Highlights of the Democrats' platform, "A New Direction for America/Six for ག":
(1) "Real security at home and overseas." Includes phased redeployment of troops from Iraq and doubling the size of special forces.
(2) "Better American jobs, better pay." Would prohibit congressional pay raises until the federal minimum wage was raised.
(3) "College access for all." Would cut interest rates on student loans in half and expand Pell grants. Would make permanent a college tuition tax deduction now set to expire, and let joint filers who earn up to $80,000 deduct up to $4,000 in tuition costs from their taxable annual income.
(4) "Energy independence/lower gas prices." Would "free America from dependence on foreign oil" but doesn't say how. Would "enact tough laws to stop price gouging."
(5) "Affordable health care/lifesaving science." Calls for government-negotiated pharmaceutical prices for seniors on Medicare and more federal money for embryonic stem-cell research.
(6) "Retirement security and dignity." Rejects privatizing Social Security but sets no plan for long-term solvency.
If Democrats take the House of Representatives, they pledge within the first 100 hours of legislative business to:
_Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour from $5.15.
_Authorize the secretary of health and human services to negotiate lower prices from pharmaceutical companies for senior citizens on the Medicare prescription-drug plan.
_Repeal subsidies for big oil companies.
_Halve interest rates on college loans.
_Impose new ethics and lobbying restrictions on lawmakers and former staff members.
_Authorize more money for law enforcement's first responders and to buy unsecured nuclear weapons from states of the former Soviet Union.
Sources: www.housedemocrats.gov, interviews with Democratic aides.
(c) 2006, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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