Jimmy Carter photo

Platform Proposals to the Platform Committee of the Democratic Party Meeting in New York City

June 16, 1976

"A New Beginning"

Goals: Openness, Compassion, Efficiency

Let me again express my regret that I was not able to meet with you personally. As I indicated in my telegram to the Democratic National Committee, the need to campaign in a large number of states over a short period of time left me with no reasonable alternative.

You have an historically important opportunity. It is time for a New Beginning in our Bicentennial Year—a new beginning so that as a nation we can rededicate ourselves to the ideals upon which our country was founded and reinvigorate the basic principles that made our country great, principles which have been honored in the breach in the last few years. What is at stake in 1976 is whether we are going to begin the process of restoring the precious things we have lost in this country. You can begin that process of restoring the precious things we have lost in this country. You can begin that process with a platform which reaffirms the Democratic Party's traditional values, presents clear policy initiatives and commits this party to three basic propositions.

Our Party and the platform should emphasize three themes—(1) The need for an open, responsive, honest government, at home and abroad. (2) The need to restore a compassionate government in Washington, which cares about people and deals with their problems, after eight long years of conscious indifference by two Republican Administrations. (3) The need for a streamlined, efficient government, without the incredible red tape, duplication, and overlapping of functions which has hamstrung the effectiveness of government and deprived the American people of the benefits of many of its programs. This government must become efficient again. Our first duty is to create a decent living environment and opportunities for those unable to help themselves. Government must become open. If we intend to rebuild confidence in the government process itself, policy must be shaped through the participation of Congress and the American people.

Yours is a serious responsibility that extends beyond fashioning a document we can win with in November. I believe you have an obligation to write a platform that will be a binding contract with the American people. The American people are tired of inflated promises which cannot be kept, of programs which do not work, of old answers to new problems. Our platform should not mislead the American people. Our platform should not signal a retreat. Rather it should set forth realistic goals and achievable, affordable policies which can and should be attained.

If our Party intends to have the trust of the American people in 1977, then we ought to trust them.

If our platform is drafted with integrity and care, it will give a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress a mandate that will shape our national agenda for the next four years.

The Republican Party cannot seek that mandate because it lacks a coherent set of ideals. The Republicans are trapped, not only by their own recent past, but by the American people's understanding that the Republican Party has no vision of this country's future.

The Democratic Party has an identity and a sense of itself. Individual policies may have failed, but our basic beliefs never changed.

We Democrats still agree with Woodrow Wilson that, "Democracy is not so much a form of government as a set of principles."

We Democrats still agree with Franklin Roosevelt that, "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

We Democrats still agree with Harry Truman that full employment is, and ought to be, a national policy and a national goal—and we ought to be pursuing that goal with all the determination and imagination we can muster.

We Democrats still agree with Adlai Stevenson that, "A hungry man is not a free man."

We Democrats still agree with John Kennedy that our nation must inspire the unique contributions of all its people, and that we must have leadership that can again say, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

We Democrats still agree with Lyndon Johnson that if our Constitution "doesn't apply to every race, to every religion, it applies to no one."

The Democratic Party has never shied away from adopting new approaches to achieve traditional objectives. Over the past 18 months, I have suggested new directions in a number of substantive areas. As a candidate, I have taken positions, which are publicly available, on virtually every conceivable issue. In the sections that follow, I have summarized for your consideration some of the major policy recommendations I have made during the campaign. I would be happy to forward more detailed supporting material if you desire.

1. An Open and Honest Government:

Code of Ethics for the Federal Government

The Democratic Party must commit itself to steps to prevent many of the abuses of recent years.

The Attorney General of this nation must be removed from politics and given the full prerogatives, independence and authority of his or her own office, plus those allotted temporarily to the Special Prosecutor during the Watergate scandals. The Attorney General should be appointed without respect to political considerations and should be removed from office only for cause. The Attorney General and all his or her assistants should be barred from all political activity.

All federal judges and prosecutors should be appointed strictly on the basis of merit without any consideration of political aspects or influence. Independent blue ribbon judicial selection committees should be utilized to provide recommendations to the President when vacancies occur from which the President must make a selection.

• An all inclusive 'Sunshine Law', similar to those passed in several states, should be implemented in Washington. With narrowly defined exceptions, meetings of federal boards, commissions and regulatory agencies must be opened to the public, along with those of congressional committees.

Broad public access, consonant with the right of personal privacy, should be provided to government files. Maximum security declassification must be implemented.

The activities of lobbyists must be much more thoroughly revealed and controlled, both with respect to Congress and the executive departments and agencies. Quarterly reports of expenditures by all lobbyists who spend more than $250 in lobbying in any three-month period should be required.

• The sweetheart arrangement between regulatory agencies and the regulated industries must be broken up and the revolving door between them should be closed. Federal legislation should restrict the employment of any member of a regulatory agency by the industry being regulated for a set period of time.

Annual disclosure of all financial involvements of all major federal officials should be required by statute. Involvements creating conflicts should be discontinued.

Public financing of campaigns should be extended to Members of Congress. Fines for illegal campaign contributions have often been minimal. They should be at least equal to the amount of the illegal donation.

Absolutely no gifts of value should ever again be permitted to a public official. A report of all minor personal gifts should be made public.

Requests to the IRS for income tax returns by anyone, from the President down, should be recorded. Access to this essentially private information should be strictly circumscribed.

Maximum personal privacy for private citizens should be guaranteed.

Errors or malfeasance in the Executive Branch should be immediately revealed by the President and an explanation given to the public, along with, corrective action, where appropriate, to prevent any recurrence of such actions.

2. A Compassionate and Effective Government Must Return to Washington

The Economy

The next Administration must deal with both high unemployment and high inflation—the unprecedented twin legacy of the Nixon-Ford years.

For eight years, we have lived with on-again, off-again wage and price controls, two devaluations of our currency, a disastrous grain giveaway to the Soviet Union, a five-fold increase in fuel prices, restrictive monetary policies, and high interest rates.

The Democratic Party should be committed to a sensible, predictable, steady, fair, humane and coordinated national economic policy.

The first priority must be a rapid reduction of unemployment and the achievement of full employment with price stability. For the near future, economic policy should be expansionary. By 1979, we can achieve a balanced budget within the context of full employment.

