1976 Democratic Party Platform
We meet to adopt a Democratic platform, and to nominate Democratic candidates for President and Vice President of the United States, almost 200 years from the day that our revolutionary founders declared this country's independence from the British crown.
The founder of the Democratic Party—Thomas Jefferson of Virginia—set forth the reasons for this separation and expressed the basic tenets of democratic government: That all persons are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among People, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
These truths may still be self-evident, but they have been tragically abused by our national government during the past eight years.
Two Republican Administrations have both misused and mismanaged the powers of national government, obstructing the pursuit of economic and social opportunity, causing needless hardship and despair among millions of our fellow citizens.
Two Republican Administrations have betrayed the people's trust and have created suspicion and distrust of government through illegal and unconstitutional actions.
We acknowledge that no political party, nor any President or Vice President, possesses answers to all of the problems that face us as a nation, but neither do we concede that every human problem is beyond our control. We recognize further that the present distrust of government cannot be transformed easily into confidence.
It is within our power to recapture, in the governing of this nation, the basic tenets of fairness, equality, opportunity and rule of law that motivated our revolutionary founders.
We do pledge a government that has as its guiding concern, the needs and aspirations of all the people, rather than the perquisites and special privilege of the few.
We do pledge a government that listens, that is truthful, and that is not afraid to admit its mistakes.
We do pledge a government that will be committed to a fairer distribution of wealth, income and power.
We do pledge a government in which the new Democratic President will work closely with the leaders of the Congress on a regular, systematic basis so that the people can see the results of unity.
We do pledge a government in which the Democratic members in both houses of Congress will seek a unity of purpose on the principles of the party.
Now, as we enter our 200th year as a nation, we as a party, with a sense of our obligations, pledge a reaffirmation of this nation's founding principles.
In this platform of the Democratic Party, we present a clear alternative to the failures of preceding administrations and a projection of the common future to which we aspire: a world at peace; a just society of equals; a society without violence; a society in consonance with its natural environment, affording freedom to the individual and the opportunity to develop to the fullest human Potential.
I. Full Employment, Price Stability and Balanced Growth
The Democratic Party's concern for human dignity and freedom has been directed at increasing the economic opportunities for all our citizens and reducing the economic deprivation and inequities that have stained the record of American democracy.
Today, millions of people are unemployed. Unemployment represents mental anxiety, fear of harassment over unpaid bills, idle hours, loss of self-esteem, strained family relationships, deprivation of children and youth, alcoholism, drug abuse and crime. A job is a key measure of a person's place in society—whether as a full-fledged participant or on the outside. Jobs are the solution to poverty, hunger and other basic needs of workers and their families. Jobs enable a person to translate legal rights of equality into reality.
Our industrial capacity is also wastefully under-utilized. There are houses to build, urban centers to rebuild, roads and railroads to construct and repair, rivers to clean, and new sources of energy to develop. Something is wrong when there is work to be done, and the people who are willing to do it are without jobs. What we have lacked is leadership.
During the past 25 years, the American economy has suffered five major recessions, all under Republican administrations. During the past eight years, we have had two costly recessions with continuing unprecedented peacetime inflation. "Stagflation" has become a new word in our language just as it has become a product of Republican economic policy. Never before have we had soaring inflation in the midst of a major recession.
Stagnation, waste and human suffering are the legacy left to the American people by Republican economic policies. During the past five years, U.S. economic growth has averaged only 1-1/2 per cent per year compared with an historical average of about 4 per cent. Because of this shortfall, the nation has lost some $500—billion in the production of goods and services, and, if Republican rule continues, we can expect to lose another $600—$800—billion by 1980.
Ten million people are unemployed right now, and twenty to thirty million were jobless at some time in each of the last two years. For major groups in the labor force—minorities, women, youth, older workers, farm, factory and construction workers—unemployment has been, and remains, at depression levels.
The rising cost of food, clothing, housing, energy and health care has eroded the income of the average American family, and has pushed persons on fixed incomes to the brink of economic disaster. Since 1970, the annual rate of inflation has averaged more than 6 percent and is projected by the Ford administration to continue at an unprecedented peacetime rate of 6 to 7 per cent until 1978.
The depressed production and high unemployment rates of the Nixon-Ford administrations have produced federal deficits totaling $242 billion. Those who should be working and paying taxes are collecting unemployment compensation or other welfare payments in order to survive. For every one per cent increase in the unemployment rate—for every one million Americans out of work —we all pay $3 billion more in unemployment compensation and $2 billion in welfare and related costs, and lose $14 billion in taxes. In fiscal 1976, $76 billion was lost to the federal government through increased recession-related expenditures and lost revenues. In addition, state and local governments lost $27 billion in revenues. A return to full employment will eliminate such deficits. With prudent management of existing programs, full employment revenues will permit the financing of national Democratic initiatives.
For millions of Americans, the Republican Party has substituted welfare for work. Huge sums will be spent on food stamps and medical care for families of the unemployed. Social insurance costs are greatly increased. This year alone the federal government will spend nearly $20 billion on unemployment compensation. In contrast, spending on job development is only $2—1/2 billion. The goal of the new Democratic administration will be to turn unemployment cheeks into pay cheeks.
What Democrats Can Achieve
In contrast to the record of Republican mismanagement, the most recent eight years of Democratic leadership, under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, produced economic growth that was virtually uninterrupted. The unemployment rate dropped from 6.7 per cent in 1961 to 3.6 per cent in 1968, and most segments of the population benefited. Inflation increased at an average annual rate of only 2 per cent, and the purchasing power of the average family steadily increased. In 1960, about 40 million people were living in poverty. Over the next eight years, 14—1/2 million people moved out of poverty because of training opportunities, increased jobs and higher incomes. Since 1968, the number of persons living in poverty has remained virtually unchanged.
We have met the goals of full employment with stable prices in the past and can do it again. The Democratic Party is committed to the right of all adult Americans willing, able and seeking work to have opportunities for useful jobs at living wages. To make that commitment meaningful, we pledge ourselves to the support of legislation that will make every responsible effort to reduce adult unemployment to 3 per cent within 4 years.
Modernizing Economic Policy
To meet our goals we must set annual targets for employment, production and price stability; the Federal Reserve must be made a full partner in national economic decisions and become responsive to the economic goals of Congress and the President; credit must be generally available at reasonable interest rates; tax, spending and credit policies must be carefully coordinated with our economic goals, and coordinated within the framework of national economic planning.
Of special importance is the need for national economic planning capability. This planning capability should provide roles for Congress and the Executive as equal partners in the process and provide for full participation by the private sector, and state and local government. Government must plan ahead just like any business, and this type of planning can be implemented without the creation of a new bureaucracy but rather through the well-defined use of existing bodies and techniques. If we do not plan, but continue to react to crisis after crisis, our economic performance will be further eroded.
Full Employment Policies
Institutional reforms and the use of conventional tax, spending and credit policies must be accompanied by a broad range of carefully-targeted employment programs that will reduce unemployment in the private sector, and in regions, states and groups that have special employment problems.
The lack of formal coordination among federal, state and local governments is a major obstacle to full employment. The absence of economic policy coordination is particularly visible during times of high unemployment. Recessions reduce tax revenues, and increase unemployment-related expenditures for state and local governments. To maintain balanced budgets or reduce budget deficits these governments are forced to increase taxes and cut services—actions that directly undermine federal efforts to stimulate the economy.
Consistent and coherent economic policy requires federal anti-recession grant programs to state and local government, accompanied by public employment, public works projects and direct stimulus to the private sector. In each case, the programs should be phased in automatically when unemployment rises and phased out as it declines.
Even during periods of normal economic growth there are communities and regions of the country—particularly central cities and rural areas —that do not fully participate in national economic prosperity. The Democratic Party has supported national economic policies which have consciously sought to aid regions in the nation which have been afflicted with poverty, or newer regions which have needed resources for development. These policies were soundly conceived and have been successful. Today, we have different areas and regions in economic decline and once again face a problem of balanced economic growth. To restore balance, national economic policy should be designed to target federal resources in areas of greatest need. To make low interest loans to businesses and state and local governments for the purpose of encouraging private sector investment in chronically depressed areas, we endorse consideration of programs such as a domestic development bank or federally insured taxable state and local bonds with adequate funding, proper management and public disclosure.
Special problems faced by young people, especially minorities, entering the labor force persist regardless of the state of the economy. To meet the needs of youth, we should consolidate existing youth employment programs; improve training, apprenticeship, internship and job-counseling programs at the high school and college levels; and permit youth participation in public employment projects.
There are people who will be especially difficult to employ. Special means for training and locating jobs for these people in the private sector, and, to the extent required, in public employment, should be established. Every effort should be made to create jobs in the private sector. Clearly, useful public jobs are far superior to welfare and unemployment payments. The federal government has the responsibility to ensure that all Americans able, willing and seeking work are provided opportunities for useful jobs.
Equal Employment Opportunity
We must be absolutely certain that no person is excluded from the fullest opportunity for economic and social participation in our society on the basis of sex, age, color, religion or national origin. Minority unemployment has historically been at least double the aggregate unemployment rate, with incomes at two-thirds the national average. Special emphasis must be placed on closing this gap.
Accordingly, we reaffirm this Party's commitment to full and vigorous enforcement of all equal opportunities laws and affirmative action. The principal agencies charged with anti-discrimination enforcement in jobs—the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor, and the Justice Department—are locked into such overlapping and uncoordinated strategies that a greatly improved government-wide system for the delivery of equal job and promotion opportunities must be developed and adequate funding committed to that end. New remedies to provide equal opportunities need exploration.
The economic and social costs of inflation have been enormous. Inflation is a tax that erodes the income of our workers, distorts business investment decisions, and redistributes income in favor of the rich, Americans on fixed incomes, such as the elderly, are often pushed into poverty by this cruel tax.
The Ford administration and its economic advisors have been consistently wrong about the sources and cures of the inflation that has plagued our nation and our people. Fighting inflation by curtailing production and increasing unemployment has done nothing to restrain it. With the current high level of unemployment and low level of capacity utilization, we can increase production and employment without rekindling inflation.
A comprehensive anti-inflation policy must be established to assure relative price stability. Such a program should emphasize increased production and productivity and should take other measures to enhance the stability and flexibility of our economy.
The see-saw progress of our economy over the past eight years has disrupted economic growth. Much of the instability has been created by stop-and-go monetary policies. High interest rates and the recurring underutilization of our manufacturing plant and equipment have retarded new investment. The high cost of credit has stifled small businesses and virtually halted the housing industry. Unemployment in the construction industry has been raised to depression levels and home ownership has been priced beyond the reach of the majority of the people.
Stable economic growth with moderate interest rates will not only place downward pressure on prices through greater efficiency and productivity, but will reduce the prospects for future shortages of supply by increasing the production of essential goods and services and by providing a more predictable environment for business investment.
The government must also work to improve the ability of our economy to respond to change. Competition in the private sector, a re-examination, reform and consolidation of the existing regulatory structure, and promotion of a freer but fair system of international trade will aid in achieving that goal.
At times, direct government involvement in wage and price decisions may be required to insure price stability. But we do not believe that such involvement requires a comprehensive system of mandatory controls at this time. It will require that businesses and labor must meet fair standards of wage and price change. A strong domestic council on price and wage stability should be established with particular attention to restraining price increases in those sectors of our economy where prices are "administered" and where price competition does not exist.
The federal government should hold public hearings, investigate and publish facts on price, profit, wage and interest rate increases that seriously threaten national price stability. Such investigations and proper planning can focus public opinion and awareness on the direction of price, profit, wage and interest rate decisions.
Finally, tax policy should be used if necessary to maintain the real income of workers as was done with the 1975 tax cut.
The Democratic Party has a long history of opposition to the undue concentration of wealth and economic power. It is estimated that about three-quarters of the country's total wealth is owned by one-fifth of the people. The rest of our population struggles to make ends meet in the face of rising prices and taxes.
Anti-trust enforcement. The next Democratic administration will commit itself to move vigorously against anti-competitive concentration of power within the business sector. This can be accomplished in part by strengthening the anti-trust laws and insuring adequate commitment and resources for the enforcement of these laws. But we must go beyond this negative remedy to a positive policy for encouraging the development of a small business, including the family farm.
