Economical Views in the 2000 Presidential Election

As generations pass, and times change, the people of the United States change as well.
What may have been a major issue in the 1980 election might not even concern voters in 2000.
Economic issues are continually changing with the times. Each election develops its own
“personality.” Despite agreeing on some issues, the four major [now just two] candidates in the
upcoming 2000 presidential election hold different opinions on three major economic issues: tax
reform, health care, and free trade/immigration.
One of the most important issues of the 2000 presidential election is tax reform. This
topic, possibly more than any other issue in the election, reflects the greatest disparity among
candidates of the same party. Among the Democrats, Bill Bradley and Al Gore have contrasting
ideas concerning tax reform. Perhaps the most educated candidate on this issue, Bradley is a
former member of the Senate Finance Committee and one of the major contributors to the 1986
overhaul of the tax code. Bradley’s position, made known in numerous debates, is that he is
strongly against large tax cuts. The former senator believes that while the economy is doing well,
the government should utilize tax revenues to improve schools, protect social security, and pass a
national healthcare program instead of concentrating on tax reduction. Bradley recently told New
York Times writer James Dao that he would veto the recently approved 792 billion dollar tax cut
in “a nanosecond”. The only specific tax cuts Bradley has proposed are tax breaks for health
insurance payments. Concerning the budget surplus, Bradley seeks to direct most of the money to
reducing child poverty as well as making health care more affordable for low-income families.1
Vice President Gore has established a position on tax reform different from that of Senator
Bradley. The two candidates do share similar beliefs regarding the 792 billion dollar tax cut that
Gore refers to as a “risky tax scheme.” Gore has stated that, if elected president, he would
implement a 200 to 300 billion dollar tax cut over the next 10 years. Gore seeks to allocate this
money to reach specific goals such as expanded tax incentives, and education and retirement
savings programs. Gore refers to his cut as “relatively modest,” and claims his figures are more
realistic than those of Republican George W. Bush. Gore however, claims that he would not
hesitate to implement larger cuts in a economic slowdown but rules out tax increases in good
economic times.2
Republican candidate George W. Bush presents a position on tax reform clearly different
than that of either of the two democratic candidates. Much like that of the “typical Republican,”
Bush is calling for large tax cuts if he is elected to office. As Bush has often stated, “It’s the
people’s money, not the governments.” He has called for a 1.3 trillion dollar tax cut over the next
ten years, a figure close to 4 times that of Vice President Gore. The centerpiece of Bush’s tax cut
is a gradual reduction in marginal tax rates, meaning everyone will be affected by his proposals.
On this issue, Bush states, “if you’re going to have a tax cut, everyone ought to have a tax cut.”3
Offering a tax reform perspective somewhat different than that of Gore, Bradley and Bush,
Republican candidate John McCain wants to implement a “flat tax,” a reform that would replace
the current progressive marginal rates with a single ‘flat’ tax. McCain claims that, in this way, the
government will not be promising tax cuts from surpluses the economy might not produce in the
future. In sum, McCain believes taxes should be flatter, lower, and more simple. He believes that
a vast majority of Americans pay too much of their income on taxes. McCain believes his tax
“pitch” is modest enough in size that it leaves funds left over from surplus tax revenues to deal
with other needs of the economy. He claims this “balanced approach” is the key to tax reform in
the 21st century.4
Another pivotal issue in the upcoming election is health care. Bill Bradley’s health care
plan calls for the replacement of Medicaid with 150 dollar vouchers per month. However,
Bradley still sees problems with insufficient funding for AIDS/HIV patients. In addition to this
change, Bradley feels strongly about not punishing the disabled for working. Under the current
system, once disabled people begin working, they lose their federal health benefits. Bradley wants
to make sure that, under his new