• To reach full employment we must assure:

(a) Support for the Full Employment Act of 1976;

(b) Countercyclical assistance to cities with high unemployment;

(c) An expansionary fiscal and monetary policy for the coming fiscal year to stimulate demand, production and jobs;

(d) Stimulation and incentives for the private sector to hire the unemployed even during periods of economic downturn. To provide an additional incentive, the unemployment compensation tax paid by employers should be provided for businesses which hire persons previously unemployed.

(e) An increased commitment by the federal government to fund tie cost of on-the-job training by business;

(f) More efficient employment services to match people to jobs;

(g) Improved manpower training programs;

(h) Creation of meaningful and productive public needs jobs as a supplement to the private sector, including jobs for unmet needs in areas such as housing, rehabilitation and repairing our railroad roadbeds;

(i) We should provide 800,000 summer youth jobs and double the CETA program from 300,000 to 600,000 jobs.

• There are more humane and economically sound solutions to inflation than the Republican program of forced recessions and high unemployment. We must battle inflation through:

(a) Steady flow of jobs and output;

(b) A better matching of supply and demand;

(c) Reform of government regulations, such as the backhaul rule, which unnecessarily add to consumer costs.

(d) Strict anti-trust and consumer protection enforcement;

(e) Increased emphasis on productivity;

(f) Lower interest rates;

(g) Effective monitoring of inflationary trends and forces;

(h) Standby wage and price controls, which the President could apply selectively. There is no present need for the use of such standby authority.

• Better coordination between fiscal and monetary policy should be assured by:

(a) Giving the President the power to appoint the Chairman of the Federal Reserve for a term coterminous with the President's;

(b) Requiring the Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve Board to state its objectives more clearly and publicly;

(c) Requiring the Federal Reserve Board to submit a credit market report on past and expected monetary conditions to be included with the Economic Report of the President.

(d) Requiring the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board to show in a consolidated report that their policies are mutually consistent or explain the reasons they are not consistent.

I believe the measures I have proposed can move us forward toward full employment, reasonable price stability, and budgets that are balanced over the economic cycle.

The Cities

Many of our major cities are caught in a crisis which cannot be fully resolved at a local level. On the one hand, businesses and the middle class tax base are flowing to the surrounding suburbs, and in many instances, out of the industrialized sector of the country entirely. On the other hand, the costs of urban government are inherently higher than in non-urban areas, and expenditures are accelerating rapidly.

There is no meaningful Republican policy that addresses the growing urban revenue-expenditure imbalance. There is no Republican policy to arrest the steady deterioration of the inner cities. In fact, the Republican policy has been nothing short of conscious, willful indifference to the plight of urban America. They promised general revenue sharing to supplement existing programs, and instead used the funds to supplant current programs and to lower the level of assistance to cities.

Our cities have needed help and the Republicans have turned their backs. Between 1972 and 1974 alone, the Republican Administration cut $4.5 billion in urban programs and another $7 billion in programs to aid the poor, the untrained, the unemployed, and the medically indigent, all at a time when municipalities lost $3.3 billion in purchasing power.

Our country has no urban policy or defined policy or defined urban goals, and so we have floundered from one ineffective and uncoordinated program to another. Hopes have been raised only to be dashed on the rocks of despair when promise after promise has been forgotten.

We need a coordinated federal urban policy that recognizes that our urban problems stem from a variety of factors, each of which must be dealt with directly and forcefully—problems of urban decay, declining tax base, crime, unemployment, lack of urban parks and open spaces.

We must begin our urban policy by recognizing the human needs of the individuals who live in our cities. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, central city unemployment for 1975 was 9.6 percent, as opposed to 8 percent for non-metropolitan areas and 5.3 percent for the suburbs. For the poverty areas of cities that figure is 13.8 percent, and for blacks in these areas it is 17.6 percent. Teenage black unemployment in some areas of America approaches the staggering figure of 40 percent.

Indeed, even these figures are deceptive, for they do not include the literally hundreds of thousands of people who have left the labor market entirely due to their frustrating inability to find work.

To make dramatic improvement in the unacceptably high unemployment rate, I propose a creative, joint program of incentives to private employers and a public needs employment program funded by the federal government. Such programs will more than repay our investment, not simply in making taxpayers of those now on unemployment insurance or on welfare, and not simply in generating additional revenues to the federal, state and local governments—although each 1 percent decline in the unemployment rate will produce $13 to $16 billion in federal tax—but rather in restoring the pride and self-respect of those too long ignored and cast aside. In the section on "The Economy," I have set forth policies which would dramatically reduce unemployment in urban areas where it is most severe.

While we must concentrate on the human needs of those who live in our cities throughout the country, we cannot ignore the fiscal plight of the cities themselves.

To alleviate the suffering our cities are being put through by high inflation and continued recession, I propose the following:

Countercyclical assistance to deal with the fiscal needs of cities particularly hard hit by recession. The $2 billion of countercyclical assistance recently vetoed by Mr. Ford is essential and affordable, and is within the budget resolutions adopted by Congress.

Extension of the Revenue Sharing program for 5 years, with an increase in the annual funding level to compensate for inflation, and with stricter enforcement of the civil rights provisions of the bill to guarantee against discriminatory use of the funds. We should explore whether the revenue sharing formula might be amended in the future to place greater emphasis on areas of high need. All revenue sharing funds should go to the cities, and the priority areas for which funds can be expended should be broadened to include education.

The key to an effective urban policy is the understanding that an integrated approach addressing each of the separate facets of the urban malaise is necessary if deteriorating conditions are to be arrested. In other sections of this paper, specific programs relating to welfare reform, housing, and crime control are suggested. In the context of those programs, we can establish a creative partnership between the federal government and our urban areas.


Tax Reform

Our national tax system is a disgrace. The income most certain to be taxed is that which is derived from manual labor. Carefully contrived loopholes have created a regressive system which lets the total tax burden shift more and more toward the average wage earner. Some of our largest corporations with extremely high profits pay virtually no tax at all. When a business executive can charge off a $50 luncheon on a tax return and a truckdriver cannot deduct his $1.50 sandwich—when oil companies pay less than 5 percent on their earnings while employees of the company pay at least three times this rate—when many pay no taxes on incomes of more than $100,000—then we need basic tax reform.