Small businesses. A healthy and growing small business community is prerequisite for increasing competition and a thriving national economy. While most people would accept this view, the federal government has in the past impeded the growth of small businesses.
To alleviate the unfavorable conditions for small businesses, we must make every effort to assure the availability of loans to small business, including direct government loans at reasonable interest rates particularly to those in greatest need, such as minority-owned businesses. For example, efforts should be made to strengthen minority business programs, and increase minority opportunities for business ownership. We support similar programs and opportunities for women. Federal contract and procurement opportunities in such areas as housing, transportation and energy should support efforts to increase the volume of minority and small business involvement. Regulatory agencies and the regulated small business must work together to see that federal regulations are met, without applying a stranglehold on the small firm or farm and with less paper work and red tape.
Tax reform. Economic justice will also require a firm commitment to tax reform at all levels. In recent years there has been a shift in the tax burden from the rich to the working people of this country. The Internal Revenue Code offers massive tax welfare to the wealthiest income groups in the population and only higher taxes for the average citizen. In 1973, there were 622 people with adjusted income of $100,000 or more who still managed to pay no tax. Most families pay between 20 and 25 per cent of their income in taxes.
We have had endless talk about the need for tax reform and fairness in our federal tax system. It is now time for action.
We pledge the Democratic Party to a complete overhaul of the present tax system, which will review all special tax provisions to ensure that they are justified and distributed equitably among our citizens. A responsible Democratic tax reform program could save over $5—billion in the first year with larger savings in the future.
We will strengthen the internal revenue tax code so that high income citizens pay a reasonable tax on all economic income.
We will reduce the use of unjustified tax shelters in such areas as oil and gas, tax-loss farming, real estate, and movies.
We will eliminate unnecessary and ineffective tax provisions to business and substitute effective incentives to encourage small business and capital formation in all businesses. Our commitment to full employment and sustained purchasing power will also provide a strong incentive for capital formation.
We will end abuses in the tax treatment of income from foreign sources; such as special tax treatment and incentives for multinational corporations that drain jobs and capital from the American economy.
We will overhaul federal estate and gift taxes to provide an effective and equitable structure to promote tax justice and alleviate some of the legitimate problems faced by farmers, small business men and women and others who would otherwise be forced to liquidate assets in order to pay the tax.
We will seek and eliminate provisions that encourage uneconomic corporate mergers and acquisitions.
We will eliminate tax inequities that adversely affect individuals on the basis of sex or marital status.
We will curb expense account deductions.
And we will protect the rights of all taxpayers against oppressive procedures, harassment and invasions of privacy by the Internal Revenue Service.
At present, many federal government tax and expenditure programs have a profound but unintended and undesirable impact on jobs and on where people and business locate. Tax policies and other indirect subsidies have promoted deterioration of cities and regions. These policies should be reversed.
There are other areas of taxation where change is also needed. The Ford administration's unwise and unfair proposal to raise the regressive social security tax gives new urgency to the Democratic Party's goal of redistributing the burden of the social security tax by raising the wage base for earnings subject to the tax with effective exemptions and deductions to ease the impact on low income workers and two-earner families. Further revision in the Social Security program will be required so that women are treated as individuals.
The Democratic Party should make a reappraisal of the appropriate sources of federal revenues. The historical distribution of the tax burden between corporations and individuals, and among the various types of federal taxes, has changed dramatically in recent years. For example, the corporate tax share of federal revenue has declined from 30 per cent in 1954 to 14 per cent in 1975.
Labor Standards and Rights
The purpose of fair labor standards legislation has been the maintenance of the minimum standards necessary for the health, efficiency and general well-being of workers. Recent inflation has eroded the real value of the current minimum wage. This rapid devaluation of basic income for working people makes a periodic review of the level of the minimum wage essential. Such a review should insure that the minimum wage rate at least keep pace with the increase in the cost of living.
Raising the pay standard for overtime work, additional hiring of part-time persons and flexible work schedules will increase the independence of workers and create additional job opportunities, especially for women. We also support the principle of equal pay for comparable work.
We are committed to full implementation and enforcement of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.
Over a generation ago this nation established a labor policy whose purpose is to encourage the practice and procedure of collective bargaining and the right of workers to organize to obtain this goal. The Democratic Party is committed to extending the benefit of the policy to all workers and to removing the barriers to its administration. We support the right of public employees and agricultural workers to organize and bargain collectively. We urge the adoption of appropriate federal legislation to ensure this goal.
We will seek to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to speed up redress of grievances of workers asserting their legal rights.
We will seek to enforce and, where necessary, to amend the National Labor Relations Act to eliminate delays and inequities and to provide for more effective remedies and administration.
We will support the full right of construction workers to picket a job site peacefully.
We will seek repeal of Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act which allows states to legislate the anti-union open shop.
We will maintain strong support for the process of voluntary arbitration, and we will enact minimum federal standards for workers compensation laws and for eligibility, benefit amounts, benefit duration and other essential features of the unemployment insurance program. Unemployment insurance should cover all wage and salary workers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 should cover all employees and be enforced as intended when the law was enacted. Early and periodic review of its provisions should be made to insure that they are reasonable and workable.
The Democratic Party will also seek to enact a comprehensive mine safety law, utilizing the most effective and independent enforcement by the federal government and support special legislation providing adequate compensation to coal miners and their dependents who have suffered disablement or death as a result of the black lung disease.
We believe these policies will put America back to work, bring balanced growth to our economy
and give all Americans an opportunity to share in the expanding prosperity that will come from a new Democratic administration.
II. Government Reform and Business Accountability
The current Republican administration did not invent inept government, but it has saddled the country with ineffective government; captive government, subservient to the special pleading of private economic interests; insensitive government, trampling over the rights of average citizens; and remote government, secretive and unresponsive.
Democrats believe that the cure for these ills is not the abandonment of governmental responsibility for addressing national problems, but the restoration of legitimate popular control over the organs and activities of government.
There must be an ever-increasing accountability of government to the people. The Democratic Party is pledged to the fulfillment of four fundamental citizen rights of governance: the right to competent government; the right to responsive government; the right to integrity in government; the right to fair dealing by government.
The Right to Competent Government
The Democratic Party is committed to the adoption of reforms such as zero-based budgeting, mandatory reorganization timetables, and sunset laws which do not jeopardize the implementation of basic human and political rights. These reforms are designed to terminate or merge existing agencies and programs, or to renew them, only after assuring elimination of duplication, overlap, and conflicting programs and authorities, and the matching of funding levels to public needs. In addition, we seek flexibility to reflect changing public needs, the use of alternatives to regulation and the elimination of special interest favoritism and bias.
To assure that government remains responsive to the people's elected representatives, the Democratic Party supports stepped-up congressional agency oversight and program evaluation, including full implementation of the congressional budget process; an expanded, more forceful role for the General Accounting Office in performing legislative audits for Congress; and restraint by the President in exercising executive privilege designed to withhold necessary information from Congress.
The Right to Responsive Government
To begin to restore the shaken faith of Americans that the government in Washington is their government—responsive to their needs and desires, not the special interests of wealth, entrenched political influence, or bureaucratic self-interest—government decision-making must be opened up to citizen advocacy and participation.
Governmental decision-making behind closed doors is the natural enemy of the people. The Democratic Party is committed to openness throughout government: at regulatory commissions, advisory committee meetings and at hearings. Public calendars of scheduled meetings between regulators and the regulated, and freedom of information policies, should be designed to facilitate rather than frustrate citizen access to documents and information.
All persons and citizen groups must be given standing to challenge illegal or unconstitutional government action in court and to compel appropriate action. Where a court or an agency finds evidence of government malfeasance or neglect those who brought forward such evidence should be compensated for their reasonable expenses in doing so.
Democrats have long sought—against fierce Republican and big business opposition—the creation and maintenance of an independent consumer agency with the staff and power to intervene in regulatory matters on behalf of the consuming and using public. Many states have already demonstrated that such independent public or consumer advocates can win important victories for the public interest in proceedings before state regulatory agencies and courts.
This nation's Civil Service numbers countless strong and effective public servants. It was the resistance of earnest and steadfast federal workers that stemmed the Nixon-Ford efforts to undermine the integrity of the Civil Service. The reorganization of government which we envision will protect the job rights of civil servants and permit them to more effectively serve the public.
The Democratic Party is committed to the review and overhaul of Civil Service laws to assure:
insulation from political cronyism, accountability for nonfeasance as well as malfeasance, protection for the public servant who speaks out to identify corruption or failure, performance standards and incentives to reward efficiency and innovation and to assure nondiscrimination and affirmative action in the recruitment, hiring and promotion of civil service employees.
We support the revision of the Hatch Act so as to extend to federal workers the same political rights enjoyed by other Americans as a birthright, while still protecting the Civil Service from political abuse.
The Right to Integrity in Government
The Democratic Party is pledged to the concept of full public disclosure by major public officials and urges appropriate legislation to effectuate this policy.
We support divestiture of all financial holdings which directly conflict with official responsibilities and the development of uniform standards, review procedures and sanctions to identify and eliminate potential conflicts of interest.
Tough, competent regulatory commissioners with proven commitment to the public interest are urgently needed.
We will seek restrictions on "revolving door" careerism—the shuttling back and forth of officials between jobs in regulatory or procurement agencies and in regulated industries and government contractors.
All diplomats, federal judges and other major officials should be selected on a basis of qualifications. At all levels of government services, we will recruit, appoint and promote women and minorities.
We support legislation to ensure that the activities of lobbyists be more thoroughly revealed both within the Congress and the Executive agencies.
The Democratic Party has led the fight to take the presidency off the auction block by championing the public financing of presidential elections. The public has responded with enthusiastic use of the $1 income tax checkoff. Similar steps must now be taken for congressional candidates. We call for legislative action to provide for partial public financing on a matching basis of the congressional elections, and the exploration of further reforms to insure the integrity of the electoral process.
The Right to Fair Dealing by Government
A citizen has the right to expect fair treatment from government. Democrats are determined to find a means to make that right a reality.
An Office of Citizen Advocacy should be established as part of the executive branch, independent of any agency, with full access to agency records and with both the power and the responsibility to investigate complaints.
Freedom of information requirements must be interpreted in keeping with the right of the individual to be free from anonymous accusation or slander. Each citizen has the right to know and to review any information directly concerning him or her held by the government for any purpose whatsoever under the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974, other than those exceptions set out in the Freedom of Information Act. Such information should be forthcoming promptly, without harassment and at a minimal cost to the citizen.
Appropriate remedies must be found for citizens who suffer hardship as the result of abuse of investigative or prosecutorial powers.
The Democratic Party believes that competition is preferable to regulation and that government has a responsibility to seek the removal of unreasonable restraints and barriers to competition, to restore and, where necessary, to stimulate the operation of market forces. Unnecessary, regulation should be eliminated or revised, and the burden of excessive paperwork and red tape imposed on citizens and businesses should be removed.
The Democratic Party encourages innovation and efficiency in the private sector.
The Democratic Party also believes that strengthening consumer sovereignty—the ability of consumers to exercise free choice, to demand satisfaction, and to obtain direct redress of grievances—is similarly preferable to the present indirect government protection of consumers. However, government must not shirk its responsibility to impose and rigorously enforce regulation where necessary to ensure health, safety and fairness.
We reiterate our support for unflinching antitrust enforcement, and for the selection of an Attorney General free of political obligation and committed to rigorous antitrust prosecution.
We shall encourage consumer groups to establish and operate consumer cooperatives that will enable consumers to provide themselves marketplace alternatives and to provide a competitive spur to profit-oriented enterprises.
We support responsible cost savings in the delivery of professional services including the use of low-cost paraprofessionals, efficient group practice and federal standards for state no-fault insurance programs.
We reiterate our support for full funding of neighborhood legal services for the poor.
The Democratic Party is also committed to strengthening the knowledge and bargaining power of consumers through government-supported systems for developing objective product performance standards; advertising and labeling requirements for the disclosure of essential consumer information; and efficient and low-cost redress of consumer complaints including strengthened small claims courts, informal dispute settlement mechanisms, and consumer class actions.
