The Democratic presidential candidates are beginning to pick their issues, detailing what they want to do if elected. Last week, former Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt called for a consumption tax to help cut the deficit. Sen. Paul Simon (Ill.) plans to hit the road in Iowa Sunday, promoting his newly announced campaign pledge to develop "a home-based and community-based care program" for senior citizens.

Declaring that it is the tradition of the Democratic Party "to care for all Americans, regardless of their age, their health or their income," Simon pledged to act on a comprehensive social-insurance program that is self-financing during the first 60 days of his administration.

Meanwhile, Simon is to introduce Senate legislation today that Claude Pepper (D-Fla.) has offered in the House. It would give families the option of seeking long-term home care rather than nursing-home care and protect them from the catastrophic costs of chronic illness.

During the next two months, Simon plans eight town meetings throughout Iowa to discuss the plan and listen to reaction, Simon's state coordinator Pat Mitchell said. The campaign also is to begin airing radio advertisements in which Simon explains the health-care options that his plan would provide to senior citizens and their families.