TEXT:*SFF414   01/26/95


(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.


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


-- The National Economic Security Act that would cut the Pentagon and CIA

(Central Intelligence Agency) budgets and use the money for domestic social


-- 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.


-- 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.