The Bush-Ferraro Vice-Presidential Debate
DOROTHY S. RIDINGS: Good evening from the Civic Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I'm Dorothy Ridings, president of the League of Women Voters, the sponsor of tonight's vice-presidential debate between Republican George Bush and Democrat Geraldine Ferraro. Our panelists for tonight's debate are John Mashek, correspondent for U.S. News & World Report; Jack White, correspondent for Time magazine; Norma Quarles, correspondent for NBC News; and Robert Boyd, Washington bureau chief for Knight-Ridder Newspapers. Sander Vanocur, senior political correspondent for ABC News, is our moderator tonight. Sandy.
VANOCUR: Thank you, Dorothy. A few words about the order of our format tonight. The order of questioning was determined by a toss of the coin. Congresswoman Ferraro won the toss. She elected to speak last. Therefore Vice President Bush will get the first question. The debate will be built upon a series of questions from the four reporters on the panel. A reporter will ask a candidate a question, a follow-up question and then the same to the other candidate; then each candidate will get to rebut the other. The debate will be divided into two parts. There'll be a section, the first: one, on domestic affairs; the second on foreign affairs. Now the manner of address was decided by the candidates. Therefore it will be Vice President Bush, Congresswoman Ferraro. And we begin our questioning with Mr. Mashek.
MASHEK: John Adams, our nation's first vice-president, once said: "Today I am nothing. Tomorrow I may be everything." With that in mind, I'd like to ask the following question: Vice President Bush, four years ago, you ran against Mr. Reagan for the Republican nomination. You disagreed with him on such issues as the Equal Rights Amendment, abortion, and you labeled his economic policies as voodoo. Now you apparently agree with him on every issue. If you should be called upon to assume the presidency, would you follow Mr. Reagan's policies down the line or would you revert to some of your own ideas.
BUSH: Well, I don't think there's a great difference, Mr. Mashek, between my views and President Reagan's. One of the reasons I think we're an effective team is that I believe firmly in his leadership. He's really turned this country around. We agree on the economic program. When we came into office, why, inflation was 21, 12 1/2 percent interest was wiping out every single American were 21 1/2 percent if you can believe it. Productivity was down. Savings was down. There was despair. In fact, the leadership of the country told the people that there was a malaise out there. And this president turned it around and I've been with him every step of the way. And of course I would continue those kinds of programs because it's brought America back. America's better off. People are going back to work. And why Mr. Monad can't understand that there's a new enthusiasm in this country, that America is back, there's new strong leadership, I don't know. He has one answer to the problem. Raise everybody's taxes. He looked right into that lens and he said out there in San Francisco, he said, "I'm gonna raise your taxes." Well he's had a lot of experience in that and he's sure gonna go ahead and do it. But I remember a statement of Lyndon Johnson's when he was looking around, why his party people weren't supporting him, and he said, "Hey, they painted their tails white and they ran with the antelopes." There's a lot of Democratic white tails running with the antelopes. Not one single Democrat has introduced the Mondale tax bill into the Congress. Of course I support the president's economic program and I support him in everything else. And I'm not sure, because of my concept of the vice presidency, that if I didn't, I'd go doing what Mr. Mondale has done with Jimmy Carter; jump away from him. I couldn't do that to Ronald Reagan, now, next year or any other time. I have too much trust in him. I have too much friendship for him. And I'd feel very uncomfortable doing that.
MASHEK: Well some Republicans have criticized Mr. Mondale for now claiming he disagreed privately with Jimmy Carter's decision to impose the grain embargo. Have you ever disagreed with any decision of the Reagan Administration and its inner circles? And in following that up, where in your judgment does loyalty end and principle begin?
BUSH: I owe my president my judgment and then I owe him loyalty. You can't have the president of the United States out there looking over his shoulder wondering whether his vice president is going to be supporting him. Mrs. Ferraro has quite a few differences with Vice-President Mondale and I understood it when she changed her position on tuition tax credits. They're different on busing; she voted to extend the grain embargo; he now says that he was against it. If they win - and I hope they don't - but if they win, she'll have to accommodate some views. But she'll give him the same kind of loyalty that I'm giving President Reagan. One, we're not far apart on anything. Two, I can walk into that Oval Office anytime and give him my judgment and he might agree or he might not. But he also knows I won't be talking about it to the press or I won't be knifing him in the back by leaking to make me look good and complicate the problems of the president of the United States.
MASHEK: Congresswoman Ferraro, your opponent has served in the House Of Representatives, he's been ambassador to the United Nations, ambassador to China, director of the Central Intelligence Agency and now he's been vice president for four years. How does your three terms in the House of Representatives stack up against experience like that?
FERRARO: Well, let me first say that I wasn't born at the age of forty-three when I entered Congress. I did have a life before that as well. I was a prosecutor for almost five years in the district attorney's office in Queens County and I was a teacher. There's not only what is on your paper resume that makes you qualified to run for or to hold office. It's how you approach problems and what your values are. I think if one is taking a look at my career they'll see that I level with the people; that I approach problems analytically; that I am able to assess the various facts with reference to a problem, and I can make the hard decisions. I'm intrigued when I hear Vice-President Bush talk about his support of the president's economic program and how everything is just going so beautifully. I, too, recall when Vice President Bush was running in the primary against President Reagan and he called the program voodoo economics, and it was and it is. We are facing absolutely massive deficits; this administration has chosen to ignore it; the president has failed to put forth a plan to deal with those deficits and if everything believes that everything is corning up roses, perhaps the vice-president should join me as I travel around the country and speak to people. People in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, are not terribly thrilled with what's happening in the economy because they're standing in the light of a closed plant because they've lost their jobs. The people in Youngstown, Ohio, have stores that are boarded up because the economy is not doing well. It's not only the old industries that are failing, it's also the new ones. In San Jose, California, they're complaining because they can't export their high-tech qualities - goods - to Japan and other countries. The people in the Northwest - in the state of Washington and Oregon - are complaining about what's happening to the timber industry and to the agriculture industry. So, so things are not as great as the administration is wanting us to believe in their television commercials. My feeling, quite frankly, is that I have enough experience to see the problems, address them and make the tough decisions and level with people with reference to those problems.
MASHEK: Despite the historic aspects of your candidacy, how do you account for the fact that a majority of women - at least according to the polls - favor the Reagan-Bush ticket over the Mondale-Ferraro ticket?
FERRARO: I don't. Let me say that I'm not a believer in polls and let me say further that what we are talking about are problems that are facing the entire nation. They're not just problems facing women. The issues in this campaign are the war-peace issues; the problems of deficits; the problems of trade deficits. We are now facing a $120 billion trade deficit in this country. We're facing problems of the environment. I think what we're going to be doing over the next several weeks - and I'm absolutely delighted that the League is sponsoring these debates and that we are, we are able to now speak to the American public and address the issues in a way such as this. I think you're going to see a change in those polls.
VANOCUR: Vice President Bush, you have one minute to rebuttal.
BUSH: Well, I was glad to get that vote of confidence from Mrs. Ferraro in my economic judgment. So let me make a statement on the economy. The other clay she was in a plant and she said to the workers, Why are you all voting for, why are so many of you voting for the Reagan-Bush ticket. And there was a long, deathly silence and she said come on, we delivered. That's the problem. And I'm not blaming her except for the liberal voting record in the House. They delivered. They delivered 21 ® percent interest rates. They delivered what they called malaise. They delivered interest rates that were right off the charts. They delivered take-home pay, checks that were shrinking, and we've delivered optimism. People are going back to work; 6 million of them. And 300,000 jobs a month being created. That's why there was that deathly silence out there in that plant. They delivered the wrong thing. Ronald Reagan is delivering leadership.
VANOCUR: Congresswoman Ferraro, one-minute rebuttal.
FERRARO: I, I think what I'm going to have to do is I'm going to start correcting the vice-president's statistics. There are 6 million more people who have jobs and that's supposed to happen in a growing economy. In fact in the prior administration, with all their problems, they created 10 million jobs. The housing interest rates during this administration, for housing for middle-class Americans, was 14.5 percent. Under the prior administration, with all their problems, the average rate was 10.6 percent. If you take a look at the number of people living in poverty as a result of this administration, 6 million people, 500,000 people knocked off disability rolls. You know, it's, you can walk around saying things are great and that's what we're going to be hearing, we've been hearing that on those commercials for the past couple of months. I expect they expect the American people to believe that. I'll become a one-woman truth squad and we'll start tonight.
VANOCUR: Mr. White.
WHITE: Congresswoman Ferraro, I would like to ask you about civil rights. You have in the past been a supporter of tuition tax credits for private parochial schools. And also of a constitutional amendment to ban busing. Both these measures are opposed not only by your running mate but by about every educational and civil rights organization in the country. Now that you're Mr. Mondale's running mate have you changed your position on either of those?
FERRARO: With reference to the busing vote that I cast in 1979, both Fritz Mondale and I agree on the same goal and that is nondiscrimination. I just don't agree on the same direction he does on how to achieve it. But I don't find any problem with that. I think that's been something that's been handled by the courts, and not being handled by Congress and will not be handled by the White House. But we both support nondiscrimination in housing and integration of neighborhoods. The goals we both set forth. With reference to tuition tax credits, I have represented a district in Queens which is 70 percent Catholic. I represented my district. Let me say as well that I have also been a great supporter of public school education and that is something that Fritz and I feel very, very strongly about for the future of this country. And this administration over the past several years has gutted the educational programs available to our young people. It has attempted to knock out Pell Grants, which are monies to young individuals who are poor and who cannot afford to go to college. It has reduced by 25 percent the amount of monies going into college education and by a third those going into secondary and primary schools. But Fritz Mondale and I feel very strongly that if you educate your children that that's an effort and the way that you build up and make a stronger America. With reference to civil rights I think you've got to go beyond that and if you take a look, also, at my record in the Congress and Fritz Mondale's record, both in the Senate and as vice president, we both have extremely strong civil rights records. This administration does not. It has come in in the Bob Jones on the side of segregated academies. It came in in the Grove City case on the side of discrimination against women, the handicapped, and the elderly. As a matter of fact, in the Congress we just passed overwhelmingly the Civil Rights Bill of 1984 and this administration, the Republican-controlled Senate, just killed it in the last week or two in Congress. So there is a real difference between how the Mondale-Ferraro administration will address the problems of civil rights and the failure of this administration specifically in that particular area.
WHITE: In the area of affirmative action, what steps do you think government can take to increase the representation of minorities and women in the work force, and in colleges and universities, and specifically, would you support the use of quotas to achieve those goals?
FERRARO: I do not support the use of quotas. Both Mr. Mondale and I feel very strongly about affirmative action to correct inequities, and we believe that steps should be taken both through government - for instance, the Small Business Administration. We have supported set-asides for minority and women's businesses. That's a positive thing. We don't feel that you're in any way hurting anybody else by reaching out with affirmative action to help those who've been disenfranchised. On the contrary, if you have a growing economy, if you create the jobs, if you allow for small business the opportunity with lower interest rates to reach out and grow, there will be more than enough space for everybody. And affirmative action is a very positive way to deal with the problems of discrimination.
