On the Issues
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JIM LEHRER: Matching speeches by President Bush and Sen. Kerry focusing on jobs. The senator spoke this afternoon at a pots and pans factory in Canonsburg, Pa.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: Workers are working harder than at any time that I can remember in all the time I’ve been in public life. I keep meeting people who are working two and three jobs, people who keep trying to get ahead. Outsourcing, going on like crazy, jobs are leaving, the Ohio River Valley, you start adding up 270,000 jobs lost in Ohio alone, and start putting them together state for state, it’s been devastating. And people are wondering, “How are we going to get ahead?”
Tuitions have gone up 28 percent in the last three years, health care goes up every single year, 25 percent, 30 percent, 60 percent. Under George Bush, we have lost, 4 million Americans have lost their health insurance. It’s worse today than it was four years ago. After 9/11, after the recession ended, George Bush said, “If we have a big tax cut we’re going to create jobs and we’ll have 5.1 million jobs.”
Well guess what? We had three tax cuts, and we not only don’t have 5.1 million jobs, we lost 2.8 million. We’re now 2 million down from where we were after that 9/11, so it’s about a 7 million job spread, folks. This is the worst jobs record in the United States since Herbert Hoover and the Great Depression. First president to lose jobs over the course of four years. And we all know what’s happening in terms of competition from abroad and we all know what’s happening to wages.
In America, during Bill Clinton, over the eight years the president was there, wages for the average American went up about $7,100 over those eight years. Under George Bush wages for the average American in the last 3.5 years have gone down $1,400. We actually have a wage recession in America.
Every single one of you today out of your paychecks are subsidizing jobs going overseas. You’re paying for a job that goes overseas, and if a company, if your competitor were to say, okay, we’re going to leave … if you had a competitor that was right here, and we’re going to go to Malaysia or China and we are going to produce there, and you decide to be here as you are, you’re going to pay the standard corporate tax rate here in Pennsylvania, that’s what you pay. But if you’re the company that goes overseas, guess what? You defer your tax, year after year after year, which means you have a much bigger advantage and if you don’t bring it back here you can continue forever to take your profits and pour them back into the company.
Here’s what I’m going to do: We’re going to close that loophole. If a company wants to go, it will go, but we’re not going to give them an incentive at your expense to go. And when we take that money ( applause ) and with the money that we recoup from doing that, it’s about $12 billion, guess what we’re going to do? We’re going to give every corporation in America a tax cut, a 5 percent corporate tax rate, so that our companies that stay here that are working to provide jobs for Americans, they get the reward, they get the break and we make them more competitive with companies that are overseas. ( Applause ) And that’s what we’re going to do.
We need to put America back to work, and we need to stop having a whole bunch of people in politics who talk about family values but they don’t put policies in place that value families.
JIM LEHRER: President Bush was in Minneapolis where he spoke this morning to the National Association of Community Colleges.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: The economy is strong, and it’s getting stronger. We’ve overcome a lot. I happen to believe it’s because of pro-growth, you know, economic issues, but I also know it’s because the entrepreneurial spirit is strong, the small business sector of America is strong, and there’s great opportunities in this country. Retail sales are strong. Interest rates are low. Homeownership is at the highest rate ever, which is a fantastic statistic, when you think about it. I mean, ours is a society in which we encourage people to own something.
When you own something, you have a vital stake in the future of the country. We want more people owning their own home. The minority homeownership gap, while it still exists, is getting better. We want everybody to own a home, not just a few, not just those who live in suburban America. We want homeownership to be a vital part of the future of our country. Durable good orders are up. Industrial production in the first quarter rose at the fastest pace in nearly four years.
In other words, things are getting better. There’s renewed confidence. When people invest in equipment, it makes … it means it’s more likely somebody is going to find work, and that’s what’s happening. There are new jobs available. But the problem we face in the short term in America is, some workers do not have the skills necessary to fill the new jobs. There are jobs being created during this period of economic transition, and yet there are willing workers who don’t have the skill set necessary to fill those jobs. And I think you’ll find in different communities around the country there are people looking for nurses or teaching or different technology, fields of technology.
And you know who knows this best? The community college system understands it best. (Applause) You know, the people closest to the situation in each community are those who can best devise a strategy to meet the growing demand for workers and the need to make sure the workers have the appropriate skill sets.
So the first thing I want to say is thanks for what you’re doing to make America a more hopeful place. Thanks for providing an opportunity for somebody that says the job I used to work in is no … is beginning to be transitioned out as our economy changes and help me get the skill sets necessary to be employable.
I proposed to Congress a $250 million program to help community colleges form partnerships with local businesses. This is a practical way to help people find work. It’s a practical way to make sure the skill set matches the jobs of the 21st century. I think this will help train a hundred thousand more people a year. It’s a way to keep America on the leading edge of change. The community college system is a cornerstone of good economic policy. It’s a cornerstone of sound educational policy. And it’s one of the reasons why I’m optimistic that America will lead … continue to lead the world when it comes to innovation and change. And that’ll be good for our people. That’ll be good for the revitalization of what I call the American spirit and the American dream.
JIM LEHRER: We’ll continue to have similar matching speeches throughout the campaign.