[Mb-civic] My Economic Policy By John Kerry The Wall Street Journal
michael at michaelbutler.com
Thu Sep 16 18:39:46 PDT 2004
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My Economic Policy
By John Kerry
The Wall Street Journal
Wednesday 15 September 2004
As I travel across this country, I meet store owners, stock traders,
factory foremen and optimistic entrepreneurs. Their experiences may be
different, but they all agree that America can do better under an
administration that is better for business. Business leaders like Warren
Buffett, Lee Iacocca and Robert Rubin are joining my campaign because they
believe that American businesses will do better if we change our CEO.
Since January 2001, the economy has lost 1.6 million private-sector
jobs. The typical family has seen its income fall more than $1,500, while
health costs are up more than $3,500.
Today, American companies are investing less and exporting less than
they were in 2000 - the first time investment and exports have been down
during any presidential term in over 70 years. At the same time, our trade
deficit has grown to more than 5% of the economy for the first time ever, a
troublesome and unsustainable development.
The economy still has not turned the corner. Over the last year, real
wages are still down and even the jobs created in the past 12 months
represent the worst job performance for this period of a recovery in over 50
years. Indeed, the total of 1.7 million jobs created over the last year is
weaker than even the worst year of job creation under President Clinton, and
below what is needed just to find jobs for new applicants entering the work
Forty-three months into his presidency, George Bush's main explanation
for this dismal economic record is an assortment of blame and excuses. Yet
what President Bush cannot explain is how the last 11 presidents before him
- Democrats and Republicans - faced wars, recessions and international
crises, and yet only he has presided over lost jobs, declining real exports,
and the swing from a $5.6 trillion surplus to trillions of dollars of
While the private sector will always be America's engine for innovation
and job creation, President Bush has failed to take any responsibility for
missing opportunities to strengthen the conditions for investment, economic
confidence and job creation.
When the economy needed short-run stimulus without increasing the
long-run deficit, President Bush got it backwards, passing an initial round
of tax cuts that Economy.com found had no effect in lifting us out of
recession. He then passed more deficit-increasing tax cuts that Goldman
Sachs described as "especially ineffective as a stimulative measure." When
small businesses and families needed relief from skyrocketing health-care
and energy costs, he chose sweetheart deals for special interests over
serious plans to reduce costs and help spur new job creation.
With the right choices on the economy, America can do better. American
businesses and workers are the most resilient, productive and innovative in
the world. And they deserve policies that are better for our economy. My
economic plan will do the following: (1) Create good jobs, (2) cut
middle-class taxes and health-care costs, (3) restore America's competitive
edge, and (4) cut the deficit and restore economic confidence.
Create good jobs. I strongly believe that America must engage in
the global economy, and I voted for trade opening from Nafta to the WTO. But
at the same time, I have always believed that we need to fight for a level
playing field for America's workers.
I am not trying to stop all outsourcing, but as president, I will end
every single incentive that encourages companies to outsource. Today,
taxpayers spend $12 billion a year to subsidize the export of jobs. If a
company is trying to choose between building a factory in Michigan or
Malaysia, our tax code actually encourages it to locate in Asia.
My plan would take the entire $12 billion we save from closing these
loopholes each year and use it to cut corporate tax rates by 5%. This will
provide a tax cut for 99% of taxpaying corporations. This would be the most
sweeping reform and simplification of international taxation in over 40
years. In addition, I have proposed a two-year new jobs tax credit to
encourage manufacturers, other businesses affected by outsourcing, and small
businesses that created jobs.
American businesses are the most competitive in the world, yet when it
comes to enforcing trade agreements the Bush administration refuses to show
our competitors that we mean business. They have brought only one WTO case
for every three brought by the Clinton administration, while cutting trade
enforcement budgets and failing to stand up to China's illegal currency
manipulation. That not only costs jobs, it threatens to erode support for
open markets and a growing global economy.
Cut middle-class taxes and health costs. Families are being
increasingly squeezed by falling incomes and rising costs for everything
from health care to college. But spiraling health-care and energy costs
squeeze businesses too, encouraging them to lay off workers and shift to
part-time and temporary workers.
Under my plan, the tax cuts would be extended and made permanent for 98%
of Americans. In addition, I support new tax cuts for college, child care
and health care - in total, more than twice as large as the new tax cuts
President Bush is proposing.
