purposes. On this issue—preventing nuclear war—America must lead, and the Democratic Party intends to lead. Without our leadership the nations of the world will be tempted to abandon themselves, perhaps slowly at first, but then relentlessly to the quest for nuclear weapons, and our children will look back with envy upon today's already dangerous nuclear world as a time of relative safety.
The Reagan Administration measures military might by dollars spent. The Democratic Party seeks prudent defense based on sound planning and a realistic assessment of threats. In the field of defense policy, the Democratic Administration will:
—Work with our NATO and other allies to ensure our collective security, especially by strengthening our conventional defenses so as to reduce our need to rely on nuclear weapons, and to achieve this at increased spending levels, with funding to continue at levels appropriate to our collective security, with the firm hope that successful steps to reduce tensions and to obtain comprehensive and verifiable arms control agreements will guarantee our nation both military security and budgetary relief.
—Cancel destabilizing or duplicative weapons systems, while proceeding in the absence of appropriate arms control agreements with necessary modernization of our strategic forces.
—Scale back the construction of large, expensive and vulnerable nuclear carriers.
—Modernize our conventional forces by balancing new equipment purchases with adequate resources spent on training, fuel, ammunition, maintenance, spare parts, and airlift and sea-lift to assure combat readiness and mobility, and by providing better equipment for our Reserves and National Guard.
—Reorganize Pentagon management and strengthen the JCS system to reduce inter-service rivalries, promote military leadership over bureaucratic skills, assure effective execution of policies and decisions, undertake better multi-year planning based upon realistic projections of available resources, and reduce conflicts of interest.
—Ensure open and fair competitive bidding for procurement of necessary equipment and parts, and establish a system of effective, independent testing of weapons for combat conditions.
—Implement a program of military reform. Our forces must be combat ready; our doctrines should emphasize out-thinking and outmaneuvering our adversaries; and our policies should improve military organization and unit cohesion.
—Press our European allies to increase their contributions to NATO defense to levels of effort comparable to our own—an approach that the Administration undercut by abandoning the NATO-wide agreement concluded by its Democratic predecessor—and pursue improved trans-Atlantic economic cooperation and coordination of arms procurement.
—Recognize that the heart of our military strength is people, Americans in uniform who will have the skills and the will to maintain the peace. The men and women of our armed services deserve not only proper pay and benefits, but the nation's recognition, respect and gratitude as well.
—Recognize the importance of the intelligence community and emphasize its mission as being dedicated to the timely collection and analysis of information and data. A Democratic Administration will also recognize the urgent need to de-politicize the intelligence community and to restore professional leadership to it.
—Oppose a peacetime military draft or draft registration.
—Oppose efforts to restrict the opportunities of women in the military based solely on gender. The Reagan Administration has used the combat designation as an arbitrary and inappropriate way to exclude women from work they can legitimately perform. Women nurses and technicians, for example, have long served with distinction on the front lines: women must not be excluded from jobs that they are trained and able to perform.
—Seek ways to expand programs such as VISTA, the Young Adult Conservation Corps, and the Peace Corps.
These and other qualitative improvements will ensure effective American strength at affordable cost. With this strength we will restore the confidence of our fellow citizens and our allies; we will be able to mount an effective conventional defense; and we will present our adversaries with a credible capability to deter war.
The Democratic Party is committed to reversing the policies of the Reagan Administration in the area of military and defense procurement. Public accounts reveal a four-year record of waste, fraud, conflicts of interest, and indications of wrongdoing. Administration officials have engaged in practices that have cost the taxpayers billions of dollars. Further, the Reagan Administration has ignored legal remedies to stop the abuses, recover the funds, and punish those responsible.
A Democratic President will demand full disclosure of all information, launch a thorough investigation, and seek recovery of any tax funds illegally spent. This will be a major step towards restoring integrity to defense procurements and reducing unnecessary expenditures in the defense budget.
The purpose of foreign policy is to attain a strong and secure United States and a world of peace, freedom and justice. On a planet threatened by dictatorships on the left and right, what is at stake may be freedom itself. On a planet shadowed by the threat of a nuclear holocaust, what is at stake may be nothing less than human survival.
A Democratic Administration will comprehend that the gravest political and security dangers in the developing world flow from conditions that open opportunities for the Soviet Union and its surrogates: poverty, repression and despair. Against adversaries such as these, military force is of limited value. Such weapons as economic assistance, economic and political reform, and support for democratic values by, among other steps, funding scholarships to study at U.S. colleges and universities, must be the leading elements of our presence and the primary instruments of American influence in the developing countries.