WHITE: Vice-President Bush, many critics of your administration say that it is the most hostile to minorities in recent memory. Have you inadvertently perhaps encouraged that view by supporting tuition tax credits, the antibusing amendment, and siding with Bob Jones University in a case before the Supreme Court, your original opposition to the Voting Rights Act extension and so forth?
BUSH: No, Mr. White, I think our record on civil rights is a good record. You mentioned the Voting Rights extension; it was extended for the longest period of time by President Reagan. But we have some problems in attracting the black vote, and I think our record deserves better. We have done more for black colleges than any previous administration. We favor enterprise zones to give - and it's been blocked by Tip O'Neill and that House of Representatives, those liberals in that House blocked a new idea to bring jobs into the black communities across the country. And because it's not an old handout, special federal spending program, it's blocked there - a good idea. And I'd like to sec that tried. We've brought more civil rights cases in the Justice Department than the previous administration by far. We believe in trying something new to help these black teenage kids; the minimum wage differential that says, "Look," to an employer, "hire these guys. And, yes, they're willing to work for slightly less than the minimum wage. Give 'em a training job in the private sector." We threw out that old CETA that didn't train people for jobs that existed, simply rammed them onto the government payroll, and we put in a thing called the Job Training Partnership Act. Wonderful new legislation that's helping blacks more and more. We think of civil rights as something like crime in your neighborhoods. And, for example, when crime figures are going in the right direction that's good, that's a civil right. Similarly, we think of it in terms of quality of life, and that means interest rates. You know, it's funny, Mr. Mondale talks about real interest rates. The real interest rate is what you pay when you go down and try to buy a TV set or buy a car, or do whatever it is. The interest rates when we left office were 21% percent. Inflation! Is it a civil right to have the going right off the chart so you're busting every American family, those who can afford it the least? No, we've got a good record. We've got it on civil rights legislation, minority set-asides, more help for black colleges, and we've got it in terms of an economy that's offering people opportunity and hope instead of despair.
WHITE: Along those lines, sir, many recent studies have indicated that the poor and minorities have not really shared in the new prosperity generated by the current economic recovery. Was it right for your administration to pursue policies, economic policies, that required those at the bottom of the economic ladder to wait for prosperity to trickle clown from people who are much better off than they?
BUSH: Mr. White, it's not trickling down. And I'm not suggesting there's no poverty, but I am suggesting the way to work out of poverty is through real opportunity. And in the meantime, the needy are getting more help. Human resource spending is way, way up. Aid for Dependent Children spending is up. Immunization programs are up. Almost every place you can point, contrary to Mr. Mondale's - I gotta be careful - but contrary of how he goes around just saying everything bad. If somebody sees a silver lining, he finds a big black cloud out there. Whine on harvest moon! I mean, there's a lot going on, a lotta opportunity.
VANOCUR: Congresswoman Ferraro, your rebuttal.
FERRARO: The vice-president indicates that the President signed the Voting Rights Act. That was after he was - he did not support it while it was in the Congress, in the Senate, it was passed despite his opposition, and he did sign it because he was required to do so. In the civil rights cases that he mentioned, the great number of cases that they have enforced, the reason they enforced them because under the law they're required to do that. And I'm delighted that the administration is following the law. With reference
VANOCUR: Excuse me - this will be out of my time, not yours - knowing and cherishing the people of this city and knowing their restraint and diffidence about emotion especially of athletic contexts of which this is not one, I beseech you, try to hold your applause please. I'm sorry.
FERRARO: I just have to correct in my thirty seconds that are left the comment that the vice-president made with reference specifically to a program like AFDC. If you take AFDC, if you take food stamps, if you take - oh, go down the line on poor people's programs, those are the programs that suffered considerably under this administration's first budget cuts and those are the ones that in the second part of their part of their term, we were able to restore some of those terribly, terribly unfair cuts to the poor people of this country.
VANOCUR: Vice-President Bush.
BUSH: Well, maybe we have a factual - maybe we can ask the experts to go to the books. They'll do it anyway. Spending for food stamps is way, way up under the Reagan administration, AFDC is up under the Reagan administration, and I'm not going to be found wrong on that. I am sure of my facts, and we are trying to help and I think we're doing a reasonable job, but we are not going to rest until every single American that wants a job and until this prosperity and this recovery that's benefiting many Americans, benefits all Americans.
VANOCUR: Miss Quarles.
QUARLES: Vice-President Bush, one of the most emotional issues in this campaign has been the separation of church and state. What are your views on the separation of church and state specifically with regard to abortion, and do you believe it was right for the archbishop of Philadelphia to have a letter read in 305 churches urging Catholics to fight abortion with their votes?
BUSH: I do believe in pluralism. I do believe in separation of church and state. I don't consider abortion a religious issue. I consider it a moral issue. I believe the archbishop has every right to do everything he wants in that direction, just as I never faulted Jesse Jackson from taking his message to the black pulpits all across this country, just as I never objected when the nuclear arms, the nuclear freeze or the antinuclear people - many of those movements were led by priests. Suddenly, because a Catholic bishop or an evangelist feels strongly on a political issue, people are saying it's merging of church and state. We favor - and I speak confidently for the president - we favor separation of church and state. We favor pluralism. Now somebody says you ought to restore prayer in schools. You don't think it's right to prohibit a kid from praying in schools. For years kids were allowed to pray in schools. We don't think that's a merger of church and stare to have nonmandatory voluntary, nongovernment-ordered prayer. And yet some are accusing us of injecting religion into politics. I have no problem with what the archbishop does, and I have no problem with what the evangelists on the right do and I have no problem what the priests on the left do. And it didn't bother me when during the Vietnam War much of the opposition to the government - Democrat and Republican governments - was led by priests, encouraging people to break the law and the adage of the - you know - the civil disobedience thing. So our position, separation of church and stare, pluralism, so no little kid with a minority religion of some sort is going to feel offended or feel left out or feel uncomfortable. But, yes, prayer in school on a voluntary basis worked for many, many years until the Supreme Court ruled differently And I'm glad we got this question because I think there's been too much said about religion and politics. We don't believe in denominationally moving in. It wasn't our side that raised the question about our president whether he was a good Christian or not and so I, so that's our position - separation of church and state, pluralism, respect for all.
QUARLES: Vice-President Bush, four years ago you would have allowed federal financing of abortions in cases of rape and incest ass well as when the mother's life was threatened. Does your position now agree with Reagan who in Sunday's debate came very close to saying abortion is murder?
BUSH: You know, there has been - I have to make a confession - an evolution in my position. There's been 15 million abortions since 1973, and I don't take that lightly. There's been a million and a half this year. The president and I do favor a human rights amendment. I favor one that would have an exception for incest and rape, and he doesn't, but we both - only for the life of the mother. And I agree with him on that. So yes, my position's evolved, but I'd like to see the American who faced with 15 million abortions isn't rethinking his or her position and I'll just stand with the answer. I support the president's position - and comfortably - from a moral standpoint.
QUARLES: So you believe it's akin to murder?
BUSH: No, I support the president's position.
QUARLES: Fine. Congresswoman Ferraro, what are your views on the separation of church and state with regard to abortions, and do you believe it was right for the archbishop of Philadelphia to have those letters read in the pulpits and urged the voters to fight abortion with their vote?
FERRARO: Let me say first of all I believe very, very sincerely in the separation of church and state. I'm taking it from the historical viewpoint, if you go back to the 1600s when people came here, the reason they came to this country was to escape religious persecution, and that's the same reason why people are coming here today in the 1940s to escape Nazism, now in the 1980s and 1984 when they can get our of the country to escape communism so they can come here and practice their religion. Our country is founded on the principle that our government should be neutral as far as religion is concerned. Now what's happened over the past several years, and quite frankly I'm not going to let you lay on me the intrusion of state politics into religion or religion into politics by my comments with reference to the president's policies, because it started in 1980 when this administration was running for office and the Reverend Jerry Falwell became very, very involved in the campaign. What has happened over the past four years has been I think a real fudging of that line with the separation of church and state. The actions of the archbishops let me say to you I feel that they have not only a right but a responsibility to speak up, and even though I've been the person that they're speaking up about, l feel they do have the responsibility to do so, and I have no problem with it, no more than I did a priest who marched at the time of Vietnam and no more than I did at the time when Martin Luther King marched at the time of the civil rights marches. I have absolutely no problem with them speaking up, I think they have an obligation as well as a right. But what I do have a problem with is when the president of the United States gets up in Dallas and addresses a group of individuals and said to them that anybody who doesn't support his constitutional amendment for prayer in the schools is intolerant of religion. Now there are numerous groups who don't support that prayer in the school, numerous religious groups. Are they intolerant of religion? Is that what the president is saying? I also object, when I am told, that the Reverend Falwell has been told that he would pick two of our Supreme Court justices. That's going a little bit far. In that instance, let me say to you it is more than a fudging at the line, it is a total intrusion, and I think that it's in violation of our Constitution.
QUARLES: Congresswoman Ferraro, as a devout Catholic, does it trouble you that so many of the leaders of your church disagree with you, and do you think that you're being treated unfairly in any way by the Catholic church?
FERRARO: Let me tell you that I did not come to my position on abortion very lightly. I am a devout Catholic. When I was running for Congress 1978 I sat and met with a person I felt very close to, a monsignor currently a bishop. I spoke to him about my personal feelings that I would never have an abortion, but I was not quite sure if I were ever to become pregnant as result of a rape if I would be that self-righteous. I then spoke to him; he said, Gerry, that's not good enough. There you can't support that position. I said okay. That's my religious view; I will accept the teaching of the church, but I cannot impose my religious views on someone else. I truly take an oath as a public official to represent all the people in my district, not only the Catholics. If there comes a time where I cannot practice my religion and do my job properly, I will resign my job.
VANOCUR: Vice-President Bush, your rebuttal.
BUSH: Well I respect that statement, I really and truly do. We have difference on a moral question here on abortion. I notice that Mr. Mondale keeps talking in the debate and now it's come here about Mr. Falwell. And I don't know where this canard could have come from about Mr. Falwell picking the Supreme Court justices. Ronald Reagan has made one super outstanding, the only one he's made, appointment to the Supreme Court and that was Sandra Day O'Connor, and Mr. Falwell opposed her nomination. We still have respect for him, but he opposed it, and so I hope this lays to rest this slander against the president. We want justices who will interpret the Constitution, not legislate it.
VANOCUR: Congresswoman Ferraro, your rebuttal?
FERRARO: Yes, I still find it very difficult to believe because in the platform, which this Republican party passed in Dallas - one of the things they was they said that this position on abortion would be a litmus test, not only for Supreme Court justices but for other federal justices. That, again, seems to me a blurring of the line of the separation between church and state.
VANOCUR: The next questioning from Mr. Boyd.