The Democratic Party is committed to making the U.S. Postal Service function properly as an essential public service.
We reaffirm the historic Democratic commitment to assure the wholesomeness of consumer products such as food, chemicals, drugs and cosmetics, and the safety of automobiles, toys and appliances. Regulations demanding safe performance can be developed in a way that minimizes their own costs and actually stimulates product innovation beneficial to consumers.
III. Government and Human Needs
The American people are demanding that their national government act more efficiently and effectively in those areas of urgent human needs such as welfare reform, health care and education.
However, beyond these strong national initiatives, state and local governments must be given an increased, permanent role in administering social programs. The federal government's role should be the constructive one of establishing standards and goals with increased state and local participation. There is a need for a new blueprint for the public sector, one which identifies and responds to national problems, and recognizes the proper point of administration for both new and existing programs. In shifting administrative responsibility, such programs must meet minimum federal standards.
Government must concentrate, not scatter, its resources. It should not divide our people by inadequate and demanding programs. The initiatives we propose do not require larger bureaucracy. They do require committed government.
The Democratic Party realizes that accomplishing our goals in the areas of human needs will require time and resources. Additional resources will become available as we implement our full-employment policies. Federal revenues also grow over time. After full-employment has been achieved, $20 billion of increased revenue will be generated by a fully operating economy each year. The program detailed in the areas of human needs cannot be accomplished immediately, but an orderly beginning can be made and the effort expanded as additional resources become available.
In 1975, national health expenditures averaged $547 per person—an almost 40 per cent increase in four years. Inflation and recession have combined to erode the effectiveness of the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
An increasingly high proportion of health costs have been shifted back to the elderly. An increasing Republican emphasis on restricting eligibility and services is emasculating basic medical care for older citizens who cannot meet the rising costs of good health.
We need a comprehensive national health insurance system with universal and mandatory coverage. Such a national health insurance system should be financed by a combination of employer-employee shared payroll taxes and general tax revenues. Consideration should be given to developing a means of support for national health insurance that taxes all forms of economic income. We must achieve all that is practical while we strive for what is ideal, taking intelligent steps to make adequate health services a right for all our people. As resources permit, this system should not discriminate against the mentally ill.
Maximum personal interrelationships between patients and their physicians should be preserved. We should experiment with new forms of medical care delivery to mold a national health policy that will meet our needs in a fiscally responsible manner.
We must shift our emphasis in both private and public health care away from hospitalization and acute-care services to preventive medicine and the early detection of the major cripplers and killers of the American people. We further support increased federal aid to the government laboratories as well as private institutions to seek the cure to heart disease, cancer, sickle cell anemia, paralysis from spinal cord injury, drug addiction and other such afflictions.
National health insurance must also bring about a more responsive consumer-oriented system of health care delivery. Incentives must be used to increase the number of primary health care providers, and shift emphasis away from limited-application, technology-intensive programs. By reducing the barriers to primary preventive care, we can lower the need for costly hospitalization. Communities must be encouraged to avoid duplication of expensive technologies and meet the genuine needs of their populations. The development of community health centers must be resumed. We must develop new health careers, and promote a better distribution of health care professionals, including the more efficient use of paramedics. All levels of government should concern themselves with increasing the number of doctors and para-medical personnel in the field of primary health care.
A further need is the comprehensive treatment of mental illness, including the development of Community Mental Health Centers that provide comprehensive social services not only to alleviate, but to prevent mental stresses resulting from social isolation and economic dislocation. Of particular importance is improved access to the health care system by underserved population groups.
We must have national health insurance with strong built-in cost and quality controls. Rates for institutional care and physicians' services should be set in advance, prospectively. Alternative approaches to health care delivery, based on prepayment financing, should be encouraged and developed.
Americans are currently spending $133 billion for health care—8.3% of our Gross National Product. A return to full employment and the maintenance thereafter of stable economic growth will permit the orderly and progressive development of a comprehensive national health insurance program which is federally financed. Savings will result from the removal of inefficiency and waste in the current multiple public and private insurance programs and the structural integration of the delivery system to eliminate duplication and waste. The cost of such a program need not exceed the share of the GNP this nation currently expends on health care; but the resulting improvement of health service would represent a major improvement in the quality of life enjoyed by Americans at all economic levels.
Fundamental welfare reform is necessary. The problems with our current chaotic and inequitable system of public assistance are notorious. Existing welfare programs encourage family instability. They have few meaningful work incentives. They do little or nothing for the working poor on substandard incomes. The patchwork of federal, state and local programs encourages unfair variations in benefit levels among the states, and benefits in many states are well below the standards for even lowest-income budgets.
Of the current programs, only Food Stamps give universal coverage to all Americans in financial need. Cash assistance, housing aid and health care subsidies divide recipients into arbitrary categories. People with real needs who do not fit existing categories are ignored altogether.
The current complexity of the welfare structure requires armies of bureaucrats at all levels of government. Food Stamps, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, and Medicaid are burdened by unbelievably complex regulations, statutes and court orders. Both the recipients of these benefits, and the citizen who pays for them, suffer as a result. The fact that our current system is administered and funded at different levels of government makes it difficult to take initiatives to improve the status of the poor.
We should move toward replacement of our existing inadequate and wasteful system with a simplified system of income maintenance, substantially financed by the federal government, which includes a requirement that those able to work be provided with appropriate available jobs or job training opportunities. Those persons who are physically able to work (other than mothers with dependent children) should be required to accept appropriate available jobs or job training. This maintenance system should embody certain basic principles. First and most important, it should provide an income floor both for the working poor and the poor not in the labor market. It must treat stable and broken families equally. It must incorporate a simple schedule of work incentives that guarantees equitable levels of assistance to the working poor. This reform may require an initial additional investment, but it offers the prospect of stabilization of welfare costs over the long run, and the assurance that the objectives of this expenditure will be accomplished.
As an interim step, and as a means of providing immediate federal fiscal relief to state and local governments, local governments should no longer be required to bear the burden of welfare costs. Further, there should be a phased reduction in the states' share of welfare costs.
Civil and Political Rights
To achieve a just and healthy society and enhance respect and trust in our institutions, we must insure that all citizens are treated equally before the law and given the opportunity, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, age, language or national origin, to participate fully in the economic, social and political processes and to vindicate their legal and constitutional rights.
In reaffirmation of this principle, an historic commitment of the Democratic Party, we pledge vigorous federal programs and policies of compensatory opportunity to remedy for many Americans the generations of injustice and deprivation; and full funding of programs to secure the implementation and enforcement of civil rights.
We seek ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, to insure that sex discrimination in all its forms will be ended, implementation of Title IX, and elimination of discrimination against women in all federal programs.
We support the right of all Americans to vote for President no matter where they live; vigorous enforcement of voting rights legislation to assure the constitutional rights of minority and language-minority citizens; the passage of legislation providing for registration by mail in federal elections to erase existing barriers to voter participation; and full home rule for the District of Columbia, including authority over its budget and local revenues, elimination of federal restrictions in matters which are purely local and voting representation in the Congress, and the declaration of the birthday of the great civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., as a national holiday.
We pledge effective and vigorous action to protect citizens' privacy from bureaucratic technological intrusions, such as wiretapping and bugging without judicial scrutiny and supervision; and a full and complete pardon for those who are in legal or financial jeopardy because of their peace fill opposition to the Vietnam War, with deserters to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
We fully recognize the religious and ethical nature of the concerns which many Americans have on the subject of abortion. We feel, however, that it is undesirable to attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court decision in this area.
The Democratic Party reaffirms and strengthens its legal and moral trust responsibilities to the American Indian. We believe it is honorable to obey and implement our treaty obligations to the first Americans. In discharging our duty, we shall exert all and necessary assistance to afford the American Indians the protection of their land, their water and their civil rights.
Federal laws relating to American Indians and the functions and purposes of the Bureau of Indian Affairs should be reexamined.
We support a provision in the immigration laws to facilitate acquisition of citizenship by Resident Aliens.
We are committed to Puerto Rico's right to enjoy full self-determination and a relationship that can evolve in ways that will most benefit U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico. The Democratic Party respects and supports the present desire of the people of Puerto Rico to freely associate in permanent union with the United States, as an autonomous commonwealth or as a State.
The goal of our educational policy is to provide our citizens with the knowledge and skills they need to live successfully. In pursuing this goal, we will seek adequate funding, implementation and enforcement of requirements in the education programs already approved by Congress.
We should strengthen federal support of existing programs that stress improvement of reading and math skills. Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act must reach those it is intended to benefit to effectively increase these primary skills. "Break-throughs" in compensatory education require a concentration of resources on each individual child and a mix of home and school activities that is not possible with the underfunded Republican programs. Compensatory education is realistic only when there is a stable sequence of funding that allows proper planning and continuity of programs, an impossibility under Republican veto and impoundment politics.
We should also work to expand federal support in areas of educational need that have not yet been addressed sufficiently by the public schools—education of the handicapped, bilingual education and vocational education, and early childhood education. We propose federally financed, family centered developmental and educational child care programs—operated by the public schools or other local organizations, including both private and community—and that they be available to all who need and desire them. We support efforts to provide for the basic nutritional needs of students.
We recognize the right of all citizens to education, pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and the need in affected communities for bilingual and bicultural educational programs. We call for compliance with civil rights requirements in hiring and promotion in school systems.
For the disadvantaged child, equal opportunity requires concentrated spending. And for all children, we must guarantee that jurisdictions of differing financial capacity can spend equal amounts on education. These goals do not conflict but complement each other.
The principle that a child's education should depend on the property wealth of his or her school jurisdiction has been discredited in the last few years. With increased federal funds, it is possible to enhance educational opportunity by eliminating spending disparities within state borders. State-based equalizations, even state takeover of education costs, to relieve the overburdened property taxpayer and to avoid the inequities in the existing finance system, should be encouraged.
The essential purpose of school desegregation is to give all children the same educational opportunities. We will continue to support that goal. The Supreme Court decision of 1954 and the aftermath were based on the recognition that separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. It is clearly our responsibility as a party and as citizens to support the principles of our Constitution.
The Democratic Party pledges its concerted help through special consultation, matching funds, incentive grants and other mechanisms to communities which seek education, integrated both in terms of race and economic class, through equitable, reasonable and constitutional arrangements. Mandatory transportation of students beyond their neighborhoods for the purpose of desegregation remains a judicial tool of the last resort for the purpose of achieving school desegregation. The Democratic Party will be an active ally of those communities which seek to enhance the quality as well as the integration of educational opportunities. We encourage a variety of other measures, including the redrawing of attendance lines, pairing of schools, use of the "magnet school" concept, strong fair housing enforcement, and other techniques for the achievement of racial and economic integration.
The Party reaffirms its support of public school education. The Party also renews its commitment to the support of a constitutionally acceptable method of providing tax aid for the education of all pupils in non-segregated schools in order to insure parental freedom in choosing the best education for their children. Specifically, the Party will continue to advocate constitutionally permissible federal education legislation which provides for the equitable participation in federal programs of all low- and moderate-income pupils attending all the nation's schools.
The Party commits itself to support of adult education and training which will provide skills upgrading.
In higher education, our Party is strongly committed to extending postsecondary opportunities for students from low- and middle-income families, including older students and students who eau attend only part-time. The Basic Educational Opportunity Grants should be funded at the full payment schedule, and campus-based programs of aid must be supported to provide a reasonable choice of institutions as well as access. With a coordinated and reliable system of grants, loans and work study, we can relieve the crisis in costs that could shut all but the affluent out of our colleges and universities.
The federal government and the states must develop strategies to support institutions of higher education from both public and private sources. The federal government should directly provide cost of education payments to all higher education institutions, including predominantly black colleges, to help cover per-student costs, which far exceed those covered by tuition and fees.
Finally, government must systematically support basic and applied research in the liberal arts, the sciences, education and the professions—without political interference or bureaucratic restraint. The federal investment in graduate education should be sustained and selectively increased to meet the need for highly trained individuals. Trainee-ships and fellowships should be provided to attract the most talented students, especially among minority groups and women.
