Key members of the Democratic Party platform committee clashed yesterday over whether the proposed platform for 1980 that emphasizes "fiscal restraint" is one that can unite the party in time for November's presidential election.
"The retrenchment, the joblessness that's been created because the president used the poor people to combat the inflationary spiral, has established recession as a part of policy," charged Patsy Mink, former congresswoman from Hawaii who is now president of Americans for Democratic Action. "We cannot go to the convention without a strong program as the one Sen. (Edward M.) Kennedy enunciated of $12 billion to help creat 800,000 additional jobs."
In response, Detroit Mayor Coleman Young, chairman of the platform committee and a supporter of President Carter, blasted Mink for suggesting Carter was to blame for the recession.
"To saddle President Carter for the sole responsibility for this recession is to do severe damage to unity among Democrats," Young said on "Issues and Answers" (ABC, WJLA). "You ought to straighten that one out." Mink was also on the program.
While Mink and Young were emphasizing the split between the Carter and Kennedy camps, Carter's chief domestic adviser, Stuart Eizenstat, was saying that the Democrats could lose the November election to Republican Ronald Reagan if the two camps fail to unite after the national convention in August.
"It would be very difficult for us to beat Gov. Reagan if Sen. Kennedy and his representatives stay at home and do not support the Democratic nominee," Eizenstat said on "Face the Nation," (CBS, WDVM). "The stronger effort we have from Sen. Kennedy's representatives and from him, the better opportunity we will have to beat Gov. Reagan."
Mink and Young clashed a second time over the draft platform, which rejected every major Kennedy proposal -- including immediate wage and price controls and his $12 billion program to create jobs.
"We have an obligation to state this policy in the platform," Mink said. "Namely, that we do not endorse or suscribe to any policy that has as its ultimate result a massive unemployment."
"To imply that we endorse, that I endorse, that Democrats endorse unemployment as a means of controlling inflation is an insult to all Democrats," Young replied. "At some point, we're going to have to get together and work on a platform unless you're just going to walk away and leave the contest to Reagan."
Eizenstat defended the draft platform as one that reflected the realities of 1980, in which inflation is the main economic enemy and the military buildup by the Soviet Union demands a higher defense budget at the expense of other programs.
"The policies of fiscal restraint and a strong defense, those are consistent with the realities of today," Eizenstat said. "A party which does not adjust to the realities of the day will be a party that will be left behind."
While calling on Kennedy to mend his differences with Carter, Eizenstat said that Carter will not agree to debate with Kennedy as a condition of any reconciliation.
"He (Carter) would like to debate Gov. Reagan, he would be willing to debate any independent candidates who have a chance of being elected," Eizenstat said, "but it would be divisive for him to get into an open and public debate with Sen. Kennedy. We have been having quite a debate on the issues in the platform and I hope it will afford the senator the opportunity to present to the convention the positions he feels he's espoused during his campaign."