BOYD: Like many Americans, each of you has recently had an unhappy experience with the Internal Revenue Service. I'm going to prolong your ordeal. Congresswoman Ferraro, you disagree with the rule that says that a candidate must report the income or assets of his or her spouse if you get any benefit from them. Your husband's tax return showed that yon did benefit because he paid the mortgage and the property taxes on your home. Now the ethics committee is examining this question, but it won't report it's findings until after the election. Would you be willing to ask that committee, which is controlled by Democrats, to hurry up its work and report before the election.
FERRARO: Let me say to you that I already did that. I wanted them to move ahead. If you recall, I spent about an hour and 45 minutes speaking to 200 reporters on August 21, which is the day after I was required to file my financial statement, and I sat for as long as they had questions on the issue, and I believe that they were satisfied. I filed more information than any other candidate for a national office in the history of this country. Not only did I agree to file my tax returns, after a little bit of prodding my husband also agreed to file his with the - not only the ethics committee but the FEC. Bur the action that you're speaking about with the ethics committee was started by a right-wing legal organization - foundation - knowing that I would have to - that there would be an automatic inquiry. We have filed the necessary papers, I have asked them to move along. Unfortunately, the House, I believe, went out of session today, so I don't know if they will move. But quite frankly, I would like that to be taken care of anyway, because I just want it cleared up.
BOYD: Since that famous August 21 press conference on your family finances, you filed a new report with the ethics committee, and this showed that your previous reports were full of mistakes and omissions. For example, you failed to report about twelve trips that were paid for by special interest groups. In at least eighteen cases your holdings were misstated. Do you think it showed good leadership or attention to duty to blame all this on sloppy work by your accountant?
FERRARO: Well, what it showed was that - and it was truly that I hired an accountant who had been with our family for well over forty years. He was filling our those ethics forms. I did not spend the time with him - I just gave him my tax information and he did it. I have to tell you what we have done since I have hired a marvelous accountant. I've spent a lot of money having him go through all those ethics forms and he will be doing my taxes over the next eight years while we're in the White House so that the American public can be sure it's all been taken care of.
BOYD: Vice-President Bush, last year you paid less than 13 percent of your income in federal taxes. According to the IRS, someone in your bracket normally pays about 28 percent of his income. Now what you did was perfectly legal, but do you think it was fair, and is there something wrong with our tax laws that allows such large deductions for wealthy taxpayers?
BUSH: What that figure - and I kind of like the way Mrs. Ferraro and Mr. Zaccaro reported - because they reported federal taxes, state and local taxes - gives people a clearer picture. That year I happened to pay a lot of state and local taxes, which as you know are deducted from the other, and so I looked it up the other day, and we had paid - I think it's 42 percent - of our gross income in taxes. Now Mr. Mondale the other night took what I - I'll be honest - I think it was a cheap shot - at me, and we did a little looking around to see about his. We can't find his 198I tax return - it may have been released. Maybe my opponent knows whether Mr. Mondale released it. But we did find estimates that his income for those three years is a million, four hundred thousand dollars, and I think he paid about the same percentage as I did in total taxes. He also made a reference that troubled me very much, Mr. Boyd. He started talking about my chauffeur, and you know, I'm driven to work by the Secret Service - so is Mrs. Ferraro - so is Mr. Mondale - they protected his life for four years and now they've done a beautiful job for Barbara and mine. They saved the life of the president of the United States. I think that was a cheap shot - telling the American people to try to divide class - rich and poor. But the big question isn't whether Mrs. Ferraro is doing well. I think they're doing pretty well, and I know Barbara and I are doing well. And it's darn sure that Mr. Mondale is doing well, with a million four in income, but the question really is - after we get through this disclosure - is the tax cut fair? Are people getting a fair break, and the answer is the rich are paying 6 percent more on taxes and the poor are getting a better break. Those lower and middle-income people that have borne the burden for a long time. So yes, I favor disclosure. I've always disclosed. This year I had my taxes and everything I own in a blind trust - so blind - blinder than the president's, so I didn't even sign my tax return. But there seemed to be an interest in it so we went to the government ethics committee - they agreed to change the trust. The trust has been revealed, and I was sure glad to see that I had paid 42 percent of my gross income in taxes.
BOYD: Mr. Vice-President, how can you claim that your home is in Maine for tax purposes and at the same time claim that your home is in Texas for voting purposes? Are you really a Texan or a New Englander.
BUSH: I'm really a Texan. But I got one house. And under the law, every taxpayer is allowed, when he sells a house, and buys another house, to get the rollover. Everybody, if it turns out, and I may hire, I notice she said she has a new good accountant. I'd like to get his name and phone number because I think I've paid too much in the way of taxes. And residence, Mr. Boyd, legal residence, for voting, is very different. And the domicile, they call that, very different, than the house. That they say you're living in the vice-president's house. Therefore you don't get what every - I've got problems - what every other taxpayer gets. I got problems with the IRS, but so do a lot of people out there. I think I've paid too much. Nothing ethical. I'd like to get some money back.
VANOCUR: Congresswoman Ferraro, your rebuttal please.
FERRARO: Let me just say that I'd be happy to give the vice-president the name of my accountant, but I warn you, he's expensive. I think the question is whether or not the tax cuts and the tax system that's currently in our government, that our government uses, is fair; I think the tax system is unfair. But it's not something that we can address in the short term. The tax cuts that Vice-President Bush and I got last, three years ago, that this president gave out, no, that's not fair. If you earn $200,000 a year, you got a $25,000 tax cut. If you earned between $20,000 and $40,000, you may have gotten about $1,000 between ten and twenty, close to a hundred dollars and if you made less than $10,000 with all the budget cuts that came down the line, you suffered a loss of $400. That's not fair. That's basically unfair and not only is it unfair, but economically it has darn near destroyed this country. There's a $750 billion tax cut over a five-year period of time. That's one of the reasons we're facing these enormous deficits that we have today.
VANOCUR: Mr. Vice-President.
BUSH: No, I think I've said all I want to say. I do, I didn't fully address myself to Mr. Boyd's question no disclosure, I led the fight, I think, in 1968, in the House - I was in the House of Representatives for a couple of terms - and I led the fight for disclosure. I believe in it. Before I went into this job, I disclosed everything we had. We didn't have any private corporations, but I disclosed absolutely everything. Arthur Andersen made out an assets and liabilities statement that I believe went further than any other one. And then, to protect the public interest, we went into this blind trust. I believe in the blind trust because I believe a public official in this kind of job ought not to know whether he's gonna benefit, directly or indirectly, by some holding he might have or something of that nature. And, no, I support full disclosure.
VANOCUR: Thank you. That ends the part of this debate devoted to domestic affairs. We will now turn to foreign affairs and will begin the questioning with Mr. Mashek.
MASHEK: Vice-President Bush, since your administration came to power the President has threatened a stern response against terrorism, yet murderous attacks have continued in Lebanon and the Middle East. Who's to blame, and you've been director of the Central Intelligence Agency. What can be clone to stop it?
BUSH: Terrorism is very, very difficult to slop. And I think everybody knows that. We had ambassadors killed in Sudan and the Lebanon some time ago, a long time ago. When you see the Israeli building in Lebanon after the death of our marines you see that, hit by terrorism, the Israelis, with all their experience fighting terrorism, you know it's difficult. When you see Khomeini wraith his radical Islam resorting to government-sponsored terrorism, it's very difficult. The intelligence business can do a good job, and I'm always one that defends the Central Intelligence Agency. I believe we ought to strengthen it and I believe we still have the best foreign intelligence business in the world. But it is very difficult to get the source information that you need to go after something as shadowy as international terror. There was a difference between Iran and what happened in Lebanon. In Iran you had a government holding a U.S. embassy; the government sanctioning the takeover of that embassy by those students; the government negotiating with the United States government for their release. In Lebanon, in the terror that happened at the embassy, you have the government there, Mr. Gemayel, that wants to help fight against terrorism. But because of the melee in the Middle East, it's there today and has been there yesterday and the day before, and everyone that's had experience in that area knows, it is a very different thing. So what we've got to do is use absolutely the best security possible. I don't think you can go assigning blame. The president, of course, is the best I've ever seen at accepting that. He's been wonderful about it in absolutely everything that happens. But I think fair-minded people that really understand international terror know that it's very hard to guard against. And the answer then really lies in the Middle East and terrorism happening all over the world, is a solution to the Palestine question, the follow on to Camp David under the umbrella of the Reagan September of 1982 initiative. That will reduce terror, it won't eliminate it.
MASHEK: You mention Khomeini. Some Republicans charge the previous administration with being almost helpless against Khomeini and Libya's Quaddafi. Why hasn't your administration done something to take action against Arab states that foment this kind of terrorism?
BUSH: What we've done is to support Arab stores that want to stand up against international terror, quite different. We believe in supporting, without jeopardizing the security of Israel in any way, because they are our one strategic ally in the area, they are the one democracy in the area and our relations with them has never been better. But we do believe in reaching out to the, what they call the GCC, those Gulf Cooperative Council State, those moderate Arab states in that world, and helping them with defensive weapons to guard against international terror or radical Islam perpetuated by Khomeini. And because we've done that and because the Saudis chopped down a couple of those intruding airplanes a while back, I think we have helped keep the peace in the Persian Gulf.
MASHEK: Congresswoman Ferraro, you and former Vice-President Mondale have criticized the president over the bombings in Lebanon, but what would you do to prevent such attacks?
FERRARO: Let me first say that terrorism is a global problem, and let me say secondly that the - Mr. Bush has referred to the embassy that was held in Iran, Well, I was at the White House in January, I guess it was, in '81, when those hostages, all fifty-two of them, came home alive. It was at that time that President Reagan gave a speech welcoming them home - as America did, we were so excited to see them back. But what he said was: The United States has been embarrassed for the last time. We're going to stand tall and if this ever happens again, there's going to be swift and immediate steps taken to address the wrong that our country has founded - has suffered. In April of J983 I was in Beirut and visited the ambassador at the embassy. Two weeks later, that embassy was bombed. At that time - take a look at the crazy activities of terrorists, you can't blame that on anybody. They're going to do crazy things and you just don't know what's going to happen. The following October, there was another bombing and that bombing took place at the marine barracks, where there were 242 young men who were killed. Right after that bombing occurred, there was a commission set up called the Long Commission. That commission did a study of the security arrangements around where the marines were sleeping and found that there was negligence, that they did not have proper gates up, proper precautions to stop those trucks from coming in. And so the Long Commission issued a report, and President Reagan got up and he said: I'm commander in chief. I take responsibility. And we all waited for something to be done when he look responsibility. Well, last month we had our third bombing, The first time, the first embassy, there was no gate up, The second time, with our Marines, the gate was open. The third time, the gate was there but it had not been installed. And what was the president's reaction? Well, the security arrangements were not in, our people were placed in that embassy in an unsecured time, and the marines who were guarding it were left to go away and there were other people guarding the embassy. Again the president said: I assume responsibility. I'd like to know what that means. Are we going to take proper precautions before we put Americans in situations where they're in danger, or are we just going to walk away, throwing our arms in the air now - quite a reversal from the first time, from the first time when he said he was going to do something? Or is this President going to take some action?
