We are committed to protecting voting rights, enacting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ensuring civil unions and equal federal rights for LGBT couples and fully repealing the Defense of Marriage Act.
|Crime & violence||
Democrats share with all parents the commitment to prepare our children to lead lives of happiness and success. That's why we're dedicated to ensuring the next generation has access to a first-rate education and the tools to drive our economy forward.
In 2010, President Obama signed into law student loan reform that ended government subsidies to big banks and made college more affordable to millions of Americans—a measure in size and scope second only to the G.I. Bill. The Obama administration is working to overhaul the “No Child Left Behind” program and provide teachers with more professional support and resources—while also holding them accountable. President Obama instituted “Race to the Top,” a revolutionary program designed to promote innovation and provide incentives for improvement in education. As a result, already over a dozen states have made changes to increase standards and implement reforms.
Democrats are focused on developing all of America's natural resources - domestic oil, gas, wind, solar and biofuels - and encouraging fuel efficiency so that we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil over time.
Democrats are committed to working to address our biggest environmental challenges.
|The Pollution Solution: Stopping the environment's worst enemy BY DR. MARY RUWART Who's the greatest polluter of all? The oil companies? The chemical companies? The nuclear power plants? If you guessed "none of the above," you'd be correct. Our government, at the federal, state, and local levels, is the single greatest polluter in the land. In addition, our government doesn't even clean up its own garbage! In 1988, for example, the EPA demanded that the Departments of Energy and Defense clean up 17 of their weapons plants which were leaking radioactive and toxic chemicals -- enough contamination to cost $100 billion in clean-up costs over 50 years! The EPA was simply ignored. No bureaucrats went to jail or were sued for damages. Government departments have sovereign immunity. In 1984, a Utah court ruled that the U.S. military was negligent in its nuclear testing, causing serious health problems (e.g. death) for the people exposed to radioactive fallout. The Court of Appeals dismissed the claims of the victims, because government employees have sovereign immunity. Hooker Chemical begged the Niagara Falls School Board not to excavate the land where Hooker had safely stored toxic chemical waste. The school board ignored these warnings and taxpayers had to foot a $30 million relocation bill when health problems arose. The EPA filed suit, not against the reckless school board, but against Hooker Chemical! Government officials have sovereign immunity. Government, both federal and local, is the greatest single polluter in the U.S. This polluter literally gets away with murder because of sovereign immunity. Libertarians would make government as responsible for its actions as everyone else is expected to be. Libertarians would protect the environment by first abolishing sovereign immunity. By turning to government for environmental protection, we've placed the fox in charge of the hen house -- and a very large hen house it is! Governments, both federal and local, control over 40% of our country's land mass. Unfortunately, government's stewardship over our land is gradually destroying it. For example, the Bureau of Land Management controls an area almost twice the size of Texas, including nearly all of Alaska and Nevada. Much of this land is rented to ranchers for grazing cattle. Because ranchers are only renting the land, they have no incentive to take care of it. Not surprisingly, studies as early as 1925 indicated that cattle were twice as likely to die on public ranges and had half as many calves as animals grazing on private lands. Obviously, owners make better environmental guardians than renters. If the government sold its acreage to private ranchers, the new owners would make sure that they grazed the land sustainably to maximize profit and yield. Indeed, ownership of wildlife can literally save endangered species from extinction. Between 1979 and 1989, Kenya banned elephant hunting, yet the number of these noble beasts dropped from 65,000 to 19,000. In Zimbabwe during the same time period, however, elephants could be legally owned and sold. The number of elephants increased from 30,000 to 43,000 as their owners became fiercely protective of their "property." Poachers didn't have a chance! Similarly, commercialization of the buffalo saved it from extinction. We never worry about cattle becoming extinct, because their status as valuable "property" encourages their propagation. The second step libertarians would take to protect the environment and save endangered species would be to encourage