I have proposed a health plan that would increase coverage while
cutting costs. It builds on and strengthens the current system, giving
patients their choice of doctors, and providing new incentives instead of
imposing new mandates.
My health plan will offer businesses immediate relief on their
premiums. By providing employers some relief on catastrophic costs that are
driving up premiums for everyone, we will save employers and workers about
10% of total health premiums.
Our hospitals and doctors have the best technology for saving lives,
but often still rely on pencil and paper when it comes to tracking medical
tests and billing. As a result, we spend over $350 billion a year on red
tape, not to mention the cost of performing duplicative or redundant tests.
My plan will modernize our information technology, create private electronic
medical records, and create incentives for the adoption of the latest
And I won't be afraid to take on prescription drug or medical
malpractice costs. We will make it easier for generic drugs to come to
market and allow the safe importation of pharmaceuticals from countries like
Canada. Finally, we will require medical malpractice plaintiffs to try
nonbinding mediation, oppose unjustified punitive damage awards and penalize
lawyers who file frivolous suits with a tough "three strikes and you're out"
This plan will make our businesses more competitive by making our
health care more affordable.
Restore America's competitive edge. America has fallen to 10th in
the world in broadband technology. Some of our best scientists are being
encouraged to work overseas because of the restrictions on federal funding
for stem-cell research. President Bush has proposed cutting 21 of the 24
research areas that are so critical to long-term growth. We need to invest
in research because when we shortchange research we shortchange our future.
My plan would invest in basic research and end the ban on stem-cell
research. It would invest more in energy research, including clean coal,
hydrogen and other alternative fuels. It would boost funding at the National
Science Foundation and continue increases at the National Institutes of
Health and other government research labs. It will provide tax credits to
help jumpstart broadband in rural areas and the new higher-speed broadband
that has the potential to transform everything from e-government to
tele-medicine. I would promote private-sector innovation policies, including
the elimination of capital gains for long-term investments in small business
To ensure we have the workers to compete in an innovation economy, we
need more young people to not only enter but complete college, we need more
young women and minorities to enter the fields of math and science, and we
need to make it easier for working parents to get the lifelong learning
opportunities they need to excel at both their current and their future
Cut the deficit and restore economic confidence. When President
Bush was in New York for the Republican convention, he did not even pay lip
service to reducing the deficit. His record makes even Republicans wary.
>From missions to Mars to a pricey Medicare bill, President Bush has proposed
or passed more than $6 trillion in initiatives without paying for any of
them. The record is clear: A deficit reduction promise from George W. Bush
is not exactly a gilt-edged bond.
Americans can trust my promise to cut the deficit because my record
backs up my word. When I first joined the Senate, I broke with my own party
to support the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit reduction plan, which President
Reagan signed into law. In 1993, I cast a deciding vote to bring the deficit
under control. And in 1997, I supported the bipartisan balanced budget
I will restore fiscal discipline and cut the deficit in half in four
years. First, by imposing caps, so that discretionary spending - outside of
security and education - does not grow faster than inflation. If Congress
cannot control spending, it will automatically be cut across the board.
Second, I will reinstitute the "pay as you go" rule, which requires that no
one propose or pass a new program without a way to pay for it. Third, I will
ask for Congress to grant me a constitutionally acceptable version of
line-item veto power and to establish a commission to eliminate corporate
welfare like the one John McCain and I have fought for.
I am not waiting for next year to change the tone on fiscal discipline.
Every day on the campaign trail, I explain how I pay for all my proposals.
By rolling back the recent Bush tax cuts for families making over $200,000
per year, we can pay for health care and education. By cutting subsidies to
banks that make student loans and restoring the principle that "polluters
pay," we can afford to invest in national service and new energy
technologies. My new rules won't just apply to programs I don't like; they
will apply to my own priorities as well.
Cleaning up President Bush's fiscal mess will not be easy, but to
ensure a strong and sustainable economic future we have to make the tough
choices to move America's growing deficits back in the right direction.
On Nov. 2 we will have a national shareholders meeting. On the ballot
will be the choice to continue with President Bush's policies or return to
the fiscal sanity and pro-growth polices that proved so successful in the
1990s. You will choose.
Mr. Kerry is the Democratic Party's candidate for president.
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