MASHEK: Some Democrats cringe at the words spying and covert activity. Do you believe both of them have a legitimate role in countering terrorist activity around the world?
FERRARO: I think they have a legitimate role in gathering information. And what has happened was the CIA, in the last bombing, had given information to our administration with reference to the actual threats that that embassy was going to be bombed. So it wasn't the CIA that was at fault. There's legitimate reason for the CIA to be in existence, and that's to gather intelligence information for our security. But when I see the CIA doing things like they're doing down in Central America - supporting a covert war - no, I don't support that kind of activity. The CIA is there, it's meant to protect our government; not there to subvert other governments.
VANOCUR: Vice-President Bush.
BUSH: Well, I'm surprised. I think I just heard Mrs. Ferraro say that she would do away with all covert actions, and if so, that has very serious ramifications, as the intelligence community knows. This is serious business. And sometimes it's quiet support for a friend, and so I'll leave that one there. But let me help you with the difference, Mrs. Ferraro, between Iran and the embassy in Lebanon. Iran - we were held by a foreign government. In Lebanon you had a wanton, terrorist action where the government opposed it. We went to Lebanon to give peace a chance, to stop the bombing of civilians in Beirut, to remove 13,000 terrorists from Lebanon - and we did. We saw the formation of a government of reconciliation and for somebody to suggest, as our two opponents have, that these men died in shame - they better not tell the parents of those young marines. They gave peace a chance. And our allies were with us - the British, the French, and the Italians.
VANOCUR: Congresswoman Ferraro.
FERRARO: Let me just say, first of all, that I almost resent, Vice President Bush, your patronizing attitude that you have to teach me about foreign policy. I've been a member of Congress for six years; I was there when the embassy was held hostage in Iran, and I have been there and I've seen what has happened in the past several months; seventeen months of your administration. Secondly, please don't categorize my answers, either. Leave the interpretation of my answers to the American people who are watching this debate. And let me say further that no one has ever said that those young men who were killed through the negligence of this administration and others ever died in shame. No one who has a child who is nineteen or twenty years old, a son, would ever say that at the loss of anybody else's child.
VANOCUR: Mr. White.
WHITE: Congresswoman Ferraro, you've repeatedly said that you would not want your son to die in an undeclared war for an uncertain cause. But recently your running mate, Mr. Mondale, has suggested that it may become necessary to erect a military quarantine or blockade of Nicaragua. Under what circumstances would you advocate the use of military force, American combat forces, in Central America?
FERRARO: I would advocate the use of force when it was necessary to protect the security of our country, protect our security interest or protect our people or protect the interests of our friends and neighbors. When president - I'm jumping the gun a bit, aren't I? - when Mr. Mondale, Mr. Mondale referred to the quarantine of Central America, a country in Central America, what he is referring to is a last resort after all other means of attempting to settle the situation down in that region of the world had been exhausted. Quite frankly now what is being done by this administration is an Americanizing of a regional conflict. They're moving in militarily instead of promoting the Contadora process, which, as you know, is the process that is in place with the support of Mexico and Colombia and Panama and Venezuela. Instead of supporting the process, our administration has in Nicaragua been supporting covert activities to keep that revolution going in order to overthrow the Sandinista government; in El Salvador was not pushing the head of the government to move toward correction of the civil rights; human rights problems that existed there, and now this administration seems almost befuddled by the fact that Nicaragua is moving to participate in the Contadora process, and El Salvador is, through its President Duarte, is reaching out to the guerrillas in order to negotiate a peace. What Fritz Mondale and I feel about the situation down there is that what you do is you deal first through negotiation. That force is not a first resort but certainly a last resort in any instance.
VANOCUR: A follow-up, please.
WHITE: Many times in its history the United States has gone to war in order to defend freedom in other lands. Does your answer mean that you would be willing to forgo the use of military force even if it meant the establishment of a Soviet-back dictatorship so close to our own borders?
FERRARO: No, I think what you have to do is work with the government - I assume you're speaking about the government of Nicaragua - work with that government to achieve a pluralistic society. I mean they do have elections that are coming up on November 4. I think we have to work with them to achieve a peaceful solution to bring about a pluralistic country. No, I'm not willing to live with a force that could be a danger to our country. Certainly, I would see that our country would be there putting all kinds of pressure on the neighboring countries of Honduras, of Costa Rica, of El Salvador, to promote the kind of society that we can all live with and security in this country.
WHITE: Vice-President Bush, both Cuba and Nicaragua are reported to be making extensive preparations to defend themselves against an American invasion, which they claim could come this fall. And even some of your Democratic opponents in Congress have suggested that the administration may be planning a December surprise invasion. Can you tell us under what circumstances a reelected Reagan administration would consider the use of force in Central American or the Caribbean? Bush: We don't think we're to be required to use force. Let me point out that there are 2,000 Cuban military and 7,500 so-called Cuban advisers in Nicaragua. There are 55 American military in El Salvador. I went down, on the instructions of the president, to speak to the commandants in El Salvador and told them that they had to move with Mr. Magana, then the president of El Salvador, to respect human rights. They have done that. They're moving well. I'm not saying it's perfect, but the difference between El Salvador and Nicaragua is like the difference between night and day. El Salvador went to the polls, Mr. Duarte was elected by 70 percent of the people in 70 percent voting in a certifiably free election. In Nicaragua, you have something very different. You have a Marxist-Leninist group, the Sandinistas, that came into power talking democracy. They have aborted their democracy. They have humiliated the Holy Father. They have cracked down on the only press organ there, La Prensa, censoring the press something that should concern every American. They have not had any human rights at all. They will not permit free elections. Mr. Cruz, who was to be the only viable challenger to Nicaragua, the Sandinistas, to the junta, to Mr. Ortega, went down there and found that the ground rules were so unfair that he couldn't even wage a campaign. One country is devoid of human rights. The other is struggling to perfect their democracy. We don't like it, frankly, when Nicaragua exports its revolution or serves as a conduit for supplies coming over from such "democracies" as North Korea, Bulgaria, the Soviet Union and Cube, to try to destabilize El Salvador. Yes, we're concerned about that. Because we want to see this trend toward democracy continue. There have been something like thirteen countries since we've come in move toward the democratic route, and let me say that Grenada is not unrelated. And I have a big difference with Mrs. Ferraro on that one. We gave those four tiny Caribbean countries a chance. We saved the lives, and most of those thousand students said they were in jeopardy. Grenada was a proud moment because we did stand up for democracy. But in terms of threat of these countries, nuclear, I mean, weapons, no. There's not that kind of a threat. It's Mr. Mondale that proposed the quarantine, not Ronald Reagan.
WHITE: Considering this country's long respect for the rule of international law, was it right for the United States to be involved in mining the harbors of Nicaragua, a country we're not at war with, and to subsequently refuse to allow the World Court to adjudicate that dispute and the complaint from Nicaragua?
BUSH: I support what we're doing. It was supported to the Congress and under the law. I support it. My only regret is that the aid for the contras, those people that are fighting, we call them freedom fighters. They want to see the democracy perfected in Nicaragua. Am I to understand from this assault on covert action that nowhere in the world would we do something that was considered just off base when Mrs. Ferraro said she's never support it? Would she never support it if the violation of human rights was so great and quiet support was necessary for freedom fighters? Yes, we're for the contras. And let me tell you another fact about the controls. Everyone that's not for this, everyone who wants to let that Sandinista government prevail, just like that Castro did, all of that, the contras are not Somozistas. Less than 5 percent of the contras supported Somoza. These were people that wanted a revolution. These people that felt the revolution was betrayed. These are people that support human rights. Yes, we should support them.
VANOCUR: Congresswoman Ferraro.
FERRARO: I spent time in Central America in January and had an opportunity to speak to the contras after the incident in Nicaragua and in El Salvador. Let me just say that the situation as it exists now, because of this administration's policies, are not getting better. We're not moving toward a more secure area of the world. As a matter of fact the number of troops that the Sandinistas have accumulated since the administration started its covert activities has risen from 12,000 to 50,000, and of course the number of Soviet and Cuban advisors has also increased. I did not support the mining of the harbors in Nicaragua; it is a violation of international law. Congress did not support it and as a matter of fact, just this week, the Congress voted in cut off covert aid to Nicaragua unless and until a request is made and there is evidence of need for it, and the Congress approves it again in March. So if Congress doesn't get laid on, the covert activities which I opposed in Nicaragua, those CIA covert activities in that specific country, are not supported by the Congress. And believe it or not, not supported by the majority of people throughout the country.
VANOCUR: Vice President Bush.
BUSH: Well, I would simply like to make the distinction again between those countries that are searching for democracy and the handful of countries that have totally violated human rights and are going the Marxist route. Ortega, the commandante who is head of the Nicaraguan Sandinistas, is an avowed Marxist. They don't believe in the church. They don't believe in free elections. They don't believe in all of the values that we believe in. So it is our policy to support the democracy there, and when you have freedom fighters that want to protect that revolution, and go the democratic route, we believe in giving them support. We are for democracy in the hemisphere. We are for negotiations. $3 out of every $4 that we sent down there has been for economic aid to support the people's chance to eat and live and be happy and enjoy life. And one-fourth only was rnilitary. You wouldn't get that from listening to Mr. Mondale.
VANOCUR: Miss Quarles.
QUARLES: Vice President Bush, the last three Republican administrations, Eisenhower, Nixon, and Ford, none of them soft on communism, met with the Soviets and got agreements on arms control. The Soviets haven't changed that much. Can you tell us why President Reagan has not met with the Soviet ministers at all and only met with Prime Minister Gromyko less than a month ago?
BUSH: Yes, I can. The, you mentioned the Gromyko meeting, those were broken off under the Carter-Mondale days. There had been three separate Soviet leaders. Mr. Brezhnev, Mr. Andropov, and now Chernenko. During their, that, in three and a half years, three separate leaders. The Soviets have not been willing to talk. We are the ones that went to the table in INF. We had a good proposal, a moral proposal. Ban an entire generation of intermediate nuclear force weapons and if you won't do that, don't leave your allies in Europe in a monopoly position. The Soviets with 1,200 of these things, and the alliance with none. We didn't think that's the way to deter aggression and keep the peace. The president went, the first thing he did when he came into office was make a proposal on the most destabilizing weapons of all, START. And when the the strategic weapon and when the Soviets said, well, we don't like that proposal, we said all right, we'll be more flexible. I at the urging of the president went to Geneva and laid on the table a treaty to ban all chemical weapons. We don't want them to have a monopoly. We said look, let's come together. You come over here and see what we're doing; we'll go over there and see what you're doing. But let's save the kids of this world from chemical weapons. A brilliant proposal to get rid of all of them. And the Soviets nyet, nyet nyet. In the mutual balance force reduction to reduce conventional forces, they're not even willing to tell us the base. Mrs. Ferraro knows that, and how many troops they have. There's four sessions. We have had an agreement with them on the hot line. But Carter-Monad made an agreement, the Salt II agreement, but the Democratic Senate, they were a Democratic administration, the Democratic Senate wouldn't even ratify that agreement. It was flawed, it was unverifiable and it was not good. Our president wants to reduce, not just to stop, he wants to reduce dramatically nuclear weapons. And when the Soviets know they're going to have this strong president to deal with, and when this new administration, Mr. Chernenko, given more than a few months in office can solidify its position, then they'll talk. But if they think the opposition, before they sit down, are going to give up the MX, give up the B-l, go for a freeze that locks in inferiority in Europe, all of these things, unilaterally, before they're willing to talk, they may just sweat it out for four more weeks. Who knows.