private ownership of both land and animals. Environmentalists were once wary of private ownership, but now recognize that establishing the property rights of native people, for example, has become an effective strategy to save the rain forests. Do you remember the movie, Medicine Man, where scientist Sean Connery discovers a miracle drug in the rain forest ecology? Unfortunately, the life-saving compound is literally bulldozed under when the government turns the rain forest over to corporate interests. The natives that scientist Connery lives with are driven from their forest home. Their homesteading rights are simply ignored by their own government! Our own Native Americans were driven from their rightful lands as well. Similarly, our national forests are turned over to logging companies, just as the rain forests are. By 1985, the U.S. Forest Service had built 350,000 miles of logging roads with our tax dollars -- outstripping our interstate highway system by a factor of eight! In the meantime, hiking trails declined by 30%. Clearly, our government serves special interest groups instead of protecting our environmental heritage. Even our national parks are not immune from abuse. Yellowstone's Park Service once encouraged employees to trap predators (e.g., wolves, fox, etc.) so that the hoofed mammals favored by visitors would flourish. Not surprisingly, the ecological balance was upset. The larger elk drove out the deer and sheep, trampled the riverbanks, and destroyed beaver habitat. Without the beavers, the water fowl, mink, otter, and trout were threatened. Without the trout or the shrubs and berries that once lined the riverbanks, grizzlies began to endanger park visitors in their search for food. As a result, park officials had to remove the bears and have started bringing back the wolves. Wouldn't we be better served if naturalist organizations, such as the Audubon Society or Nature Conservancy, took over the management of our precious parks? The Audubon Society's Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary partially supports itself with natural gas wells operated in an ecologically sound manner. In addition to preserving the sensitive habitat, the Society shows how technology and ecology can co-exist peacefully and profitably. The environment would benefit immensely from the elimination of sovereign immunity coupled with the privatization of "land and beast." The third and final step in the libertarian program to save the environment is the use of restitution both as a deterrent and a restorative. Next month's column will feature the second part of the Pollution Solution, answering the question: "How would libertarians keep our air and water clean?" Mary J. Ruwart, Ph.D., is the author of Healing Our World: The Other Piece of the Puzzle, a liberty primer for liberals, Christians, New Agers, and pragmatists. She also wrote Short Answers to the Tough Questions: Sound Bites for the Libertarian Candidate after her Internet column (www.self-gov.org) of the same name. References: 1. John Baden, "Destroying the Environment: Government Mismanagement of Our Natural Resources" (Dallas, TX: National Center for Policy Analysis, 1986), pp. 20-21. 2. Alston Chase, Playing God in Yellowstone: The Destruction of America's First National Park (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press), pp. 123-124. 3. Mary J. Ruwart, "Destroying the Environment" and "Pollution Solution" in Healing Our World: The Other Piece of the Puzzle (Kalamazoo, MI: SunStar Press, 1993), pp.97-110; 171-182.|
The Affordable Care Act also provides tax cuts to small business to help offset the costs of employee coverage, and tax credits to help families pay for insurance. Health reform will also lower costs for families and for businesses and for the federal government, reducing our deficit by more than $1 trillion in the next two decades alone.
And health reform strengthens Medicare by reducing fraud, improving quality of care, and closing the Medicare “donut hole” gap in seniors' prescription drug coverage.
Like Medicare before it, the Affordable Care Act lays a new foundation for our country that will bring additional security and stability to the American people for generations to come.
Democrats support comprehensive reform grounded in the principles of responsibility and accountability:
Responsibility from the federal government to secure our borders: The Obama administration has dedicated unprecedented resources to securing our borders and reducing the flow of illegal traffic in both directions.
Responsibility from unscrupulous businesses that break the law: Employers who exploit undocumented workers undermine American workers, and they have to be held accountable.
Responsibility from people who are living in the United States illegally: Undocumented workers who are in good standing must admit that they broke the law, pay taxes and a penalty, learn English, and get right with the law before they can get in line to earn their citizenship.
