Goals & Issues
As Harrison County Democrats, we love this county, the Mississippi Gulf Coast, this state and our nation and are dedicated to making America at every level better. Toward that end and in alignment with our values:
REGULATION OF COMMERCE
Democrats realize that regulation of nearly every industry and business is necessary in order to achieve a level playing field for all. For over 120 years it has been necessary to protect consumers, workers, families, and the environment from the abuses of the profit-only “free market” capitalist system. Capitalism left alone will by its nature ruin our environment, cause untold suffering of workers and consumers, and lead us quickly to a nation of have and have-nots, as it very nearly did in the Great Depression. Democratic New Deal Regulations saved us then, and got us back on track, and for many years it was commonly accepted that regulated capitalism is necessary to spur creativity, good job growth, economic fairness, and create a sustainable road to the future. Look at the Savings and Loan Crisis, Enron, Katrina insurance disaster, the Housing Bubble, E-coli outbreak, the ’08 Financial Crisis, BP blowout—all examples of inadequate regulation that was in vogue from the Reagan Administration on. In the past two years Democrats have made some progress in the regulation of huge financial institutions, but much remains to be done in this area, and the entire area of regulation of multinational corporations. We recognize that regulations can be a hassle, but their higher purpose is essential to everyone.
This means good worthwhile jobs for good pay, available to all Americans with the ability to do them. There is much work to be done in America, mostly in conversion to a Green economy, as well as wholesale rebuilding of our infrastructure. Include education and more comprehensive social and medical services, especially to an aging population. This creates wealth and good jobs at the same time. And, because it is future-oriented and will not provide a profit in the short term, most of it must be sponsored or subsidized by the federal government. We can bring back manufacturing jobs to America, even if it means that people may have to pay more for consumer goods. Democrats fully support Unions and the work they do to bring fairness, safety and security to working Americans, and we will try to remove the roadblocks and corporate intimidation that has eroded membership for decades. Democrats will never engage in “Union-Busting” as an ideology. As we look at the prospect of wage cuts across the economy, we must remember the situation of the Great Depression, when such action only made the economic conditions worse.
If you are going to have a government, you are going to have to pay for it with taxes. Tax levels must be high enough to provide for all government expenditures, creating a balanced budget in normal years and surpluses in prosperous years. A tax system of increased rates for increased income is fair to everyone, and this is the system which brought prosperity and fair income distribution to America in the quarter century after WWII. We need to move those rates higher for extreme high income. Corporate loopholes must be closed. The estate tax is necessary and makes sense. Social Security and Medicare deductions are not really taxes, but rather insurance premiums put aside for old age. High state sales taxes on basic necessities should be rolled back to help low income people. Gasoline taxes are at record lows as a percentage of the total cost, and only a tiny fraction of what they are in Europe, and higher gas taxes would be a big source of revenue as well as working toward a lowering of greenhouse gasses. Higher taxes DO NOT stifle the economy, but they simply move economic activity into community based needs and away from private expenditure. “Tax” is not a bad word to anyone who understands the need for government. Waste is a bad word, and tax money should never be wasted. Fair salaries for government employees is not waste.
FAIR TRADE, NOT FREE TRADE
Multinational companies are out of control and have drained America of millions of good jobs. This is because it is possible for big companies to seek the cheapest labor anywhere in the world and set up factories there, and then sell the product in the United States. This undermines wages in America and greatly increases our foreign trade deficit, which must be paid, one way or another. Democrats favor FAIR TRADE, where we simply trade much less with countries which have wage scales vastly lower than our own, or do not have protections for workers (real Unions!!) or do not abide by international environmental standards. The primary beneficiaries of international trade are the international traders and their big time financiers, the same one so recently bailed out by American taxpayers. Globalization should involve mainly key natural resources which some countries have and others lack. Food, minerals, fuels, and things of that nature. Cultural trade is good when it leads to increased understanding. High-tech trade can increase the efficiency of workers worldwide. But trade based on slave-wage labor is a dead end and creates a “race to the bottom” among workers everywhere. It is unsustainable and Democrats will lead the fight to correct this imbalance.
HEALTHCARE IS A RIGHT FOR EVERYONE
Democrats led the fight for Medicare and Medicaid in the l960s, and more recently enacted a comprehensive health care system that will cover almost every American. It is unacceptable for Americans to die prematurely or live lives filled with pain and disease simply because they lack the money to afford decent health care. Our previous and present health care system is by far the most expensive on the planet, yet we do not have the best health. Democrats will move forward with a “public option” to provide an alternative to private health insurance with their denial of care and over-paid CEOs. We need to copy the plans that work in other countries, and find a way to cut costs. Democrats understand that health care is one of the services (like police, fire, schools, highways,) that government can deliver at much lower cost and with better performance, than private systems.
A NEW ENERGY POLICY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
Ever since the 1973 OPEC embargo leaders of both parties have talked about freeing ourselves from dependence on foreign oil, yet today we import more than ever. FACT: We have only 4% of the world’s oil, but we use 25%. We need to think in terms of ending our habit of wasting oil, period, in preparation of that day when oil becomes scare and expensive. We need an energy policy emphasizing conservation and environmental preservation. “Cap and trade”, or “Cap and Tax” legislation would put a realistic price on the consumption of fossil fuels and lead to more rapid development of solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass fuels. Meanwhile we can use oil from current wells, and with new safety regulations drill some new ones. Conservation is the key. As the world’s largest economy, we have an obligation to the rest of the world to be the leader in the conservation of energy and the development of renewable sources. Instead we are the poster child of waste and pollution. Adjustments to new policies must take place steadily over time, but they must start NOW. They will involve higher taxes and higher energy costs, as well as big public investment in new industries, but it is all well worthwhile to make sure we have a future.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
Democrats have proven their ability to reduce crime while at the same time protecting the rights of defendants. Police, from the local level all the way up to the FBI, must be highly recruited, well-trained, fairly paid and fully equipped. They must be supported by the citizens, and in turn must treat all citizens with the respect they deserve. We have never been soft on crime, yet we also believe in humane prisons, and the prospect of rehabilitation. America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and Mississippi has the highest rate in the US—Prisons must not become a “growth industry” for private profit. For the security of the nation, our armed forces must remain strong and ready, but used with restraint, and in cooperation with the forces of other countries. Democrats are ever-vigilant against terrorism, which must be dealt with on a worldwide scale. The control of nuclear materials remains a priority, which is a reason why the START treaty extension, is so important.