Libraries should receive continuous guaranteed support and the presently impounded funds for nationwide library planning and development should be released immediately.
The Nixon-Ford administration would limit eligibility for federally-subsidized social services to the very poor. Social services can make significant changes in the lives of the non-poor, as well. The problems of alcoholism, drug abuse, mental retardation, child abuse or neglect, and mental illness arise at every income level, and quality day-care has become increasingly urgent for low- and middle-income families. Federal grants to the states should support a broad community-based program of social services to low- and middle-income families, to assure that these programs reach their intended populations.
The states are now being required to take over an increasing share of existing social service programs. In 1972, the ceiling for federal social service grants was frozen at $2.5 billion, and subsequent inflation of 28 per cent has reduced the effective federal aid to existing programs. While there must certainly be a ceiling on such grants, it should be raised to compensate for inflation and to encourage states and localities to expand social services to low- and moderate-income families.
We support greater recognition of the problems of the disabled and legislation assuring that all people with disabilities have reasonable access to all public accommodations and facilities. The Democratic Party supports affirmative action goals for employment of the disabled.
The Democratic Party has always emphasized that adequate income and health care for senior citizens are basic federal government responsibilities. The recent failure of government to reduce unemployment and alleviate the impact of the rising costs of food, housing and energy have placed a heavy burden on those who live on fixed and limited incomes, especially the elderly. Our other platform proposals in these areas are designed to help achieve an adequate income level for the elderly.
We will not permit an erosion of social security benefits, and while our ultimate goal is a health security system ensuring comprehensive and quality care for all Americans, health costs paid by senior citizens under the present system must be reduced.
We believe that Medicare should be made available to Americans abroad who are eligible for Social Security.
Democrats strongly support employment programs and the liberalization of the allowable earnings limitation under Social Security for older Americans who wish to continue working and living as productive citizens. We will put an end to delay in implementation of nutrition programs for the elderly and give high priority to a transportation policy for senior citizens under the Older Americans Act. We pledge to enforce vigorously health and safety standards for nursing homes, and seek alternatives which allow senior citizens where possible to remain in their own homes.
America's veterans have been rhetorically praised by the Nixon-Ford administration at the same time that they have been denied adequate medical, educational, pension and employment benefits.
Vietnam veterans have borne the brunt of unemployment and economic mismanagement at home. As late as December 1975, the unemployment rate for Vietnam veterans was over 10 per cent. Younger Vietnam veterans (ages 20—24) have had unemployment rates almost twice the rate of similarly-aged non-veterans. Job training, placement, and information and counseling programs for veterans are inadequate.
The Veterans Administration health care program requires adequate funding and improved management and health care delivery in order to provide high quality service and effectively meet the changing needs of the patient population.
The next Democratic administration must act to rescue pensioner veterans below the poverty line. Thirty per cent of the veterans and 50 per cent of the widows receiving pensions have total incomes below the poverty line. Cost of living increases should be automatic in the veterans' pension and disability system.
Educational assistance should be expanded two years for those veterans already enrolled and drawing benefits in VA-approved educational and training programs.
The Arts and Humanities
We recognize the essential role played by arts and humanities in the development of America. Our nation cannot afford to be materially rich and spiritually poor. We endorse a strong role for the federal government in reinforcing the vitality and improving the economic strength of the nation's artists and arts institutions, while recognizing that artists must be absolutely free of any government control. We would support the growth and development of the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities through adequate funding, the development of special anti-recession employment programs for artists, copyright reforms to protect the rights of authors, artists and performers, and revision of the tax laws that unfairly penalize artists. We further pledge our support for the concept and adequate financing of public broadcasting.
IV. States, Counties and Cities
More than eight years ago, the Kerner Commission on Civil Disorders concluded that the disorders of the 1960s were caused by the deteriorating conditions of life in our urban centers—abject poverty, widespread unemployment, uninhabitable housing, declining services, rampant crime and disintegrating families. Many of these same problems plagued rural America as well. Little has been done by the Republican administrations to deal with the fundamental challenges to our society. This policy of neglect gives the lie to the current administration's rhetorical commitment to state and local governments.
By tolerating intolerable unemployment, by vetoing programs for the poor, the old, and the ill, by abandoning the veterans and the young, and by withholding necessary funds for the decaying cities, the Nixon-Ford years have been years of retrogression in the nation's efforts to meet the needs of our cities. By abdicating responsibility for meeting these needs at the national level, the current administration has placed impossible burdens on fiscally hard-pressed state and local governments. In turn, local governments have been forced to rely excessively on the steadily diminishing and regressive property tax—which was originally designed to cover property related services and was never intended to support the services now required in many of our cities and towns.
Federal policies and programs have inadvertently exacerbated the urban crisis. Within the framework of a new partnership of federal, state and local governments, and the private sector, the Democratic Party is pledged to the development of America's first national urban policy. Central to the success of that policy are the Democratic Party's commitments to full employment, incentives for urban and rural economic development, welfare reform, adequate health care, equalization of education expenditures, energy conservation and environmental quality. If progress were made in these areas, much of the inappropriately placed fiscal burden would be removed, and local governments could better fulfill their appropriate responsibilities.
To assist further in relieving both the fiscal and service delivery problems of states and local governments, the Democratic Party reaffirms its support for general revenue sharing as a base for the fiscal health of all levels of government, acknowledging that the civil rights and citizens' participation provisions must be strengthened. We further believe that there must be an increase in the annual funding to compensate for the erosion of inflation. We believe the distribution formula should be adjusted to reflect better community and state needs, poverty levels, and tax effort.
Finally, to alleviate the financial burden placed on our cities by the combination of inflation and recession, the Democratic Party restates its support for an emergency anti-recession aid to states and cities particularly hard hit by recession.
Housing and Community Development
In the past eight Republican years, housing has become a necessity priced as a luxury. Housing prices have nearly doubled in the past six years and housing starts have dropped by almost one-quarter. The effect is that over three-fourths of American families cannot afford to buy an average-priced home. The basic national goal of providing decent housing and available shelter has been sacrificed to misguided tax, spending and credit policies which were supposed to achieve price stability but have failed to meet that goal. As a result, we do not have decent housing or price stability. The vision of the Housing Act of 1968, the result of three decades of enlightened Democratic housing policy, has been lost. The Democratic Party reasserts these goals, and pledges to achieve them.
The Democratic Party believes it is time for a housing and urban development policy which recognizes the needs and difficulties of both the buying and renting public and the housing industry. We support a revitalized housing program which will be able to meet the public's need for housing at reasonable cost and the industry's need for relief from years of stagnation and now-chronic unemployment.
We support direct federal subsidies and low interest loans to encourage the construction of low and moderate income housing. Such subsidies shall not result in unreasonable profit for builders, developers or credit institutions.
We support the expansion of the highly successful programs of direct federal subsidies to provide housing for the elderly.
We call for greatly increased emphasis on the rehabilitation of existing housing to rebuild our neighborhoods—a priority which is undercut by the current pattern of federal housing money which includes actual prohibitions to the use of funds for rehabilitation.
We encourage public and private commitments to the preservation and renovation of our country's historic landmarks so that they can continue as a vital part of our commercial and residential architectural heritage.
We will work to assure that credit institutions make greater effort to direct mortgage money into the financing of private housing.
We will take all necessary steps to prohibit the practice of red-lining by private financial institutions, the FHA, and the secondary mortgage market which have had the effect of depriving certain areas of the necessary mortgage funds which they need to upgrade themselves. We will further encourage an increase in loans and subsidies for housing and rehabilitation, especially in poverty stricken areas.
We support greater flexibility in the use of community development block grants at the local level.
The current Housing and Community Development Act should be reformed and restructured so that its allocation, monitoring, and citizen participation features better address the needs of local communities, major cities and underdeveloped rural areas.
The revitalization of our cities must proceed with an understanding that housing, jobs and related community facilities are all critical to a successful program. The Democratic Party will create the necessary incentives to insure that private and public jobs are available to meet the employment needs of these communities and pledges a more careful planning process for the location of the federal government's own employment-creating facilities.
The Democratic Party proposes a revitalization of the Federal Housing Administration as a potent institution to stabilize new construction and existing housing markets. To this end, the Agency's policies must be simplified, its operating practices and insurance rate structures modernized and the sense of public service which was the hallmark of the FHA for so many years must be restored. In addition, we propose automatic triggering of direct production subsidies and a steady flow of mortgage funds during periods when housing starts fall below acceptable levels.
Women, the elderly, single persons and minorities are still excluded from exercising their right to select shelter in the areas of their choice, and many "high-risk" communities are systematically denied access to the capital they require. The Democratic Party pledges itself to the aggressive enforcement of the Fair Housing Act; to the promotion and enforcement of equal opportunity in housing; and to the pursuit of new regulatory and incentive policies aimed at providing minority groups and women with equal access to mortgage credit.
In addition to direct attacks upon such known violations of the law, a comprehensive approach to these problems must include policies aimed at the underlying causes of unequal credit allocations. The Democratic Party pledges itself to aggressive policies designed to assure lender that their commitments will be backed by government resources, so that investment risks will be shared by the public and private sectors.
The Special Needs of Older Cities
The Democratic Party recognizes that a number of major, older cities—including the nation's largest city—have been forced to undertake even greater social responsibilities, which have resulted in unprecedented fiscal crises. There is a national interest in helping such cities in their present travail, and a new Democratic President and the Congress shall undertake a massive effort to do so.
Law Enforcement and Law Observance
The total crime bill in the United States has been estimated at $90 billion a year, almost as much as the cost of our national defense. But over and above the economic impact, the raging and unchecked growth of crime seriously impairs the confidence of many of our citizens in their ability to walk on safe streets, to live securely in peaceful and happy homes, and to work safely in their places of business. Fear mounts along with the crime rate. Homes are made into fortresses. In large sections of every major city, people are afraid to go out at night. Outside big cities, the crime rate is growing even faster, so that suburbs, small towns and rural areas are no longer secure havens.
Defaulting on their "law and order" promises, the Republicans in the last eight years have let the rising tide of crime soil the highest levels government, allowed the crime rate to skyrocket and failed to reform the criminal justice system. Recognizing that law enforcement is essentially a local responsibility, we declare that control of crime is an urgent national priority and pledge the efforts of the Democratic Party to insure that the federal government act effectively to reverse these trends and to be an effective partner to reverse cities and states in a well-coordinated war on crime.
We must restore confidence in the criminal justice system by insuring that detection, conviction and punishment of lawbreakers is swift and sure; that the criminal justice system is just and efficient; that jobs, decent housing and educational opportunities provide a real alternative to crime to those who suffer enforced poverty and injustice We pledge equally vigorous prosecution and punishment for corporate crime, consumer fraud and deception; programs to combat child abuse and crimes against the elderly; criminal laws that reflect national needs; application of the law with a balanced and fair hand; a judiciary that renders equal justice for all; criminal sentences that provide punishment that actually punishes and rehabilitation that actually rehabilitates; and a correctional system emphasizing effective job training, educational and post-release programs. Only such measures will restore the faith of the citizens in our criminal justice system.
Toward these ends, we support a major reform of the criminal justice system, but we oppose any legislative effort to introduce repressive and anti-civil libertarian measures in the guise of reform of the criminal code.
The Law Enforcement Assistance Administration has not done its job adequately. Federal funding for crime-fighting must be wholly revamped to more efficiently assist local and state governments in strengthening their law enforcement and criminal justice systems, rather than spend money on the purchase of expensive equipment, much of it useless.
Citizen confidence in law enforcement can be enhanced through increased citizen participation, by informing citizens of police and prosecutor policies, assuring that police departments reflect a cross-section of the communities they serve, establishing neighborhood forums to settle simple disputes, restoring the grand jury to fair and vigorous independence, establishing adequate victim compensation programs, and reaffirming our respect for the individual's right to privacy.
Coordinated action is necessary to end the vicious cycle of drug addiction and crime. We must break up organized crime syndicates dealing in drugs, take necessary action to get drug pushers off the streets, provide drug users with effective rehabilitation programs, including medical assistance, ensure that all young people are aware of the costs of a life of drug dependency, and use worldwide efforts to stop international production and trafficking in illicit drugs.