A piecemeal approach to change will not work. Basically, I favor a simplified tax system which treats all income the same, taxes all income only once, and makes our system of taxation more progressive.

Welfare Reform

Our welfare system is a crazy quilt of regulations administered by a bloated bureaucracy. It is wasteful to the taxpayers of America, demeaning to the recipients, discourages work, and encourages the breakup of families. The system lumps together dissimilar categories of poor people, and differs greatly in its benefits and regulations from state to state. It is time that we broke the welfare and poverty cycle of our poor people.

My recommendations are designed to satisfy the following goals: (a) we must recognize there are three distinct categories of poor people—the employable (sic] poor, the 1.3 million employable but jobless poor, and the working poor; (b) no person on welfare should receive more than the working poor can earn at their jobs; (c) strong work incentives, job creation and job training should be provided for those on welfare able to work; (d) family stability should be encouraged by assuring that no family's financial situation will be harmed by the breadwinner remaining with his dependents; (e) efforts should be made to have fathers who abandon their family be forced to continue support; (f) the welfare system should be streamlined and simplified, with less paperwork, fewer regulations, improved coordination and reduced local disparities; (g) persons who are legitimately on welfare should be treated with respect and dignity.

To achieve these goals, I propose one fairly uniform, nationwide payment, varying according to cost of living differences between communities. It should be funded in substantial part by the federal government with strong work and job incentives for the poor who are employable and with earnings tied so as to encourage employment, so that it would never be more profitable to stay on welfare than to work.

We should repeal laws that encourage a father to leave the home.

No one able to work, except mothers with preschool children, should be continued on the welfare rolls unless job training and a meaningful job were accepted. The 1.3 million people drawing welfare who are able to work fulltime should be taken out of the welfare system; they should be trained for a job and offered a job. If they decline the job, they should be ineligible for further benefits.

The welfare burden should be removed from cities, with all welfare costs being paid by the federal and state governments.


The average cost per student in public schools has approximately doubled within the last 10 years, but unfortunately, most of the increased expenditure pays for inflation rather than qualitative improvements. Two-thirds of our institutions of higher education, according to the Carnegie Commission, are likely to be facing financial difficulties either now or in the near future. Private colleges which in the 1950's served 50 percent of all students have now shrunk to 25 percent of the market.

Meanwhile we are graduating teachers each year who will be unable to find jobs—in 1974, 290,000 teachers for less than 120,000 jobs; in 1976, 164,000 new teachers for 115,000 new positions.

The fiscal crisis is naturally affecting students too. Many face tuition increases at the very time that grants and loans are difficult to acquire. When they graduate, they confront a ceiling in job demand.

The federal share of public education costs was 10 percent in 1974. If existing inequalities are to be eliminated and American teachers provided with a decent standard of living, this Federal portion must be increased.

The following steps are necessary:

• The creation of a separate Department of Education. A Department of Education would consolidate the grant programs, job training, early childhood education, literacy training, and many other functions currently scattered throughout the government. The result would be a stronger voice for education at the federal level.

Expanded vocational and career education opportunities. Although the number of students enrolled in career education has more than doubled within the last six years, two-and-one-half million leave the educational system without adequate vocational training; it is estimated that 750,000 untrained youth enter the unemployment pool annually. Community colleges and other existing programs must be strengthened and extended.

Expansion of educational rights of the handicapped must be assured. Of our six million school-age children, only three million are now receiving the attention they need. Recent federal court decisions have guaranteed the handicapped their right to an education. Since such education costs five to six times that of non-handicapped children, increased federal expenditure is necessary in this sphere.

Imaginative reforms to strengthen colleges and universities in times of financial difficulties. Basic tax reform proposals should give proper consideration to the role of private philanthropy in education.

Health and Health Care

Our present health care system is in need of drastic reorganization. Despite per capita and absolute expenditures on health care that are largest in the world, our nation still lacks a workable, efficient and fair system of health care.

First, we need a national health insurance program, financed by general tax revenues and employer-employee shared payroll taxes, which is universal and mandatory. Such a program must reduce barriers to preventive care, provide for uniform standards and reforms in the health care delivery system, and assure freedom of choice in the selection of physicians and treatment centers.

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 crippiers and killers of the American people.

Our major crippiers and killers are cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases, hypertension, and six others of decreasing incidence within the population. Almost every one of these afflictions can be prevented, to a degree, by regular physical examinations and routine medical care.

Another major problem is to better utilize the health personnel available to us. Registered nurses, physicians' assistants, and other highly skilled paraprofessionals should be utilized under the supervision of physicians to provide diagnostic and preventive service.

A third major thrust should be to improve the delivery of health care and to bring care within the reach—as well as the means—of all our people. In the county where I live, there is not a doctor, dentist, pharmacist or hospital bed. The National Health Service Corporation has designated almost three hundred areas of similar shortages across the country. Even yearly hospital services are unavailable to remote indigent people without transportation. Our national needs require redirecting medical education toward primary care as one means to correct the geographic and professional maldistribution of services and personnel. We must also insure more medical education for students from low income and minority families so that they may take their rightful place in medicine.

We must also reorganize the physical plant of our health care delivery system. We need to initiate effective coordination between our physical facilities—building, expanding, modernizing, relocating and converting them as need in order to provide the best possible medical care at reasonable cost

We must restructure our priorities in the kinds of health care we offer. It is ironic that although our advanced medical technology is unsurpassed, our ability to deliver primary and preventive medical care to all of our citizens is very poor. We must shift our emphasis away from limited-application, technology-intensive programs to broad-based delivery or primary care for every citizen.

We must do more to guarantee each and every American the right to a safe and healthy place of work. Over 600 toxic chemicals are introduced into our workplaces annually. There are currently over 13,000 already listed. Nearly 100,000 working people die each year due to occupational illnesses and accidents. Over 17,000 disabling injuries occurred in our nation's mines. This terrible toll cannot be tolerated.

I believe the basic concept behind OSHA is excellent We should continue to clarify and expand the state role in the implementation of health and safety. OSHA must be strengthened to ensure that those who earn their living by personal labor can work in safe and healthy environments. Nationwide efforts in this area must continue until our working citizens are safe in their jobs.

