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Gore Speaks on Economy in Columbus, Ohio

Aired September 5, 2000 - 12:16 p.m. ET


FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: Earlier today, we took you to George W. Bush and his event, where he talked about prescription drug coverage. Now we want to take you over to Al Gore, the Democratic presidential nominee, and listen to his discussion from Columbus, Ohio on the new economy.


VICE PRES. AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... Tomorrow I'm going to be introducing a comprehensive economic plan in Cleveland. And I thought today would be an ideal time to have a forum on the new economy and to talk about exactly what is at stake here.

You know, both of the campaigns are going back and forth and presenting ideas.

Today my opponent, Governor Bush, is unveiling a prescription drug plan. And I thought I would just make a short comment on that before we get into our discussion.

There are really three problems with it: Number one, it leaves millions of seniors without any prescription drug coverage, middle- class seniors. Nearly half of all of those who don't have coverage today would not get coverage under the plan that he's announcing today.

The second problem is, it would still force seniors into HMOs that -- and managed health plans, even if they don't want to go into them. And as we have seen, there are a lot of problems with the way some of the HMOs have been treating all Americans.

And number three, the biggest problem is, there's no money to pay for it, if you give away all of the surplus in the form of a giant tax cut to the wealthy at the expense of the middle-class in a way that stops our prosperity and progress.

I think the far better approach -- first of all on prescription drug benefits, I think we should give all seniors a prescription drug benefit under the Medicare program and help them pay their prescription medicine bills.

Secondly, we're going to be able to take on challenges like that one and the environment and job training and education and all the rest if we keep the economy strong. And keeping the new economy a strong and vital part of America's growing economy is one of the key ways to do that. That's why I'm unveiling tomorrow this comprehensive plan that will be accompanied by a comprehensive budget to show how all of the pieces fit together, to not overshoot the mark with a tax cut for the wealthy that completely overwhelms the surplus, but to give middle class tax cuts.

For example, I want to make most college tuition tax deductible, so that families can afford to send all of the young people in this country to college. I think that we ought to recognize the education is the number one priority for the 21st century.


Not too long ago, I visited a great school here in this area and spent the night at the home of a great teacher, and learned a lot in the process. It was very interesting.

But you know, we have more children in public schools today than ever in history, more than at the height of the baby boom. And 60 percent of all the CEOs in America say their number one challenge that they have to overcome in order to have growth and expansion is to find well-educated, well-trained job applicants. Now, that's the main limiting factor that we have today.

And if you look at how we're stacking up against other countries around the world, it's pretty obvious that we need to do a much better job.

And since we have an aging population, the average age is now higher than ever in American history, and the voting population is dominated by Americans whose children have already left the schools and others who are too young to have kids in the schools, it's harder for local communities to pass bond issues to finance the schools.

And so there's this financing crisis around the country. That's why I think it ought to be a national priority. I think we ought to look at it the way the World War II veterans did when they passed the GI bill and provided for the baby boomers. We need new educational and job training investments comparable in scale to the GI bill.

We ought to make it the number one priority and start treating teachers like the professionals that they are, and reduce class size, and modernize schools, and have universal preschool for every child, in every family, in every community, all across the United States.

And we need to work with the business community to develop a very keen understanding of the best ways that we can move our economy forward.

I'm looking forward to the discussion here today, because you're right at the cutting edge.

And, indeed, what you're doing here is a wonderful example of what happens when you respect your employees, you provide a work environment that brings out creativity, and recognizes that the most valuable asset in your company is the -- is the creative power, the brain power, the hearts of your employees.

And, you know, in our country as a whole, the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Alan Greenspan, is fond of quoting an obscure statistic that I think is laden with a lot of meaning. He points out that over the last 50 years the total value of everything that we make and sell in the United States of America has tripled, but the total weight, the gross tonnage, hasn't gone up at all. It may have gone down a little bit.

Now, why is that significant? To me, it's significant, because it shows that with all of the growth and all of the new dynamism and creativity, we're actually replacing steel and rubber and plastic and materials with knowledge and creativity.

Now, if knowledge is that much bigger a part of our economy than ever in history, it's obvious that education and job training have to commensurately rise on our priority list.

And, you know, that brings us to this fork in the road: Here we have the biggest surpluses in history. Eight years ago, we had deficits of $300 billion a year, the national debt had been multiplied by four times in just a little over a decade; the interest on that debt was climbing more rapidly than anything else. And we've turned that around.

And with John Glenn's leadership and help, we really have made a huge difference. We have...

SESNO: Al Gore speaking to a group in Columbus, Ohio, focusing on the new economy, using the opportunity to raise the curtain a bit on a major policy speech he will be delivering tomorrow on his economic plan, ways he says to keep the economy moving forward.

Taking this opportunity to do a couple of things. First of all say that in a knowledge-based economy, point he's making right here, that education is key, and using that opportunity there to underline and underscore his plan to major college tuition for many American families tax deductible.

Also taking an opportunity to jump on George W. Bush's plan to underwrite the cost of prescription drug benefits for many seniors in this country, despite the $158 billion price tag that Governor Bush attaches to that. Al Gore says it is not enough, and it would leave millions of Americans -- senior Americans without coverage.

We will have much more coverage on the story and on the response, debate to it, coming up later in the day and throughout the day.



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