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Briefing and Opinion
October 15, 2004


You pledged during the last debate that you would not raise taxes on those making less than $200,000 a year. But the price of everything is going up, and we all know it. Health-care costs, as you are talking about, is skyrocketing, the cost of the war.

My question is, how can you or any president, whoever is elected next time, keep that pledge without running this country deeper into debt and passing on more of the bills that we're running up to our children?

John Kerry KERRY: "I'll tell you exactly how I can do it: by reinstating what President Bush took away, which is called pay as you go. During the 1990s, we had pay-as-you-go rules. If you were going to pass something in the Congress, you had to show where you are going to pay for it and how."

BUSH: "He talks about PAYGO. I'll tell you what PAYGO means, when you're a senator from Massachusetts, when you're a colleague of Ted Kennedy, pay go means: You pay, and he goes ahead and spends." George W. Bush



You know, there are all kind of statistics out there, but I want to bring it down to an individual.

Mr. President, what do you say to someone in this country who has lost his job to someone overseas who's being paid a fraction of what that job paid here in the United States?

George Bush BUSH: "I'd say, Bob, I've got policies to continue to grow our economy and create the jobs of the 21st century. And here's some help for you to go get an education. Here's some help for you to go to a community college."

KERRY: "They've cut the training money. They've wound up not even extending unemployment benefits and not even extending health care to those people who are unemployed. I'm going to do those things, because that's what's right in America: Help workers to transition in every respect." John Kerry




The New York Times reports that some Catholic archbishops are telling their church members that it would be a sin to vote for a candidate like you because you support a woman's right to choose an abortion and unlimited stem-cell research.

What is your reaction to that?

John Kerry KERRY: "I think that everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith, affected by your faith, but without transferring it in any official way to other people."

BUSH: "I believe the ideal world is one in which every child is protected in law and welcomed to life. I understand there's great differences on this issue of abortion, but I believe reasonable people can come together and put good law in place that will help reduce the number of abortions." George W. Bush




Health insurance costs have risen over 36 percent over the last four years according to The Washington Post. We're paying more. We're getting less.

I would like to ask you: Who bears responsibility for this? Is it the government? Is it the insurance companies? Is it the lawyers? Is it the doctors? Is it the administration?

George W. Bush BUSH: "There's a systemic problem. Health-care costs are on the rise because the consumers are not involved in the decision-making process. Most health-care costs are covered by third parties. And therefore, the actual user of health care is not the purchaser of health care. And there's no market forces involved with health care."

KERRY: "The reason health-care costs are getting higher, one of the principal reasons is that this administration has stood in the way of common-sense efforts that would have reduced the costs." John Kerry




Mr. President, the next question is to you. We all know that Social Security is running out of money, and it has to be fixed. You have proposed to fix it by letting people put some of the money collected to pay benefits into private savings accounts. But the critics are saying that's going to mean finding $1 trillion over the next 10 years to continue paying benefits as those accounts are being set up.

So where do you get the money? Are you going to have to increase the deficit by that much over 10 years?


George W. Bush BUSH: "I believe that younger workers ought to be allowed to take some of their own money and put it in a personal savings account, because I understand that they need to get better rates of return than the rates of return being given in the current Social Security trust."

KERRY: "You just heard the president say that young people ought to be able to take money out of Social Security and put it in their own accounts.

"Now, my fellow Americans, that's an invitation to disaster.

"The CBO said very clearly that if you were to adopt the president's plan, there would be a $2 trillion hole in Social Security, because today's workers pay in to the system for today's retirees."
John Kerry




I'm told that at least 8,000 people cross our borders illegally every day. Some people believe this is a security issue, as you know. Some believe it's an economic issue. Some see it as a human-rights issue.

How do you see it? And what do we need to do about it?

George W. Bush BUSH: "In order to make the borders more secure, I believe there ought to be a temporary worker card that allows a willing worker and a willing employer to mate up, so long as there's not an American willing to do that job, to join up in order to be able to fulfill the employers' needs."

KERRY: "We need an earned-legalization program for people who have been here for a long time, stayed out of trouble, got a job, paid their taxes, and their kids are American. We got to start moving them toward full citizenship, out of the shadows." John Kerry




The gap between rich and poor is growing wider. More people are dropping into poverty. Yet the minimum wage has been stuck at, what, $5. 15 an hour now for about seven years. Is it time to raise it?

John Kerry KERRY: "If we raise the minimum wage, which I will do over several years to $7 an hour, 9. 2 million women who are trying to raise their families would earn another $3,800 a year. The president has denied 9. 2 million women $3,800 a year, but he doesn't hesitate to fight for $136,000 to a millionaire."

BUSH: "Actually, Mitch McConnell had a minimum-wage plan that I supported that would have increased the minimum wage. But let me talk about what's really important for the worker you're referring to. And that's to make sure the education system works." George W. Bush




"Mr. President, I want to go back to something Senator Kerry said earlier tonight and ask a follow-up of my own. He said -- and this will be a new question to you -- he said that you had never said whether you would like to overturn Roe v. Wade. So I'd ask you directly, would you like to?"

George W. Bush BUSH: "What he's asking me is, will I have a litmus test for my judges? And the answer is, no, I will not have a litmus test. I will pick judges who will interpret the Constitution, but I'll have no litmus test."

KERRY: "I'm not going to appoint a judge to the Court who's going to undo a constitutional right, whether it's the First Amendment, or the Fifth Amendment, or some other right that's given under our courts today -- under the Constitution. " John Kerry