We should seek strong and effective legislation to promote mine safety and to protect mine workers against the black lung disease so frequently associated with mine work.

Crime Control

While the prevention of crime is essentially a state and local responsibility, the federal government has a significant role to play in the reduction of crime. Federal efforts should proceed along several lines:

First, we should reform our judicial system to ensure that swift, firm and predictable punishment follows a criminal conviction. I believe that crime is best deterred by the certainty of swift justice.

Second, the federal government can provide a model for the states by revising our system of sentencing, eliminating much of the discretion given to judges and probation officers, insuring greater certainty in sentencing and confinement, and insuring a higher percentage of serious criminals being imprisoned.

Third, we should place reasonable restrictions on the purchase of handguns, including the prohibition of ownership by persons with certain criminal backgrounds.

Fourth, we should upgrade the rehabilitation programs available to criminals while in prison.

Fifth, there is a need for a coordinated, concerted attack on drug traffic and organized criminal activity.

Sixth, we should provide federal assistance to the crime prevention programs of local governments with a minimum of federal regulations.

Finally, we must step-up the attack on unemployment, the root cause of much of our urban crime, through the programs I have mentioned previously.


America has the world's most extensive transportation system. Since the beginning of our nation's history, the federal government has invested substantially in the development of that system, so that today there are more than 915,000 miles of federal-aid highways, 325,000 miles of railroad tracks, 12,750 airports and 25,000 miles of commercially navigable waters. Federally-supported mass transit systems are in place in many of the nation's major cities. As a consequence, America has, with the notable exception of urban mass transit [where substantial new construction needs remain], an essentially mature total transportation system. Priority now needs to be given not to developing massive new national transportation systems, except in the case of public transportation, but rather to achieving more effective utilization of the existing rail, highway, and airport networks.

The chief impediments to more effective utilization of the existing system are physical deterioration and outmoded regulations. Examples of both problems abound in all modes of transportation: Over the last seven years nine major Northeastern railroads have gone bankrupt

Most of the nation's basic highway and street system has been similarly permitted to deteriorate. Although the problem of deferred maintenance is less pervasive, disturbing parallels with railroads can be found and the longterm outlook is far from promising given current trends.

Although the deterioration of urban public transportation services has been slowed since the passage of the Federal Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964, and the subsequent amendments to it in 1970 and 1974, the gap between transit capital needs and available funding, as identified by the U.S. Department of Transportation, has grown to over $6 billion.

Moreover, the federal government often has encouraged one mode of transportation to the disadvantage of another. No coordinated transportation policy exists. While the nation has an extremely well-developed rail, highway, and aviation system, substantial parts of that system have deteriorated to the point where the efficiency and effectiveness of the total system is being compromised. Arresting this deterioration and completing needed work on new urban transit systems must become the nation's first transportation priority.

While the private sector should be encouraged to undertake this rehabilitation work directly with privately raised capital, it must be recognized that the task of rebuilding the existing transportation system is so massive, so important and so urgent that private investment will have to be supplemented with substantial direct public investment. In certain program areas, such as highways, this will involve substantially reordering current program priorities to stress rehabilitation work. In yet other areas, such as public transportation, this will require reinforcing current program trends with increased investment levels.

We must substantially increase the amount of money available from the Highway Trust Fund for public mass transportation, study the feasibility of creating a total transportation fund for all modes of transportation, and change the current restrictive limits on the use of mass transit funds by localities so that greater amounts can be used as operating subsidies. We should oppose the administration's efforts to reduce federal operating subsidies.

Priority attention should also be given to restructuring the nation's antiquated system of regulating transportation. The present patch-work scheme of rail, truck, and airline regulation at the federal level needlessly costs consumers billions of dollars every year. However valid the original purpose of promoting fledgling industry and protecting the public from the tyranny of monopoly or the chaos of predatory competition, the present system has, more often than not, tended to discourage desirable competition.


The following agenda on housing is aimed at putting to work hundreds of thousands of unemployed construction workers and fulfilling our national commitment to build 2 million housing units per year:

(1) Direct federal subsidies and low interest loans to encourage the construction of low and middle class housing.

(2) Expansion of the highly successful Section 202 housing program for the elderly, which utilizes direct federal subsidies.

(3) Greatly increased emphasis on the rehabilitation of existing housing to rebuild our neighborhoods; certain of our publicly created jobs could be used to assist such rehabilitation. It is time for urban conservation instead of urban destruction.

(4) Greater attention to the role of local communities under the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974.

(5) Greater effort to direct mortgage money into the financing of private housing.

(6) Prohibiting the practice of red-lining by federally sponsored savings and loan institutions and the FHA, which has had the effect of depriving certain areas of the necessary mortgage funds to upgrade themselves.

(7) Encouraging more loans for housing and rehabilitation to the poor.

(8) Providing for a steady source of credit at low interest rates to stabilize the housing industry.

Agriculture and Rural America

The Republican agriculture policy has whip-sawed the consumer with higher prices and the farmers with declining profits, with speculators and middlemen as the only beneficiaries. Presidents Nixon and Ford have brought about the anomalous situation of family farmers going bankrupt to produce food and fiber American consumers cannot afford to buy. As a farmer, I understand the difficulties which the American farmer has confronted with Secretary Butz and Republican agricultural policy.

It is time that we developed a coherent, predictable, stable, coordinated food and fiber policy. This policy should:

insure stable prices to the consumer and a fair profit for farmers;

increase opportunities in the world market for our agricultural commodities through an innovative, aggressive foreign sales program;

• guarantee an abundant supply of agricultural goods and avoid periodic shortages;

• reduce the tremendous increase in the price of farm goods from the farmer to the consumer [which is not passed along to the farmer in the form of profit] by studying ways to avoid excessive profits made by middlemen and processors;

• create a predictable, stable, reasonable small food reserve, with up to a two-month supply, permitting farmers to retain control of one-half of these reserves, in order to prevent government dumping during times of moderate price increases;

• insure coordination of the policies of the many federal agencies and bureaus, in addition to the Department of Agriculture, which affect the farmer;

close the revolving door that now exists between the boards of the grain inspection companies and the processors that supply them with their grain, since both the farmer and the consumer pay when regulatory agencies fail to do their job;

• guarantee adequate price supports and a parity level that assures farmers a reasonable return on their investments;

• farmers must be given the ability to transport their produce to market. In Illinois alone, 50 million bushels of com rotted in the ground last year because of an inability to transport the crop to market.


