VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATEOctober 9, 1996
JIM LEHRER: Mr. Vice President, what do you see as the political philosophy differences in a general way between you and President Clinton on the one hand, Mr. Kemp and Senator Dole on the other?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: The differences are very clear. We have a positive plan based on three principles. We want to provide opportunity for all Americans. We insist on responsibility being accepted in turn by everyone. And we want to strengthen our communities and their ability to support families and individuals in our common effort to create a bright future.
Here's how we plan to do that. We have a balanced-budget plan that has targeted tax cuts for middle-income families. We've already given tax cuts to 15 million of the hardest pressed working families in America. Our plan for the next four years features a $1,500 tax credit called a Hope Scholarship for tuition and community college, junior college or college; a $10,000 tax deduction for college tuition for those who go further so that in essence, no American family will ever be taxed on the money the spend for college tuition.
Also, tax relief for first-time home buyers, tax encouragement for savings and help in paying health care expenses and a tax break - actually, the elimination of capital gains taxes on the profits from the sale of a home. All of this is within a balanced-budget plan which protects Medicare, Medicaid, education and the environment.
MR. KEMP: Jim, this economy is over-taxed, over-regulated, there are too many people suing each other, there's too much litigation, our education is not up to the standards that the American family and the American people want for their children, and clearly the welfare system is a disgrace to our Judeo-Christian principles. It's not the values of the poor that should be called into question; it's the values of the welfare system from Washington that prevent people from climbing out of poverty.
Our biggest debate with this administration on domestic policy is that they think we're at our fullest capacity, that we've reached our potential, and that 2-1/2 percent growth is enough for America. Frankly, that's just not good enough for this country. We cannot just run the clock out on the 20th century.
Clearly, we need to lower the tax rate across the board on working and saving and investing. I know my friend Al will suggest that's trickle-down economics. Well, Al, if it's trickle-down economics, ask Van Woods, a young entrepreneur who owns a restaurant in Harlem, if it's trickle-down. He said he would hire 60 more people if we would cut the capital gains tax.
JIM LEHRER: Mr. Vice President?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I talked about our positive agenda for the future a moment ago. Your original question was about the contrast.
The plan from Senator Dole and Mr. Kemp is a risky $550-billion tax scheme that actually raises taxes on nine million of the hardest-pressed working families. It would blow a hole in the deficit, cause much deeper cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, education and the environment; and knock our economy off track, raising interest rates, mortgage rates and car payments.
We stopped that plan before; we will stop it again. We want a positive plan for growth and more jobs.
JIM LEHRER: Mr. Kemp, back to the philosophy question. Do you think there's a basic philosophy difference between these two tickets, or is it about specifics, which both of you have talked about?
MR. KEMP: Well, this is a perfect example. Bob Dole and I want to cut the tax rates across the board on each and every American working, saving, investing, and taking risks in America.
All wealth is created and all growth is generated by risk-taking entrepreneurs. The tax rate on capital in America is way too high. It's too high on the family, and it's particularly too high on working men and women. The average family in America at median level of income probably is spending 25 to 26 percent of their income sent to the federal government. That's more than shelter, food, clothing and energy. That's just not right.
When I was growing up in Los Angeles, my parents were one working family where one bread winner per family was all that was necessary. Now if a woman wants to go to work, or a man wants to go to work, it ought to be their choice, not the choice Washington D.C. establishment.
Bill Clinton, the President, and Al Gore suggest that they'll give us a tax cut, but only if we do exactly what they want us to do. That isn't America. That's social engineering.
The tax code should reflect our values in a Judeo-Christian sense: that work, honesty, and integrity in contracts and property and investment and savings should be rewarded. And Bob Dole and Jack Kemp are not only going to cut the tax rates across the board and lower the capital gain tax - I'll be glad to talk about it a little bit later, because there's not enough time, but we're going to repeal the 83-year-old code and replace the 7-1/2 million words with a flatter, fairer, simpler code. And that will take this country roaring into the 21st century.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: This risky tax scheme would blow a hole in the deficit. You don't have to take my word for it. Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, Business Week, 83 percent of hundreds of economists in a random survey just recently all said it would blow a hole in the deficit.
There's another feature that I would like to hear Mr. Kemp speak about: Just before he joined Senator Dole on the ticket, he said that the plan - the part of the plan that raises taxes on nine million of the hardest-working families in America was unconscionable. That means it's wrong, and it shouldn't happen. I agree. It is still part of the plan. We believe that taxes should not be increased on those families. We have a plan to cut taxes on middle-income families within a balanced-budget plan eliminating the deficit and protecting Medicare, Medicaid, education and the environment.
JIM LEHRER: Mr. Kemp.
MR. KEMP: Every time this country in the 20th century has cut tax rates across the board, revenues went up. The economy grew. And I am surprised at this point in his career that Vice President Gore and the president cannot understand that you get more revenue from a bigger pie. And clearly creating more jobs reduces the social welfare drain, clearly makes more opportunity for capital to be invested in our inner cities, and frankly, Al, we shouldn't just tinker with the capital gains tax, we should eliminate it in the inner cities of America to put capital to work to make democratic capitalism and jobs available in our inner cities of the United States.