A Democratic Congress in 1974 passed the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act to come to grips with the fact that juveniles account for almost half of the serious crimes in the United States, and to remedy the fact that federal programs thus far have not met the crisis of juvenile delinquency. We pledge funding and implementation of this Act, which has been ignored by the Republican Administration.
Handguns simplify and intensify violent crime. Ways must be found to curtail the availability of these weapons. The Democratic Party must provide the leadership for a coordinated federal and state effort to strengthen the presently inadequate controls over the manufacture, assembly, distribution and possession of handguns and to ban Saturday night specials.
Furthermore, since people and not guns commit crimes, we support mandatory sentencing for individuals convicted of committing a felony with a gun.
The Democratic Party, however, affirms the right of sportsmen to possess guns for purely hunting and target-shooting purposes.
The full implementation of these policies will not in themselves stop lawlessness. To insure professionally trained and equitably rewarded police forces, law enforcement officers must be properly recruited and trained, and provided with decent wages, working conditions, support staff, and federal death benefits for those killed in line of duty.
Effective police forces cannot operate without just and speedy court systems. We must reform bail and pre-trial detention procedures. We must assure speedy trials and ease court congestion by increasing the number of judges, prosecutors and public defenders. We must improve and streamline courthouse management procedures, require criminal justice records to be accurate and responsible, and establish fair and more uniform sentencing for crimes.
Courts should give priority to crimes which are serious enough to deserve imprisonment. Law enforcement should emphasize the prosecution of crimes against persons and property as a higher priority than victimless crimes. Current rape laws need to be amended to abolish archaic evidence rules that discriminate against rape victims.
We pledge that the Democratic Party will not tolerate abuses of governmental processes and unconstitutional action by the government itself. Recognizing the value of legitimate intelligence efforts to combat espionage and major crime, we call for new legislation to ensure that these efforts will no longer be used as an excuse for abuses such as bugging, wiretaps, mail opening and disruption aimed at lawful political and private activities.
The Attorney General in the next Democratic administration will be an independent, non-political official of the highest integrity. If lawlessness is found at any level, in any branch, immediate and decisive action will be taken to root it out. To that end, we will establish the machinery for appointing an independent Special Prosecutor whenever needed.
As a party, as a nation, we must commit ourselves to the elimination of injustice wherever it plagues our government, our people and our future.
An effective national transportation policy must be grounded in an understanding of all transportation systems and their consequences for costs, reliability, safety, environmental quality and energy savings. Without public transportation, the rights of all citizens to jobs and social services cannot be met.
To that end, we will work to expand substantially the discretion available to states and cities in the use of federal transportation money, for either operating expenses or capital programs on the modes of transportation which they choose. A greater share of Highway Trust Fund money should also be available on a flexible basis.
We will change further the current restrictive limits on the use of mass transit funds by urban and rural localities so that greater amounts can be used as operating subsidies; we emphatically oppose the Republican administration's efforts to reduce federal operating subsidies.
We are committed to dealing with the transportation needs of rural America by upgrading secondary roads and bridges and by completion of the original plan of 1956 for the interstate highway system where it benefits rural Americans. Among other benefits, these measures would help overcome the problems of getting products to market, and services to isolated persons in need.
We will take whatever action is necessary to reorganize and revitalize our nation's railroads.
We are also committed to the support of healthy trucking and bus, inland waterway and air transport systems.
A program of national rail and road rehabilitation and improved mass transit would not only mean better transportation for our people, but it would also put thousands of unemployed construction workers back to work and make them productive tax-paying citizens once again.
Further, it would move toward the Democratic Party's goal of assuring balanced transportation services for all areas of the nation—urban and rural. Such a policy is intended to reorganize both pressing urban needs and the sorry state of rural public transportation.
The problems of rural America are closely linked to those of our cities. Rural poor and the rural elderly suffer under the same economic pressures and have at least as many social needs as their counterparts in the cities. The absence of rural jobs and rural vitality and the continuing demise of the family farm have promoted a migration to our cities which is beyond the capacity of the cities to absorb. Over 20 million Americans moved to urban areas between 1940 and 1960 alone. We pledge to develop programs to make the family farm economically healthy again so as to be attractive to young people.
To that end, the Democratic Party pledges to strengthen the economy and thereby create jobs in our great agricultural and rural areas by the full implementation and funding of the Rural Development Act of 1972 and by the adoption of an agricultural policy which recognizes that our capacity to produce food and fiber is one of our greatest assets.
While it is bad enough to be poor, or old, or alone in the city, it is worse in the country. We are therefore committed to overcome the problems of rural as well as urban isolation and poverty by insuring the existence of adequate health facilities, critically-needed community facilities such as water supply and sewage disposal systems, decent housing, adequate educational opportunity and needed transportation throughout rural America.
As discussed in the transportation section, we believe that transportation dollars should be available in a manner to permit their flexible use. In rural areas this means they could be used for such needs as secondary road improvement, taxi systems, buses, or other systems to overcome the problems of widely dispersed populations, to facilitate provisions of social services and to assure access of citizens to meet human needs.
Two thousand family farms are lost per week. To help assure that family farms stay in the family where they belong, we will push increases in relevant estate tax exemptions. This increased exemption, when coupled with programs to increase generally the vitality of rural America, should mean that the demise of the family farm can be reversed.
We will seek adequate levels of insured and guaranteed loans for electrification and telephone facilities.
Only such a coordinated program can make rural America again attractive and vigorous, as it needs to be if we are to deal with the challenges facing the nation as a whole.
Administration of Federal Aid
Federal aid programs impose jurisdictional and administrative complications which substantially diminish the good accomplished by the federal expenditure of about $50 billion annually on state and local governments. An uncoordinated policy regarding eligibility requirements, audit guidelines, accounting procedures and the like comprise the over 800 categorical aid programs and threaten to bog down the more broadly conceived flexible block grant programs. The Democratic Party is committed to cutting through this chaos and simplifying the grant process for both recipient governments and program administrators.
The Democratic Party also reaffirms the role of state and general purpose local governments as the principal governments in the orderly administration of federal aid and revenue sharing programs.
V. Natural Resources and Environmental Quality
Almost three years have passed since the off embargo. Yet, by any measure, the nation's energy lifeline is in far greater peril today. America is running out of energy—natural gas, gasoline and oil.
The economy is already being stifled. The resulting threat of unemployment and diminished production is already present.
If America, as we know it, is to survive, we must move quickly to develop renewable sources of energy.
The Democratic Party will strive to replace the rapidly diminishing supply of petroleum and natural gas with solar, geothermal, wind, tide and other forms of energy, and we recommend that the federal government promptly expand whatever funds are required to develop new systems of energy.
We have grown increasingly dependent on imported oil. Domestic production, despite massive price increases, continues to decline. Energy stockpiles, while authorized, are yet to be created. We have no agreements with any producing nations for security of supply. Efforts to develop alternative energy sources have moved forward slowly. Production of our most available and plentiful alternative—coal—is not increasing. Energy conservation is still a slogan, instead of a program.
Republican energy policy has rafted because it is based on illusions; the illusion of a free market in energy that does not exist, the illusion that ever-increasing energy prices will not harm the economy, and the illusion of an energy program based on unobtainable independence.
The time has come to deal with the realities of the energy crisis, not its illusions. The realities are that rising energy prices, falling domestic supply, increasing demand, and the threat to national security of growing imports, have not been contained by the private sector.
The Democratic energy platform begins with a recognition that the federal government has an important role to play in insuring the nation's energy future, and that it must he given the tools it needs to protect the economy and the nation's consumers from arbitrary and excessive energy price increases and help the nation embark on a massive domestic energy program focusing on conservation, coal conversion, exploration and development of new technologies to insure an adequate short-term and long-term supply of energy for the nation's needs. A nation advanced enough and wealthy enough to send a man to the moon must dedicate itself to developing alternate sources of energy.
Energy pricing. Enactment of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 established oil ceiling prices at levels sufficient to maximize domestic production but still below OPEC equivalents. The act was a direct result of the Democratic Congress' commitment to the principle that beyond certain levels, increasing energy prices simply produce high-cost energy—without producing any additional energy supplies.
This oil-pricing lesson should also be applied to natural gas. Those not pressing to turn natural gas price regulation over to OPEC, while arguing the rhetoric of so-called deregulation, must not prevail. The pricing of new natural gas is in need of reform. We should narrow the gap between oil and natural gas prices with new natural gas ceiling prices that maximize production and investment while protecting the economy and the consumer. Any reforms in the pricing of new natural gas should not be at the cost of severe economic dislocations that would accelerate inflation and increase unemployment.
An examination must be made of advertising cost policies of utilities and the imposition of these costs on the consumer. Advertising costs used to influence public policy ought to be borne by stockholders of utility companies and not by the consumers.
Domestic supply and demand. The most promising neglected domestic option for helping balance our energy budget is energy conservation. But major investments in conservation are still not being made.
The Democratic Party will support legislation to establish national building performance standards on a regional basis designed to improve energy efficiency. We will provide new incentives for aiding individual homeowners, particularly average income families and the poor in undertaking conservation investments. We will support the reform of utility rate structures and regulatory rules to encourage conservation and ease the utility rate burden on residential users, farmers and other consumers who can least afford it; make more efficient use of electrical generating capacity; and we will aggressively pursue implementation of automobile efficiency standards and appliance labeling programs already established by Democratic initiative in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act.
Coal currently comprises 80 percent of the nation's energy resources, but produces only 16 per cent of the nation's energy. The Democratic Party believes that the United States' coal production can and must be increased without endangering the health and safety of miners, diminishing the land and water resources necessary for increased food production, and sacrificing the personal and property rights of farmers, ranchers and Indian tribes.
We must encourage the production of the highest quality coal, closest to consumer markets, in order to insure that investments in energy production reinforce the economics of energy producing and consuming regions. Improved rail transportation systems will make coal available where it is actually needed, and will insure a rail transport network required for a healthy industrial and agricultural economy.
We support an active federal role in the research and development of clean burning and commercially competitive coal burning systems and technologies, and we encourage the conversion to coal of industrial users of natural gas and imported oil. Air quality standards that make possible the burning of coal without danger to the public health or degradation of the nation's clear air must be developed and implemented.
The Democratic Party wants to put an end to the economic depression, loss of life and environmental destruction that has long accompanied irresponsible coal development in Appalachia. Strip mining legislation designed to protect and restore the environment, while ending the uncertainty over the rules governing future coal mining, must be enacted.
The huge reserves of oil, gas and coal on federal territory, including the outer continental shelf, belong to all the people. The Republicans have pursued leasing policies which give the public treasury the least benefit and the energy industry the most benefit from these public resources. Consistent with environmentally sound practices, new leasing procedures must be adopted to correct these policies, as well as insure the timely development of existing leases.
Major federal initiatives, including major governmental participation in early high-risk development projects, are required if we are to harness renewable resources like solar, wind, geothermal, the oceans, and other new technologies such as fusion, fuel cells and the conversion of solid waste and starches into energy. The Ford Administration has failed to provide those initiatives, and, in the process, has denied American workers important new opportunities for employment in the building and servicing of emerging new energy industries.
U.S. dependence on nuclear power should be kept to the minimum necessary to meet our needs. We should apply stronger safety standards as we regulate its use. And we must be honest with our people concerning its problems and dangers as well as its benefits.
An increasing share of the nuclear research dollar must be invested in finding better solutions to the problems of nuclear waste disposal, reactor safety and nuclear safeguards—both domestically and internationally.
Competition in the domestic petroleum industry. Legislation must be enacted to insure energy administrators and legislators access to information they need for making the kind of informed decisions that future energy policy will require. We believe full disclosure of data on reserves, supplies and costs of production should be mandated by law.
It is increasingly clear that there is no free, competitive market for crude oil in the United States. Instead, through their control of the nation's oil pipelines, refineries and marketing, the major oil producers have the capability of controlling the field and often the downstream price of almost all off.