It is time for strong leadership and planning in energy. Yet none exists in the Executive Branch. One of the greatest failures of national leadership is the failure to convince the American people of the urgency of our energy problems. In the White House it is business as usual.

Our national policy for energy must include a combination of energy conservation and energy development, together with price protection for the consumer.

The price of all domestic oil should be kept below that of OPEC oil. There is no need to, and 1 oppose efforts to, deregulate the price of old oil. For natural gas, we should deregulate the price of only that natural gas not currently under existing contract [less than 5 percent] for a period of five years. At the end of the period of time, we should evaluate this program to see if it increases production and keeps gas-related products at prices the American people can afford.

Imports of oil from foreign countries should be kept at manageable levels. Increasing amounts of oil from remaining domestic and foreign sources should be channeled into permanent storage facilities until we have accumulated at least an additional 30-day reserve supply. We should place the importation of oil under government authority to allow strict control of purchases and the auctioning of purchase orders.

To insure the maximum protection of the American consumer during the coming years of increasing energy shortages, our anti-trust laws must be effectively and rigidly enforced. Moreover, maximum disclosure of data on reserve supplies and production must be required.

I support restrictions on the right of a single company to own all phases of production and distribution of oil. However, it may not always be in the consumer's interest to limit a company to one single phase of production. Such a restriction, for example, might make it illegal for the same company to explore for oil and then extract that oil from the ground once discovered.

I support legal prohibitions against ownership of competing types of energy, such as oil and coal. There may be some limited instances in which there should be joint responsibility for any phase of production of competing energy sources. For example, fuel oil and some propane are produced from crude oil. Their production clearly cannot be separated until after extraction and refining take place. It may not be beneficial to the consumer to separate control of these two competing energy sources.

It is time that we had a nationwide program of energy conservation. The potential for dramatic energy conservation remains untapped. Our energy waste in transportation is 85 percent; in generating electricity it is 65 percent. Overall, 50 percent of our energy is wasted. The federal government itself must set an example for energy conservation and must insure that its own regulations do not encourage energy waste.

We need to encourage mass transit as a means of energy conservation; strict fuel efficiency standards and ratings must be established for motor vehicles; rigid enforcement of energy saving speed limits is essential; efficiency standards and better labeling for electric appliances are a prerequisite. Moreover, mandatory improvements in building insulation must be established.

To help conserve our dwindling energy supplies, unnecessary electrical power plant construction should be stopped and advertising at the consumer's expense to encourage increased electric consumption should be restricted. Rate structures, which discourage total consumption, and peak power demand, which give greater protection to the average consumer, should be established.

We must substantially shift our efforts to increase our production of coal, of which we have a 200 year supply, without at the same time destroying the surface of our lands through uncontrolled strip mining. At the time, we must make a major research and development thrust to greatly increase the use of solar energy.

While it is unrealistic, given present administration policies, to become energy independent by 1986, we should attempt to be free from possible blackmail or economic disaster which might be caused by another boycott. Our reserves should be developed, imports set at manageable levels, standby rationing procedures evolved and authorized, and aggressive economic reprisals available to any boycotting oil supplier.

With proper national planning and determined execution of long-range goals, energy production and conservation can be increased.

Environmental Protection

It is time that this country had a coherent, clear national policy dedicated to the protection of our environment

I do not believe that there is an incompatibility between economic progress and environmental quality. We should not be diverted from our cause by false claims that the protection of our ecology and wildlife means an end to growth and a decline in jobs. This is not the case.

As governor, I was proud to be considered by conservation groups as the best friend of the conservationists to ever sit as Georgia's Governor.

The Democratic Party should:

• insure that the Army Corps of Engineers stops building unnecessary dams and public works projects harmful to the environment and that the Soil Conservation Service ends uncalled for channelization of our country's rivers and streams.

hold fast against efforts to lower clean air requirements of the Clean Air Act. I support strict enforcement of the non-degradation clause of the Clean Air Act.

encourage the development of rapid transit systems which will help alleviate somewhat our continued and increased dependence on the automobile.

• insist on strict enforcement of anti-water pollution laws to protect our oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams from unneeded and harmful commercial pollution, and oppose efforts to weaken the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.

protect against the noise pollution with which our advanced technology challenges us. I opposed development of the SST on this basis, and I also opposed granting landing rights to the Concorde.

assist coastal states which bear the economic and environmental impact associated with the development of the Outer Continental Shelf. Federal officials should accept the states' recommendations regarding lease sales and development plans unless those recommendations seriously conflict with national security.

support the need for better land-use planning. I favor giving planning assistance to the states if firm assurances are given by the states that these plans will be implemented and will protect critical environmental areas.

• support efforts to place reasonable limits on strip mining. We must require reclamation of land as a condition for strip mining.

encourage solid waste disposal. We must reduce the volume of waste created, give grants to states to improve collection service, and expand research in the solid waste disposal area.

Civil Rights and Women's Rights

I have long advocated eliminating discrimination against blacks, other minorities, and women.

I believe that the various Civil Rights Acts, including the Voting Rights Act, have had a tremendously positive effect on the South and the nation. They have opened up our society for the benefit of all. The guaranties of equal participation in the political process, provided in the Voting Rights Act, should be extended to all parts of the nation where minority representation and participation are inadequate without in any way slackening enforcement in those areas already covered by the Act.

I also support postcard registration for voting to broaden the opportunities for participation in our political process.

I strongly support federal legislation to prohibit the practice of red lining by federally-sponsored savings and loan institutions and the FHA. I believe that our platform should reflect a strong commitment to enforcement of the Open House Act of 1968 and the Community Development Act of 1974. Moreover, we should enable the Equal Employment Commission to function more effectively and expeditiously in employment discrimination complaints. Its backlog is a major problem in enforcing laws guaranteeing nondiscrimination in employment.

