As generations pass, and times change, the people of the United States change as well. What may have been a major issue in the 1980 election might not have even concerned voters in 2000. Economic issues are continually changing with the times. Each election develops its own “personality. ” Despite agreeing on some issues, the four major [later reduced to just two] candidates in the 2000 presidential election held different opinions on three major economic issues: tax reform, health care, and free trade/immigration.One of the most important issues of the 2000 presidential election was tax reform. This topic, possibly more than any other issue in the election, reflects the greatest disparity among candidates of the same party.
Among the Democrats, Bill Bradley and Al Gore had contrasting ideas concerning tax reform. Perhaps the most educated candidate on this issue, Bradley is a former member of the Senate Finance Committee and one of the major contributors to the 1986 overhaul of the tax code. Bradley’s position, made known in numerous debates, is that he is strongly against large tax cuts.The former senator believes that while the economy is doing well, the government should utilize tax revenues to improve schools, protect social security, and pass a national healthcare program instead of concentrating on tax reduction. Bradley told New York Times writer James Dao that he would veto the approved 792 billion dollar tax cut in “a nanosecond”.
The only specific tax cuts Bradley has proposed are tax breaks for health insurance payments. Concerning the budget surplus, Bradley would direct most of the money to reducing child poverty as well as making health care more affordable for low-income families.1 Former Vice President Gore established a position on tax reform different from that of Senator Bradley. The two candidates do share similar beliefs regarding the 792 billion dollar tax cut that Gore refered to as a “risky tax scheme. ” Gore has stated that, if elected president, he would have implemented a 200 to 300 billion dollar tax cut over the next 10 years. Gore sought to allocate this money to reach specific goals such as expanded tax incentives, and education and retirement savings programs.
Gore refers to his cut as “relatively modest,” and claimed that his figures are more realistic than those of Republican George W. Bush. Gore however, claimed that he would not hesitate to implement larger cuts in a economic slowdown but rules out tax increases in good economic times. 2 Republican candidate George W. Bush presented a position on tax reform clearly different than that of either of the two democratic candidates.
Much like that of the “typical Republican,” Bush called for large tax cuts if he was elected to office. As Bush had often stated, “It’s the people’s money, not the governments.” He called for a 1. 3 trillion dollar tax cut over the next ten years, a figure close to 4 times that of Vice President Gore. The centerpiece of Bush’s tax cut is a gradual reduction in marginal tax rates, meaning everyone will be affected by his proposals. On this issue, Bush stated, “if you’re going to have a tax cut, everyone ought to have a tax cut.
”3 Offering a tax reform perspective somewhat different than that of Gore, Bradley and Bush, Republican candidate John McCain wants to implement a “flat tax,” a reform that would replace the current progressive marginal rates with a single ‘flat’ tax.McCain claims that, in this way, the government will not be promising tax cuts from surpluses the economy might not produce in the future. In sum, McCain believes taxes should be flatter, lower, and more simple. He believes that a vast majority of Americans pay too much of their income on taxes. McCain believes his tax “pitch” is modest enough in size that it leaves funds left over from surplus tax revenues to deal with other needs of the economy. He claims this “balanced approach” is the key to tax reform in the 21st century.
4 Another pivotal issue in the upcoming election is health care. Bill Bradley’s health care plan calls for the replacement of Medicaid with 150 dollar vouchers per month. However, Bradley still sees problems with insufficient funding for AIDS/HIV patients. In addition to this change, Bradley feels strongly about not punishing the disabled for working. Under the current system, once disabled people begin working, they lose their federal health benefits. Bradley wants to make sure that, under his new plan, disabled people can work and still receive their needed health care.5 Unlike his fellow Democratic candidate, Vice President Gore believes in keeping Medicaid as our country’s largest health care provider. Gore claims that by changing the current Medicaid system, we would be removing some of the key protective features of the system.
Firstly, AIDS/HIV patients, as well as senior citizens, are provided with the health care they otherwise could not receive from private insurers. Secondly, Gore’s Medicaid plan has no deductible, and would eliminate cost-sharing and premiums for those living on low incomes.When questioned about Bradley’s idea of 150 dollar vouchers, Gore responded, “That’s not a plan, that’s a magic wand.
