On Jan. 20, Democratic Presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche was joined by former Congressman John G. Dow of New York, and civil rights leaders Dr. Benjamin Chavis and Amelia Boynton Robinson at a Washington, D.C. press conference, calling for the dumping of Newt Ginrich's so-called Contract With America. Issues addressed at the press conference included poverty among the elderly, the increasing incarceration rate in the U.S.A., closing of hospitals, teenage pregnancy, and the plight of the working poor.
Dr. Chavis, the National Convenor of the National African American Leadership Summit (NAALS) and National Director of the October 1995 Million Man March, led the press conference, calling for a "third political force that is not for sale" to replace the Republican Contract with a "covenant of good will."
Chavis was followed by Amelia Boynton Robinson, vice chairman of the Schiller Institute and a leading figure in the civil rights movement. She introduced former U.S. Congressman John G. Dow (D-NY), who played an important role in passing the 1965 Voting Rights Act and was a forceful, early opponent of the war in Vietnam.
Speaking last was Lyndon LaRouche, a founder of the Schiller Institute who is also running for the Democratic nomination for President. LaRouche denounced Gingrich for perpetrating the modern equivalent of "Nuremberg crimes" with his Contract, and urged that the nation move "in the opposite direction" from Gingrich's policies.
Three other former U.S. Congressmen, Clare Callan (D-Neb), Byron Lindberg Johnson (D-Colo), and Jeffrey Cohelan (D-Calif) prepared written statements which were handed out as part of the packet given to the press.
Among the press attending were UPI radio, El Universal of Venezuela, Capitol News Service, and the Washington Afro-American newspaper, as well as a number of community leaders from Washington, D.C., who engaged the speakers in a question period following their presentations.
"America needs a covenant of good will," Dr. Chavis continued, "so that citizens are able to strive for a more perfect union. We cannot allow the Republican Party, or forces in the Democratic Party who also support the agenda of the Contract, and the Speaker of the House who enforces it, to hide the failure of their policies behind the upcoming elections."
Dr. Chavis said that America needs a third force, "an independent force that is not for sale," to follow up on the work begun with the Million Man March. He reported that NAALS is beginning to put together such a force now, "to liberate the people from this immoral and ungodly contract."
Specifically, he called for the registration of at least 8 million unregistered African-American voters, and for citizens' hearings and town meetings across the country, to hear from those who offer an alternative to the Contract with America.
The problems which such a coalition must confront, Chavis said, include:
"Now is the time to fight," Dr. Chavis concluded. "For, if not now, when? If not us, who? The year 1996 must see the dawn of a more perfect union, so that the year 1997 will see an end to the Contract on America."
After a moving introduction by Amelia Boynton Robinson, who recalled his work in Selma for the right to vote for black Americans, former Congressman John Dow said, "We have in this country an oligarchy.... And their program includes a good many--not castles, as most ancient oligarchies have been--but big skyscrapers full of gentlemen sitting at mahogany desks. And these people manipulate the Congress and run the United States.... They have a tune and a dogma, which we'll call 'the bottom line'; and that's the tune they try to inspire in the United States."
The oligarchy's only activity, Dow said, is "cutting down the poor people.... The haves are taking the initiative to put down the have-nots, which is kind of tragic. It's against history. It's out of order, I would say, with the way things normally work, and I think it's going to fail. I don't think that they're going to be able to put the have-nots down."
Dow denounced those who prattle about "welfare cheats," recounting the story of a 15-year-old girl: "I don't know if she was black, or white, or brown, or yellow. But they asked her: 'Why are you having a baby? You're 15 years old. Why are you doing that?' 'Well,' she said, 'because I want something to love.' And that tells a whole story. She wanted something to love. And, I hope she gets it."
Dow said that, in the ongoing budget debate, "I'm rather sorry that the Democrats, and President Clinton, have listened to the idea of cutting more than half as much as the Republicans. I'm a little bit disappointed in that, although I admire the fact that [President Clinton] is confronting them, and standing up, and I hope he'll continue to stand up.... I think that the President should climb into his bully pulpit, and make a stand, and say that we're not going to have any more of these concessions. I don't think he should concede any more, I think he ought to stand up and say, 'We've had it, no more!'|"
Beginning with "the moral issue," LaRouche said, "Now, suppose that Hitler had lived at the end of World War II, and we brought him to trial, say, at Nuremberg. Of what would we have accused him? We would not have accused him of killing people individually, of shooting them. We'd have accused him of launching policies which killed millions, murdering millions."
LaRouche continued, "At that time, Robert Jackson, the Justice of the Supreme Court who represented the United States at Nuremberg, proposed a doctrine which was generally accepted at Nuremberg. And it was the United States's position: That any public official, or a person in a learned profession, who took actions which he should have known would result in the death, the wrongful death of persons, is accountable as a criminal."
What Gingrich and his fellow "Red Guard" Republicans are proposing to do, LaRouche said, is to "gut the budget of a substantial amount, to give tax concessions to people who need it least. And they propose to obtain these sums out of Medicare and other programs which are essential to our senior citizens, the poor, and others who are vulnerable.
"These measures, if taken by the Congress, result in the increase in the death rate among poor people, among the senior citizens, among the chronically ill, and so forth. Therefore, those who propose these policies, like Hitler, are guilty of causing the wrongful death of those who die as a result of accelerated mortality rates.
"Therefore, on no moral grounds," LaRouche charged, "could anyone compromise and accept what Gingrich and company are demanding. It is an immoral act, tantamount to the actions of an Adolf Hitler, particularly since it was laid down by the United States, with Justice Jackson at Nuremberg, that if someone caused the increase in wrongful deaths, that person was guilty of mass murder. And therefore, Gingrich is attempting to perpetrate, from an official position as Speaker of the House, the mass murder of millions of Americans, as a result of these programs."
When confronted with such a policy, LaRouche said, you search for an alternative. "Well, the alternative is to get rid of the budget mentality which Gingrich has brought in, not alone to the Congress, but which he's brought in fresh."
LaRouche reviewed the record of attempts to balance the budget, beginning with the Carter administration and running through the Kemp-Roth and Gramm-Rudman bills, passed under Reagan's administration, all of which increased the deficit. "What they're proposing to do, essentially, is to apply measures which have done nothing but increase the deficit, in the name of decreasing it," he charged.
"The point here," LaRouche said, "is that the function of government is not to treat the budget of the federal government like the household budget of a family on a fixed income. The fact is, the budget of the federal government is one of the key drivers of the economy. And the cuts which have been made in the budget have actually weakened the economy, they have tended to lower the tax revenue base."
The function of government, LaRouche said, "is to go exactly in the opposite direction, to that which Gingrich has proposed, a direction which has failed under Kemp-Roth, a direction which failed miserably under that great failure, Gramm-Rudman. And Gramm's still got the gall to run for President, after the failure he's made. We have to go in the other direction.
"We need a budget which promotes growth in the country, to rebuild the tax revenue base, to employ the unemployed, to cure the sicknesses which are rotting our economy. We have to go in directly the opposite direction to what these fellows are doing. Without going in the opposite direction, we may not increase the death rate, but we're not going to cure the increase in death rate which has already occurred, as a result of poverty, which we must cure, and we can cure."
LaRouche concluded, "We've just been operating for too long on the wrong philosophy; and now is the time to call a halt. No more of this nonsense, no more killing people for the sake of balancing figures and making the rich richer. But rather, let's construct a budget which meets the needs of the people, and meets the needs of the nation."