Tidbits from the Democratic Policy Platform

This is a first review the Democratic Policy Platform Draft in terms of trade, economic and labor reforms, focus on US workers. I'll let you click on the original and decide for yourselves.

What I see is a lot of problem description and a whole lot of vague rhetoric that implies more of the same. We know more of the same is not dramatic policy change in favor of US national economic interests or US workers interests.

Parsing through the pages and pages of rhetoric which describe various problems, I managed to pull out a few hints of actual policy agenda and frankly it's not good.

I. Immediate Economic Relief

We support investments in infrastructure to replenish the highway trust fund; invest in road and bridge maintenance and fund new, fast-tracked projects to repair schools. We believe that it is essential to take immediate steps to stem the loss of manufacturing jobs.

Ok, so how specifically are they going to stem the loss of manufacturing jobs without some strong policy on multiple fronts?

And this statement:

Our government’s policies–many designed in the New Deal era–have not caught up with the new economy and the changing nature of people’s lives

Catch up? New Economy? It seems the only thing that is keeping America entact are what is left of the New Deal Era politics. You know, things like social security, unemployment insurance with the ultimate goal of single payer universal health care. Minor things like that.


II. Health Care

Coverage should be made affordable for all Americans with direct financial assistance through tax credits and other means.

So I guess HR 676 is out.


III. Retirement

We will automatically enroll every worker in a workplace pension plan that can be carried from job to job and we will match savings for working families who need the help.

Well, that sounds interesting but isn't that what social security is?

We also will reform corporate bankruptcy laws so that workers’ retirements are a priority for funding and workers are not left with worthless IOU’s after years of service

Shouldn't they make this plain illegal, the pension system of a corporation untouchable period? Not just given a priority against all of the creditors in bankruptcy court?

They also promise to not privatize social security. Well, mark one down on the good column.


IV. Labor

we support broad application of Davis-Bacon worker protections to all federal projects. We will stop the abuse of privatization of government jobs. We will end the exploitative practice of employers wrongly misclassifying workers as independent contractors.

I'm not so sure it is understood that by limiting independent contractors they introduce 3rd party body shops and contract houses who only peddle in cheap labor and take a percentage off of the top, from the back of the worker. They should actually enable corporations to use sole proprietors more readily to rid this glorified overseer body shop, 3rd party contract house racket.


V. Jobs

On creating the green economy:

We know that the jobs of the 21st century will be created in developing new energy solutions. The question is whether these jobs will be created in America, or abroad. We should use government procurement policies to incentivize domestic production of clean and renewable energy.

This sure is not ensuring these jobs will employ US citizens first or in any way guaranteeing those jobs will not be offshore outsourced.


VI. Gas Prices

To lower the price of gasoline, we will crack down on speculators who are driving up prices beyond the natural market rate. We will direct the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice to vigorously investigate and prosecute market manipulation in oil futures.

Uh, we're not even sure what kind of effect that would be on the overall prices. I agree it should be done (close the Enron loophole) but that sure doesn't seem like any long term solution in total!


VII. Education

We also support transitional bilingual education and will help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by supporting and funding English Language Learner classes. We support teaching students second languages

What? Languages are the least of the worries here. How about something as basic as learning how to read and write in the 1st language? That would be useful now wouldn't it?


VIII. Higher Education

We will work with institutions of higher learning to produce highly skilled graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines who will become innovative workers prepared for the 21st century economy.

What about the millions of people who are currently underemployed who have these very skills? If you throw away your talent, one cannot expect creating more talent is going to solve any economic problems.


IX. Outsourcing

This section is incredibly lame, I'm sorry, it just is not tackling head on the globalization agenda of arbitrage or hunting the globe for cheaper labor pools. They mention stopping the corporate tax incentives to offshore outsource jobs and expanding retraining and the trade adjustment assistance program. I'm sorry but that is simply not enough incentives to stop global wage arbitrage, not by a long shot.


X. Job Creation

We will start a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank that can leverage private investment in
infrastructure improvements

Now that sounds promising.