To this end, a Democratic President will strengthen our Foreign Service, end the present practice of appointing unqualified persons as Ambassadors, strengthen our programs of educational and cultural exchange, and draw upon the best minds in our country in the quest for peace.
A Democratic Administration will initiate and establish a Peace Academy. In the interests of balancing this nation's investment in the study of making war, the Peace Academy will study the disciplines and train experts in the arts of waging peace.
The Democratic Party is committed to ensuring strong representation of women and minorities in military and foreign policy decision-making positions in our government.
In addition, a Democratic President will understand that as Commander-in-Chief, he or she directs the forces of peace as well as those of war, and will restore an emphasis on skilled, sensitive, bilateral and multilateral diplomacy as a means to avert and resolve international conflict.
A Democratic President will recognize that the United States, with broad economic, political and security interests in the world, had an unparalleled stake in the rule of international law. Under a Democratic Administration, there will be no call for clumsy attempts to escape the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, such as those put forth by the Reagan Administration in connection with its mining of the harbors of Nicaragua.
A Democratic President will reverse the automatic militarization of foreign policy and look to the causes of conflict to find out whether they are internal or external, whether they are political or primarily social and economic.
In the face of the Reagan Administration's cavalier approach to the use of military force around the world, the Democratic Party affirms its commitment too the selective, judicious use of American military power in consonance with Constitutional principles and reinforced by the War Powers Act.
A Democratic President will be prepared to apply military force when vital American interests are threatened, particularly in the event of an attack upon the United States or its immediate allies. But he or she will not hazard American lives or engage in unilateral military involvement:
* Where our objectives are not clear;
* Until all instruments of diplomacy and nonmilitary leverage, as appropriate, have been exhausted;
* Where our objectives threaten unacceptable costs or unreasonable levels of military force;
* Where the local forces supported are not working to resolve the causes of conflict;
* Where multilateral or allied options for the resolution of conflict are available.
Further, a Democratic Administration will take all reasonable domestic action to minimize U.S. vulnerability to international instability, such as reducing Western reliance on Persian Gulf oil and other strategic resources. To this end, a Democratic Administration will implement, with our allies, a multilateral strategy for reduction of allied dependence on critical resources from volatile regions of the world.
U.S. covert operations under a Democratic President will be strictly limited to cases where secrecy is essential to the success of an operation and where there is an unmistakable foreign policy rationale. Secrecy will not be used simply to hide from the American people policies they might be expected to oppose.
Finally, a Democratic President will recognize our democratic process as a source of strength and stability, rather than an unwelcome restraint on the control of foreign policy. He or she will respect the War Powers Resolution as a reflection of wise judgment that the sustained commitment of America's fighting forces must be made with the understanding and support of Congress and the American people. A Democratic President will understand that United States leadership among nations requires a proper respect for law and treaty obligations, and the rights of men and women everywhere.
Europe and the Atlantic Alliance—American leadership is not about standing up to our friends. It is about standing up with them, and for them, In order to have allies, we must act like one.
Maintaining a strong alliance is critically important. We remain absolutely committed to the defense of Europe, and we will work to ensure that our allies carry their fair share of the burden of the common defense. A Democratic Administration in turn will commit itself to increased consultation on security affair. We must work to sustain and enhance Western unity.
We must persuade the next generation of Europeans that America will use its power responsibly in partnership with them. We Democrats affirm that Western security is indivisible. We have a vital interest in the security of our allies in Europe. And it must always remain clear that an attack upon them is the same as an attack upon us—by treaty and in reality.
A strong Western alliance requires frank discussions among friends about the issues that from time to time divide us. For example, we must enter into meaningful negotiations with the European Community to reduce their agricultural export subsidies which unfairly impair the competitiveness of American agricultural products in third-country markets.
A Democratic President will encourage our European friends to resolve their longs-standing differences over Ireland and Cyprus.
The Democratic Party supports an active role by the United States in safeguarding human rights in Northern Ireland and achieving an enduring peaceful settlement of that conflict. We oppose the use of plastic bullets in Northern Ireland, and we urge all sides to reject the use of violence. The Democratic Party supports a ban on all commercial transactions by the U.S. government with firms in England and Ireland that practice, on an on-going basis, discrimination in Northern Ireland on the basis of race, religion, or sex. We affirm our strong commitment to Irish unity—achieved by consent and based on reconciliation of all the people of Ireland. The Democratic Party is greatly encouraged by the historic and hopeful Report of the New Ireland Forum which holds the promise of a real breakthrough. A Democratic President will promptly appoint a special envoy and urge the British as well as the political leaders in Northern Ireland to review the findings and proposals of the Forum with open hearts and open minds, and will appeal to them to join a new initiative for peace. The Congress and a Democratic President will stand ready to assist this process, and will help promote jobs and investments on a non-discriminatory basis, that will represent a significant contribution to the cause of peace in Ireland.