I am a strong supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). But more assertive steps are necessary to end discrimination against women. Today, in spite of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the earnings gap between men and women is great. Full-time working women earn sixty cents for every dollar earned by full-time working men. I support actions necessary to close this gap. I also support the need for flexible hours for full-time employees and the additional employment of part-time persons, both of which will greatly aid women in their access to the market place.

Women represent over 40 percent of our work force—a percentage which is increasing every year. We need to provide high quality, accessible childcare facilities so that mothers who wish to work can do so. In addition, mothers who wish to enter or rejoin the work force after a long period of absence should be given access to counseling and training programs to help them resume their careers. In this way, we can move toward meeting two of our national goals: providing a job for every American who wants to work and ending discrimination against women.

Moreover, it is time that women were appointed to high level positions in American education and to the boards of important agencies and as heads of important government departments.

In addition, we must assure that:

(a) Laws prohibiting sex discrimination in credit, employment, advancement, education, housing and other endeavors are strengthened and strictly enforced;

(b) Strong efforts are made to pass federal legislation and guidelines to eliminate sex discrimination in health and disability insurance plans;

(c) Social Security laws are revised to eliminate sex-related discrimination;

(d) Women have equal access to health care systems and voluntary family planning programs;

(e) Adequate childcare is provided for all parents who desire to use it;

(f) Existing rape laws are reformed and the National Rape Prevention and Control Act is passed.

The dreams, hopes and problems of a complex society demand the talent, imagination and dedication of all its citizens—women and men, black, brown, and white. As partners, we can provide the best leadership available to this country.

Consumer Protection

The consumer in America is too often mistreated or ignored. It is time to reverse this trend.

Ten to fifteen percent of the consumer's purchasing power is wasted because consumers are unable to obtain adequate information. Twenty percent of deaths and injuries related to household consumer products involve unsafe products. Between one-third and one-half of all consumers have billing disputes with those from whom they buy goods or services. For every dollar spent on auto insurance premiums, it has been estimated that only 42 cents ever gets back to an individual who gets hurt. The consumer has no effective voice within the Executive Branch of government.

Major reforms are necessary to protect the consumers of this country.

First, we must institutionalize the consumer's role through the creation of a Consumer Protection Agency. This agency would serve as a strong voice in government hearings and legislation, would insure that the consumer's interest is considered, and would help assure that government speaks for consumers rather than for the vested interests.

Second, we should establish a strong nationwide program of consumer education to give the consumer the knowledge to protect himself in the market place. In Georgia, we set up a program in which state field workers traveled across the state training social workers and teachers in the basics of consumer law and protection. We established a toll free Wats line to help the citizens of our state who had consumer complaints and who needed information. A special program was developed for training prisoners in economic and consumer management.

Third, we should make class actions by consumers more easily available to enable them to enforce consumer laws and to give them standing before agencies and courts.

Fourth, we must vigorously enforce the anti-trust laws.

Fifth, to guarantee further protection to the consumer, we should work toward:

quality standards, where feasible, for food and manufactured items;

warranty standards to guarantee that consumers are not cheated by shoddy or defective merchandise;

• full product labeling of relevant information affecting price and quality and price-per-unit labeling;

• strict truth-in-advertising measures to require that manufacturers are able to substantiate product performance claims.

Sixth, consumers must achieve greater protection against dangerous products. The 1970 National Commission on Product Safety stated that accidents in American homes associated with consumer products accounted for 30,000 deaths a year. In order to reduce these horrifying statistics, I recommend:

• strong enforcement of existing laws;

• enforcement of stringent flammability standards for clothing;

• adequate research programs to anticipate potential hazards;

• additional automobile safety research;

expanded pre-market testing for all new chemicals to elicit their general characteristics and environmental and health effects.

If our government is truly to be a government of the people, it must also be a government which protects the rights of the consumer.

Senior Citizens

The condition of our senior citizens is a national tragedy. They are twice as likely as the rest of the population to be poor. They spend 50 percent more of their income on housing than do other Americans. 1.6 million elderly Americans live in houses without basic plumbing. In spite of Medicare, only 65 percent of the medical bills of old people are covered by government health programs.

Senior citizens need adequate income, housing, health care, and transportation. More important, they need to feel and be wanted and to be assisted by a comprehensive program designed specifically for their benefit.

I have proposed that the Social Security system be strengthened through an increase in the maximum earning base and an increase in benefits in proportion to earnings before retirement. I likewise favor strengthening and broadening the laws against age discrimination and discouraging the trend by employers toward early forced retirement

To make the elderly less subject to the financial burden caused by illness, I support a comprehensive, universal national health care program with interim relief until the system is fully implemented through, expansion of Medicare coverage.

To provide better housing construction for the elderly, we must rapidly expand housing construction for the elderly under Section 202 of the Housing Act; and we must strengthen the protection the elderly need against displacement by landlords seeking to convert rental housing into condominiums and cooperatives.

Since our elderly often lack mobility, we should encourage public transportation systems receiving federal funds to provide reduced fare programs for the elderly.

We must do much more to make the elderly feel wanted and to take advantage of their experience, which is a true national asset. Therefore, we should consider the establishment of a national Senior Citizens' Service Corps and broaden the use by senior citizens of senior citizens multi-purpose centers.

We need to protect American workers against the uncertainties presented by existing pension laws. The Pension Reform Act of 1974 was a good beginning, but there is much that remains to be done. We need strict enforcement of the laws that guarantee the financial integrity of pension funds and strict accountability for those who administer those funds. And we need to minimize the excessive paperwork which often slows the distribution of benefits.

I know from the personal experience in my own family, when my mother served as a Peace Corps volunteer at age 68, the tremendous contribution that older Americans can make to themselves and to the world if they are treated with dignity and respect and are given the opportunity to serve. To those ends, this Party and I will always be dedicated.

3. Government Reorganization and Budget Reform

The basic difficulty facing American government today cuts across all the other campaign issues. The proliferation of programs and agencies, particularly in the past ten years, has inevitably created duplications, waste and inefficiency. There are over 83 federal housing programs, 228 federal health programs, and over 1,200 assorted commissions, councils, boards, committees, and the like.