When competition inadequate to insure free markets and maximum benefit to American consumers exists, we support effective restrictions on the right of major companies to own all phases of the oil industry.
We also support the legal prohibition against corporate ownership of competing types of energy, such as oil and coal. We believe such "horizontal" concentration of economic power to be dangerous both to the national interest and to the functioning of the competitive system.
Improved energy planning. Establishment of a more orderly system for setting energy goals and developing programs for reaching those goals should be undertaken. The current proliferation of energy jurisdictions among many executive agencies underscores the need for a more coordinated system. Such a system should be undertaken, and provide for centralization of overall energy planning in a specific executive agency and an assessment of the capital needs for all priority programs to increase production and conservation of energy.
Mineral Resources. As with energy resources, many essential mineral resources may soon be inadequate to meet our growing needs unless we plan more wisely than we have with respect to energy. The Democratic Party pledges to undertake a long-range assessment of supply of our mineral reserves as well as the demand for them.
As a nation, we are blessed with rich resources of land, water and climate. When the supporting technology has been used to preserve and promote the family ownership and operation of farms and ranches, the people have been well served.
America's farm families have demonstrated their ability and eagerness to produce food in sufficient quantity to feed their fellow citizens and share with hungry people around the world as well. Yet this national asset has been neither prudently developed nor intelligently used.
The eight-year record of the Nixon-Ford administration is a record of lost opportunities, failure to meet the challenges of agricultural statesmanship, and favoritism to the special pleading of giant corporate agricultural interests.
Republican misrule in agriculture has caused wide fluctuations in prices to producers, inflated food prices to consumers, unconscionable profiteering on food by business, unscrupulous shipping practices by grain traders, and the mishandling of our abundance in export markets. Republican agricultural policy has spelled high food prices, unstable farm income, windfalls for commodity speculators and multinational corporations, and confrontations between farmer and consumer.
Foremost attention must be directed to the establishment of a national food and fiber policy which will be fair to both producer and consumer, and be based on the family farm agricultural system which has served the nation and the world so well for so long.
Maximum agricultural production will be the most effective means of achieving an adequate food and fiber supply and reasonable price stability to American consumers. Without parity income assurance to farmers, full production cannot be achieved in an uncertain economy. We must assure parity return to farmers based on costs of production plus a reasonable profit.
We must continue and intensify efforts to expand agriculture's long-term markets abroad, and at the same time we must prevent irresponsible and inflationary sales from the American granary to foreign purchasers. Aggressive but stable and consistent export policy must be our goal. The production of food and fiber in America must be used as part of a constructive foreign policy based on long-term benefits at home and abroad, but not at the expense of the farmers.
Producers shall be encouraged to produce at full capacity within the limits of good conservation practices, including the use of recycled materials, if possible and desirable, to restore natural soil fertility. Any surplus production needed to protect the people of the world from famine shall be stored on the farm in such a manner as to isolate it from the market place.
Excess production beyond the needs of the people for food shall be converted to industrial purposes.
Farmers as individual producers must deal constantly with organized suppliers and marketers, and compete with non-farm conglomerates. To assist them in bargaining for the tools of production, and to strengthen the institution of the family farm, the Democratic Party will: support the Capper-Volstead Act in its present form; curb the influence of non-farm conglomerates which, through the elimination of competition in the marketplace, pose a threat to farmers; support the farmer cooperatives and bargaining associations; scrutinize and remedy any illegal concentrations and price manipulations of farm equipment and supply industries; revitalize basic credit programs for farmers; provide adequate credit tailored to the needs of young farmers; assure access for farmers and rural residents to energy, transportation, electricity and telephone services; reinstate sound, locally administered soil conservation programs; eliminate tax shelter farming; and overhaul federal estate and gift taxes to alleviate some of the legal problems faced by farm families who would otherwise be forced to liquidate their assets to pay the tax.
Long overdue are programs of assistance to farm workers in housing, employment, health, social services and education.
To protect the health of our citizens the government shall insure that all agricultural imports must meet the same quality standards as those imposed on agricultural products produced in the United States and that only quality American agricultural products be exported.
Fisheries. America's fisheries must be protected and enhanced as a renewable resource through ecologically sound conservation practices and meaningful international agreements and compacts between individual states.
The Democratic Party's strong commitment to environmental quality is based on its conviction that environmental protection is not simply an aesthetic goal, but is necessary to achieve a more just society. Cleaning up air and water supplies and controlling the proliferation of dangerous chemicals is a necessary part of a successful national health program. Protecting the worker from workplace hazards is a key element of our full employment program. Occupational disease and death must not be the price of a weekly wage.
The Democratic Party, through the Congress, has recognized the need for basic environmental scrutiny, and has authored a comprehensive program to achieve this objective. In eight years, the efforts to implement that program have been thwarted by an administration committed only to unfounded allegations that economic growth and environmental protection are incompatible.
Quite to the contrary, the Democratic Party believes that a concern for the environment need not and must not stand in the way of a much-needed policy of high economic growth.
Moreover, environmental protection creates jobs. Environmental legislation enacted since 1970 already has produced more than one million jobs, and we pledge to continue to work for additional laws to protect, restore and preserve the environment while providing still more jobs.
Today, permanently harmful chemicals are dispersed, and irrecoverable land is rendered worthless. If we are to avoid repeated environmental crises, we must now renew our efforts to restore both environmental quality and economic growth.
Those who would use the environment must assume the burden of demonstrating that it will not be abused. For too long this burden has been on government agencies, representing the public, to assess and hopefully correct the damage that has already been done.
Our irreplaceable natural and aesthetic resources must be managed to ensure abundance for future generations. Strong land and ocean use planning is an essential element of such management. The artifacts of the desert, the national forests, the wilderness areas, the endangered species, the coastal beaches and barrier dunes and other precious resources are in danger. They cannot be restored. They must be protected.
Economic inequities created by subsidies for virgin materials to the disadvantage of recycled materials must be eliminated. Depletion allowances and unequal freight rates serve to discourage the growing numbers of businesses engaged in recycling efforts.
Environmental research and development within the public sector should be increased substantially. For the immediate future, we must learn how to correct the damage we have already done, but more importantly, we need research on how to build a society in which renewable and nonrenewable resources are used wisely and efficiently.
Federal environmental anti-pollution requirement programs should be as uniform as possible to eliminate economic discrimination. A vigorous program with national minimum environmental standards fully implemented, recognizing basic regional differences, will ensure that states and workers are not penalized by pursuing environmental programs.
The technological community should be encouraged to produce better pollution-control equipment, and more importantly, to produce technology which produces less pollution.
VI. International Relations
The next Democratic administration must and will initiate a new American foreign policy.
Eight years of Nixon-Ford diplomacy have left our nation isolated abroad and divided at home. Policies have been developed and applied secretly and arbitrarily by the executive department from the time of secret bombing in Cambodia to recent covert assistance in Angola. They have been policies that relied on ad hoc, unilateral maneuvering, and a balance-of-power diplomacy suited better to the last century than to this one. They have disdained traditional American principles which once earned the respect of other peoples while inspiring our own. Instead of efforts to foster freedom and justice in the world, the Republican administration has built a sorry record of disregard for human rights, manipulative interference in the internal affairs of other nations,
and, frequently, a greater concern for our relations with totalitarian adversaries than with our democratic allies. And its efforts to preserve, rather than reform, the international status quo betray a self-fulfilling pessimism that contradicts a traditional American belief in the possibility of human progress.
Defense Policy and spending for military forces must be consistent with meeting the real security needs of the American people. We recognize that the security of our nation depends first and foremost on the internal strength of American society —economic, social and political. We also recognize that serious international threats to our security, such as shortages of food and raw materials, are not solely military in nature and cannot be met by military force or the threat of force. The Republican Administration has, through mismanagement and misguided Policies, undermined the security of our nation by neglecting human needs at home while, for the first time in our nation's history, increasing military spending after a war. Billions of dollars have been diverted into wasteful, extravagant and, in some instances, destabilizing military programs. Our country can—and under a Democratic administration it will—work vigorously for the adoption of policies of full employment and economic growth which will enable us to meet both the justified domestic needs of our citizens and our needs for an adequate national defense.
A Democratic administration will work to create a foreign policy that does justice to the strength and decency of the American people through adherence to these fundamental principles and priorities:
We will act on the premise that candor in policy-making, with all its liabilities, is preferable to deceit. The Congress will be involved in the major international decisions of our government, and our foreign policies will be openly and consistently presented to the American people. For even if diplomatic tactics and national security information must sometimes remain secret, there can be no excuse for formulating and executing basic policy without public understanding and support.
Our policy must be based on our nation's commitment to the ideal of individual freedom and justice. Experience has taught us not to rely solely on military strength or economic power, as necessary as they are, in pursuit of our international objectives. We must rely too on the moral strength of our democratic values—the greatest inspiration to our friends and the attribute most feared by our enemies. We will ensure that human needs are not sacrificed to military spending, while maintaining the military forces we require for our security.
We will strengthen our ties to the other great democracies, working together to resolve common economic and social problems as well as to keep our defenses strong.
We will restore the Democratic tradition of friendship and support to Third World nations.
We must also seek areas of cooperation with our traditional adversaries. There is no other option, for human survival itself is at stake. But pursuit of detente will require maintenance of a strong American military deterrent, hard bargaining for our own interest, recognition of continuing competition, and a refusal to oversell the immediate benefits of such a policy to the American public.
We will reaffirm the fundamental American commitment to human rights across the globe. America must work for a release of all political prisoners—men and women who are in jail simply because they have opposed peacefully the policies of their governments or have aided others who have—in all countries. America must take a firm stand to support and implement existing U.S. law to bring about liberalization of emigration policy in countries which limit or prohibit free emigration. America must be resolute in its support of the right of workers to organize and of trade unions to act freely and independently, and in its support of freedom of the press. America must continue to stand as a bulwark in support of human liberty in all countries. A return to the politics of principle requires a reaffirmation of human freedom throughout the world.
The Challenge of Interdependence
The international economy. Eight years of mismanagement of the American economy have contributed to global recession and inflation. The most important contribution a Democratic administration will make to the returning health of the world economy will be to restore the health of our own economy, with all that means to international economic stability and progress.
We are committed to trade policies that can benefit a full employment economy—through creation of new jobs for American workers, new markets for American farmers and businesses, and lower prices and a wider choice of goods for American consumers. Orderly reductions in trade barriers should be negotiated on a reciprocal basis that does not allow other nations to deny us access to their markets while enjoying access to ours. These measures must be accompanied by improved programs to ease dislocations and to relieve the hardship of American workers affected by foreign competition.
The Democratic Party will also seek to promote higher labor standards in those nations where productivity far outstrips wage rates, harming American workers through unfair exploitation of foreign labor, and encouraging American capital to pursue low wage opportunities that damage our own economy and weaken the dollar.
We will exert leadership in international efforts to strengthen the world economic system. The Ford administration philosophy of reliance on the international "market economy" is insufficient in a world where some governments and multinational corporations are active in managing and influencing market forces.
We pledge constant efforts to keep world monetary systems functioning properly in order to provide a reasonably stable economic environment for business and to prevent the importation of inflation. We will support reform of the international monetary system to strengthen institutional means of coordinating national economic policies, especially with our European and Japanese allies, thus facilitating efforts by our government and others to achieve full employment.
The Democratic Party is committed to a strong and competitive merchant fleet, built in the United States and manned by American seamen, as an instrument of international relations and national security. In order to revitalize our merchant fleet, the party pledges itself to a higher level of coordination of maritime policy, reaffirmation of the objectives of the Merchant Marine Acts of 1936 and 1970, and the development of a national cargo policy which assures the U.S. fleet a fair participation in all U.S. trade.
code of conduct for multinational corporations and host countries.
We will encourage multinational corporations—before they relocate production across international boundaries—to make sufficient advance arrangements for the workers whose jobs will be affected.
We will eliminate bribery and other corrupt practices.
We will prevent these corporations from interfering in the political systems of the countries in which they operate.
If such a code cannot be negotiated or proves to be unenforceable, our country should reserve the right to take unilateral action directed toward each of these problems, specifically including the outlawing of bribes and other improper payments to government officials of other nations.