XI. Small Business

We will exempt all start-up companies from capital gains taxes and provide them a tax credit for health insurance.

I'm not sure about capital gains in terms of tax breaks for start-ups. Why capital gains and why not zero taxes? Sounds like a hedge fund glory hole to me upon first read.


XII. Taxes

Well, they claim to shut down corporate loopholes and tax havens but frankly the devil is in the details on that bill. Let's just say the phrase When God closes a door, He always opens a window never fails with the corporate tax code.


XIII. Consumer Protection

We will establish a Credit Card Bill of Rights to protect consumers and a Credit Card Rating System to improve disclosure.

Right, now that is guaranteeing no more predatory interest rates or fees sic.


XIV. Trade

Oh boy and this is the number one issue, all political flavor and this is lame! By refusing to confront the economic realities of emerging economies tariffs, or the wage differentials and costs between nation states, well, frankly expect to see more bad trade deals from these statements like the below.

We will enforce trade laws and safeguard our workers, businesses and farmers from unfair trade practices–including currency manipulation, lax consumer standards, illegal subsidies, and violations of workers’ rights and environmental standards. We must also show leadership at the World Trade Organization to improve transparency and accountability, and to ensure it acts effectively to stop countries from continuing unfair government subsidies to foreign exporters and non-tariff barriers on U.S. exports.

Right, it has nothing to do with wage arbitrage or tariffs from emerging nations. They go further to imply it's just a matter of better negotiations and enforcement.

It's so bad they claim to just amend NAFTA to work for all three countries. Boy, no specifics on the realities of the jobs losses!

This is bad, real bad. It basically says worker and environmental standards, nothing about how to enforce that in other nations where the United States has no jurisdiction plus the WTO has a tendency to rule against US complaints as it is. In addition, we get the blow off response about education and retraining for Americans who lost their jobs, careers and economic livelihoods. We all know absolutely that's not the issue. Americans are the highest educated and trained group in the world. It's about wage arbitrage and they don't confront that one directly, well I don't see how they can claim to be for workers in terms of providing high paying jobs and long term career stability.


XV. Budget Deficits

Endorsing pay-as-you-go budgeting rules. We will honor these rules by our plan to end the Iraq war responsibly, eliminate waste in existing government programs, generate revenue by charging polluters for the greenhouse gases they are releasing–and put an end to the reckless, special interest driven corporate loopholes and tax cuts for the wealthy that have been the centerpiece of the Bush Administration's economic policy.

Let's see the debt is $4 trillion. Who here thinks that fines on polluters is going to make that up? What about the overall military budget and priorities? Earmarks anyone?


XVI. Guest worker Visas

we will increase the number of immigration visas for family members of people living 33 here and for immigrants who meet the demand for jobs that employers cannot fill, as long as appropriate labor market protections and standards are in place

Well, that explains Congress reacting to record unemployment by Proposing more foreign workers.


XVII. Immigraton

We need comprehensive immigration reform, not just piecemeal efforts. We must work together to pass immigration reform in a way that unites this country, not in a way that divides us by playing on our worst instincts and fears.

Lovely, they want to try to pass bills as their top priority which only 23% of the American people want and if you disagree, somehow you are a xenophobe and a racist. The only policy agenda that had a time line, this is first up to be passed. Glad Congress has their priorities straight.

Trying to claim worker protections is a joke. For example, we see not endorsement of any of the bills trying to reform guest worker Visas in Congress, which are buried in committees, not even a hint. Also, if one floods the labor market with unlimited Visas (there is no worker shortage as it is), this will lower wages and standards by labor economics 101. We must have US citizens, American workers first for jobs in the United States as policy. Else one has US workers competing for jobs within their own domestic labor market on a global scale. That is simply not the case in other nations! The only thing truly stopping global labor arbitrage right now are the limits on the number of guest worker Visas.

I note India is singled out:

With India, we will build on the close partnership developed over the past decade. As two of the world’s great, multi-ethnic democracies, the U.S. and India are natural strategic allies, and we must work together to advance our common interests andto combat the common threats of the 21st century.

