Republican Delegates Give Their Views on the U.S. Economy
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RAY SUAREZ: Jim, I spoke to delegates from different regions of the country, places with different leading industries in important sectors, but almost all had an upbeat assessment of the state of the economy where they live.
They say after the fall of 2001 there were tough times, but conditions have been steadily improving. Since there was no daytime program for the convention today, the place to find delegates was in their state caucuses, like Randy Frederick who owns a farm in South Dakota. Lets begin by talking about who last four years been economically in South Dakota.
RANDY FREDERICK: Number one, from an agricultural perspective, there’s very, very few farmers and ranches that aren’t better off than they were before. My farm was homesteaded back in 1881. It’s been in my family ever since.
We’ve had ups and downs, but there are few times that we haven’t made more money than in the last few years.
RAY SUAREZ: Are there aspects of the Bush economic program that are… seem tailored to help guys like you?
RANDY FREDERICK: Absolutely. Absolutely. The faster write down on depreciation, I’ve purchased machinery this year because of the Bush tax cuts.
Without President Bush’s stimulus package, there’s a lot of economic activity that wouldn’t be happening in South Dakota.
RAY SUAREZ: What kind of work are you in?
DUANE SUTTON: We make all kinds of signs. Banners. We do vehicle lettering. We do window lettering, electrical signs, a little bit of everything.
RAY SUAREZ: Is that kind of like a thermometer for the economy? People want more signs when they’ve got more things they want to sell people?
RANDY FREDERICK: The better the economy is, the more they spend on signage. Where I’m from– Aberdeen, which is the third largest town in South Dakota– we’ve noticed some new business come into town.
Some new doctors offices, dentists office. Health care in Aberdeen. We’ve become kind of a health care community. And we’ve noticed a lot of those type businesses move to town, but a lot of small businesses also.
RAY SUAREZ: What kind of help does upstate New York need?
LORE KOPPEL: I feel there are certain mandates that are very important. But, by same token, I think that they’re much too lenient. I don’t care how long those lines are at social services.
If you want to be on welfare, stand in the line, is my opinion. I mean, I really don’t feel those people have any right to complain. And that’s somewhere where cuts can certainly take place.
RAY SUAREZ: Well, if you’re a working person up in Guilderland or Troy or someplace up there, what is it about the Bush economic approach that’s going to help you? This is one area where the Bush administration in the polls has not been getting great marks, on the management of the economy.
LORE KOPPEL: I think with all the problems that the Bush administration has had with the aftermath of 9/11 that possibly, this time around, they’re going to be able to focus more on economics than they have the last few years.
I mean, there’s been a tremendous amount of effort and money going into security, because I think security comes before economics.
RAY SUAREZ: Is there a message the campaign brings that would say to the average rank and file Harlemite help is on the way? Things are getting better?
WILL BROWN: Harlem is unique in this respect. The fact that you’ve got 95 percent of people in Harlem who vote Democratic, no one is going to say that President Bush and Cheney will make the difference.
RAY SUAREZ: But you find yourself in alignment with the Bush/Cheney economic message?
WILL BROWN: Oh, I do, and as I said earlier, I’m optimistic about it. I think they’re on the right track. I think the things that the president and vice president are doing overall will eventually will filter down, will trickle down, to the Harlem community, and I think the Harlem community will benefit from it. But I will restate I don’t think that Bush/Cheney will ever get credit for it.
RAY SUAREZ: Are there aspects of the Bush team’s economic proposals that you have felt or seen the impact of personally? Where when you’re sitting with your books late at night or doing the numbers on a calculator, you actually can see this is what this means to me?
JERRY LATHAN: Absolutely. The reduction in capital gains and the reduction in personal income tax levels making it easier to make sense out of some deals or things that wouldn’t work otherwise if you were still at 20-25 percent or even higher on capital gains, it just wouldn’t make sense. So you wouldn’t do it.
RAY SUAREZ: Can Bush/Cheney ’04 run on the economy in your part of world?
PAT MOORE: You know, we have very high educational system in Birmingham area. We have several colleges. A huge medical facility.
So we have a lot of opportunities. But I do know in a lot of counties this is not true. In some of the other counties, there’s closings, plant closings that’s really detrimental to their economy.
RAY SUAREZ: Pat Moore as a member of the Alabama delegation, comes from an unusual state, one with a Republican governor that has been trying to raise taxes on the wealthy. She says that’s really divided Republicans in Alabama, though the caucus remains very strongly in support of Governor Riley.
Back to you, Jim.
JIM LEHRER: Thank you, Ray.