In pursuit of open and fair international economic relationships, we will seek mechanisms, including legislation, to ensure that foreign governments cannot introduce third party boycotts or racial and religious discrimination into the conduct of American foreign commerce.
Energy. The United States must be a leader in promoting cooperation among the industrialized countries in developing alternative energy sources and reducing energy consumption, thus reducing our dependence on imports from the Middle East and restraining high energy prices. Under a Democratic Administration, the United States also will support international efforts to develop the vast energy potential of the developing countries.
We will also actively seek to limit the dangers inherent in the international development of atomic energy and in the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Steps to be given high priority will include: revitalization of the Nonproliferation Treaty, expansion of the International Atomic Energy Agency and other international safeguards and monitoring of national facilities, cooperation against potential terrorism involving nuclear weapons, agreement by suppliers not to transfer enrichment or reprocessing facilities, international assurance of supply of nuclear fuel only to countries cooperating with strict nonproliferation measures, subsidization of multinational nuclear facilities, and gradual conversion to international control of non-weapon fissionable material.
The developing world. We have a historic opportunity in the next decade to improve the extent and quality of cooperation between the rich and poor countries. The potential benefits to our nation of a policy of constructive cooperation with the developing world would be considerable: uninterrupted access at reasonable cost to raw materials and to basic commodities; lower rates of global inflation; improved world markets for our goods; and a more benign atmosphere for international negotiation in general. Above all, the prospects for the maintenance of peace will be vastly higher in a world in which fewer and fewer people suffer the pangs of hunger and the yoke of economic oppression.
We support efforts to stabilize and increase export earnings of developing countries through our participation in reasonable commodity arrangements. We support strengthening of global financing mechanisms and trade liberalization efforts. We will assist in promoting greater developing country, capital markets.
Because our country provides food and fiber to all the world, the American farmer is heavily dependent on world markets. These markets must be developed in a way that prevents the wild gyrations of food prices and the periodic shortages that have been common under recent Republican Administrations. We pledge significant financial support to the International Fund for Agricultural Development; more effective food aid through further revision of the U.S. Food for Peace program; significant contributions to a multination world food reserve system, with appropriate safeguards for American farmers; and continuing efforts to promote American food exports.
The proliferation in arms, both conventional and nuclear, is a principal potential source of conflict in the developing as well as the industrialized world. The United States should limit significantly conventional arms sales and reduce military aid to developing countries, should include conventional arms transfers on the arms control agenda, and should regulate country-by-country justification for U.S. arms transfers, whether by sales or aid. Such sales or aid must be justified in terms of foreign policy benefits to the United States and not simply because of their economic value to American weapons producers.
A primary, object of American aid, both military and economic, is first of all to enhance the condition of freedom in the world. The United States should not provide aid to any government—anywhere in the world—which uses secret police, detention without charges, and torture to enforce its powers. Exceptions to this policy should be rare, and the aid provided should be limited to that which is absolutely necessary. The United States should be open and unashamed in its exercise of diplomatic efforts to encourage the observance of human rights in countries which receive American aid.
Current world population growth is a threat to the long-range well-being of mankind. We pledge to support effective voluntary family planning around the world, as well as at home, and to recognize officially the link between social and economic development and the willingness of the individual to limit family size.
To be true to the traditional concern of Americans for the disadvantaged and the oppressed, our aid programs should focus on alleviating poverty and on support of the quest for human liberty and dignity. We will work to see that the United States does its fair share in international development assistance efforts, including participation in the fifth replenishment of the World Bank's International Development Association. We will implement a foreign assistance policy which emphasizes utilization of multilateral and regional development institutions, and one that includes a review of aid programs, country by country, to reinforce those projects whose financial benefits go to the people most in need and which are consistent with overall United States foreign policy goals.
The world environment. Decay of the environment knows no national boundary. A government committed to protect our environment knows no national boundary. A government committed to protect our environment at home must also seek international cooperation in defending the global environment.
Working through and supporting such organizations as the United Nations Environmental Program, we will join other governments in more effective efforts to preserve the quality and resources of the oceans; to preserve endangered species of fish and wildlife; to reverse the encroachment of the deserts, the erosion of the world's agricultural lands, and the accelerating destruction of its forests; to limit pollution of the atmosphere; and to control alterations of the global climate.
Criminal justice rights of Americans abroad. We will protect the rights and interests of Americans charged with crimes or jailed in foreign countries by vigorously exerting all appropriate efforts to guarantee humane treatment and due process and to secure extradition to the United States where appropriate.
International drug tragic. We call for the use of diplomatic efforts to stop international production and trafficking in illicit drugs including the possible cut-off of foreign aid to noncooperating countries.
The size and structure of our military forces must be carefully related to the demands of our foreign policies in this new era. These should be based on a careful assessment of what will be needed in the long-run to deter our potential adversaries; to fight successfully, if necessary, conventional wars in areas in which our national security is threatened; and to reassure our allies and friends—notably in Western Europe, Japan and the Near East. To this end, our strategic nuclear forces must provide a strong and credible deterrent to nuclear attack and nuclear blackmail. Our conventional forces must be strong enough to deter aggression in areas whose security is vital to our own. In a manner consistent with these objectives, we should seek those disarmament and arms control agreements which will contribute to mutual reductions in both nuclear and conventional arms.
The hallmarks of the Nixon-Ford administration's defense policy, however, have been stagnation and vulnerability.
By its reluctance to make changes in those features of our armed forces which were designed to deal with the problems of the past, the Administration has not only squandered defense dollars, but also neglected making improvements which are needed to increase our forces' fighting effectiveness and their capability to deter future aggression.
By its undue emphasis on the overall size of the defense budget as the primary measure of both our national resolve and the proficiency of our armed forces, the administration has forgotten that we are seeking not to outspend, but to be able to deter and, if necessary, outright our potential adversaries. While we must spend whatever is legitimately needed for defense, cutbacks on duplication and waste are both feasible and essential. Barring any major change in the international situation, with the proper management, with the proper kind of investment of defense dollars, and with the proper choice of military programs, we believe we can reduce present defense spending by about $5 billion to $7 billion. We must be tough-minded about the development of new weapons systems which add only marginal military value. The size of our defense budget should not be dictated by bureaucratic imperatives or the needs of defense contractors but by our assessment of international realities. In order to provide for a comprehensive review of the B-1 test and evaluation program, no decision regarding B-1 production should be made prior to February 1977.
The Pentagon has one of the federal government's most overgrown bureaucracies. The Department of Defense can be operated more effectively and efficiently and its budget reduced, without in any way compromising our defense posture. Our armed forces have many more admirals and generals today than during World War II, when our fighting force was much larger than now. We can reduce the ratio of officers to men and of support forces to combat troops.
Misdirected efforts such as the construction of pork-barrel projects under the jurisdiction of the Defense Department can be terminated. Exotic arms systems which serve no defense or foreign policy purpose should not be initiated.
By ignoring opportunities to use our advanced technology innovatively to obtain maximum effectiveness in weapons and minimize complexity and cost, the Republican administration has failed to reverse the trend toward increasingly intricate and expensive weapons systems. Thus, it has helped to put our forces—particularly the Navy—on the dangerous path of becoming both smaller in numbers and more vulnerable.
A new approach is needed. Our strategic nuclear forces should be structured to ensure their ability to survive nuclear attack, thereby assuring deterrence of nuclear war. Successful nuclear deterrence is the single most important task of our armed forces. We should, however, avoid becoming diverted into making expenditures which have only symbolic or prestige value or which themselves contribute to nuclear instability.
The United States Navy must remain the foremost fleet in the world. Our naval forces should be improved to stress survivability and our modem technology should be used in new ways to keep the essential sea lanes open. Concretely, we should put more stress on new sensors and armaments, and give priority to a navy consisting of a greater number of smaller and less vulnerable vessels.
Our land forces should be structured to fight effectively in support of our political and military commitments. To this end, modern, well-equipped and highly mobile land forces are more important than large numbers of sparsely-equipped infantry divisions.
Our tactical air-forces should be designed to establish air superiority quickly in the event of hostilities, and to support our land and naval forces.
We can and will make significant economies in the overhead and support structure of our military forces.
The defense procurement system should be reformed to require, wherever possible and consistent with efforts to encourage full participation by small and minority businesses, advertised competitive bids and other improvements in procurement procedure so as to encourage full and fair competition among potential contractors and to cut the current waste in defense procurement. A more equitable formula should be considered for distribution of defense contracts and other federal procurement on a state or regional basis.
The United States and other nations share a common interest in reducing military expenditures and transferring the savings into activities which raise living standards. In order to smooth the path for such changes, the Executive Branch and the Congress should encourage long-range planning by defense-dependent communities and managements of defense firms and unions. This process should take place within the context of the Democratic Party's commitment to planned full employment.
Our civilian and military intelligence agencies should be structured to provide timely and accurate information and analysis of foreign affairs and military matters. Covert action must be used only in the most compelling cases where the national security of the U.S. is vitally involved; assassination must be prohibited. There should be full and thorough congressional oversight of our intelligence agencies. The constitutional rights of American citizens can and must be fully protected, and intelligence abuses corrected, without endangering the confidentiality of properly classified intelligence or compromising the fundamental intelligence mission.
U.S.-U.S.S.R. relations. The United States and the Soviet Union are the only powers who, by rivalry or miscalculation, could bring general nuclear war upon our civilization. A principal goal must be the continued reduction of tension with the U.S.S.R. This can, however, only be accomplished by fidelity to our principles and interests and through business-like negotiations about specific issues, not by the bad bargains, dramatic posturing, and the stress on general declarations that have characterized the Nixon-Ford administration's detente policy.
Soviet actions continue to pose severe threats to peace and stability in many parts of the world and to undermine support in the West for fruitful negotiations toward mutually beneficial agreements. The U.S.S.R. has undertaken a major military buildup over the last several years in its navy, in its strategic forces, and in its land forces stationed in Eastern Europe and Asia. It has sought one-sided advantages in negotiations, and has exerted political and military pressure in such areas as the Near East and Africa, not hesitating to dispatch to Angola its own advisors as well as the expeditionary forces of its clients.
The continued U.S.S.R. military dominance of many Eastern European countries remains a source of oppression for the peoples of those nations, an oppression we do not accept and to which we are morally opposed. Any attempt by the Soviet Union similarly to dominate other parts of Europe—such as Yugoslavia—would be an action posing a grave threat to peace. Eastern Europe will not truly be an area of stability until these countries regain their independence and become part of a large European framework.
Our task is to establish U.S.-U.S.S.R. relations on a stable basis, avoiding excesses of both hope and fear. Patience, a clear sense of our own priorities, and a willingness to negotiate specific firm agreements in areas of mutual interest can return balance to relations between the United States and the Soviet Union.
In the field of nuclear disarmament and arms control we should work toward: limitations on the international spread of fissionable materials and nuclear weapons; specific strategic arms limitation agreements which will increase the stability of the strategic balance and reduce the risk of nuclear war, emphasizing mutual reductions and limitations on future weapons deployment which most threaten the strategic balance because their characteristics indicate a potential first-strike use; a comprehensive ban on nuclear tests; mutual reduction with the Soviet Union and others, under assured safeguards, of our nuclear arsenals, leading ultimately to the elimination of such arsenals; mutual restrictions with the Soviet Union and others on sales or other transfers of arms to developing countries; and conventional arms agreements and mutual and balanced force reductions in Europe.
However, in the area of strategic arms limitation, the U.S. should accept only such agreements that would not overall limit the U.S. to levels of intercontinental strategic forces inferior to the limits provided for the Soviet Union.
In the long-run, further development of more extensive economic relations between the United States and the Soviet Union may bring significant benefit to both societies. The U.S.S.R. has sought, however, through unfair trade practices to dominate such strategic fields as merchant shipping. Rather than effectively resisting such efforts, the Nixon-Ford administration has looked favorably on such steps as subsidizing U.S.-U.S.S.R. trade by giving the Soviet Union concessionary credits, promoting trade increases because of a short-run hope of using trade to modify political behavior, and even placing major United States energy investment in pawn to Soviet Union policy. Where bilateral trade agreements with the U.S.S.R. are to our economic advantage, we should pursue them, but our watch-words would be tough bargaining and concrete economic, political or other benefits for the United States. We should also press the Soviet Union to take a greater share of responsibility in multilateral solutions to such problems as creating adequate world grain reserves.