In strong contrast to President Reagan's failure to apply effective diplomacy in Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean, a Democratic President will act with urgency and determination to make a balanced policy in the area and a peaceful resolution of the Cyprus dispute a key foreign policy priority. A Democratic President will utilize all available U.S. foreign policy instruments and will play an active, instead of a passive, role in the efforts to secure implementation of U.N. Resolutions so as to achieve removal of Turkish troops, the return of refugees, reestablishment of the integrity of the Republic of Cyprus, and respect for all citizens' human rights on Cyprus.
United States—Soviet Relations—U.S. relations with the Soviet Union are a critical element of our security policy. All Americans recognize the threat to world peace posed by the Soviet Union. The U.S.S.R. is the only adversary with the capability of destroying the United States. Moreover, Americans are more generally concerned about the Soviet leadership's dangerous behavior internationally and the totalitarian nature of their regime. The Brezhnev Doctrine proclaims Soviet willingness to maintain communist regimes against the opposition of their own people. Thus, Soviet troops have invaded and today continue to wage war on the proud people of Afghanistan. In Poland, a military government, acting under Soviet pressure, has sought to crush the indomitable spirit of the Polish people and to destroy Solidarity, a free trade Union movement of ten million members and the first such movement in a communist country. In recent years, the Soviet Union and its allies have played a more aggressive role in countries around the world. At the same time, the Soviet military arsenal, nuclear and conventional, far exceeds that needed for its defense.
Yet we also recognize that the Soviets share a mutual interest in survival. They, too, have no defense against a nuclear war. Our security and their security can only be strengthened by negotiation and cooperation.
To shape a policy that is both firm and wise, we must first stand confident and never fear the outcome of any competition between our systems. We must see the Soviet Union as it is—neither minimizing the threats that Soviet power and policies pose to U.S. interests, nor exaggerating the strength of a Soviet regime beset by economic stagnation and saddled with a bankrupt and sterile ideology. We must join with our allies and friends to maintain an effective deterrent to Soviet power. We must pursue a clear, consistent and firm policy of peaceful competition toward the Soviet Union, a steady and pragmatic approach that neither tolerates Soviet aggression and repression nor fuels Soviet paranoia.
The job of an American President is both to check Soviet challenges to our vital interests, and to meet them on the common ground of survival. The risk of nuclear war cannot be eliminated overnight. But every day it can be either increased or decreased. And one of the surest ways to increase it is to cut off communications.
The Democratic Party condemns continued Soviet persecution of dissidents and refuseniks, which may well have brought Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov and his wife to the verge of death in internal exile in Gorki. We will not be silent when Soviet actions, such as the imprisonment of Anatoly Shcharansky and Ida Nudel and thousands of others, demonstrate the fundamentally repressive and anti-Semitic nature of the Soviet regime. A Democratic Administration will give priority to securing the freedom to emigrate for these brave men and women of conscience including Jews and other minorities, and to assuring their fair treatment while awaiting permission to leave. These freedoms are guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and by the Helsinki Final Act which the Soviets have signed and with whose provisions they must be required to comply. Jewish emigration, which reached the level of fifty thousand per year during the last Democratic Administration and which has virtually ended under its Republican successor, must be renewed through firm, effective diplomacy. We also recognize that Jewish emigration reached its height at the same time there was an American Administration dedicated to pursuing arms control, expanding mutually beneficial trade, and reducing tensions with the Soviet Union—fully consistent with interests of the United States and its allies. It is no contradiction to say that while pursuing an end to the arms race and reducing East-West tensions, we can also advance the cause of Soviet Jewish emigration.
Eastern Europe—We must respond to the aspirations and hopes of peoples of Eastern Europe and encourage, wherever possible, the forces of change and pluralism that will increase these people's freedom from Soviet tyranny and communist dictatorship. We should encourage Eastern European countries to pursue independent foreign policies and to permit greater liberalization in domestic affairs, and we should seek independent relationships to further these objectives with them.
The Democratic Party condemns the Soviet repression by proxy in Poland and the other countries of Eastern Europe. The emergence of the free trade union Solidarity is one of the most formidable developments in post-war Europe and inspires all who love freedom. The struggle of the Polish people for a democratic society and religious freedom is eloquent testimony to their national spirit and bravery that even a brutal martial law regime cannot stamp out.
Today the Jaruzelski regime claims to have ended the harshest repressive measures. Yet it continues to hold political prisoners, it continues to mistreat them, and it continues to hunt down members of Solidarity.