We must give top priority to a drastic and thorough revision and reorganization of the federal bureaucracy, to its budgeting system and to the procedures for analyzing the effectiveness of its services. We must establish mechanisms to set our priorities more systematically and to weigh our spending decisions more carefully. The luxury of multiple agencies functioning within one policy area, often at cross purposes, is no longer available to us.

The reform I am seeking is not a retreat; it is a marshalling of our resources to meet the challenges of the last quarter of this century. The problem is not that program goals are unworthy; it is not that our public servants are unfit. What is at fault is the unwieldy structure and frequently inefficient operation of the government: the layers of administration, the plethora of agencies, the proliferation of paperwork. If we are to succeed in other substantive policy areas, government must cease to be an obstacle to our efforts.

We have a finite amount of resources. They must not be squandered by inefficiency. Government cannot truly serve the people if it cannot operate effectively itself. Reorganization is not a dry exercise of moving around boxes in an organization chart. It is a creative venture toward the better direction of the energies and resources of our government.

The first step is to reshape the way we make federal spending decisions.

First, the federal government should be committed to requiring zero-base budgeting by all federal agencies. Each program, other than income support programs such as Social Security, should be required to justify both its continued existence and its level of funding. We need to continue and expand programs that work and to discontinue those that do not. Without such a comprehensive review, it will be difficult to assess priorities and impossible to redirect expenditures away from areas showing relatively less success. Zero-base budgeting was one of my most important policy innovations in Georgia, and it has been adopted successfully in Illinois, New Jersey and New Mexico. It can work in the federal government.

Second, we must commit ourselves to a greater reliance upon long-term planning budgets. I proposed in my Economic Position Paper that we adopt a three year rolling budget technique to facilitate careful, long-term planning and budgeting. Too many of our spending decisions are focused just beyond our noses on next year's appropriations. "Uncontrollable" spending is only uncontrollable in the short run; spending can be controlled if the planning system builds in more lead time.

Third, reforming the budget process will not be enough unless we are also committed to insuring that programs are carried out with efficiency. Improving government's performance will require action on several levels. The Democratic Party should commit itself to undertaking the basic structural reforms necessary to streamline federal operations and to make the government efficient once again. The number of federal agencies should be reduced to no more than 200. Other management tools will be required to achieve an acceptable level of performance. We need increased program evaluation. Many programs fail to define with any specificity what they intend to accomplish. Without that specification, evaluation by objective is impossible.

In Georgia, we applied rigorous performance standards and performance auditing. Such standards, which are working in state capitals around the nation and in successful business, should be imposed upon federal departments and agencies.

Finally, the federal government is ill-equipped to deal with a growing number of problems that transcend departmental jurisdictions. For example, foreign and domestic issues are becoming more interrelated; domestic prosperity and international relations are affected by our foreign agricultural policy, by international raw materials and oil policies, and by our export policies, among others. We must develop a policy making machinery that transcends narrow perspectives, that protects the vital interests of the United States, and that provides our citizens and the world with policies that are rational, consistent, and predictable.

Our first priority must be to build a well-managed structure of government—one that is efficient, economical, and compassionate and with systematically established priorities and predictable policies. Government must again become an effective instrument for achieving justice and meeting our critical national needs.

Foreign Affairs

In the past few years the world has changed greatly and the United States has learned several lessons. One is that we cannot and should not try to intervene militarily in the internal affairs of other countries unless our own security is endangered.

We have learned that we must not use the CIA or other covert means to effect violent change in any government or government policy.

We have learned the hard way how important it is during times of international stress to keep close ties with our allies and friends and to strive for multilateral agreements and solutions to critical problems.

Another lesson we have learned is that we cannot impose democracy on another country by force. We cannot buy friends, and it is obvious that other nations resent it if we try. Our interests lie in protecting our national security, in preventing war, in peacefully promoting the principles of human freedom and democracy, and in exemplifying in our foreign policy the true character and attitudes of the American people.

Finally, we have learned that every time we have made a serious mistake in recent years in our dealings with other nations, such as Cambodia, Vietnam, and Chile, the American people have been excluded from the process of evolving and consummating our foreign policy. Unnecessary secrecy surrounds the inner workings of our own government. Because we have let our foreign policy be made for us, we lost something crucial and precious in the way we talk and the way we act toward other peoples of the world.

In the future we must turn our attention increasingly towards the common problems of food, energy, environment, scarce resources, and trade. A stable world order cannot become a reality when people of many nations of the world suffer mass starvation or when there are no established arrangements to deal with population growth, energy, or environmental quality. Better mechanisms for consultation on these problems that affect everyone on this planet must be established and utilized.

Our policies toward the developing countries need revisions. For years, we have either ignored them or treated them as pawns in the big power chess game. Both approaches were deeply offensive to their people. Our program of international aid to these nations should be redirected so that it meets the human needs of the greatest number of people. This means an emphasis on food, jobs, education, and public health, including access to family planning. In our trade relations with these nations, we should join commodity agreements in such items as tin, coffee and sugar.

We must more closely coordinate our policy with our friends, countries like the democratic states of Europe, North America and Japan—those countries which share with us common goals and aspirations. Our continued prosperity and welfare depend upon increased coordination of our policies.

The policy of East-West détente is under attack today because of the way it has been exploited by the Soviet Union. The American people were told détente would mean a "generation of peace," at no risk to the nation's vital interests. Yet, in places like Syria or Angola, in activities like offensive missile development, the Soviets seem to be taking advantage of the new relationship to expand their power and influence and to increase the risk of conflict.

I support the objectives of détente, but I cannot go along with the way it has been handled by Presidents Nixon and Ford. The Secretary of State has tied its success too closely to his personal reputation. As a result, he is giving up too much and asking for too little. He is trumpeting achievements on paper while failing to insist on them in practice.

The relationship of détente is one of both cooperation and competition, of new kinds of contacts in some areas along with continued hostility in others. In the troubled history of our relationships with the Soviet Union, this is where we have arrived. The benefits of détente must accrue to both sides, or they are worthless. Their mutual advantage must be apparent, or the American people will not support the policy.