This obviously includes all First Amendment rights for all Americans, and while much progress has been made by past Democratic administrations there are still bridges to cross. Civil rights must include a right to a quality education regardless of income, gender or race. Hate crimes require special prosecution because they directly violate federal statutes such as the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment. Civil Rights is one of the greatest accomplishments of American democracy, and we must not allow its history to be revised in favor of those who opposed it. We will work to find ways to limit the ability of violent elements of society who plan or take action to destroy the Civil Rights of the general population.
No Democracy can survive where a small group of people have far greater access to the means by which voters receive their information, yet that is the situation NOW in America, made worse by the Supreme Court, in the Citizens United Case of January, 2010. The decline of real journalism has also worked to increase the influence of the wealthy and corporations. We must find a way to honestly inform voters on the real issues of a campaign and connect these issues to the beliefs, actions, and track records of the candidates. It is essential to do this, and the only way is through public funding of all elections and insisting that TV and radio stations contribute free and equal air time to the candidates. If candidates were not driven to constantly raise money for re-election then they would not be under the thumb of corporate lobbyists, with their million dollar “contributions.” This is how the system is being run now, and it is destroying the middle class, and destroying democracy. All of the richest and most powerful corporations, with the sole aim of increasing their private profits, are manipulating our system to their great advantage. We believe in the principle of “One Person, One Vote.” Not “One dollar, One vote.”
EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER THE LAW
A legal system that puts all citizens on an equal footing with the richest corporations. Democrats would do this by tightening regulations under which giant corporations must operate, so they must pay more attention to violations, and suffer stiffer penalties when they violate them. The legal process must be made faster so that corporations cannot put off judgment day forever. This very nearly happened in the aftermath of Katrina, when it appeared for awhile that it would take 30 years to go through all the cases. Action by our Mississippi Democrat Attorney General considerably sped up the process. Other examples include coal and oil companies who have decades-long records of serious violations, costing the lives of workers, yet have essentially gone unpunished. We need to take a serious look at such issues as mandatory sentencing, the increasing number of our people who are imprisoned, why they are there, and the effectiveness of the death penalty in reducing crime.
INFRASTRUCTURE REPAIR AND EXPANSION
America suffers from an aging infrastructure. For the past half century we have not reinvested in necessary repairs and expansions of our water supplies, wastewater systems, bridges, levees, schools, public buildings, national, state, and local parks. We need to look to the future and add passenger rail service (light rail, high speed rail). While this will also create millions of jobs, it is essential work regardless of the unemployment numbers.
In view of the way the corporate financial powers of this country have enriched themselves over the peoples’ need for housing over the past decade, Democrats realize that an entirely different approach is needed. This is especially true in South Mississippi where in the aftermath of Katrina it is taking years to rebuild permanent housing for low and middle income families. Housing is a basic necessity, and should never be regarded as simply a way to increase the profits of the already wealthy, as in the recent “Housing Bubble.” There are 13 million homes facing likely foreclosure in the next two years. Democrats must dedicate themselves to finding a way to keep families in their homes, through periods of job loss or downgrade, or even to rewrite the terms and amounts of previous loans to make repayment a possibility. FHA/VA should be enlarged to make direct loans to homeowners, with no private middleman to get in the way and siphon off profits. There must be strict regulation of fees and “points” on home loans, and an end to sub-prime mortgages with adjustable rates. The tax deduction for interest on mortgages must continue, perhaps on a sliding scale, and only used one time per home.
PROMOTION OF SMALL BUSINESS
Small business is an essential part of any community, and in the process of building small businesses millions of jobs are created. Past decades have seen the demise of many small businesses as huge corporations have taken over most retail, in the name of efficiency. We will not place unnecessary regulations on small business, and we will promote programs to provide funding and operational guidance, as well as give tax breaks and provide fair access to government contracts. At the same time, small business must abide by the basic rules of fair pay to employees, safety, and job security. We do not regard franchises of national corporations as “small business.”
SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE
Democrats invented Social Security in 1935 and it has been one of the most successful government programs. Medicare has provided quality healthcare at greatly reduced cost for Americans 65 and over since 1966. Democrats will make sure that both are solvent far into the future, and will not raise the retirement age above 67, or decrease benefits. It might be necessary to increase employee contributions incrementally, extend contributions to upper income levels, or cap what doctors and hospitals can charge for Medicare services. Democrats will NEVER privatize social security, making the income of the elderly dependent on the whims of the stock or bond markets.
There are dire consequences for our society if we are unable to address the destruction of our environment and our atmosphere (climate change), inequalities and overall failure of our educational system, the ever-increasing federal government and foreign trade deficits, breakdown of our immigration laws, and the insanity of continuing to try to maintain an economy based only on corporate profit and lifestyles built on petroleum based transport, meaningless entertainment, high fat fast foods, and cheap consumer goods. As the resources of the past become ever more scarce, America must direct its efforts away from the increasing consumption of these resources and into family, community, knowledge, and personal growth. Changes and sacrifices will be required throughout society.