|BUSH AND McCAIN ON THE STUMP|
January 14, 2000
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I want to just talk for a minute about what our young people will view as a mundane issue. Please feel free to take a nap while I'm talking, if you so choose. And that's the issue of what we're going to do with this surplus. As you know, for the first time since the Eisenhower administration, we now are running a budget surplus, which is your money, your tax dollars. And the question has arisen, of course, as to how we should handle this "surplus." Some want to use the entire surplus in tax cuts, use the entire surplus for tax cuts.
I want to use some of it for tax cuts. I want to also eliminate corporate welfare and wasteful spending, and give tax cuts to middle-income and lower-income Americans. My friends, there's recent studies, one by the Department of Commerce, that says there's a growing gap between the haves and the have-nots in America, that the very rich are getting richer faster than those who are further down. I believe that maybe we ought to do everything we can to let those have-nots get a break, a tax break, an incentive, and training, so that they can... (Applause) ...
So that they can also... (Applause)
I don't think it's important right now to give 37% of any tax cut to the top 1% of the wealthiest people in America. I think... (Applause)
I think we are aware that there's a ticking time bomb out there called Social Security. There was a recent poll that showed that more young Americans believe that Elvis is alive than believe that they'll ever se a Social Security check. You know, at least Elvis has been spotted several places. Don't you think that we owe these young kids? Don't you think we should make Social Security solvent for them, as well as those who are the present beneficiaries? (Applause)
I think we ought to repeal the marriage penalty. Nobody should pay more taxes because they get married. I think we should repeal the earnings tax that penalizes people over age 65 who want to work. I think we should lift as many Americans as we can into the 15% tax bracket. Under the proposal I have-- and I hope you'll examine it-- we put 85% of American taxpayers today in the 15% tax bracket, or no taxes at all. I want to make this tax flat from the bottom up. I thank you very much for being here today. I'm appreciative of it, and I'd like to begin with the first question or comment that you might have.
QUESTIONER: Could you please explain your position on abortion?
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I'd like to, yes. Thank you for your question. I am pro-life, and that is my 17-year voting record, and I hold that position, as does my party. And I hold it based on the belief that life begins at conception. But I'm very disturbed, as most Americans are, about the polarization that has existed and continues on this issue. I am committed... I am committed to beginning a dialogue between pro-life and pro-choice Americans to work in a productive fashion on issues that we share common goals and we can work together on, to make for a better nation and better families. Yes sir, in the back.
QUESTIONER: I spent some time over in Europe and Asia, before I retired this last summer, and the people I talked to were very negative about the strength of the United States in foreign affairs. And I hate to say so, but it was because of the lack of trust and truthfulness of our government. Could you address how you would correct those affairs, other than the fact that you have integrity?
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Obviously, the first obligation of the President of the United States as commander in chief, and ensure the security of our nation. That's our first and most important responsibility. This administration has conducted a feckless photo-op foreign policy, for which we may have to pay a very heavy price in American blood and treasure. You look at all around the world, with the notable exceptions of Northern Ireland and the Middle East peace process, where the president and the administration deserves credit, and you see potential trouble spots or existing trouble spots that could threaten our security.
QUESTIONER: Hi. I was wondering what your support was for homosexuality, and that in general, and also in the military?
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I thank you. I do not believe in discrimination of any kind in America. I think it's wrong. I think we should eliminate it where it exists, and all Americans are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and I strongly oppose any discrimination. I support the so-called "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the military. The architects of that policy were people who I respect as much as anyone I've ever known, including General Colin Powell. The policy is working. There have been problems with it, and there will continue to be problems with personnel policies which have... Which touch on such sensitive and difficult issues as this one. But I will support the policy. And if there's a need for review of this policy, my friends-- which there is a need for review of every personnel policy from time to time-- I would like to do that in the far less partisan and highly charged atmosphere of a political campaign.
JIM LEHRER: Yesterday, Governor George W. Bush had a town meeting in Londonderry, New Hampshire.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: We're in a tax debate here in this state and around the country. And let me explain my position as clearly as I can. First, unspent surpluses in Washington, D.C. will be spent, you mark my words, you leave money sitting around the table in Washington, Washington politicians will spend it. Now, I believe there's enough money. If you lockbox the payroll taxes, there is $2 trillion to make sure the Social Security system is safe and secure-- $2 trillion.