QUARLES: You were once quoted as saying that a nuclear war is winnable. Is that still your belief, and if not, under what circumstances would you use nuclear weapons if you were president?
BUSH: No, I don't think it's winnable. I was quoted wrong, obviously, 'cause I never thought that. The Soviet planning, I did learn that when I was director of Central Intelligence, and I don't think there'd be any disagreement, is based on that ugly concept. But I agree with the president: It should never be fought. Nuclear weapons should never be fought with, and that's our approach. So, therefore, let's encourage the Soviets to come to the table as we did at the Gromyko meeting. I wish everybody could have seen that one - the President, giving the facts to Gromyko in all of these nuclear meetings - excellent, right on top of that subject matter. And I'll bet you that Gromyko went back to the Soviet Union saying, "Hey, listen, this president is calling the shots; we'd better move." But do you know why I think we'll get an agreement? Because I think it is in the interest of the Soviet Union to make it, just as it is in the United States. They're not deterred by rhetoric. I listened to the rhetoric for two years at the United Nations. I've lived in a Communist country. It's not rhetoric that decides agreements, it's self-interest of those countries.
QUARLES: Congresswoman Ferraro, you and Mr. Mondale are for a verifiable nuclear freeze. Some Democrats have said that verification may not be possible. How would you verify such an agreement and make sure that the Soviets are not cheating?
FERRARO: Let me say first of all that I don't think there is any issue that is more important in this campaign, in this election, than the issue of war and peace. And since today is Eleanor Roosevelt's 100th birthday, let me quote her. She said, "It is not enough to want peace, you must believe in it. And it is not enough to believe in it, you must work for it." This administration's policies have indicated quite the opposite. The last time I heard Vice President Bush blame the fact that they didn't meet with the Soviet leader, and this is the first president in forty years not to meet with a Soviet counterpart. He said the reason was because there are three Soviet leaders in the past three and a half years. I went and got a computer printout. It's five pages of the leaders, world leaders, that the Soviet leaders have met with, and they're not little people. They're people like Mitterrand of France and Kohl of Germany and President Kiprianou of Cyprus - you go down the list, five pages of people that the Soviet leaders have managed to meet with and somehow they couldn't meet with the president of the United States. In addition to not meeting with his Soviet counterpart, this is the first president - and you're right - since the start of negotiating arms control agreements who have not negotiated an arms control agreement, But not only has he not negotiated one, he's been opposed to every single one that every other president has negotiated, including Eisenhower, including Ford, and including Nixon. Now, let me just say that with reference to the vice-president's comments about the intent and the desire of the United Sites and this administration, the Soviet Union did walk out of the talks. I agree. But it seems to me in 1982, when the administration presented its Start proposal, that it wasn't a realistic proposal. And that is the comment that was made by Secretary Haig after he left office, because what it dealt with was that it dealt just with land-based nuclear missiles, which is where the Soviets had the bulk of their missiles. But that aside, in 1982, I believe it was, their own negotiator, Nitze, came out with a proposal called the "walk-in-the-woods proposal" which would have limited the number of nuclear arms in Europe. That proposal was turned down by the administration - a proposal presented by its own administrator. Now I'm delighted that they met with Mr. Gromyko, but they could have had that opportunity to meet with him in 1981 when he came to the UN, which he had done with every other president before, and in 1982 as well. I guess my -
VANOCUR: Congresswoman, I'm sorry. Speaking of limits, I have to impose a limit on you, Vice President Bush?
BUSH: Well, I think there's quite a difference between Mr. Kyprianou in Cyprus and the leader of the free world, Ronald Reagan, in terms of meeting. And the Soviet Union - the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union will meet with a lot of different people. We've been in very close touch with Mr. Mitterrand, Mr. Kohl, and others that have met with the leaders of the Soviet Union. But that's quite different than meeting with the president of the United States. The Soviets say we'll have a meeting when we think there can be progress and yet they left those talks. I'd like to correct my opponent on the walk in the woods. It was the Soviet Union that was unwilling to discuss the walk in the woods. They were the ones that gunned it down first and the record is very, very clear on that. Miss Ferraro mentioned the inflexibility of our position on strategic arms. Yes, we offered first to get rid of all those - we tried to reduce the SS-18's and those weapons. But then we said if that's not good enough, there is flexibility, let's talk about the bombers and planes. So that's a very important point in terms of negotiation.
VANOCUR: Congresswoman, he that taketh away has to give back. I robbed you of your rebuttal. Therefore, you will have two minutes to rebut. Forgive me.
FERRARO: I - You robbed me of my follow-up, that's what you robbed me, so why don't I let her give me the follow-up.
VANOCUR: All right, and then give your rebuttal.
QUARLES: Congresswoman Ferraro, most polls show that the American - Americans feel that the Republicans, more than the Democrats are better able to keep the United States out of war. We've had four years of relative peace under President Reagan. How can you convince the American public that the world would be a safer place under Carter-Mondale? [sic]
FERRARO: I think first of all, you have to take a look at the current situation. We now have 50,000 nuclear warheads; we are building at the rate of five or six a day between us and we have been doing that since this administration came into office. I think what you can do is look at what they've done and recognize that they're not going to do very much in the future. And so, since they've done nothing, do we continue to build because an arms race doesn't lead to anything, it leads to another arms race and that's that. Vice President Monad has indicated that what he would do, first of all, as soon as he. gets into office, is contact his Soviet counterpart and set up an annual summit meeting. That's number one. I don't think you can start negotiating until you start talking. Secondly, he would issue a challenge, and the challenge would be in the nature of temporary, mutual, verifiable, moratoria to halt testing in the air, in the atmosphere, that would respond with a challenge from the Soviet Union, we hope, to sit down and negotiate a treaty. That was done in 1960. I don't know what your lights are doing, Sander.
VANOCUR: You have another minute.
FERRARO: Okay. I'm watching them blinking. So I have another minute. What that would do is it would give us the opportunity to sit down and negotiate a treaty. That was done in 1960 by President Kennedy - in 1963. What he did was he issued a challenge to the Soviet Union. He said we will not test in space - in the atmosphere, if you will not. They did not. In two months they sat down and they negotiated a treaty. We do not now have to worry about that type of testing. It can be done; it will be done, if only you have the will to do it. Again, remember it is mutual; it is verifiable and it is a challenge that once that challenge is not met, if testing were to resume, then we would continue testing as well.
VANOCUR: Our last series of questions on foreign affairs from Mr. Boyd.
BOYD: Congresswoman Ferraro, you have had little or no experience with military matters and yet you might someday find yourself commander-in-chief of the armed forces. How can you convince the American people and the potential enemy that you would know what to do to protect this nation's security, and do you think in any way that the Soviets might be tempted to try to take advantage of you simply because you are a woman?
FERRARO: Are you saying that I would have to have fought in the war in order to love peace?
BOYD: I'm not saying that, I'm asking you - you know what I asked.
FERRARO: All right. I think what happens is when you try to equate whether or not I have had military experience, that's the natural conclusion. It's about as valid as saying that you would have to be black in order to despise racism, that you'd have to be female in order to be terribly offended by sexism. And that's just not so. I think if you take a look at where I've been, both in the Congress and where I intend to go, the type of person I am - I think that the people of this country can rely upon the fact that I will be a lender. I don't think the Soviet Union for one minute can sit down and make determination on what I will do if I'm ever in a position to have to do something with reference to the Soviet Union. Quite frankly I'm prepared to do whatever is necessary in order to secure this country and make sure that security is maintained. Secondly, if the Soviet Union were to ever believe that they could challenge the United States with any sort of nuclear forces or otherwise, if I were in a position of leadership in this country, they would be assured that they would be met with swift, concise and certain retaliation. Let me just say one other thing now. The most important thing, though I think as a leader that what one has to do is get to the point where you're not put into that position. And the way you to that position of rnoving away from having to make a decision - armed force or anything else - is by moving toward arms control. And that's not what's been done over the past four years. I think that if you were to take a look at the failures of this administration that would have to be number one. I will not put myself in that position as a leader in this country. I will move immediately toward arms control negotiations.
BOYD: For my follow, I'm going to borrow a leaf from the Sunday night debate between your principals and ask you what is the single question you would most like to ask your opponent here on foreign policy?
FERRARO: Oh, I don't have a single-most question. I guess the concern that I have is a concern not only as a vice-presidential candidate but as a citizen in this country. My concern is that we are not doing anything to stop the arms race, and if seems to me that if we keep talking about military inferiority - which we do not have, we are at a comparable level with the Soviet Union; our Joint Chiefs of Staff have said they'd never exchange our military power for theirs. I guess the thing that I'd want is a commitment that pretty soon they're going to do something about making this a safer world for all of us.
BOYD: Vice-President Bush, four years ago President Reagan insisted that a military buildup would bring the Soviets to negotiate seriously. Since then, we have spent almost a trillion dollars on defense but the Soviets are still building their military forces as rapidly as we are, and there are no negotiations. Was the president's original premise, his whole strategy, wrong?
BUSH: No, I think his strategy not only was correct but is correct. You've got to go back where we were. Clearly, when we came into office, the American people recognized that we had slipped into positions of inferiority on various things. Some of our planes, as the president points out, were older than the pilots; ships that couldn't go out to sea. And you had a major problem with the military. Actually, the morale wasn't very good either. So we have had to strengthen the military and we're well on the way to getting that job done. America is back in terms of military strength, in terms of our ability to deter aggression and keep the peace. At the same time, however, we have made proposals and proposals and proposals - sound proposals - on reducing nuclear weapons. The Strategic Arms Reduction Talks were good proposals, and it's the Soviets who left the table. The Intermediate Nuclear Force Talks were sound talks, and I wish the Soviet Union had continued them. The chemical weapon treaty to ban all chemical weapons, it was our initiative, not the Soviets. And we wish they would think anew and move forward to verification so everybody would know whether the other side was keeping its word. But, much more important, you'd reduce the level of terror. Similarly, we're reducing - trying to talk to them, and are talking to them, in Vienna, about conventional force reduction. We've talked to them about human rights. I've met with Mr. Andropov and Mr. Chernenko, and we mention and we try to do something about the human rights question. The suppression of Soviet Jews is absolutely intolerable and so we have to keep pushing forward on the moral grounds as well as on the arms reduction ground. But it is my view that because this president has been strong, and because we've addressed the imbalances - and I think we're very close to getting that job done - the Soviets are more likely to make a deal. The Soviets made an ABM treaty when they felt we were going to deploy an ABM system. So I am optimistic for the future, once they realize that they will have this strong, principled president to negotiate with, strong leadership, and yet with demonstrable flexibility on arms control.