Comprehensive immigration reform is essential to continue the tradition of innovation that immigrants have brought to the American economy and to ensure a level playing field for American workers.
|Jobs & economy||
Democrats are fighting to strengthen our economy further and create jobs for American workers by ending tax loopholes for corporations, providing tax cuts to small businesses, investing in a clean-energy economy, and putting Americans to work rebuilding our infrastructure.
Democrats and President Obama are focused on preventing terrorism across the globe. This means continuing to invest heavily in intelligence and information sharing and promoting those networks among our allies. We will continue to strengthen our ability to keep nuclear and biological weapons out of the hands of terrorists, address efforts to better ensure border security, and augment defense of our national infrastructure.
President Obama has made significant steps to restore America's image around the world by rebuilding strategic alliances with countries that share our values and face common threats.
For Democrats, changing politics in Washington means ensuring that government is open, transparent, and responsive to the needs of the people. President Obama has implemented the most sweeping ethics and transparency requirements in history, building on steps taken by Democrats to limit the influence of special interests and ensure that government is accountable to the people.
Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their government is doing. We are committed to creating the most open, transparent, and accountable government in history. In the past few years, Democrats have taken steps to:Bring unprecedented accountability to federal spending; Rein in the influence of lobbyists in Washington; Shut down the "revolving door" that allowed lobbyists to move freely from government to special interests and back; Open more lines of communication with the American public; and Increase cooperation across all levels of government, as well as with nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector. source
|Science & technology||
America has a rich history of technological innovation and scientific ingenuity. But after years of declining tests scores in math and science and a Republican administration that often turned its back on science, the United States risks losing its scientific dominance. Democrats are committed to reversing this trend by investing in the technologies and jobs of the future while increasing support for more advanced research, labs, and classrooms.
Democrats believe that scientific research should play an important role in advancing science and technology in the classroom and in the lab. In order to compete globally, our next generation must be equipped with the tools and skills that lead to the technological innovations and scientific breakthroughs of the future. Democrats have taken significant steps to expand educational opportunities and make college more affordable for all Americans while improving the quality of our schools and our teachers.
Democrats have made historic investments in research for clean-energy technologies that are helping to create the industries of the future. The Obama administration lifted federal restrictions on stem cell research, providing scientists and doctors with new resources to help save lives.
In 1935, Democrats and President Franklin Roosevelt created Social Security. In 1965, Democrats and President Lyndon Johnson created Medicare. Ever since, Democrats have continually fought to defend these cornerstones of the American Dream in the face of attempts to dismantle or undermine both.PROTECTING SOCIAL SECURITY In recent years, Democrats have beaten back Republican plans to privatize Social Security—plans that would have exposed the retirement funds of millions of American seniors to great risk on the eve of the financial crisis. STRENGTHENING MEDICARE Recently enacted health reform strengthened the Medicare trust fund, expanding its life by more than a decade. The Affordable Care Act also will improve care across the board, reduce fraud, and finally close the hole in Medicare drug coverage known as the “donut hole.” As of 2011, seniors are eligible for free coverage for certain preventive services. HELPING AMERICANS SAVE FOR RETIREMENT Democrats want to make it easier for all Americans to participate in retirement accounts at work and support a system where employees have pension portability, so workers don't lose their pension if they change jobs.
Democrats have a long and proud history of fighting for voting rights that continues to this day. One of the most important rights of American citizens is the right to vote—the right to have a say in who our leaders are and how our government should work. But the path to full voting rights for all American citizens was long and often challenging, and for far too many people, obstacles to voting remain even today.
The expansion of voting rights did not happen overnight; it was the product of a continued struggle by many people over many years. To this day, many voters still face difficulties at the polls, from registering to casting a ballot to having their votes counted. Those particularly vulnerable are minority, young, elderly, poor, and disabled voters, as well as military members and veterans. And in many parts of the country, voters are underserved by a lack of polling places, outdated voting machines, and unnecessarily complicated laws.
We are making progress, but we won't stop working to promote a system of elections that is accessible, open, and fair—a system that ensures that every eligible person can cast a vote and that every lawfully cast vote is counted.