To the Soviets, détente is an opportunity to continue the process of world revolution without running the threat of nuclear war. They have said so quite openly as recently as a month ago at their 25th Party Congress. To the Soviet Union, with our acquiescence, détente is surface tranquility in Europe within boundaries redefined to its benefit, together with support for wars of national liberation elsewhere. It is having the benefits of the Helsinki Accords without the requirement of living up to the human rights provisions which form an integral part of the Accords. This is not the road to peace but the bitter deception of the American people.

But while détente must become more reciprocal, I reject the strident and bellicose voices of those who would have this country return to the days of the cold war with the Soviet Union. I believe the American people want to look to the future. They have seen the tragedy of American involvement in Vietnam and have drawn appropriate lessons for tomorrow. They seek new vistas, not a repetition of old rhetoric and old mistakes.

It is in our interest to try to make détente broader and more reciprocal. Détente can be an instrument for long-term peaceful change within the Communist system, as well as in the rest of the world. We should make it clear that détente requires that the Soviets, as well as the United States, refrain from irresponsible intervention in other countries. The Russians have no more business in Angola than we have.

The core of détente is the reduction of arms. We should negotiate to reduce the present SALT ceilings on offensive weapons before both sides start a new arms race to reach the current maximums and before new missile systems are tested or committed for production.

Our vision must be of a more pluralistic world and not of a communist monolith. We must pay more attention to China and to Eastern Europe. It is in our interest and in the interest of world peace to promote a more pluralistic communist world.

We should remember that Eastern Europe is not an area of stability, and it will not become such until the Eastern European countries regain their independence and become part of a larger cooperative European framework. I am concerned over the long-range prospects for Rumanian and Yugoslavian independence, and I deplore the recent infliction upon Poland of a constitution that ratifies its status as a Soviet satellite. We must reiterate to the Soviets that an enduring American-Soviet détente cannot ignore the legitimate aspirations of other nations. We must likewise insist that the Soviet Union and other countries recognize the human rights of all citizens who live within their boundaries, whether they be blacks in Rhodesia, Asians in Uganda, or Jews in the Soviet Union.

Our relations with China are important to world peace, and they directly affect the world balance. The United States has a great stake in a nationally independent, secure, and friendly China. I believe that we should explore more actively the possibility of widening American-Chinese trade relations and of further consolidating our political relationships.

The Middle East is a key testing area for our capacity to construct a more cooperative international system. I believe deeply that the foundation of our Middle East policy must be insuring the safety and security of Israel. This country should never attempt to impose a settlement in Israel, nor should we force Israel to make territorial concessions which are detrimental to her security. We should attempt to promote direct negotiations between Israel and her Arab neighbors. Israel must be allowed to live within defensible borders. As President, I would never force Israel to give up control of the Golan Heights to the Syrians, nor would I recognize the Palestinian Liberation Organization or any other group purporting to represent the Palestinians when those organizations refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist in peace. The negotiations that will lead to permanent peace can only proceed on the basis of a clear and absolute American commitment to insure Israel's security and survival as a Jewish State.

In the future we should make multilateral diplomacy a major part of our efforts so that other countries know the importance the United States attaches to international organizations. 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 prime responsibility of any President is to guarantee the security of our nation with a well-organized and effective fighting force. We must have the ability to avoid the threat of successful attack or blackmail, and we must always be strong enough to carry out our legitimate foreign policy. This is a prerequisite to peace.

Without endangering the defense of our nation or our commitments to our allies, we can reduce present defense expenditures by about $5 to $7 billion annually. We must be hard-headed in the development of new weapons systems to insure that they will comport with our foreign policy objectives. Exotic weapons which serve no real function do not contribute to the defense of this country. The B-l bomber is an example of a proposed system which should not be funded and would be wasteful of taxpayers' dollars. We have an admiral for every seventeen ships. The Chief of Naval Operations has more captains and commanders on his own personal staff than serve in all the ships at sea.

The Pentagon bureaucracy is wasteful and bloated. We have more generals and admirals today than we did during World War II commanding a much smaller fighting force. We can thin our troops in Asia and close some unnecessary bases abroad.

We must get about the business of arms control. The Vladivostok Agreement set too high a ceiling on strategic nuclear weapon systems. The SALT talks must get off of dead center. The core of our dealings with the Soviet Union must be the mutual reduction in arms. We should negotiate to reduce the present SALT ceilings in offensive weapons before both sides start a new arms race to reach the current maximums and before new missile systems are tested or committed for production. I am not afraid of hard bargaining with the Soviet Union. Hard bargaining will strengthen support for the agreements that can be reached and will show that we, as well as they, can gain from détente. We can increase the possibility that the fear of war and the burden of arms may be lifted from the shoulders of humanity by the nations that have done the most to place it there.

As I mentioned in detail at the United Nations, we need firm and imaginative international action to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons and to place greater safeguards on the use of nuclear energy. The Democratic Party should put itself squarely on record as favoring a comprehensive test ban treaty prohibiting all nuclear explosives for a period of five years.

Our nuclear deterrent remains an essential element of world order in this era. But by asking other nations to forego nuclear weapons, through the Non Proliferation Treaty, we are asking for a form of self-denial that we have not been able to accept ourselves. I believe we have little right to ask others to deny themselves such weapons for the indefinite future unless we demonstrate meaningful progress toward the goal of control, then reduction, and ultimately the elimination of nuclear arsenals.

Finally, I think there are certain basic principles which should guide whatever is done in foreign lands in the name of this country. Our policies should be open and honest, shaped with the participation of Congress from the outset Our policies should treat the people of other nations as individuals with the same dignity and respect we demand for ourselves. It must be the responsibility of the President to restore the moral authority of this country in its conduct of foreign policy. We should work for peace and the control of arms in everything we do. We should support the humanitarian aspirations of the world's peoples.

And our policies should be aimed at building a just and peaceful world order in which every nation can have a constructive role.


The proposals I have suggested are likely to remain simply proposals unless we have a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress. It is time to put petty differences aside and to unite as a Party to achieve these goals. Together we can lead this nation to a New Beginning as the United States starts its second two hundred years. Together we can have an open, compassionate, and effective government which will reflect the best qualities of the American people.

Jimmy Carter, Platform Proposals to the Platform Committee of the Democratic Party Meeting in New York City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/353885

Simple Search of Our Archives