Platform Drafters Reject Jackson Planks On Taxes, Other Issues
Platform Drafters Reject Jackson Planks On Taxes, Other Issues
Jun. 26, 1988
DENVER (AP) _ The Democratic Platform Committee rebuffed the Jesse Jackson campaign on taxes, defense and the Middle East as it approved a succinct, middle-of-the-r oad platform Saturday tailored to the stands of Michael Dukakis.
The panel turned aside repeated efforts to amend the platform with Jackson campaign planks as it approved a document of barely 4,000 words - one-tenth the size of its 1980 and 1984 platforms.
The decisive vote came on the first amendment, when the Jackson forces sought to append their basic budget plan to the Democratic blueprint. The Jackson budget plank was rejected by a 108-44 margin and turned out to be the only issue decided by a standing tally.
Later, on voice votes, the Democrats rebuffed the Jackson forces on attempts to put a call for no-first-use of nuclear weapons in the platform, and on a call for ''self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians.' '
The committee did make some changes on issues ranging from child care to the environment, but only when the Dukakis and Jackson campaigns were in accord.
Michigan Gov. James J. Blanchard, who chairs the platform committee, praised the final draft as ''a truly unique document. ... I believe we're going to have a victorious year for all Democrats.''
The meeting ended on a note of unity, with the delegates unanimously adding even tougher language to their plank labeling South Africa a terrorist state. The final amendment says the next administration will ''determine a date certain by which U.S. corporations leave South Africa.''
Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jackson's representative on the platform committee, said, ''We feel we have achieved our goal to get Jackson's views into the platform.'' She said she did not know whether Jackson would press any floor fights on the platform in Atlanta.
The meeting lasted 11 hours and, despite the rebuff to the Jackson forces on key issues, remained harmonious throughout.
Mike Barnes, Dukakis' platform chief, said, ''It's a great sign of unity. ... What was demonstrated here is that the Democratic party really has matured and is ready to take the reins of government.''
Richard Hatcher, former mayor of Gary, Ind., offered the Jackson amendment to freeze the military budget and ''return taxes on the very richest Americans to their 1977 levels and restore corporate taxes to their pre-Reagan levels.''
Hatcher said raising taxes on those making more than $200,000 a year would raise $20 billion ''for investment in education, job training and housing for homeless (and) other critical domestic needs.''
But Rep. Robert Matsui of California, a Dukakis backer, replied, ''I have never believed that the Democratic party's principle and goals and values is to tax Americans. We have never said that was part of our heritage.''
Matsui defended Dukakis's insistence that the government should step up collection of taxes from scofflaws before looking to higher taxes to reduce the deficit.
On the Middle East, James Zogby, executive director of the Arab American Institute, urged the party to seek ''peace based on mutual recognition, territorial compromise and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians.''
Zogby said that while Democrats have a commitment to Israel, ''Palestinians, too, need security. Palestinians want what any other people want: the right to live in peace in their own land, free of occupation.''
But Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, speaking for the Dukakis side, said, ''We should not succumb to the temptation ... of wishing to impose on other parties what we think the solution should be.''
On the no-first-use of nuclear weapons amendment, Claire Greensfelder, a Jackson delegate and anti-nuclear activist from Berkeley, Calif., was near tears as she argued, ''Let us remember we are the only people who have ever dropped a nuclear weapon on other people in the world.''
But the delegates rejected the amendment after hearing Rep. Tom Bevill of Alabama say, ''Certainly this would be weakening a strong defense.''
The Platform Committee also rejected, by voice vote, an attempt to include in the platform the Jackson campaign's promise to double the federal education budget. The platform does promise to give education ''our highest priority'' and to expand pre-school programs and create a National Teacher Corps to recruit teachers through scholarships.
The 44 Jackson votes on the budget plank were nearly a quarter of the Platform Committee's full membership of 186, ensuring Jackson's right to force a fight on the issue on the convention floor in Atlanta next month if he wishes.
Norton said Jackson told her by telephone from Puerto Rico Friday night that she should press the issues on which they were unable to reach consensus ''in a spirit of collegiality and respect for his opponent, Gov. Dukakis.''
She said Jackson wanted his delegates to remember ''that what counts is the final victory we shall achieve in November.''
Blanchard told the 153 members at the meeting, ''It's my hope that our work will help elect Democrats from court houses to state houses to the White House.''
Earlier, the governor told reporters, the document was short enough to be put on posters and mailed out, ''read at the convention and posted on the walls of government classes.''
The document, titled ''The Restoration of Competence and Hope,'' pledges that Democrats will ''restore competence, caring and incorruptibility to the federal executive branch and get it working again fairly for all Americans.''
As Jackson wanted, it terms South Africa ''a terrorist state.''
Although it does not mention President Reagan or Vice President George Bush by name, it derides ''voodoo economics.''
It says Democrats will ''promote peace and prevent war'' but ''not by trading weapons for hostages, not by sending brave Americans to undefined missions in Lebanon and Honduras ... (and) not by toasting a tyrant like (former Philippine President Ferdinand) Marcos as a disciple of democracy.''
It promises the Democrats will seek ''significant reductions'' in nuclear weapons. It urges ''more stable defense budgets'' and ''maintaining the special relationship with Israel'' while pursuing peace in the Middle East along lines of the Camp David accords.