2000 On The Issues
"To those who say prosperity has achieved its full reach, I say: just watch us. We will deepen prosperity, and extend it to the homes and hearts of every family - from struggling immigrants who seek a better life for their children; to farmers and factory workers who need more money to pay the bills and more time with their families; to the young Internet geniuses from every background, hungering to transform our world." - Al Gore
Eight years ago, America was mired in recession and doubt. With the hard work of the American people and a brand new economic strategy, we elevated the nation to pride and plenty - the longest period of economic growth in the entire history of the American Republic. None of this boom happened by accident. It happened because we unlocked the full potential of our people - balancing the budget, paying down the debt and investing in the best enterprise of all, people. Now, we must ask: Will we be better off still - in terms of our affluence and in terms of our spirit - four years from this day? Al Gore intends to win this election on behalf of the American people and see to it that the answer is an emphatic yes. As President, Al Gore will maintain our unprecedented economic growth by continuing our winning formula, and expanding the prosperity to those who have not yet enjoyed its benefits.
Gore's economic plan calls for saving Social Security and Medicare first, paying down the national debt, giving tax cuts to the American people, helping Americans save for their future, and dedicating the remainder of the surpluses after debt reduction and tax relief to affordable health care, bringing about revolutionary change in education and training, and cleaning up the environment.
AL GORE'S PLAN TO EXPAND AMERICAN PROSPERITY IN THE 21ST CENTURY
The hard work and ingenuity of the American people, and careful fiscal management by the current Administration has brought America to a truly historic moment. Over the past seven years, the economy has enjoyed unprecedented growth. Al Gore pledges to keep our economy strong by building on the careful fiscal policies of the last seven years:
- Maintain Fiscal Discipline and Eliminate the National Debt: Under the Clinton-Gore Administration's leadership, America has turned record deficits into record surpluses. We now have a historical opportunity to pay off the publicly held national debt. Al Gore believes we should use a large portion of the expected budget surplus to pay down our national debt. This fiscally-disciplined approach assures that our children will not be saddled with debt - and the enormous annual interest burden on that debt - and the costs of paying for the Baby Boomers' retirement. It assures that the United States will be debt free by 2012 - the first time since 1835. Paying down the publicly held debt will keep long-term interest rates low, allowing for greater investment in the private sector and bolstering economic growth.
- Strengthening Social Security: The number of Americans over the age of 65 is projected to double from thirty-five million in 2000 to more than seventy million in 2035. With the nation enjoying unprecedented prosperity, now is the time to save Social Security and Medicare and address the future financial strains on these programs. While some want to privatize Social Security and risk its guaranteed benefit, Al Gore has a common-sense approach to move forward on Social Security and help assure Americans a secure retirement for the future. Gore's plan keeps Social Security secure for future retirees, people with disabilities, and strengthens it with sound financial proposals like debt reduction.
- Devote all Social Security surpluses to Social Security and debt reduction. Al Gore's balanced budget plan devotes the entire Social Security surplus ($2.3 trillion over ten years) for debt reduction and to improve Social Security benefits for widows and mothers. Gore believes Social Security should not be undermined by a large risky tax cut that spends Social Security surpluses;
- Use the long-term interest savings to extend solvency through at least 2054. By applying the Social Security surplus to debt reduction, Gore's plan will reduce the publicly held debt by nearly $2.3 trillion over the next ten years - producing significant interest savings. In 2011, the interest savings will be about $120 billion - all of which will be transferred to extend the solvency of Social Security. These interest savings transfers will grow to about $250 billion annually after 2015;
- Retirement Savings Plus. Gore believes that we should look for new ways to help Americans save for their retirement - while protecting guaranteed Social Security benefits. He has proposed Retirement Savings Plus to create tax-free savings accounts that will enable working Americans to build a retirement nest egg in addition to Social Security's guaranteed benefit. The federal government would match individual contributions with tax credits, with the hardest-pressed working families getting the largest tax credits.