BOYD: And now, I'll give you a chance, Mr. Vice-President, to ask the question you'd most like to ask your opponent.
BUSH: I have none I'd like to ask of her, but I'd sure like to use the time to talk about the World Series or something of that nature. Let me put it this way - I don't have any questions, but we are so different from - the Reagan-Bush administration is so different from the Carter-Mondale [sic] administration that the American people are going to have the clearest choice. It's a question of going back to the failed ideas of the past, where we came in - 21% percent on those interest rates, inflation, despair, malaise, no leadership, blaming the American people for failed leadership. Or another option - keep this recovery going until it benefits absolutely everybody. Peace at home - peace abroad - prosperity - opportunity. I'd like to hear her talk on those things, but I think the yellow light is flashing and so we'll leave it there.
BOYD: Nothing on the World Series? Congresswoman Ferraro?
FERRARO: I think the vice-president's comment about the Carter-Mondale administration really typifies this administration. It's an administration that looks backwards, not forwards and into the future. I must say that I'm also tickled by their comments on human rights. The Soviet Union in 1979 allowed 51,000 people to emigrate, because, in large measure, this administration's policies over the past four years, 1,313 people got out of the Soviet Union in 1983 and 1984. That's not a great record on human rights and certainly not a record on human rights achievements. This administration spent a trillion dollars on defense, but it hasn't gotten a trillion dollars on national security.
VANOCUR: Vice-President Bush, your rebuttal?
BUSH: No rebuttal.
VANOCUR: Well, we then can go to the closing statements. Each statement will be four minutes in length and we'll begin with the vice-president.
BUSH: Well, in a couple of weeks, you, the American people, will be faced, three weeks, with a choice. It's the clearest choice in some fifty years. And the choice is, do we move forward with strength and with prosperity or do we go back to weakness, despair, disrespect. Ronald Reagan and I have put our trust in the American people. We've moved some of the power away from Washington, D.C., and put it back with the people. We're pulling together. The neighborhoods are safer 'cause crime is going down. Your sons and daughters are doing better in school. Test scores are going up. There's a new opportunity lying out there in the future. Science, technology and space offering opportunity that, to everybody, all the young ones coming up. And abroad there's new leadership and respect. And Ronald Reagan is clearly the strong leader of the free world. And I'll be honest with you. It's a joy to serve with a president who does not apologize for the United States of America. Mr. Mondale, on the other hand, has one idea. Go out and tax the American people. And then he wants to repeal indexing, to wipe out the one protection that those at the lowest end of the economic scale have protecting them against being rammed into higher and higher tax brackets. We just owe our country too much to go back to that kind of an approach. I'd like to say something to the young people. I started a business. I know what it is to have a dream and have a job and work hard to employ others and really to participate in the American dream. Some of you out there are finishing high school or college and some of you are starting out in the working place. And we want for you America's greatest gift. And that is opportunity. And then, peace. Yes, I did serve in combat. I was shot down when I was a young kid, scared to death. And all that did, saw friends die, but that heightened my convictions about peace. It is absolutely essential that we guarantee the young people that they will not know the agony of war. America's gift, opportunity and peace. Now we do have some unfinished business. We must continue to go ahead. The world is too complex to go back to vacillation and weakness. We've too much going on to go back to the failed policies of the past. The future is too bright not to give it our best shot. Together we can go forward and lift America up to meet her greatest dreams. Thank you very much.
VANOCUR: Thank you very much. I must say now in matters of equity you will be allowed applause at the end of your closing statement, so if you begin now, please.
FERRARO: I hope somebody wants to applaud. Being the candidate for vice-president of my party is the greatest honor I have ever had. But it's not only a personal achievement for Geraldine Ferraro - and certainly not only the bond that I feel as I go across this country with women throughout the country. I wouldn't be standing here if Fritz Mondale didn't have the courage and my party didn't stand for the values that it does - the values of fairness and equal opportunity. Those values make our country strong and the future of this country and how strong it will be is what this election is all about. Over the last two months I've been traveling all over the country talking to the people about the future. I was in Kentucky and I spoke to the Dyhouse family. He works for a car dealer and he's worried about the deficits and how high interest rates are going to affect his job. Every place I go I see young parents with their children and they say to me what are we going to do to stop this nuclear arms race. I was in Dayton, Ohio, a week and a half ago and I sat with the Allen family who live next door to a toxic dump and they're very, very concerned about the fact that those toxics are seeping into the water that they and their neighbors drink. Now those people love this country and they're patriotic. But it's not the patriotism that you're seeing in the commercials as you watch television these days. Their patriotism is not only a pride in the country as it is, but a pride in this country that is strong enough to meet the challenges of the future. Do you know when we find jobs for the eight and a half million people who are unemployed in this country, you know we'll make our economy stronger and that will be a patriotic act. When we reduce the deficits and we cut interest rates, and I know the president doesn't believe that, but it's so - we cut those interest rates young people can buy houses, that's pro-family and that will be a patriotic act. When we educate our children - good Lord, they're going to be able to compete in a world economy and that makes us stronger and that's a patriotic act. When we stop the arms race, we make this a safer, saner world, and that's a patriotic act, and when we keep the peace young men don't die, and that's a patriotic act. Those are the keys to the future and who can be the leader for the future? When Walter Mondale was attorney general of Minnesota, he led the fight for a man who could not afford to get justice because he couldn't afford a lawyer; when he was in the Senate he fought for child nutrition programs, he wrote the Fair Housing Act, he even investigated the concerns and the abuses of migrant workers. And why did he do that? Those weren't popular causes. You know, no one had ever heard of Clarence Gideon, the man without a lawyer. Children don't vote and migrant workers exactly a powerful lobby in this country, but he did it because it was right. Fritz Mondale has said that he would rather lose a battle for decency than win one over self-interest. Now I agree with him. This campaign is not over. For our country, for our future, for the principles we believe in Walter Mondale and I have just begun to fight.
VANOCUR: Thank you very much. I'd like to thank Vice-President Bush, Congresswoman Ferraro, the members of our panel for joining us in this League of Women Voters debate. I'd like to join you in thanking them, the city of Philadelphia and the League of Women Voters. The League of Women Voters' next debate, the presidential debate, will take place in Kansas City on October 21. The subject will be foreign affairs award it will begin at 8 P.M., Eastern time. Again our thanks. We hope you'll join us on the twenty-first.
Friday, October 01, 2004
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 10/01/2004 08:24:00 PM
Thursday, September 30, 2004
I am sorry that I have not posted much as of late. I am trying to get the flu bug out of my system, plus I have a double shift this coming Saturday and Sunday. I will catch up in due time.
Enjoy the Presidential Debate tonight on your preferred news channel. The "Phillips Philes" endorses the Fox News Channel as our number one source.
Take care, and have a wonderful weekend!
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 9/30/2004 06:43:00 AM
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Transcript of First Bush-Gore Presidential Debate
Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2000
SPEAKERS: ALBERT GORE JR., VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
GOVERNOR GEORGE W. BUSH, R-TEXAS, REPUBLICAN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
JIM LEHRER, MODERATOR
LEHRER: Good evening from the Clark Athletic Center at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. I'm Jim Lehrer of "The NewsHour" (ph) on PBS. And I welcome you to the first of three 90- minute debates between the Democratic candidate for president, Vice President Al Gore, and the Republican candidate, Governor George W. Bush of Texas.
The debates are sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, and they will be conducted within formats and rules agreed to by the commission and the two campaigns.
Tonight's will have the candidates at podiums. No answer to a question can exceed two minutes. Rebuttals are limited to one minute. But as moderator, I have the option to follow up and to extend any particular give and take another three and a half minutes. But even then, no single answer can exceed two minutes.
The candidates, under their rules, may not question each other directly. There will be no opening statements, but each candidate may have up to two minutes for a closing statement.
The questions and the subjects were chosen by me alone. I have told no one from the two campaigns or the commission or anyone else involved what they are.
There's a small audience in the hall tonight.
LEHRER: They are not here to participate, only to listen.
I have asked and they have agreed to remain silent for the next 90 minutes, except for right now, when they will applaud as we welcome the two candidates, Governor Bush and Vice President Gore.
And now, the first question. As determined by the flip of a coin, it goes to Vice President Gore.
Vice President Gore, you have questioned whether Governor Bush has the experience to be president of the United States. What exactly do you mean?
GORE: Well, Jim, first of all I would like to thank the sponsors of this debate and the people of Boston for hosting the debate. I'd like to thank Governor Bush for participating. And I'd like to say I'm happy to be here with Tipper and our family.
I have actually not questioned Governor Bush's experience; I have questioned his proposals. And here's why: I think this is a very important moment for our country. We have achieved extraordinary prosperity. And in this election, America has to make an important choice: Will we use our prosperity to enrich not just the few but all of our families?
GORE: I believe we have to make the right and responsible choices.
If I'm entrusted with the presidency, here are the choices that I will make: I'll balance the budget every year, I will pay down the national debt, I will put Medicare and Social Security in a lockbox and protect it, and I will cut taxes for middle class families.
I believe it's important to resist the temptation to squander our surplus. If we make the right choices, we can have a prosperity that endures and enriches all of our people.
If I'm entrusted with the presidency, I will help parents and strengthen families, because, you know, if we have prosperity that grows and grows, we still won't be successful unless we strengthen families by, for example, ensuring that children can always go to schools that are safe, by giving parents the tools to protect their children against cultural pollution.
I will make sure that we invest in our country and our families. And I mean investing in education, health care, the environment and middle class tax cuts and retirement security. That's my agenda, and that's why I think that it's not just question of experience.
LEHRER: Governor Bush, one minute rebuttal.
BUSH: Well, we do come from different places. And I come from West Texas. I've been a governor. Governor is the chief executive officer and learns how to set agendas, and I think you're going to find the difference reflect in our budgets.
BUSH: I want to take one-half of the surplus and dedicate it to Social Security, one-quarter of the surplus for important projects, and I want to send one-quarter of the surplus back to the people who pay the bills. I want everybody who pays taxes to have their tax rates cut.
Now that stands in contrast to my worthy opponent's plan, which will increase the size of government dramatically. His plan is three times larger than President Clinton's proposed plan eight years ago. It's a plan that will have 200 new programs, as well -- or expanded programs. It'll create 20,000 new bureaucrats. In other words, it empowers Washington.
And tonight you're going to hear that my passion and my vision is to empower Americans to be able to make decisions for themselves in their own lives.
