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. 1 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. 1 -- 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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