The Democratic Party agrees with Lech Walesa that the underground Solidarity movement must not be deprived of union freedoms. We call for the release of all political prisoners in Poland and an end to their harassment. The recognition of the Free trade union Solidarity, and the resumption of progress toward liberty and human rights in that nation. A Democratic President will continue to press for effective international sanctions against the Polish regime until it makes satisfactory progress toward these objectives.
The Middle East—The Democratic Party believes that the security Israel and the pursuit of peace in the Middle East are fundamental priorities for American foreign policy. Israel remains more than a trusted friend, a steady ally, and a sister democracy. Israel is strategically important to the United States, and we must enter into meaningful strategic cooperation.
The Democratic Party opposes this Administration's sales of highly advanced weaponry to avowed enemies of Israel, such as AWACS aircraft and Stinger missiles to Saudi Arabia. While helping to meet the legitimate defensive needs of states aligned with our nation, we must ensure Israel's military edge over any combination of Middle East confrontation states. The Democratic Party opposes any consideration of negotiations with the PLO, unless the PLO abandons terrorism, recognizes the state of Israel, and adheres to U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338.
Jerusalem should remain forever undivided with free access to the holy places for people of all faiths. As stated in the 1976 and 1980 platforms, the Democratic Party recognizes and supports the established status of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. As a symbol of this stand, the U.S. Embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The Democratic Party condemns this Administration's failure to maintain a high-level Special Negotiator for the Middle East, and believes that the Camp David peace process must be taken up again with urgency. No nation in the Middle East can afford to wait until a new war brings even worse destruction. Once again we applaud and support the example of both Israel and Egypt in taking bold steps for peace. We believe that the United States should press for negotiations among Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. We re-emphasize the fundamental principle that the prerequisite for a lasting peace in the Middle East remains an Israel with secure and defensible borders, strong beyond a shadow of a doubt; that the basis for peace is the unequivocal recognition of Israel's right to exist by all other states; and that there should be a resolution of the Palestinian issue.
The United States and our allies have vital interests in the Persian Gulf. We must be prepared to work with our allies in defense of those interests. We should stand by our historic support for the principle of freedom of the high seas. At the same time, we and our allies should employ active diplomacy to encourage the earliest possible end to Iran/Iraq conflict.
The Western Hemisphere—The Western Hemisphere is in trouble. Central America is region at war. Latin America is experiencing the most serious economic crisis in 50 years. The Inter-American system is on the verge of collapse. Concern about U.S. policies has risen sharply.
It is time to make this Hemisphere a top priority. We need to develop relations based on mutual respect and mutual benefit. Beyond essential security concerns, these relations must emphasize diplomacy, development and respect for human rights. Above all, support for democracy must be pursued. The Reagan Administration is committing the old error of supporting authoritarian military regimes against the wishes of the people they rule, but the United States was not founded, and defended for 200 years with American blood, in order to perpetuate tyranny among our neighbors.
The Hemisphere's nations must strive jointly to find acceptable solutions with judgments and actions based on equally-applied criteria. We must condemn violations of human rights, aggression and deprivation of basic freedoms wherever they occur. The United States must recognize that the economic and debt crisis of Latin America also directly affects us.
The Reagan Administration has badly misread and mishandled the conflict in Central America. The President has chosen to dwell on the strategic importance of Central America and to cast the struggle in almost exclusively East-West terms. The strategic importance of Central America is not in doubt, nor is the fact that the Soviet Union, Cuba and Nicaragua have all encouraged instability and supported revolution in the region. What the President ignores, however, are the indigenous causes of unrest. Historically, Central America had been burdened by widespread hunger and disease. And the historic pattern of concentrated wealth has done little to produce stable democratic societies.
Sadly, Mr. Reagan has opted for the all too frequent American response to the unrest that has characterized Central America-military assistance. Over the past 100 years, Panama. Nicaragua, and Honduras have all been occupied by U.S. forces in an effort to suppress indigenous revolutionary movements. In 1954, CIA-backed forces successfully toppled the Government of Guatemala.
President Reagan's massive transfusions of military aid to El Salvador are no substitute for the social and economic reforms that are necessary to undermine the appeal the guerillas hold for many Salvadorans. The changes and upheavals in El Salvador and Nicaragua are home-grown, but they are exacerbated by forces from outside of Central America. The undoubted communist influence on these revolutions cannot be nullified by the dispatch of naval and air armadas to the waters off Nicaragua and thousands of troops to the jungles of Honduras. The solution lies with a new policy that fosters social, economic and political reforms that are compatible with our legitimate vital interests while accommodating the equally legitimate forces of change.
