|ON THE STUMP|
September 15, 2000
JIM LEHRER: Now, two more in our ongoing series of stump speeches. Tonight we hear from the leading Vice Presidential candidates. First, the Democrat, Senator Joe Lieberman. He spoke Wednesday at the Rose Kennedy Garden in Boston.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: There is a sentence from Rose Kennedy, "Blessed Memory," which is in this garden-- I'm sure you've all seen it, or many of you have-- it says, "if God took all of his blessings away from me but one, and gave me the choice of which gift I would choose," and I paraphrase, "I would choose the gift of faith." It is that gift of faith that has inspired this great American family to give the extraordinary, unprecedented service that they have to the American people. And if I may say so, it is that same faith in America that gave al Gore the confidence and the courage to break a barrier and choose me as his candidate for Vice President of the United States. (Cheers and applause) Al and I have taken a pledge-- and we're going to keep it-- not to say a negative personal word about George Bush or Dick Cheney. I think the American people are sick and tired with that. But we are going to talk about their records, and we are going to talk about their ideas, because there are two very different visions here of America's future and of America's past. Do you remember that show in Philadelphia that they called a convention? They said the last eight years have been squandered. Can you believe that?
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: You've got this crowd well prepared, Teddy. (Laughter) Look at the record in Massachusetts. In 1993, when President Clinton and Vice President Gore took office, Massachusetts was losing 82,000 jobs a year; since then, creating 63,000 jobs every year. (Cheers and applause) Te unemployment rate in 1993 was over 7% in Massachusetts. Today: 2.7%. What a record! (Cheers and applause) Bottom line: Ladies and gentlemen, we have today the strongest economy in the 224- year history of the United States of America. (Cheers and applause) And now the question is, what are we going to do with our prosperity? How are we going to use it to enrich more of America's families, not just the privileged few? And here's the difference: Our opponents early on committed to spending more than the projected surplus in one big tax cut that mostly benefits the wealthy. (Booing) Now look, there's nothing wrong with being rich. In America we all dream of being rich, right? But when you've got extra money, you shouldn't give the most to those who need it the least, and the least to those who need it most! (Cheers and applause)
And there's the difference. Al Gore and I want to take that surplus and first use about a third of it to do what every family and business in this country would do in good times. Let's pay down that national debt, right? Let's keep interest rates low so people can afford mortgages, and cars, and student loans, and businesses can grow. And let's take some of the rest and give it to the people who need it-- the middle class-- and tax cuts to send your kids to college, to take care of your parents and grandparents. (Cheers and applause) And the rest, let's invest it in what will make this a more decent country: Health care for our children and senior citizens, help in paying the burdensome cost of prescription drugs.
JIM LEHRER: Now, the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Dick Cheney. He spoke at a farm in western Michigan on Wednesday.
DICK CHENEY: The Cockerhill Farm demonstrates a very important proposition for all of us, and a lot of you who are involved in new agriculture, especially with your own operations and family farms. And that is the difficulty of being able to pass on from one generation to the next what it is you built over the course of a lifetime of work. And I want to spend a few minutes talking about that. We often hear the argument from the competition that somehow repealing the death tax is some kind of scheme only for the well-to-do, only for the rich, and that we don't need to worry about it, because all we're doing is taking away assets that people don't need. And of course, that's dead wrong. And what anybody knows who's worked their whole lives to build something, whether we're talking about what you earn and pay income tax on when you earn it then turn around, and as soon as you die Uncle Sam comes in and takes what's left so you can't pass it on to your kids. Or if we're talking about a family farm, such as many of you are involved with, or a small business, we end up in exactly the same situation, where the work of a lifetime goes for naught, because the only way to pay the taxes on the enterprise when somebody does die and leave it to the next generation, is to sell it. We want to repeal the death tax. We want to get rid of it. We want to, over the course of the next few years, absolutely, totally phase it out. That's a major difference between the tax package that Governor Bush and I support and the one that Al Gore has put forward.
Our tax burden today is higher than it's been as a percentage of our national income than any time since World War II. World War II we understood why we had to pay high taxes. There was a war on. What's the excuse today? The answer: There isn't any. And it's absolutely essential that we take those steps to make certain that we do reform the tax code, that we do return back to the taxpayer some of their hard-earned, hard-won dollars, and that we do it and give them the freedom and the choice to decide how to spend it. They might want to buy a new tractor, or take a vacation, or save for their retirement, or invest in their kids' education; that's their choice. They get to decide what's going to happen to them. That's the basic fundamental difference between the approach of the two parties this year with respect to the whole question of taxes. Now, there are a lot of other areas we could talk about. We've got significant differences, for example, in education where we very much believe we've got to repair our public school system, because it's in a sad state of repair in a lot of places in the country. Those people who most need the help they can get from a public school education are some... often times the ones left behind. This administration has been willing to tolerate the status quo for eight years. We've had nationwide tests now that show that there's absolutely no progress whatsoever on reading scores and on... very little on math scores. The achievement gap between minority and non-minority students is as great as it's ever been. The system's failed them. One of the reasons it's failing them is because Al Gore is scared to death of the bureaucracy that runs the system. And as a result of that, he's not the advocate for change; he's not going to do anything to repair the system. We need to change the leadership in Washington if we're going to fix the education system. (Cheers and applause)
What's happened in Texas-- and one of the great success stories in the last few years is that we have had significant success in Texas in improving our educational program-- the reading and math scores, especially among the disadvantaged youngsters in Texas, are some of the highest in the country now. But the reason we got there is because we did several things. One, we insisted on high standards. You've got to have high standards. You've got to test on a regular basis. Every child gets tested every year, because that's the only way whether you know if you're making progress against your targets. You've got to have accountability. Somebody's got to be held accountable for the results in that school, whether it's succeeding or failing in terms of educating the kids. And you need local control. It makes no sense at all for us to try to federalize the educational system in this country. If you approve of what Governor Bush and I stand for and what we want to do for the country, then I hope you'll vote for us. And as I said earlier, when we're sworn in on January 20, we'll do our level best to give you a government you can be proud of once again. Thank you very much. (Cheers and applause)