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Gephardt talks bipartisanship, outlines differences


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In his party's weekly radio address, House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt pledged Saturday to work with George W. Bush "to achieve honest compromise," while outlining key differences on tax cuts, campaign finance reform and vouchers.

"We are deeply committed to effective bipartisan solutions and we will do everything we can to find common ground," the Missourian said. "Fortunately in some areas we're already off to a good start."

Gephardt backed plans for education reform but drew the line on the issue of vouchers.

"We believe that vouchers, which are in President Bush's plan, do not further the goal of improving public schools," Gephardt told listeners.

"Vouchers drain funds from failing schools at the very moment when schools need these resources the most ... We must not allow 'reform' to erode the federal responsibility to support national priorities like helping disadvantaged students and putting a quality teacher in every classroom."

The House leader also pledged to back efforts to pass campaign reform legislation by Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, previewing what might become a fierce battle.

"If enacted this year, campaign finance reform would reduce the power of corporations and wealthy individuals in our politics," Gephardt said. "Unfortunately, the special interests and their Republican allies in Congress are fighting to keep these bills from passing."

Gephardt said the Democratic Party is committed to passing tax cuts but not the massive $1.9-trillion plan put forth by the president. He said Bush's plan unfairly favors the wealthy and could create massive deficits.

"The right way includes an immediate tax for those Americans most affected by the economic slowdown and a budget that leaves enough money to pay off the debt, invest in the needs and priorities of the American people, and keep interest rates low and our economy strong," Gephardt said.


Saturday, January 27, 2001



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