LEHRER: So, I take it by your answer then, Mr. Vice President, that in your -- an interview recently with the New York Times, when you said that you question whether vice president -- or Governor Bush was experienced enough to be president, you were talking about strictly policy differences?
GORE: Yes, Jim. I said that his tax cut plan, for example, raises the question of whether it's the right choice for the country.
GORE: And let me give you an example of what I mean: Under Governor Bush's tax cut proposal, he would spend more money on tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent than all of the new spending that he proposes for education, health care, prescription drugs and national defense, all combined. Now, I think those are the wrong priorities.
Now, under my proposal, for every dollar that I propose in spending for things like education and health care, I will put another dollar into middle class tax cuts.
And for every dollar that I spend in those two categories, I'll put two dollars toward paying down the national debt. I think it's very important to keep the debt going down and completely eliminate it.
And I also think it's very important to go to the next stage of welfare reform. Our country has cut the welfare rolls in half. I fought hard, from my days in the Senate and as vice president, to cut the welfare rolls, and we've moved millions of people in America into good jobs. But it's now time for the next stage of welfare reform and include fathers and not only mothers.
LEHRER: We're going to get to a lot of those.
Yes, go ahead, Governor.
BUSH: Well, let me just said that obviously tonight we're going to hear some phony numbers about what I think and what we ought to do. People need to know that, over the next 10 years, there's going to be $25 trillion of revenue that comes into our Treasury, and we anticipate spending $21 trillion.
BUSH: And my plan says, "Why don't we pass $1.3 trillion of that back to the people who pay the bills?" Surely we can afford 5 percent of the $25 trillion that are coming into the Treasury to the hard- working people who pay the bills.
There's a difference of opinion. My opponent thinks the government -- the surplus is the government's money. That's not what I think. I think it's the hard-working people of America's money, and I want to share some of that money with you, so you've got more money to build and save and dream for your families.
It's a difference of opinion. It's the difference between government making decisions for you and you getting more of your money to make decisions for yourself.
LEHRER: Let me just follow up, one quick question. When you hear Vice President Gore question your experience, do you read it the same way, that he's talking about policy differences only?
BUSH: Yes. I take him for his word.
I mean, look, I fully recognize I'm not of Washington. I'm from Texas. And he's got a lot of experience, but so do I. And I've been the chief executive officer of the second-biggest state in the Union. And I've had a proud record of working with both Republicans and Democrats, which is what our nation needs. We need somebody who can come up to Washington and say, "Look, let's forget all the politics and all the finger-pointing and get some positive things done on Medicare and prescription drugs and Social Security." And so, I take him for his word.
GORE: Jim, if I could just respond.
LEHRER: Just quick and then we need to move on.
GORE: I know that.
The governor used the phrase "phony numbers," but if you -- if you look at the plan and add the numbers up, these numbers are correct. He spends more money for tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent in all of his new spending proposals for health care, prescription drugs, education and national defense, all combined.
I agree that the surplus is the American people's money; it's your money. That's why I don't think we should give nearly half of it to the wealthiest 1 percent, because the other 99 percent have had an awful lot to do with building this surplus and our prosperity.
LEHRER: All right, three and a half minutes is up. New question.
BUSH: I hope it's about wealthy people.
LEHRER: Governor Bush, you have questioned -- this is a companion question to the question I asked Vice President Gore.
LEHRER: You have questioned whether Vice President Gore has demonstrated the leadership qualities necessary to be president of the United States. What do you mean by that?
BUSH: Well, here's what I've said: I've said, Jim, I've said that eight years ago they campaigned on prescription drugs for seniors, and four years ago they campaigned on getting prescription drugs for seniors, and now they're campaigning on getting prescription drugs for seniors. It seems like they can't get it done.
BUSH: Now they may blame other folks, but it's time to get somebody in Washington who's going to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get some positive things done when it comes to our seniors.
And so what I've said is, is there's been some missed opportunities. They've had a chance. They've had a chance to form consensus. I've got a plan on Medicare, for example, that's a two- stage plan that says we're going to have immediate help for seniors in what I call "Immediate Helping Hand," a $48 billion program.
But I also want to say to seniors, "If you're happy with Medicare the way it is, fine, you can stay in the program. But we're going to give you additional choices just like they give federal employees in the federal employee health plan." Federal employees have got a variety of choices from which to choose, so should seniors.
And my point has been, as opposed to politicizing an issue like Medicare -- in other words, holding it up as an issue, hoping somebody bites and then try to clobber them over the head with it for political purposes -- this year, in the year 2000, it's time to say, "Let's get it done once and for all." And that's what I have been critical about the administration for.
Same with Social Security. I think there was a good opportunity to bring Republicans and Democrats together to reform the Social Security system so the seniors will never go without. Those on Social Security today will have their promise made.
But also to give younger workers the option, at their choice, of being able to manage some of their own money in the private sectors to make sure there's a Social Security system around tomorrow. There's a lot of young workers at our rallies we go to, that when they hear that I'm going to trust them, at their option, to be able to manage, under certain guidelines, some of their own money to get a better rate of return so that they'll have a retirement plan in the future, they begin to nod their heads. And they want a different attitude in Washington.
LEHRER: One minute rebuttal, Vice President Gore.
GORE: Well, Jim, under my plan, all seniors will get prescription drugs under Medicare. The governor has described Medicare as a government HMO; it's not. And let me explain the difference.
Under the Medicare prescription drug proposal I'm making, here's how it works: You go to your own doctor and your doctor chooses your prescription, and no HMO or insurance company can take those choices away from you. Then you go to your own pharmacy, you fill the prescription and Medicare pays half the cost. If you're in a very poor family or you have very high costs, Medicare will pay all the costs -- a $25 premium and much better benefits than you can possibly find in the private sector.
Now here's the contrast. Ninety-five percent of all seniors would get no help whatsoever, under my opponent's plan, for the first four or five years.
Now, one thing I don't understand, Jim, is, why is it that the wealthiest 1 percent get their tax cuts the first year, but 95 percent of seniors have to wait four to five years before they get a single penny.
BUSH: I guess my answer to that is, the man's running on Mediscare, trying to frighten people in the voting booth. That's just not the way I think, and I that's just not my intentions. That's not my plan.
BUSH: I want all seniors to have prescription drugs and Medicare. We need to reform Medicare. There have been opportunity to do so, but this administration has failed to do it.
And so seniors are going to have not only a Medicare plan where the poor seniors will have their prescriptions paid for, but there will be a variety of options.
The current system today has meant a lot for a lot of seniors, and I really appreciate the intentions of the current system. And as I mentioned, if you're happy with the system, you can stay in it.
But there's a lot of procedures that have not kept up in Medicare with the current times. There's no prescription drug benefits, there's no drug therapies, there's no preventing medicines, there's no vision care.
I mean, we need to have a modern system to help seniors. And the idea of supporting a federally controlled, 132,000-page document bureaucracy as being a compassionate way for seniors is -- and the only compassionate source of care for seniors, is just not my vision.
I believe we ought to give seniors more options. I believe we ought to make the system work better. But I know this: I know it's going to require a different kind of leader to go to Washington to say to both Republicans and Democrats, "Let's come together."
You've had your chance, Vice President. You've been there for eight years and nothing has been done.
And my point is is that my plan not only trusts seniors with options, my plan sets aside $3.4 trillion for Medicare over the next 10 years. My plan also says it's going to require a new approach in Washington, D.C.
BUSH: It's going to require somebody who can work across the partisan divide.
GORE: If I could respond to that, Jim, under my plan, I will put Medicare in an iron-clad lockbox and prevent the money from being used for anything other than Medicare. The governor has declined to endorse that idea, even though the Republican as well as Democratic leaders of Congress have endorsed it.
I'd be interested to see if he would this evening say that he would put Medicare in a lockbox. I don't think he will, because under his plan, if you work out the numbers, $100 billion comes out of Medicare just for the wealthiest 1 percent in the tax cut.
Now here is the difference: Some people who say the word "reform" actually mean cuts. Under the governor's plan, if you kept the same fee-for-service that you have now under Medicare, your premiums would go up by between 18 and 47 percent. And that's the study of the congressional plan that he's modeled his proposal on by the Medicare actuaries.
Let me just give you one quick example: There's a man here tonight named George McKinney from Milwaukee. He's 70 years old, he has high blood pressure, his wife has heart trouble. They have income of $25,000 a year. They cannot pay for their prescription drugs. And so they're some of the ones that go to Canada regularly in order to get their prescription drugs.
Under my plan, half of their costs would be paid right away. Under Governor Bush's plan, they would get not one penny for four to five years, and then they would be forced to go into an HMO or to an insurance company and ask them for coverage, but there would be no limit on the premiums or the deductibles or any other terms and conditions.
BUSH: I cannot let this go by, the old-style Washington politics, of "We're going to scare you in the voting booth."
Under my plan, the man gets immediate help with prescription drugs. It's called "Immediate Helping Hand." Instead of squabbling and finger-pointing, he gets immediate help.
Let me say something. Now, I understand -- excuse me...
LEHRER: All right, excuse me, gentlemen...
GORE: Jim, can I...
LEHRER: ... minutes is up, but we'll finish that.
GORE: Can I make one other point? They get $25,000 a year income. That makes them ineligible.
BUSH: Look, this is the man who's got great numbers. He talks about numbers. I'm beginning to think, not only did he invent the Internet, but he invented the calculator.
It's fuzzy math. It's to scare them, trying to scare people in the voting booth.
Under my tax plan, that he continues to criticize, I set a third. You know, the federal government should take more of that -- no more than a third of anybody's check. But I also dropped the bottom rate from 15 percent to 10 percent, because, by far, the vast majority of the help goes to the people at the bottom end of the economic ladder.
If you're a family of four in Massachusetts making $50,000, you get a 50 percent cut in the federal income taxes you pay. It's from $4,000 to about $2,000.
Now, the difference in our plans is, I want that $2,000 to go to you.
LEHRER: All right. Let me -- hold on.
BUSH: And the vice president would like to be spending the $2,000 on your behalf.
LEHRER: One quick thing, gentlemen. These are your rules. I'm doing my best. We're way over the three and a half. I have no problems with it, but we wanted -- do you want to have a quick response, and we'll move on. We're already almost five minutes on this, all right?
GORE: Yes. It's just clearer -- you can go to the web site and look. If you make more than $25,000 a year, you don't get a penny of help under the Bush prescription drug proposal for at least four to five years. And then you're pushed into a Medicare -- into an HMO or an insurance company plan, and there's no limit on the premiums or the deductibles or any of the conditions. And the insurance companies say that it won't work and they won't offer these plans.
LEHRER: Let me ask you both this, and we'll move on, on this subject. As a practical matter, both of you want to bring prescription drugs to seniors, correct?
GORE: Correct, but the difference is -- the difference is I want to bring it to 100 percent, and he brings it only to 5 percent.
LEHRER: All right. All right. All right.
BUSH: That's just -- that's just -- that's just totally false.
