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ACCESSION NUMBER:376228
FILE ID:SFF414
DATE:01/26/95
TITLE:DEMOCRATS ISSUE ALTERNATIVES TO REPUBLICAN AGENDA (01/26/95)
TEXT:*SFF414   01/26/95
DEMOCRATS ISSUE ALTERNATIVES TO REPUBLICAN AGENDA
(Moderate and liberal Democrats offer own agendas) (780)
By Wendy S. Ross
USIA Congressional Affairs Writer
Washington -- Vowing "hand-to-hand combat" with Republicans to gain the
support of the "vital center" of the American electorate, centrist
Democrats December 5 released an alternative to what they called "the
bumper-sticker bromides" of the Republicans' "Contract with America."
The Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), the policy arm of the Democratic
Leadership Council (DLC), an independent think tank, unveiled its own
10-point legislative agenda, which DLC president Al From said would push
the country in a "far different direction" than the Republican contract.
From said the Republicans' Contract with America offers "political
symbolism," such as a balanced-budget amendment, while the Democrats'
proposal offers "real suggestions."
The DLC blueprint shares many of the Republican Party's reform themes but
differs in details and direction.  And the moderate Democratic group
included health care reform as one of its top priorities, an issue that is
absent from the House Republican "Contract with America."
The DLC proposed package also calls for cutting the federal deficit;
reforming welfare, housing, and job training programs; a nuclear policy
aimed at reducing arsenals and toughening verification; a comprehensive
reassessment of defense needs; an expansion of the North American Free
Trade Agreement to include other hemispheric nations; a plan to shift money
and power from Washington to state and local governments; and a
comprehensive strategy to deal with teen pregnancy.
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In releasing the 10-point program, the DLC said it hoped to offer Democrats
a path to regaining the support of middle class Americans who supported
Republicans in the November elections.  But organization leaders concede
their ideas will have difficulty getting approved by a
Republican-controlled Congress and would face an uncertain future in the
Clinton White House.
At a January 18 Capitol Hill news conference, the Progressive Caucus, a
34-member group of liberal Democrats launched its own counter-offensive to
the Republican "Contract With America."
Caucus members, including House Minority Whip David Bonior and former House
Armed Services Chairman Ron Dellums, urged the passage of a progressive
11-point contract -- "The Progressive Promise: Fairness" and the
cancellation of the Republican contract.
In contrast to the Republican blueprint that centers on tax cuts, decreased
regulation and decreased social spending, the progressive Democrats say
their plan "is rooted in the principles of social and economic justice,
nondiscrimination and tolerance," and would "embody national priorities
which reflect the interests and needs of all the American people, not just
the wealthy and powerful."
The points in the plan are:
-- The Fiscal Fairness Act that would allow a waiver of the balanced budget
requirement in any year in which the national unemployment rate exceeds
four percent.
-- The Equal Justice Before the Law Act, an anti-crime package that would
retain much of the 1994 crime bill plus tougher enforcement against
white-collar crime and violations of child labor laws.
-- The Corporate Responsibility Act that would cut subsidies and tax breaks
to many corporations, require more cleanup efforts from polluting companies
and strengthen collective bargaining laws.
-- The Family Foundation Act that would raise the minimum wage, strengthen
child-support collection and aim to help parents find affordable child care
and health care.
-- The American Homemakers and Caregivers Act that would give tax breaks to
spouses who stay at home with children under six years old, or who are
spending money on home health care, education expenses or to start a small
business.
-- The National Economic Security Act that would cut the Pentagon and CIA
(Central Intelligence Agency) budgets and use the money for domestic social
needs.
-- The Cradle-to-Grave Health Care Act, legislation to establish a
state-based single payer health care plan, while requiring a sense of the
Congress resolution against cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
-- The Job Creation and Invest in America Act that would create at least one
million jobs in the United States in each of the next two years from new
investment to re-build and upgrade U.S. physical infrastructure and
clean-up the environment.
-- The Taking Back Our Congress Act, a measure to impose campaign finance
and lobbying reform on both the House and Senate and authorize some public
financing of congressional elections to make it more affordable for more
candidates to run for office regardless of personal wealth.
-- The Public Interest Legislature Act that would strengthen financial
disclosure requirements on members of Congress.
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-- The Export American Products, Not American Jobs Act, that would eliminate
tax and trade breaks for American companies that produce goods offshore,
and prohibit new fast-track trade agreements without enforceable worker,
safety and environmental provisions.
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