America must find a different approach. All too often, the United States thinks in terms of what it can do for the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean region. Rarely does it think in terms of what it can do with them. Even with the best of intentions, the difference is more than rhetorical, for paternalism can never be disguised and it is always resented—whether we choose to label it a "special relationship" or to call it a "defensive shield." Acting for the nations of the Hemisphere rather than acting in concert with them is the surest way of repeating the mistakes of the past and casting dark shadow over the future.
It need not be. There is an alternative, a good alternative. The great Mexican patriot Benito Juarez pointed the way and said it best: "Between men as between nations, respect for the rights of others is peace." Working with our hemispheric neighbors produces understanding and cooperation. Doing something for them produces resentment and conflict.
Democrats know there is a real difference between the two and a Democratic President will seek the advice and counsel of the authentic democratic voices within the region—voices that may be heard north and south, east and west; the voices of President Miguel de la Madrid of Mexico, President Balisario Betancur of Colombia, and President Raul Alfonsin of Argentina; the voices of President Jorge Blanco of the Dominican Republic, Prime Minister Tom Adams of Barbados, and President Alberto Monge of Costa Rica. By consulting with and listening carefully to these leaders and to their democratic colleagues elsewhere in the region, the next Democratic President of the United States will fashion a policy toward the region which recognizes that:
—the security and well-being of the Hemisphere are more a function of economic growth and development than of military agreements and arms transfers;
—the mounting debt crisis throughout the region poses a broader threat to democratic institutions and political stability than does any insurgency or armed revolutionary movement;
—there is an urgent and genuine need for far-reaching economic, social and political reforms in much of the region and that such reforms are absolutely essential to the protection of basic human rights;
—the future belongs as much to the people of the region—the politically forgotten and the economically deprived—as it does to the rich and powerful elite;
—preservation and protection of U.S. interests in the Hemisphere requires mutual respect for national sovereignty and demilitarization of the region, prior consultation in accordance with the Rio Treaty and the OAS Charter regarding the application of the Monroe Doctrine, the use of military force, and a multilateral commitment to oppose the establishment of Soviet and Cuba military bases, strategic facilities, or combat presence in Central America or elsewhere in Latin America;
—efforts to isolate Cuba only serve to make it more dependent on the Soviet Union: U.S. diplomatic skills must be employed to reduce that level of dependence and to explore the differences that divide us with a view to stabilizing our relations with Cuba. At the same time we must continue to oppose firmly Cuban intervention in the internal affairs of other nations. Progress in our relationship will depend on Cuba's willingness to end its support for violent revolution, to recognize the sovereignty and independence of other nations by respecting the principle of non-intervention, to demonstrate respect for human rights both inside and outside of Cuba, and to abide by international norms of behavior.
Mindful of these realities and determined to stop widening, militarizing, and Americanizing the conflict, a Democratic President's immediate objective will be to stop the violence and pursue a negotiated political solution in concert with our democratic allies in the Contadora group. He or she will approach Central American policy in the following terms:
—First, there must be unequivocal support for the Contadora process and for the efforts by those countries to achieve political solutions to the conflicts that plague the Central American region.
—Second, there must be a commitment on the part of the United States to reduce tensions in the region. We must terminate our support for the contras and other paramilitary groups fighting in Nicaragua. We must halt those U.S. military exercises in the region which are being conducted for no other real purpose than to intimidate or provoke the Nicaraguan government or which may be used as a pretext for deeper U.S. military involvement in the area. And, we must evidence our firm willingness to work for a demilitarized Central America, including the mutual withdrawal of all foreign forces and military advisors from the region. A Democratic President will seek a multilateral framework to protect the security and independence of the region which will include regional agreements to bar new military bases, to restrict the numbers and sophistication of weapons being introduced into Central America, and to permit international inspection of borders. This diplomatic effort can succeed, however, only if all countries in Central America, including Nicaragua, will agree to respect the sovereignty and integrity of their neighbors, to limit their military forces, to reject foreign military bases (other than those provided for in the Panama Canal Treaties), and to deny any external force or power the use of their territories for purposes of subversion in the region. The viability of any security agreement for Central America would be enhanced by the progressive development of pluralism in Nicaragua. To this end, the elections proposed for November are important; how they are conducted will be an indication of Nicaragua's willingness to move in the direction of genuine democracy.
—Third, there must be a clear, concise signal to indicate that we are ready, willing and able to provide substantial economic resources, through the appropriate multilateral channels, to the nations of Central America, as soon as the Contadora process achieves a measure of success in restoring peace and stability in the region. In the meantime, of course, we will continue to provide humanitarian aid and refugee relief assistance. The Democratic Administration will work to help churches and universities which are providing sanctuary and assistance to Guatemalan, Haitian, and Salvadoran refugees, and will give all assistance to such refugees as is consistent with U.S. law.