India lobbies our Congress heavily for US jobs. Currently about 7.5% of their GDP is from outsourcing of US jobs. I really am not interested in enabling India to capture even more of US industries and jobs and this statement is most foreboding.

A few more quotes:

we will create a $2 billion Global Education Fund that will bring the world together in eliminating the global education deficit with the goal of supporting a free, quality basic education for every child in the world.

Considering the state of US education and how Americans cannot afford higher education plus our budget deficits, shouldn't we be making sure all Americans get a free, quality, basic education first?

Frankly this document is full of globalization agenda priorities versus focusing on how the United States is losing it's economic ass on the global stage. The lack of specifics and priorities that are stuck in the 1960's versus what is happening now, well, I think we should offshore outsource Democratic economic policy to Japan. They at least know how to craft a trade, labor economic policy in the national interest.

Another take with contact emails to request revisions.



Folks over at some of the 'Political' blogs...

....quotes in use because everything is 'political' as Pericles pointed out over 2500 years ago, are all a twitter over various aspects of the fubared Dem primary. Gender, ID, race, sytax, clothes, perfume you name it it's discussed ad nauseum; that is, except for one topic which is never discussed.

Public policy on any issue.

Nope and the idea of a platform...heh...

Yeah, they got one but it's considered 'quaint and irrelevant...' or at least it was until The Hill's loyalists decided to drag in out into the light and make it their own.

Wow! I just saw the poll results...I can shut up now....heh...

The opportunity does exist for this sort of discussion and let's try and get the word out to the people and the party....

Policy matters. It matters a lot. Let's formulate some good policy and tell the voters about it. They are dying to hear some good ideas. They are receptive to real change not bullshit promises.

'When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck to crush him.'

Policy/Legis.lation is King

I agree. I have heard so many talking head analysts trying to claim the race is about....race and I just shake my head, uh, no it's not, Americans are assuredly looking for a series of policy positions that represent their interests.

Obviously I was very disappointed reading this, especially because I know there is a fraction of the Democratic party that has much stronger economic positions.

Obama hung up on the AFL-CIO

Wow. It gives me no great joy to link to this, but over on a labor blog, Labor Pains, they posted a phone call where Obama literally hung up on the AFL-CIO. Wow. They have the phone tape online.


I linked to that at my blog and brother I can assure you that if Obama gets in and is half the disaster I believe he will be I will spend the next four years making Stoller and Bowers and The Kos look like the idiots they are.

Let's just hope the Denver Group and the polls can get the Convention delegated to wake up and vote for someone who cares about others.

Obama surely does not.

'When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck to crush him.'


that would make for lively TV! but never happen.

Good heavens!

What's wrong with that guy? Obama needs all the help he can get! You don't short change the AFL-CIO! If he is the nominee, he better have a Veep that doesn't take such support for granted. Really disappointed, really disappointed!

if it wasn't recorded

plus on a legitimate labor blog I wouldn't have linked it.

Generalities to sound good

That's all that was on their platform. The Republicans, you gotta give them credit. They are openly promoting to sell you out and then manage to recast it as the opposite and if you object then you're unpatriotic. The Democrats bemoan American workers being sold out but then do it in a slight of hand fashion where the selling part isn't as complete and open as the Republican kind. You know what, I want to change my vote, we have no party! BTW, I could have sworn the national debt was larger than 4 trillion, no?

I was amazed

at the poll results.

That's what I saw, while GOP brazenly sell out US workers, this is much more subtle.

Economist Peter Morici comments

CBS Market Watch has some comments from Morici, who won predicting economic indicators (again) contest:

Things will happen in the next two years that will shock people," Morici said It's not just the broken banking system; it's also that the U.S. economy is being held hostage by oil and by China's undervalued currency


He has little faith in either Barack Obama or John McCain to grasp the extent of the rot. Obama, he said, is singing from the "liberal songbook from the 1970s." McCain, who could have run against Wall Street as a reformer, has simply tied himself closer to the policies of George Bush

When I wrote up this blog piece I thought I would get flamed for going against party lines. While I thought I would be a dissenting voice, appears I'm in the majority.