A New Horizon for the Democratic Party
I see an America where the economy works for everyone because everyone is working. I see a new horizon in this country where there is no such thing as an acceptable level of unemployment. Nearly 9 million Americans are unemployed. Millions more are not being included in the official count. Average wages are falling. People are taking pay cuts to keep their jobs. The unemployed and the employed alike are experiencing a falling standard of living. The middle-class aspirations of many are being dashed.
Where the private sector fails to provide jobs, the public sector has a moral responsibility to do so. People want work, not welfare. And while there ought to be welfare for those unable to work, there ought to be work for those who are able to work and who want to work. And there is enough work to do.
I see a newly rebuilt America. I see a new horizon where America provides a means to have massive public works to rebuild our cities, our water systems, our public transportation systems, our schools, our parks, our public energy systems. Nearly $150 billion is needed over twenty years to repair and provide for adequate wastewater treatment systems. Another $120 billion is needed for drinking water systems. We need a new financial mechanism to get money to cities and states to begin rebuilding and to put America back to work.
The federal government can give cities and states loans for infrastructure programs to be repaid over a period of thirty years, at zero interest. This will boost economies and spur private investment. A Federal Bank for Infrastructure Maintenance would administer a program of lending $50 billion per year to state and local governments. The money comes from an innovative adaptation of the normal money-supply circulation activity of the Federal Reserve Bank. The cost to the American taxpayer is simply the cost of the interest on the loans.
It is up to the Democratic Party to be the advocates for economic progress for all the people. We must advance policies which preserve high-wage jobs and support unionization. We should endeavor to condition trade agreements (as 113 Democrats so stated in 1999 to President Clinton before the Seattle WTO talks) "on the guarantee of internationally recognized rights of workers to organize into independent unions; to prohibit the use of child and forced labor; to be protected by workplace safety laws and to benefit from minimum wage laws." We must take the financial incentive out of capital moving overseas.
I see a Democratic Party which takes a new stand for America in the world. I see a new horizon of international relations guided by progress of the many, not the profits of a few. We must work to reform the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization. These institutions should not be allowed to condition financial assistance to poor countries by imposing "structural adjustment" policies which deny minimum wages and privatize water, health, retirement and education systems. If we are prepared to require a higher standard of corporate conduct in the United States, we can require a higher standard of corporate conduct throughout the world through these financial institutions.
Finally, our party must become the party of peace, "to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity." I see a new horizon in America where we work to make nonviolence an organizing principle in our society through the establishment of a Cabinet-level Department of Peace. This concept, which is already endorsed by forty-three Democratic members of Congress, seeks a new nation that faces squarely the violence in our own society and that fashions a new international policy which seeks to make war itself archaic. Over 100 million people, most of them innocent civilian noncombatants, perished in wars in the twentieth century. Given the destructive power of today's technology, given $400 billion a year for the military, given the Administration's statements renewing the nuclear first-strike option, building new nuclear weapons, canceling the ABM treaty and putting weapons in space, we must recognize that the survival of humanity depends upon our ability to evolve, to become better than we are, to become more than we are, to protect this fragile world and to create new worlds of possibility.