—Fourth, a Democratic President will support the newly elected President of El Salvador in his efforts to establish civilian democratic control, by channeling U.S. aid through him and by conditioning it on the elimination of government-supported death squads and on progress toward his objectives of land reform, human rights and serious negotiations with contending forces in El Salvador, in order to achieve a peaceful democratic political settlement of the Salvadoran conflict.
—Fifth, a Democratic President will not use U.S. armed forces in or over El Salvador or Nicaragua for the purpose of engaging in combat unless: 1) Congress has declared war or otherwise authorized the use of U.S. combat forces, or 2) the use of U.S. combat forces is necessary to meet a clear and present danger of attack upon the U.S., its territories or possessions or upon U.S. embassies or citizens, consistent with the War Powers Act.
These are the key elements that evidence very real differences between the Democrats' approach to Central America and that of the Reagan Administration. And these are the key elements that will offer the American public a choice—a very significant choice—between war and peace in the Central American region.
A Democratic President would seek to work with the countries of the Caribbean to strengthen democratic institutions. He or she would not overlook human rights, by refusing to condemn repression by the regimes of the right or the left in the region. A Democratic President would give high priority to democracy, freedom, and to multilateral development. A Democratic President would encourage regional cooperation and make of that important area a showplace rather than a footstool for economic development. Finally, support for democracy must be pursued in its own right, and not just as a tactic against communism.
Human rights principles were a cornerstone of President Carter's foreign policy and have always been a central concern in the Inter-American system. Regional multilateral action to protect and advance human rights is an international obligation.
A Democratic President must not overlook human rights, refusing to condemn repression by the regimes of the right or the left in the region. Insistence that governments respect their obligations to their people, is a criterion that must apply equally to all. It is as important in Cuba as in El Salvador, Guatemala as in Nicaragua, in Haiti as in the Paraguay and Uruguay.
A Democratic Administration would place protection of human rights in a core position in our relations with Latin America and the Caribbean. It would particularly seek multilateral support for such principles by strengthening and backing the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and by encouraging the various private organizations in the hemisphere dedicated to monitoring and protecting human rights.
Africa—The Democratic Party will advocate a set of bold new initiatives for Third World nations in general and Africa in particular. Hunger, drought, and famine have brought untold suffering to millions in Africa. This human misery—and the armies of nationless—requires a policy of substantial increases in humanitarian assistance, a major thrust in agricultural technology transfer, and cessation of the unfortunate tendency to hold such aid hostage to East-West confrontation or other geopolitical aims. The United States also must offer substantially greater economic assistance to these nations, while engaging in a North-South multilateral dialogue that addresses mutual economic development strategies, commodities pricing, and other treaties relevant to international trade. A Democratic President will join with our friends within and outside the continent in support of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all African states. Africa is the home of one-eighth of the world's population and a continent of vast resources. Our national interest demands that we give this rich and diverse continent a much higher priority.
A Democratic President will reverse the Reagan Administration's failed policy of "constructive engagement" and strongly and unequivocally oppose the apartheid regime in South Africa. A Democratic Administration will.
—exert maximum pressure on South Africa to hasten the establishment of a democratic, unitary political system within South Africa.
—pursue scrupulous enforcement of the 1977 U.N. arms embargo against South Africa, including enforcement of restrictions on the sale of "dual use" equipment.
—impose a ban on all new loans by U.S. business interests to the South African government and on all new investments and loans to the South African private sector, until there is substantial progress toward the full participation of all the people of South Africa in the social, political, and economic life in that country and toward an end to discrimination based on race or ethnic origin.
—ban the sale or transfer of sophisticated computers and nuclear technology to South Africa and the importation of South African gold coins.
—reimpose export controls in effect during the Carter Administration which were relaxed by the Reagan Administration.
—withdraw landing rights to South African aircraft.
The Democratic Party condemns South Africa for unjustly holding political prisoners. Soviet harassment of the Sakharovs is identical to South African house arrests of political opponents of the South African regime. Specifically, the detention of Nelson Mandela, leader of the African National Congress, and Winnie Mandela must be brought to the world's attention, and we demand their immediate release. In addition, we demand the immediate release of all other political prisoners in South Africa.
A Democratic Administration will work as well toward legitimate rights of self-determination of the peoples of Namibia by:
—demanding compliance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 435—the six-year-old blueprint for Namibian independence;
—imposing severe fines on U.S. companies that violate the United Nations Decree prohibiting foreign exploitation of Namibian mineral wealth until Namibia attains independence;
—progressively increasing effective sanctions against South Africa unless and until it grants independence to Namibia and abolishes its own abhorrent apartheid system.