AL GORE'S PLAN TO STRENGTHEN MEDICARE
Al Gore is proposing to create a historic new off-budget "Medicare lock box" so that Medicare payroll taxes can be used only to strengthen Medicare and pay down the national debt. His plan would ensure that the surpluses from Medicare and Social Security would only be used to prepare these programs for the retirement of the Baby Boom generation - not raided by politicians for tax cuts or pork-barrel spending.
TAX CUTS FOR WORKING FAMILIES
Al Gore supports a pro-growth, pro-savings $500 billion package of targeted tax cuts and credits that fits within a responsible budget framework and helps working families - tax cuts to afford quality child care, higher education and lifelong learning, health insurance and long-term care for an aging or disabled relative. Gore will also eliminate the marriage penalty for working families offering estate tax relief for small business owners and family farmers.
ESTABLISH THREE NEW TRUST FUNDS TO IMPROVE AND EXPAND ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE, DRAMATICALLY IMPROVE EDUCATION, AND CLEAN UP OUR ENVIRONMENT
- Health Care Trust Fund: This Fund would expand access to affordable coverage to every child and millions of adults, including parents of children eligible for Medicaid or the new Children's Health Insurance Program. In addition, Gore would allow Americans 55 to 65 to buy into Medicare, and provide tax credits for small businesses and individuals without job-based health care. Gore also believes we should pass a strong, enforceable patients' bill of rights that helps all patients in all health plans.
- A New Education Reform Trust Fund: This Fund would help students, teachers, and schools meet higher standards, help workers get the training they need to succeed in the workplace, and help expand access to affordable child care. These investments will provide essential resources to help students reach high standards - including universal preschool, small, safe, successful high schools, smaller classes, modern classrooms and high quality teachers - while demanding greater accountability from our schools, our teachers and our students. This Fund would also help American families care for their children, provide quality after-school programs.
- The National Energy Security and Environment Trust Fund: Al Gore is proposing to spend part of the expected surplus on a new National Energy and Environmental Security Trust Fund. The Fund is designed to bring revolutionary change to our transportation and energy infrastructure so that we can begin creating a cleaner environment, a stable climate and encourage job creation. Using market-based mechanisms, the Fund would focus on the three sectors responsible for the most pollution: transportation, electric power generation and industrial production. It would also lessen our dependence on imported sources of oil, thus strengthening our national security.
INVESTING IN AMERICA'S FUTURE
A vital element of preserving and expanding America's prosperity is investing in skills and technologies that are critical to America's future. Al Gore proposes the following investments:
- Making the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit permanent to encourage the development of new technologies and spur economic growth. Gore would make the credit partially refundable for small businesses.
- Double the investment in information technology research over the next five years, fully implementing the recommendations of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee.
- Increase investment in biomedical research and information technology so that their convergence can deliver the benefits from completing the human genome effort. The genome project - which has created an "instruction book for life" - can produce new treatments, diagnostics and personalized medicine. To take advantage of the promise of this research, Al Gore will propose the creation of 20 centers of excellence in biomedical computing on the campuses of our finest schools.
- Funding the primary research of the ideas of university researchers which are later turned into benefits that we all enjoy such as high-speed wireless networks that can provide telemedicine, distance learning, and electronic commerce to remote rural communities; supercomputers that can dramatically increase our ability to predict tornadoes and hurricanes; and computers that are much easier to use, and can "understand" human language; new research leading to the design of effective drugs and a speed-up of the time it takes to find important new treatments and cures.
INVESTING IN OUR COMMUNITIES
- Revitalizing Distressed Communities: Al Gore's agenda builds upon ongoing efforts to encourage economic growth through three complementary efforts.
- Under Al Gore's leadership, the Administration has created 31 Empowerment Zones and more than 100 Enterprise Communities (EZ/ECs) to help create thousands of new jobs in communities with high unemployment and poverty rates. This initiative challenges qualified urban and rural communities to develop comprehensive strategic plans for revitalization, including job training, education, housing and other supports for EZ/EC residents. Grants and tax breaks are awarded to those with the most innovative plans and significant commitments. Gore proposes $1.4 billion for the remaining 9 years for urban EZs, $120 million for the remaining eight years for rural ECs, and $4.4 billion over ten years for a third round of EZs - for a total of 41 EZs;
- The New Markets Initiative includes several elements to spur investments in economically distressed areas, including:
The Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund was established in 1994 to address capital access and credit, providing funds to traditional banks and thrifts for increasing their activities in economically distressed communities and investing in CDFI institutions (such as community development banks, credit unions or venture capital funds). Funds are matched $1 for $1 with non-federal resources to facilitate lending, including mortgage, financing to first-time home buyers and commercial loans to small businesses. Gore's plan would provide $125 million for the CDFI Fund, $35 million above the current level.