I intend to lockbox the payroll taxes and spend them only on what they're supposed to be spent on, and that's Social Security. And by the way... (Applause) and I intend to work with both Republicans and Democrats to allow younger workers, if they so choose, to manage their own personal savings accounts, to make sure that Social Security exists tomorrow as well. There's a baseline of a budget that I projected that meets basic need. And there's money left over.
And the fundamental question is: What we do with it? Do we keep it in Washington to expand the reach of the federal government, or do we give it back to the taxpayers? I believe we ought to give it back to the taxpayers. I believe we ought to have a tax cut in America; a tax cut that does two things: A tax cut that encourages economic growth, and a tax cut that addresses some unfairness in the tax code. My plan that I've laid out cuts taxes on everybody who pays taxes in America. I believe it's important to cut the marginal rates. I subscribe to the theory that by cutting marginal rates, it will enhance productivity and growth in America. But my plan also addresses the fairness issue. The debt tax is unfair, and I intend to work to eliminate it. The marriage penalty needs to be mitigated. It's unfair.
The earnings tax on Social Security recipients is unfair, and we've got to rid of the earnings tax. For some who don't understand what that means, it means if you've worked all your life and earned your Social Security and you decide you want to continue to work, you get penalized on your benefits, the benefits you've earned. That's not right! That's not fair, and that's counterproductive. Yes, ma'am.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: Our health care system is a mess, we have 45 million people with no health insurance, most of those people working families and we have HMO's and seniors who can't afford drugs. We've got to say right here and now that you will put this at the top of your agenda, in your speeches, in the debate, and please swear that you will make health care right at the top of your agenda.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I appreciate that, and it's an important issue. Let me talk about the uninsured real quickly. Some of the uninsured are working uninsured, and some of the uninsured are able-bodied folks who just don't want to buy insurance. And that's why we ought to have medical savings accounts available, because what medical savings accounts will do is provide an economic incentive for people to put money aside for their health needs when they get older in life. But let me talk about the working uninsured, because this is a big problem. I agree with you. And it's an important problem.
What we need to do in our society is to encourage states to design basic catastrophic health care plans for people that are affordable, that become affordable. And then work with programs like CHIPS programs, if you're a single mom with children, to be able to supplement the employers' payment, so that people can afford to plan. Let me tell you what I'm afraid of in the health care debate. I'm afraid of a plan that encourages the nationalization of health care. I think that would be the wrong approach. Yes, ma'am.
YOUNGER PERSON IN AUDIENCE: What do you think America's role in the world community should be?
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: I think a president must explain to the American people what is our national strategic interest. Our hemisphere is our national strategic interest. It's in our interest to have a hemisphere that's a free trading hemisphere and a peaceful hemisphere.
And therefore, if I'm the president, I'm going to ask the congress for fast-track negotiating authority to negotiate market agreements, trade agreements, with people in Central and South America. It's to our nation's advantage to do that. It's in our national strategic interest to protect our friend and promote the peace in the Middle East, our friend Israel and our other Arab friends. Promote peace. The only lasting peace agreement, though, will be one which the parties themselves agree upon without the United States imposing a peace settlement. The Far East is another area of strategic interest. We must redefine our relationship with China from one of strategic partner to competitor. But competitors can find areas of agreement.
One area where I think we ought to have agreement is on trade. I think it's to our nation's best interest to trade with China. I know it's in the best interest of farmers to trade with China and entrepreneurs to trade with China. It's also, by the way, in our interest to trade with China, to support a growing entrepreneurial class. Entrepreneurship is freedom. When people get a taste of the marketplace, they will demand freedom and democracy. I do not support what China's done with religious freedoms in its country. But I believe if we turn our back on China, China will easily become more repressive. I'm also going to make it clear to china that our alliances in the Far East are important to us. Our alliances with Japan and South Korea. We must develop a theater-based antiballistic missile system for that part of the world as well.
JIM LEHRER: The six Republican candidates will debate In Iowa tomorrow night.