House Democrats this week issued position papers on national security, crime, housing, the environment, womens' economic issues and small business, sequels to a paper issued last weekend on economic policy. But there was little in the generally worded reports to stir controversy in this election season.
"For two years now, political experts have said that the Democrats are not sending a clear message to the American people, that voters don't know what Democrats stand for," said Rep. Gillis W. Long (D-La.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, whose task forces wrote the statements after 20 months of study.
"These policy statements lay those charges to rest," he said. "They show the American people . . . where we differ from the Republicans."
While Long said the papers were "the first step in fashioning a bold, new policy direction for our party and our country," there were few, if any, startling ideas in the reports. They called for:
* Increasing U.S. defense spending, with no percentages or figures given.
* Increasing the amount that European countries and Japan contribute to the defense alliance, with no mention made of proposals to exercise leverage on allies by cutting U.S. troops abroad.
* Requiring penalties for federal crimes committed with firearms and attacking organized crime by allowing federal agents to deal with contract murder, interstate fencing and transportation of stolen property.
* Subsidizing the housing industry through home-ownership assistance, emergency mortgage protection and expanded credit.
* Requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate new chemicals promptly and to enforce the clean air and water laws effectively.
* Changing Social Security laws to allow women to get a "fair share" of retirement benefits.
The six reports, included in a 135-page document entitled "Rebuilding the Road to Opportunity," followed the release Sunday of the caucus' "long-term economic policy" paper, which called for a broad program of tax changes, rebuilding the nation's transportation network and redirecting the economy toward high technology industry.
The national security paper calls for "a top-to-bottom assessment of defense needs," such as the one undertaken in the Kennedy administration, with a view toward restructuring the military establishment. It criticizes President Reagan for failing to curb nuclear proliferation, for opposing a comprehensive test ban treaty and for selling advanced weaponry to "avowed enemies of Israel."
The document avoids the topic of abortion, the most controversial of womens' issues. It advocates adequate funding for maternal and child health programs, equal pay for equal work for jobs of comparable value to society and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.