Our stance on the issue of human rights and political liberties in the Soviet Union is important to American self-respect and our moral standing in the world. We should continually remind the Soviet Union, by word and conduct, of its commitments in Helsinki to the free flow of people and ideas and of how offensive we and other free people find its violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As part of our programs of official, technical, trade, cultural and other exchanges with the U.S.S.R., we should press its leaders to open their society to a genuine interchange of people and ideas.
We must avoid assuming that the whole of American-Soviet relations is greater than the sum of its parts, that any agreement is superior to none, or that we can negotiate effectively as supplicants. We must realize that our firmness can help build respect for us and improve the long-run opportunities for mutually-beneficial concrete agreements. We must beware of the notion that Soviet-American relations are a seamless web in which concessions in one area will bring us benefits in others. By the same token, we must husband our resources to concentrate on what is most important to us. Detente must be military as well as political.
More fundamentally, we must recognize that the general character of our foreign policies will not be set by our direct relationship with the Soviet Union. Our allies and friends must come first. Nor can the pursuit of our interests elsewhere in the world be dominated by concern for Soviet views. For example, American policy toward China should continue to be based on a desire for a steady improvement and broadening of relations, whatever the tenor and direction of Chinese-Soviet relations.
Above all, we must be open, honest, mature and patient with ourselves and with our allies. We must recognize that, in the long-run, an effective policy toward the Soviet Union can only be grounded on honest discussion, and on a national and, to some extent, an international consensus. Our own institutions, especially the Congress, must be consulted and must help formulate our policy. The governments of our allies and friends must be made partners in our undertakings. Haste and secret bilateral executive arrangements in our dealings with the U.S.S.R. can only promote a mood of uncertainty and suspicion which undermines the public support essential to effective and stable international relations.
America in the World Community
Many of the critical foreign policy issues we face require global approaches, but an effective international role for the United States also demands effective working with the special interests of specific foreign nations and regions. The touchstone of our policy must be our own interests, which in turn means that we should not seek or expect to control events everywhere. Indeed, intelligent pursuit of our objectives demands a realization that even where our interests are great and our involvement essential, we do not act alone, but in a world setting where others have interests and objectives as well.
We cannot give expression to our national values without continuing to play a strong role in the affairs of the United Nations and its agencies. Firm and positive advocacy of our positions is essential.
We should make a major effort at reforming and restructuring the U.N. systems. The intensity of interrelated problems is rapidly increasing, and it is likely that in the future, the issues of war and peace will be more a function of economic and social problems than of the military security problems that have dominated international relations since 1945.
The heat of debate at the General Assembly should not obscure the value of our supporting United Nations involvement in keeping the peace and in the increasingly complex technical and social problems—such as pollution, health, economic development and population growth—that challenge the world community. But we must let the world know that anti-American polemics are no substitute for sound policy and that the United Nations is weakened by harsh rhetoric from other countries or by blasphemous resolutions such as the one equating Zionism and racism.
A Democratic Administration should seek a fair and comprehensive Law-of-the-Sea Treaty that will balance the interests of the developed and less developed countries.
Europe. The nations of Western Europe, together with Japan, are among our closest allies. Except for our closest neighbors in this hemisphere, it is in these regions where our interests are most strongly linked with those of other nations. At the same time, the growing economic and political strength of Europe and Japan creates areas of conflict and tension in a relationship both sides must keep close and healthy.
On the great economic issues—trade, energy, employment, international finance, resources—we must work with the Europeans, the Japanese and other nations to serve our long-run mutual interests in stability and growth, and in the development of poorer nations.
The military security of Europe is fundamental to our own. To that end, NATO remains a vital commitment. We should retain in Europe a U.S. contribution to NATO forces so that they are sufficient to deter or defeat attack without premature resort to nuclear weapons. This does not exclude moderate reductions in manpower levels made possible by more efficiency, and it affirmatively requires a thorough reform and overhaul of NATO forces, plans and deployments. We encourage our European allies to increase their share of the contributions to NATO defense, both in terms of troops and hardware. By mutual agreement or through modernization, the thousands of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe should be reduced, saving money and manpower and increasing our own and international security.
Europe, like the rest of the world, faces substantial political change. We cannot control that process. However, we can publicly make known our preference for developments consistent with our interests and principles. In particular, we should encourage the most rapid possible growth of stable democratic institutions in Spain, and a continuation on the path of democracy of Portugal and Greece, opposing authoritarian takeover from either left or right. We can make clear our sense of the risks and dangers of Communist participation in Western European governments, while being equally clear that we will work on a broad range of non-military matters with any legally-constituted government that is prepared to do the same with us. We similarly must reaffirm our support for the continued growth and cohesion of the institutions of the European community.
The voice of the United States should be heard in Northern Ireland against violence and terror, against the discrimination, repression and deprivation which brought about that civil strife, and for the efforts of the parties toward a peaceful resolution of the future of Northern Ireland. Pertinent alliances such as NATO and international organizations such as the United Nations should be fully apprised of the interests of the United States with respect to the status of Ireland in the international community of nations.
We must do all that is possible, consistent with our interest in a strong NATO in Southern Europe and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, to encourage a fair settlement of the Cyprus issue, which continues to extract human costs.
Middle East. We shall continue to seek a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. The cornerstone of our policy is a firm commitment to the independence and security of the State of Israel. This special relationship does not prejudice improved relations with other nations in the region. Real peace in the Middle East will permit Israel and her Arab neighbors to turn their energies to internal development, and will eliminate the threat of world conflict spreading from tensions there.
The Middle East conflict is complex, and a realistic, pragmatic approach is essential. Our policy must be based on firm adherence to these fundamental principles of Middle East policy:
We will continue our consistent support of Israel, including sufficient military and economic assistance to maintain Israel's deterrent strength in the region, and the maintenance of U.S. military forces in the Mediterranean adequate to deter military intervention by the Soviet Union.
We steadfastly oppose any move to isolate Israel in the international arena or suspend it from the United Nations or its constituent organizations.
We will avoid efforts to impose on the region an externally devised formula for settlement, and will provide support for initiatives toward settlement, based on direct face-to-face negotiation between the parties and normalization of relations and a full peace within secure and defensible boundaries.
We vigorously support the free passage of shipping in the Middle East—especially in the Suez Canal.
We recognize that the solution to the problems of Arab and Jewish refugees must be among the factors taken into account in the course of continued progress toward peace. Such problems cannot be solved, however, by recognition of terrorist groups which refuse to acknowledge their adversary's right to exist, or groups which have no legitimate claim to represent the people for whom they purport to be speaking.
We support initiation of government enforcement action to insure that stated U.S. policy—in opposition to boycotts against friendly countries—is fully and vigorously implemented.
We recognize and support the established status of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, with free access to all its holy places provided to all faiths. As a symbol of this stand, the U.S. Embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Asia. We remain a Pacific power with important stakes and objectives in the region, but the Vietnam War has taught us the folly of becoming militarily involved where our vital interests were not at stake.
Friendship and cooperation with Japan are the cornerstone of our Asian interests and policy. Our commitment to the security of Japan is central to our own, and it is an essential condition to a constructive, peaceful role for that nation in the future of Asia. In our economic dealings with Japan, we must make clear our insistence on mutuality of benefits and opportunities, while focusing on ways to expand our trade, avoiding economic shocks and resultant retaliation on either side. We must avoid the "shocks" to Japan which have resulted from Republican foreign policy.
We reaffirm our commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea, both in itself and as a key to the security of Japan. However, on a prudent and carefully planned basis, we can redeploy, and gradually phase out, the U.S. ground forces, and can withdraw the nuclear weapons now stationed in Korea without endangering that support, as long as our tactical air and naval forces in the region remain strong. Our continued resolve in the area should not be misunderstood. However, we deplore the denial of human rights in the Republic of Korea, just as we deplore the brutal and aggressive acts of the regime in North Korea.
We have learned, at a tragically high price, certain lessons regarding Southeast Asia. We should not seek to control the political future of that region. Rather, we should encourage and welcome peaceful relations with the nations of that area. In conjunction with the fullest possible accounting of our citizens still listed as missing in action, we should move toward normalized relations with Vietnam.
No foreign policy that reflects traditional American humanitarian concerns can be indifferent to the plight of the peoples of the Asian subcontinent.
The recent improvement in relations with China, which has received bipartisan support, is a welcome recognition that there are few areas in which our vital interests clash with those of China. Our relations with China should continue to develop on peaceful lines, including early movement toward normalizing diplomatic relations in the context of a peaceful resolution of the future of Taiwan.
The Americas. We recognize the fundamental importance of close relations and the easing of economic tension with our Canadian and Mexican neighbors.
In the last eight years, our relations with Latin America have deteriorated amid high-level indifference, increased military, domination of Latin American governments, and revelations of extensive American interference in the internal politics of Chile and other nations. The principles of the Good Neighbor Policy and the Alliance for Progress, under which we are committed to working with the nations of the Americas as equals, remain valid today but seem to have been forgotten by the present administration.
The U.S. should adopt policies on trade, aid and investment that include commodity agreements and an appropriate system of trade preferences.
We must make clear our revulsion at the systematic violations of basic human rights that have occurred under some Latin American military regimes.
We pledge support for a new Panama Canal treaty, which insures the interests of the United States in that waterway, recognizes the principles already agreed upon, takes into account the interests of the Canal work force, and which will have wide hemispheric support.
Relations with Cuba can only be normalized if Cuba refrains from interference in the internal affairs of the United States, and releases all U.S. citizens currently detained in Cuban prisons and labor camps for political reasons. We can move towards such relations if Cuba abandons its provocative international actions and policies.
Africa. Eight years of indifference, accompanied by increasing cooperation with racist regimes, have left our influence and prestige in Africa at an historical low. We must adopt policies that recognize the intrinsic importance of Africa and its development to the United States, and the inevitability of majority rule on that continent.
The first task is to formulate a rational African policy in terms of enlightened U.S.-African priorities, not as a corollary of U.S.-Soviet policy. Angola demonstrated that we must have sound relations with Black Africa and disassociate our policies from those of South Africa to achieve the desired African response to Soviet expansionism in Africa. Our policy must foster high-level U.S.-Africa communications and establish a sound basis for dealing when crises arise.
The next Democratic administration will work aggressively to involve black Americans in foreign policy positions, at home and abroad, and in decisions affecting African interests.
To promote African economic development, the U.S. should undertake increased bilateral and multilateral assistance, continue congressional initiatives in food assistance and food production, with special aid to the Sahel and implementation of the Sahel Development Plan; and carry forward our commitment to negotiate with developing countries on key trade and economic issues such as commodity arrangements and trade preferences.
Our policy must be reformulated towards unequivocal and concrete support of majority rule in Southern Africa, recognizing that our true interests lie in peaceful progress toward a free South Africa for all South Africans, black and white. As part of our commitment to the development of a free and democratic South Africa, we should support the position of African nations in denying recognition to "homelands" given pseudo-independence by the South African government under its current policy of "separate development."
The Republican administration's relaxation of the arms embargo against South Africa must be ended, and the embargo tightened to prevent transfers of military significance, particularly of nuclear material. The U.S. government should not engage in any activity regarding Namibia that would recognize or support the illegal South African administration, including granting tax credits to U.S. companies doing business in Namibia and paying taxes to South Africa. Moreover, the U.S. government should deny tax advantages to all corporations doing business in South Africa and Rhodesia who support or participate in apartheid practices and policies.
The U.S. government should fully enforce the U.N.-ordered Rhodesia sanctions, seek universal compliance with such measures, and repeal the Byrd Amendment.
Efforts should be made to normalize relations with Angola.
APP Note: The American Presidency Project used the first day of the national nominating convention as the "date" of this platform since the original document is undated.
Democratic Party Platforms, 1976 Democratic Party Platform Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273251