It doesn’t work that way because the problem that people with AIDS and other diseases have in the private health insurance market is that the insurance companies don’t want to take them. They want to get rid of them. You give them $150-a-month voucher, they can’t buy it. ”6 Governor Bush, like his opponent Al Gore, wants to keep Medicare, but make it more flexible. Over the past decade or so, large sums of money won by the government from the tobacco companies in law suit settlements.Bush’s primary idea for health care in the 21st century is to use the money obtained from these settlements to give to those families who do not qualify for Medicare and those families whose income is 200% under than the poverty level. Bush’s other ideas for reforming health care include bringing down health care costs, reforming tax laws, limiting frivolous malpractice lawsuits, and allowing medical savings accounts. 7 Like some of the other candidates, Senator McCain wants to use some of the budget surplus to fund medical insurance for the 11 million uninsured children in America.
With the 10% surplus the US is experiencing at present, many of the candidates wish to put it into education. However, McCain feels strongly about directing the surplus toward the uninsured children of America. When asked about the large population of uninsured children, McCain responded, “We’ve got to expand the children’s health insurance program. And I’ll tell you what: I have the guts to take the money where it shouldn’t be spent in Washington, and put it where it should be spent, including 10% of the surplus.”8 Another crucial issue in the upcoming election is free trade and immigration, a topic that seems to reveal only minimal differences among the four candidates. Bill Bradley, the most liberal candidate on this topic, strongly supports allowing immigrants to remain in the United States regardless of where they are from and is a strong supporter of organizations such as the WTO and NAFTA. In 1986, a law was passed that granted amnesty to those who were here before 1982. Unfortunately, many people here before 1982 did not apply for this program.
Bradley believes that there should be “late” amnesty for those individuals who did not apply because they are, in many respects, the backbone of the American workforce. Senator Bradley also believes that the United States has and must continue to rely on the WTO for much of our trade agreements with foreign companies. When questioned about trade, Bradley simply states, “I think the answer to a lot of our economic problems is more trade, more fairly shared worldwide. ”9 Al Gore has views similar to that of fellow Democrat Bill Bradley.Like Bradley, Gore is a strong supporter of immigration and trade organizations such as the WTO and NAFTA.
However, unlike Bradley, Gore believes the United States to address the immigration situation in communist Cuba differently from non-communist countries. Gore also looks at immigration as an opportunity to solve our country’s labor shortage. A strong supporter of free and fair trade, Gore has been a national leader in opening markets around the world while at the same time protecting environmental and labor rights. 10 Texas Governor George W.
Bush has also shown his support for the WTO, NAFTA and free trade.Bush’s plans for trade in the new millennium, however, are somewhat different. The Governor wants to eliminate trade barriers and tariffs everywhere so the whole world can trade in complete freedom. Bush also supports of revising export controls to tighten control over military technology and ease restrictions on technology available commercially. Bush has views more conservative than his two democratic opponents on immigration. Governor Bush supports border enforcement programs such as Operation Hold the Line, programs that concentrate on border patrol officers and resources at known boarder-crossing points.Bush also favors “compassionately” turning away Mexicans at the border instead of arresting aliens once in the country. 11 Similar to that of his three opponents, John McCain has established views that support NAFTA, the WTO and free trade.
McCain has always been a strong supporter of maintaining “open” borders with Mexico and recognizes Mexico as one of our leading trade partners. However, McCain emphasizes that we as country cannot become lackadaisical in our efforts to control our trade with Mexico.He believes it is a “balancing act,” allowing as much free trade as possible, while at the same time preventing illegal drugs from entering the United States. In addition to supporting free trade, McCain also intends to provide immigrants with more help once here in the states. Among the principles McCain supports are: increasing eligibility of legal immigrants for certain social programs, increasing the immigration quota for computer scientists and other information technology workers, and prohibiting states from passing laws that deny human services illegal immigrants or their children.McCain believes that these are the steps that need to be taken to work for more rights for immigrants. 12 While these four experienced politicians, each of whom holds or has previously held high public office, struggle to articulate differences between them on the major issues of the day, there is, in reality, little difference between them. This is particularly true given the booming economy and a certain level of complacency among the American population.
These similarities have spawned the candidacies of politicians such as Pat Buchanan who himself has struggled to define his own positions and appeal to the American electorate. In reality, many have come to view our political system as a one party system, perhaps one with “two heads,” each of which espouses similar if not identical positions on virtually all major issues and has great difficulty in defining itself to the voting public therefore generating little excitement in the greatest democracy in the world.Bibliography :“Al Gore 2000,” Gore 2000, Inc. http://www. algore2000. com (viewed 4/03/00).
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