Asia—Our relationship with the countries of Asia and the Pacific Basin will continue to be of increasing importance. The political, cultural, economic, and strategic ties which link the United States to this reason cannot be ignored.
With our Asian friends and allies, we have a common cause in preserving the security and enhancing democracy in the area.
With our Asian trading partners, we share a common interest in expanding commerce and fair trade between us, as evidenced by the 33 percent of total American trade now conducted with those countries.
And with the growing number of Asian/Pacific-Americans, we welcome the strength and vitality which increased cultural ties bring to this country.
Our relationship with Japan is a key to the maintenance of peace, security, and development in Asia and the Pacific region. Mutual respect, enhanced cooperation, and steady diplomacy must guide our dealings with Japan. At the same time, as allies and friends, we must work to resolve areas of disagreement. A Democratic President, therefore, will press for increased access to Japanese as well as other Asian markets for American firms and their produces. Finally, a Democratic President will expect Japan to continue moving toward assuming its fair share of the burden of collective security—in self-defense as well as in foreign assistance and democratic development.
Our security in the Pacific region is also closely tied to the well-being of our long-time allies. Australia and New Zealand. A Democratic President will honor and strengthen our security commitment to ANZUS as well as to other Southeast Asian friends.
Our relationship with the People's Republic of China must also be nurtured and strengthened. The Democratic Party believes that our developing relations with the PRC offer a historic opportunity to bring one quarter of the world's population into the community of nations, to strengthen a counterweight to Soviet expansionism, and to enhance economic relations that offer great potential for mutual advantage. At the same time, we recognize our historic ties to the people on Taiwan and we will continue to honor our commitments to them, consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act.
Our own principles and interests demand that we work with those in Asia, as well as elsewhere, who can encourage democratic institutions and support greater respect for human rights. A Democratic President will work closely with the world's largest democracy, India, and maintain mutually beneficial ties. A Democratic President will press for the restoration of full democracy in the Philippines, further democratization and the elimination of martial law in Taiwan, the return to freedom of speech and press in South Korea, and restoration of human rights for the people of East Timor. Recognizing the strategic importance of Pakistan and the close relationship which has existed between our two countries, a Democratic President would press to restore democracy and terminate its nuclear weapons program. Finally, a Democratic President would press for the fullest possible accounting of Americans still missing in Indochina.
For the past four years, the Soviet Union has been engaged in a brutal effort to crush the resistance of the people or Afghanistan. It denies their right to independence. It is trying to stamp out their culture and to deny them the right to practice their religion, Islam. But despite appalling costs, the people of Afghanistan continue to resist—demonstrating the same qualities of human aspiration and fortitude that made our own nation great. We must continue to oppose Soviet aggression in Afghanistan. We should support the efforts of the Afghanistan freedom fighters with material assistance.
If the Soviet Union is prepared to abide by the principles of international law and human dignity, it should find the U.S. prepared to help produce a peaceful settlement.
Global Debt and Development
The Democratic Party will pursue policies for economic development, for aid and trade that meet the needs of the people of the developing world and that further our own national interest. The next Democratic President will support development policies that meet the basic needs of the poor for food, water, energy, medical care, and shelter rather than "trickle down" policies that never reach those on the bottom. The next Democratic Administration will give preference in its foreign assistance to countries with democratic institutions and respect for human rights.
A Democratic President will seek to cut back record U.S. budget deficits and interest rates not only for our own economic well-being, but to reduce the economic crisis confronting so many industrialized and developing states alike.
Mr. Reagan has perceived national security in very limited and parochial terms, and thus has failed completely to grasp the significance of the international debt which now has sky-rocketed to some $800 billion. In 1983, some thirty nations accounting for half of this total were forced to seek restructuring of their debts with public and private creditors because they were unable to meet their debt payments.
The U.S. economy is directly linked to the costs of these loans through their variable interest rates (tied to the U.S. prime rate). A rise in the U.S. prime rate by one percent added more than $4 billion to the annual interest costs associated with these external debts. The struggle to meet their external debts has slashed the purchasing power of these developing countries and forced them to curtail imports from the U.S. This accounts for one-third to one-half of the adverse turn in the U.S. trade deficit, which is projected to reach $130 billion this year.
The social and political stability of these developing countries is seriously challenged by the debt crisis. In light of the interdependence of the international economy, the crisis also threatens the very foundation of the international financial system. To answer these dangers, the Democratic Administration will:
—Call immediately for discussions on improving the functioning of the international monetary systems and on developing a comprehensive long-term approach to the international debt problem.
