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Gore Unveils $500B Tax Relief Plan

Aired June 15, 2000 - 2:34 p.m. ET


LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take you live now to Cincinnati, Ohio where the vice president is appearing at a food distribution center owned by a family in Cincinnati. Typical of the family, the vice president is speaking, too, today about his plan for a $500 billion tax relief plan over 10 years to help middle class Americans pay for tuition, buy health insurance, and save for retirement.

Let's listen to what the vice president has in mind.


VICE PRES. AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And it's very different today than it was eight years ago. Back then, we had huge deficits and a deep recession. We had high unemployment, hard times for millions of people. And that's all changed.

Now, instead of the biggest deficits ever, we have the biggest surpluses. Instead of a triple-dip recession, we've seen a tripling of the stock market. Instead of high unemployment, we've got 22 million new jobs, the lowest African-American unemployment in recorded history and lowest Latino unemployment in American history, and one of the lowest unemployment rates overall.

Now, the credit for that belongs with the American people, because it's their hard work that's produced all this success. But there are -- there's another factor also, because the American people have always been hardworking. They were working plenty hard back in 1991 when the economy was in very bad shape. The difference is that we now have a new economy policy that has given the American people new tools with which to unlock the potential of our economy and to stimulate this fantastic growth and the creation of all these good, new jobs. As a result, we're now seeing the kind of momentum that makes it possible for us to enjoy these budget surpluses.

And for all the good news, there's still more good news. Soon, the budget office and the Office of Management and Budget will both announce that the surpluses expected in this coming decade are going to be much larger still.

So what should we do to ensure that we have progress and prosperity? We should not pretend that decisions concerning the surplus are any less important than the decisions concerning the deficit years ago. Both sets of decisions are equally important in determining whether or not we have progress and...


And we have a clear choice to make. One side says, let's take that entire surplus and spend a trillion dollars to privatize Social Security, and almost $2 trillion on a huge tax plan that mainly goes to the upper brackets and not even start -- you don't even have to start calculating the extra spending proposals over there before you see that we're right back into deficits again. The one big problem with that choice would be that if we immediately stop paying down the debt and instead go back into deficits, that could ensure that the prosperity and progress ends and we don't ever see these big surpluses.

If we make the other choice, we can keep going. And the choice I'm recommending is based on solid values. First of all, discipline: balance the budget every year, pay down the debt every year. That builds confidence in our economy policies, it keeps interest rates lower than they would otherwise be, and keeps economic growth roaring along.

Secondly, conscience: Do the right thing. We need to make sure that our children and our seniors are given the care and the treatment that they need, and decency. We have got to make sure that Social Security and Medicare are not threatened or privatized or taken away or weakened.

And boldness, because we've got to take on the new challenges of improving our schools dramatically, improving our health care system, taking advantage of the new research opportunities that can find cures for a lot of the diseases that have been so horrible for so long; to take on the environmental challenges as well.

And I'm going to be talking about each of these subjects over the next three weeks. But today I want to talk about targeted tax cuts because I believe that with these larger surpluses, the targeted tax cuts that I have previously recommended can be more robust.

And I am proposing here today and announcing today a plan of targeted tax cuts for middle income families that, over the next 10 years, will total $500 billion, a half a trillion dollars. Now, one of the elements will be a savings plan for tax-free savings account on top of Social Security. And the details of that proposal and the formal announcement of that proposal will come next Tuesday.

Today, I want to talk about all of the other tax cuts that I'm proposing, and I want to talk about what they mean to people who have specific objectives that are important to their families. One of them is, I want to eliminate the marriage penalty for working couples. We are going to talk to a working couple about that marriage penalty in just a short time.

Then I want to have a child care tax credit so that those who have children, whether a single parent or whether married couple, will get the help they need to get high quality child care. This proposal will also give a tax cut to parents who choose to stay home with their babies longer after birth. If that's the choice they make, then they ought not be penalized for it. But if both parents have to go into the workforce or choose to go into the workforce, they should have better, affordable child care available, and childcare ought to be focused more on learning opportunities.

Third, I am going to talk about long-term care because I am part of a generation that has -- is the first generation with more parents than children. Smaller families on average now, now we are not talking about the Catanzaro (ph) family here or the Gore family. We have got only four children, but that's big by today's standards. But the average family has two kids or less now. And with our parents and grandparents living longer, the medical expenses for the seniors in a family outdo the expenses for children now.

And so I am proposing tax relief for long-term care and for health care that is provided to family members who have a condition like Alzheimer's or Lou Gehrig's disease, or some of the other conditions that require families to get a little help with the expenses and the burdens that they carry.

Now, also, those with children are naturally thinking about child care, I mean tuition expenses, and families that are looking forward to having more than one child in college at the same time, well, what do you do? You got to rely overly much on the student loans or get some other source of help. I believe that middle income families need some tax relief to help them save for college tax free and inflation free with a national tuition savings plan that makes it possible to save up a college tuition for each child, ready for use by the time that child is ready to go to college. We'll talk about a family that is facing that situation.

And then, finally, what about small business operators who want to provide health insurance for their employees? The Catanzaros do. This is getting a little bit almost out of the small business category now with your new facility we're going to call you one of the -- I don't know -- giant corporations maybe.

Long way to go? What do you got 125 employees? All of them get health insurance. But we have a smaller business represented here, literally, a mom and pop operation that has got four other employees, and in today's tight job market, you have got to go an extra mile to attract and retain the best employees, and naturally, if people can afford it, they want to give their employees health insurance anyway. But I think there should be some tax relief there to encourage small business employers who can't presently afford health coverage for their employees to be able to do so. And we're going to talk about that also.

This tax relief package for middle income families can help to solve the most important challenges that families face today. This package, big as it is, stands in sharp contrast to an alternative that would completely eliminate the budget surplus and threaten the underlying prosperity. You know the old parable about the goose that laid the golden eggs, and every child knows that story, and the moral of it is: If you have got a good thing, don't destroy it; take care of it; don't overreach. And this economy is one that -- where you can apply that same moral. We need to keep our progress and prosperity going, build on it, make sure no one is left behind. Extend it, strengthen is, and on that foundations, let's build the period of the brightest and best prosperity America has ever had.

WATERS: The vice president of the United States, in Cincinnati today, outlining his new tax relief plan. You'll recall that during the primary campaign the vice president had plans of a $250 billion tax cut over 10 years and no more. Today, he has doubled that tax relief plan based on larger surpluses. The forecast of the Budget Office creating, in the president's words, "more robust tax relief for middle income families."

Part of the vice president's plan would be tax-free voluntary retirement accounts, elimination of the marriage penalty for working couples, child care tax credits, long-term care tax relief, tax deductions or credit on college tuition, and small business would be receiving a 25 percent tax credit on health care premium costs. The alternative would be George Bush's tax relief plan at $1.3 trillion over 10 years, an amount the vice president said the United States just cannot afford.



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