- A 25 percent tax credit to help spur $15 billion in new equity capital for a range of private investment vehicles serving distressed communities;
- America's Private Investment Companies (APICs) that target larger businesses expanding to economically distressed areas would be eligible for $37 million in loan guarantees to the debt issued by investment funds;
- New Markets Venture Capital (NMVCs) firms would receive $52 million to match equity of private investors with government guaranteed debt and technical assistance funding to cultivate the growth of smaller firms;
- Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME) would provide $15 million in technical assistance grants to microenterprise intermediaries to assist low-income entrepreneurs;
- Grants to University Partnerships, helping business and law schools to institutionalize their role in local economic development; and
- Access to financial and banking services for the approximately 10 million households who do not have access to the mainstream banking system.
OPENING MARKETS AROUND THE WORLD
Exports sustain about 1 in 5 American factory jobs - jobs that pay more than jobs not tied to the global economy. Open markets spur innovation, speed the growth of new industries, and make our businesses more competitive. As President, Al Gore will work to knock down barriers to fair trade so other nation's markets are as open as our own. Given a chance, American farmers, workers and businesses can out-compete anybody.
- Al Gore believes that the President should be able to negotiate trade agreements with the nations of the world and should have the authority to negotiate worker rights, human rights, and environmental protections. We should create an environment in which electronic commerce can flourish globally as it has here in America.
- Al Gore believes that we need to make the global economy work for all. He will fight for agreements that provide protections for workers, farmers, and the environment. Gore believes that we should use trade to lift up standards around the world not drag down standards here at home.
- Al Gore fought to help America's steel industry weather the effects of the Asian financial crisis. He will continue to monitor imports and, consistent with the World Trade Organization, ensure that our trade laws enable the U.S. to respond quickly and effectively to import surges when they threaten our workers and communities.
KEEP OUR DEFENSE STRONG AND PROTECT AMERICANS ABROAD
Al Gore believes the United States must remain actively engaged in the world through a strategy of Forward Engagement - addressing problems early in their development before they become crises, addressing them as close to the source of the problem as possible, and having the forces and resources to deal with those threats as soon after their emergence as possible. To support and sustain that strategy, America will have to maintain the best trained, best equipped, most agile military force in the world. As President, Gore will devote part of the surplus to make reasonable increases in military spending - targeted to improve benefits and quality of life for servicemen and women, improve force readiness and provide the most modern equipment. Gore will also ensure adequate funding for an effective and secure foreign policy presence abroad, and address emerging security.
- Al Gore believes we must ensure that our men and women in uniform are rewarded as they pursue a rewarding military career. This means continuing to increase military pay and quality of life benefits for soldiers and their families - to ensure that our all volunteer force can continue to recruit the most capable young men and women in America.
- Al Gore also understands the need to focus on military readiness for the wide array of missions our forces will carry out. As President, he will increase funding to restructure forces to meet new needs, as well as for troop training and exercising and the maintenance and repair of military equipment and installations.
- Al Gore will ensure a defense budget adequate both to provide our forces with the next generation of defense equipment, without missing a beat, and to invest significantly in the revolutionary defense technologies emerging over the horizon. And he will ensure the Pentagon is managed in a businesslike, efficient way, through appropriate management reform and innovation, which will release further funds for the needs of people, readiness and modernization.
- America needs to ensure that its overseas foreign policy engagement is adequately funded and secure from hostile attack. Al Gore will commit funds to improve embassy protection and security, meet our international obligations, and carry out new initiatives to confront emerging global security threats such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, global environmental degradation, refugee flows, terrorism, international drug trafficking and crime and the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
Source: Al Gore for
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