—Instruct the Treasury Department to work with the Federal Reserve Board, U.S. bank regulators, key private banks, and the finance ministers and central bankers of Europe and Japan, to develop a short-term program for reducing the debt service obligations of less developed countries, while 1) preserving the safety and soundness of the international banking system and 2) ensuring that the costs of the program shared equitably among all parties to existing and rescheduled debts.
—Recommend an increase in the lending capacity of the World Bank, as well as an increase in the lending capacity of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S.. to ensure that debtor nations obtain adequate capital for investment in export industries.
—Review international trade barriers which limit the ability of these countries to earn foreign exchange.
Security assistance can in appropriate circumstances, help our friends meet legitimate defense needs. But shifting the balance from economic development toward military sales, as has occurred over the past three and one-half years, sets back the cause of peace and justice, fuels restful arms races, and places sophisticated weapons in the hands of those who could one day turn them back upon us and upon our friends and allies. The Democratic Party seeks now, as in the past, effective international agreements to limit and reduce the transfer of conventional arms.
A Democratic President will seize new opportunities to make major advances at limited cost in the health and survival of the world's poorest people—thus enabling more people to contribute to and share in the world's resources, and promoting stability and popular participation in their societies. Recognizing that unrestrained population growth constitutes a danger for economic progress and political stability, a Democratic President will restore full U.S. support for national and international population programs that are now threatened by the policies of the Reagan Administration.
A Democratic President will work to see the power and prestige of the U.S. fully committed to the reform and strengthening of the United Nations and other international agencies in the pursuit of their original purposes—peace, economic and social welfare, education, and human rights.
Because of the economic instability caused by global debts and by other problems, unprecedented migration into the United States and other parts of the world is occurring in the form of economic refugees. The Democratic Party will support economic development programs so as to aid nations in reducing migration from their countries, and thereby reduce the flow of economic refugees to the U.S. and other parts of the world.
Rather than scuttling the international Law of the Sea negotiations after over a decade of bipartisan U.S. involvement, a Democratic President will actively pursue efforts to achieve an acceptable Treaty and related agreements that protect U.S. interests in all uses of ocean space.
Human Rights and Solidarity
The Democratic Party believes that we need new approaches to replace the failed Republican policies. We need sustained, personal, presidential leadership in foreign policy and arms control. We need a President who will meet with the Soviets to challenge them to reduce the danger of nuclear war, who will become personally involved in reviving the Camp David peace process, who will give his or her full support to the Contadora negotiations, and who will press the South Africans to repeal their policies of apartheid and destabilization. We need a President who will understand that human rights and national security interests are mutually supportive. We need a President to restore our influence, enhance our security, pursue democracy and freedom, and work unremittingly for peace. With firm purpose, skill, sensitivity, and a recovery of our own pride in what we are—a Democratic President will build an international alliance of free people to promote these great causes.
A Democratic President will pursue a foreign policy that advances basic civil and political rights—freedom of speech, association, thought and religion, the right to leave, freedom of the integrity of the person, and the prohibition of torture, arbitrary detention and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment—and that seeks as well to attain basic, economic, social, and cultural rights. A Democratic President's concern must extend from the terror of the Russian Gulag to the jails of Latin generals. The banning of South African blacks is no more acceptable than the silencing of Cuban poets. A Democratic President will end U.S. support for dictators throughout the world from Haiti to the Philippines. He or she will support and defend the observance of basic human rights called for in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Helsinki Final Act. He or she will seek, through both quiet diplomacy and public measures, the release of political prisoners and the free immigration of prosecuted individuals and peoples around the world. He or she will seek U.S. ratification of the Genocide Convention, the International Covenants on Human Rights, and the American Convention on Human Rights, as well as the establishment of a U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. He or she will fulfill the spirit as well as the letter of our legislation calling for the denial of military and economic assistance to governments that systematically violate human rights.
The Democratic Party believes that whether it is in response to totalitarianism in the Soviet Union or repression in Latin America and East Asia, to apartheid in South Africa or martial law in Poland, to terrorism in Libya or the reign of terror in Iran, or to barbaric aggression in Southeast Asia and Afghanistan, the foreign policy of the United States must be unmistakably on the side of those who love freedom.
As Democrats and as Americans, we will make support for democracy, human rights and economic and social justice the cornerstone of our policy. These are the most revolutionary ideas on our planet. They are not to be feared. They are the hallmarks of the democratic century that lies before us.
|Citation: Democratic Party Platforms: "Democratic Party Platform of 1984", July 16, 1984. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=29608.|
© 1999-2011 - Gerhard Peters - The American Presidency Project