Richard Lugar in New Hampshire
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SEN. RICHARD LUGAR, Republican Presidential Candidate: My campaign for President is about three things: prosperity, security, integrity, prosperity in the sense that we have to have in addition to a balanced budget and I feel very very strongly we have to keep pursuing that as we are doing in the Senate and the House, and working with the President, something beyond that. We have to have economic growth. We have to have 3 1/2 to 4 percent growth in the country or the country doesn’t work very well. And, in essence, the one reason why we have great family anxiety, why average family income has not changed much in 20 years, is that we’ve had very low growth, low productivity, flat wages. That will not change, in my judgment, without both balancing the budget and a vital change in the tax system.
A subject of big debate during the primaries here, the system that I advocated, is the elimination of all income taxes, individual, corporate, capital gains, state, gift, and the Internal Revenue Service, and in essence, a tax on expenditures, on consumption, what amounts to a national sales tax to be collected by the states, and you pay it only when you spend money, but the basic virtue of what I’m talking about is you control your own destiny, you control your money. It is not withheld. You can save it, invest it, make money on it, give it away to your family at any point in your lifetime, or in your estate. These are powerful incentives to save and invest. It is the best system for increasing saving and investment without which there will not be economic growth at the levels that I’m describing.
All of these systems are complex when you make basic changes in the American tax system. If you’re going through the agony of doing so, you ought to do it the right way the first time. And to leave the income tax system with the flat tax or with some non-diminishing modification with various other things that are suggested is to leave the possibilities for more rates, more deductions. We’ve been down the flat tax road before in 1986, we wound up after congressional debate with three rates, and with fewer deductions and exemptions but still a lot, and we have been adding on ever since. That is the nature of the income tax system. If you do not eliminate the entirety of it and proceed on to a different incidence of taxation, you will be back to that point again. So this is at least my plan, it’s one I think that has some very good chance of working due to the fact that I will work with the members of the House and the Senate who are my colleagues now, and none of these plans are going to occur without a sophisticated President who understands the Congress, who understands politics.
The idea that this is a referendum not a tax plan that will suddenly happen, that the President knows nothing about politics in America, is simply nonsense. I’ve talked about security for our country. I’ve made the claim that I know more about foreign policy and national security than any of the other candidates, including the incumbent President. That has really not been challenged, but what the other candidates have said it’s irrelevant, no one’s interested in foreign policy, or national security. Well, I am, and I hope that you are. That is a basic requisite for being President of the United States, the unique role the President plays. As mayor, as legislator, various other capacities, I’ve been involved in taxes, in welfare reform, in fighting crime, and fighting family disintegration, but we do this at various levels, and I’ll try to do a good job as President in those areas too.
But let me just say there’s only one President, only one person, at least, that is responsible for putting together a national security team to protect all of us from outsiders who may not wish us well, or more affirmatively to promote American interests, to do well in our trade negotiations, to organize our allies, so that they are best able to take care of their own problems on their own continents. These things do not happen by chance. I would simply say from word go I will try to organize Europe, Asia, this hemisphere, with the United States playing the role as the catalyst who brings the parties to the table, who tries to bring about assigned roles for each one of us to look for security in the world.
Now thirdly, I’ve talked about integrity. Obviously, integrity in the office of the President, a President you can trust, a President who’s a straight shooter, who tells the truth, who has a track record of delivering on promises, as I do. I would say beyond that, we really have to talk in this campaign, I think, about the integrity of the whole process, and by that, I mean I believe that a candidate for President of the United States ought to be campaigning positively and constructively on ideas that he or she believes are important for the American people, as opposed to what has amounted already to a demolition derby in this campaign in New Hampshire and in Iowa. I would, I would simply say I was struck two or three weeks ago by the sheer number of negative ads that I saw. I saw in the press this morning that Mr. Forbes over the weekend on Boston television had 516 ads. The next closest competitor and the next most wealthy campaign, Bob Dole’s campaign, had 71. It gives you some idea of the order of magnitude. A majority of both of these candidates appear to be giving negative ads, supplementing whatever they’re saying positively. If there is mistrust of the American political system and all of the polls that are being done in Derry, New Hampshire by the Boston Globe, as well as Derry media, indicate a very strong disconnect with many people, and politicians and politics generally. This really pushes it over the edge. Now let me just say I’m not going to run a negative ad. I have never done so in my political career. It is very possible to win public office, affirming the things you believe in as important, positive and constructively, and for the sake of the presidency, we’d better have a President who campaigns and wins on that basis.
We–in order to promote big ideas, you have to have at least some basic consensus in this country. One vote more than the next is not enough to reform the tax system, to re-arm the country, to make a positive difference, whether you’re talking about crime, welfare, or anything else. What is needed is a consensus builder as President and who understands how to bridge gaps, how to unify the American people, and really how to forge ahead with a sense of goodwill, and the promise that comes with that. So that I promise to do. I believe these are good reasons why I should be elected President, and I seek your vote on February the 20th.