LEHRER: All right. What difference does it make how...
BUSH: Wait a minute. It's just totally false for him to stand up here and say that.
Let me make sure the seniors hear me loud and clear. They've had their chance to get something done. I'm going to work with both Republicans and Democrats to reform the system. All seniors will be covered. All poor seniors will have their prescription drugs paid for. In the meantime -- in the meantime, we're going to have a plan to help poor seniors. And "in the meantime" could be one year or two years.
GORE: Let me -- let me call your attention to the key word there. He said all "poor" seniors.
BUSH: No. Wait a minute, all seniors are covered under prescription drugs in my plan.
GORE: In the first year? In the first year?
BUSH: If we can get it done in the first year, you bet. Yours is phased in in eight years.
GORE: No. No. No. No. It's a two-phase plan, Jim. And for the first four years -- it takes a year to pass it. And for the first four years, only the poor are covered. Middle class seniors, like George McKinney and his wife, are not covered for four to five years.
LEHRER: I've got an idea.
LEHRER: You have any more to say about this, you can say it in your closing statement, so we'll move on, OK?
New question, Vice President Gore, how would you contrast your approach to preventing future -- future oil price and supply problems like we have now to the approach of Governor Bush?
GORE: Excellent question, and here's the -- here's the simple difference: My plan has not only a short-term component, but also a long-term component, and it focuses not only on increasing the supply, which I think we have to do, but also on working on the consumption side.
Now, in the short term, we have to free ourselves from the domination of the big oil companies that have the ability to manipulate the price, from OPEC when they want to raise the price. And in the long term, we have to give new incentives for the development of domestic resources, like deep gas in the western Gulf, like stripper wells for oil, but also renewable sources of energy and domestic sources that are cleaner and better.
And I'm proposing a plan that will give tax credits and tax incentives for the rapid development of new kinds of cars and trucks and buses and factories and boilers and furnaces that don't have as much pollution, that don't burn as much energy and that help us get out on the cutting edge of the new technologies that will create millions of new jobs, because when we sell these new products here, we'll then be able to sell them overseas. And there's a ravenous demand for them overseas.
GORE: Now another big difference is, Governor Bush is proposing to open up our -- some of our most precious environmental treasures, like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to the big oil companies to go in and start producing oil there. I think that is the wrong choice. It would only give us a few months worth of oil, and the oil wouldn't start flowing for many years into the future. And I don't think it's a fair price to pay to -- to destroy precious parts of America's environment.
We have to bet on the future and move beyond the current technologies to have a whole new generation of more efficient, cleaner energy technologies.
LEHRER: Governor Bush, one minute.
BUSH: Well, it's an issue I know a lot about. I was a small oil person for a while in West Texas. This is an administration that's had no plan, and all of a sudden, the results of having no plan have caught up with America.
First and foremost, we got to make sure we fully fund LIHEAP, which is a way to help low-income folks, particularly here in the East, to pay for their high fuel bills.
Secondly, we need an active exploration program in America. The only way to become less dependent on foreign sources of crude oil is to explore at home.
And you bet I want to open up a small part of -- a part of Alaska because when that field is on-line, it will produce a million barrels a day. Today we import a million barrels from Saddam Hussein.
BUSH: I would rather that a million come from our own hemisphere, our own country, as opposed from Saddam Hussein.
I want to build more pipelines to move natural gas throughout this hemisphere. I want to develop the coal resources in America and have clean-coal technologies.
We've got abundant supplies of energy here in America, and we better get out there and better start exploring it, otherwise we're going to be in deep trouble in the future because of our dependency upon foreign sources of crude.
LEHRER: So, if somebody is watching tonight, listening to what the two of you just said, is it fair to say, OK, the differences between Vice President Gore and George W. Bush, Governor Bush, are the following: You are for doing something on the consumption end, you're for doing something on the production end...
GORE: Let me clarify. I'm for doing something both on the supply side and production side and on the consumption side. And let me say that I found one thing in Governor Bush's answer that we certainly agree on and that's the low-income heating assistance program, and I commend you for supporting that. I worked to get $400 million just a couple of weeks ago and to establish a permanent home heating oil reserve here in the Northeast.
Now, as for the proposals that I've worked for, for renewables and conservation and efficiency and the new technologies, the fact is, for the last few years in the Congress, we've faced a lot of opposition to them, and they've only -- they've only approved about 10 percent of the agenda that I've helped to send up there.
And I think that we need to get serious about this energy crisis, both in the Congress and in the White House. And if you entrust me with the presidency, I will tackle this problem and focus on new technologies that will make us less dependent on Big Oil or foreign oil.
LEHRER: How would you draw the difference, Governor?
BUSH: Well, I would first say that he should have been tackling it for the last seven years. And secondly, the difference is that we need to explore at home. And the vice president doesn't believe in exploration, for example, in Alaska. There's a lot of shut-in gas that we need to be moving out of Alaska by pipeline.
There's an interesting issue up in the Northwest, as well. And that is whether or not we remove dams that propose hydroelectric energy. I'm against removing dams in the Northwest. I don't know where the vice president stands. But that's a renewable source of energy we need to keep in-line.
I was in coal country yesterday, in West Virginia. There's an abundant supply of coal in America. I know we can do a better job of clean-coal technologies. I'm going to ask the Congress for $2 billion to make sure that we have the cleanest coal technologies in the world.
My answer to you is, is that in the short term, we need to get after it here in America. We need to explore our resources, and we need to develop our reservoirs of domestic production. We also need to have a hemispheric energy policy where Canada and Mexico and the United States come together.
I brought this up recently with Vicente Fox, who's the newly elected president. He's a man I know from Mexico. And I talked about how best to be able to expedite the exploration of natural gas in Mexico and transport it up to the United States, so we become less dependent on foreign sources of crude oil.
This is a major problem facing America. The administration did not deal with it. It's time for a new administration to deal with the energy problem.
GORE: If I could just -- just briefly, Jim, I know.
I found a couple of other things that we agree on, and we may not find that many this evening, so I wanted to emphasize them.
I strongly supply the new investments in clean-coal technology.
GORE: I made a proposal three months ago on this. And also domestic exploration, yes, but not in the environmental treasures of our country. We don't have to do that; that's the wrong choice. I know the oil companies have been itching to do that, but it is not the right thing for the future.
BUSH: No, it's the right thing for the consumers. Less dependency upon foreign sources of crude is good for consumers, and we can do so in an environmentally friendly way.
GORE: Well, can I have the last word on this?
LEHRER: New question.
BUSH: Of course.
GORE: OK. Go ahead.
LEHRER: New question. New subject.
GORE: All right.
LEHRER: Governor Bush, if elected president, would you try to overturn the FDA's approval last week of the abortion pill RU-486?
BUSH: I don't think a president can do that. I was disappointed in the ruling because I think abortions ought to be more rare in America. And I'm worried that that pill will create more abortion, will cause more people to have abortions.
This is a very important topic, and it's a very sensitive topic because a lot of good people disagree on the issue. I think what the next president ought to do is to -- is to promote a culture of life in America, is the life of the elderly and the life of those living all across the country, life of the unborn.
As a matter of fact, I think a noble goal for this country is that every child, born and unborn, ought to be protected in law and welcomed into life. But I know we got to change a lot of minds before we -- before we get there in America.
What I do believe is, we can find good common ground on issues like parental notification or parental consent. And I know we need to ban partial-birth abortions. This is a place where my opponent and I have strong disagreements. I believe banning partial-birth abortion would be a positive step toward reducing the number of abortions in America.
BUSH: This is an issue that's going to require a new attitude. We've been battling over abortion for a long period of time.
Surely this nation can come together to promote the value of life. Surely we can fight off these laws that will encourage doctors -- to allow doctors to take the lives of our seniors. Surely we can work together to create a cultural life so some of these youngsters that feel like they can take a neighbor's life with a gun will understand that that's not the way America's meant to be.
And surely we can find common ground to reduce the number of abortions in America. As to the drug itself, I mentioned I was disappointed. I hope -- and I'm -- I hope the FDA took its time to make sure that American women will be safe who use this -- who use this drug.
LEHRER: Vice President Gore?
GORE: Well, Jim, the FDA took 12 years. And I do support that decision. They determined it was medically safe for the women who use that drug.
Now, this is, indeed, a very important issue. First of all, on the issue of partial-birth or so-called late-term abortion, I would sign a law banning that procedure, provided that doctors have the ability to save a women's life or to act if her health is severely at risk. And that's not the main issue.
The main issue is whether or not the Roe v. Wade decision is going to be overturned. I support a woman's right to choose; my opponent does not.
It is important because the next president is going to appoint three, maybe even four, justices of the Supreme Court.
GORE: And Governor Bush has declared to the anti-choice groups that he will appoint justices in the mold of Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who are known for being the most vigorous opponents of a woman's right to choose.
Here's the difference: He trusts the government to order a woman to do what he thinks she ought to do. I trust women to make the decisions that affect their lives, their destinies and their bodies. And I think a woman's right to choose ought to be protected and defended.
LEHRER: Governor, we'll go to the Supreme Court question in a moment. But, to make sure I understand your position on RU-486, if you're elected president will you not throw appointments to the FDA, you won't support legislation to overturn this?
BUSH: I don't think a president can unilaterally overturn it. I think the FDA's made its decision.
LEHRER: That means that you wouldn't throw appointments to the FDA and ask them to reappraise it?
BUSH: I think once the decision's made, it's been made, unless it's proven to be unsafe to women.
GORE: Well, Jim, you know, the question you asked, if I heard you correctly, was would he support legislation to overturn it. And if I heard the statement the day before yesterday, you said you would order -- he said he would order his FDA appointee to review the decision. Now, that sounds to me a little bit different. And I just think that we ought to support the decision.
BUSH: I said I would make sure that -- that women would be safe to use the drug.
LEHRER: All right, on the Supreme Court question, should a voter assume -- you're pro-life. You just stated your position.
BUSH: I am pro-life.
LEHRER: Should a voter assume that all judicial appointments you make to the Supreme Court or any other federal court will also be pro- life?
BUSH: Voters should assume that I have no litmus test on that issue or any other issue. The voters will know I'll put competent judges on the bench, people who will strictly interpret the Constitution and will not use the bench to write social policy.
And that's going to be a big difference between my opponent and me. I believe that -- I believe that the judges ought not to take the place of the legislative branch of government, that they're appointed for life and that they ought to look at the Constitution as sacred. They shouldn't misuse their bench. I don't believe in liberal, activist judges. I believe in -- I believe in strict constructionists. And those are the kind of judges I will appoint.
I've named four Supreme Court judges in the state of Texas, and I would ask the people to check out their qualifications, their deliberations. They're good, solid men and women who have made good sound judgments on behalf of the people of Texas.
LEHRER: What kind of appointments should they expect from you, Vice President Gore?
GORE: Both of us use similar language to reach an exactly opposite outcome. I don't favor litmus tests, but I know that there are ways to assess how a potential justice interprets the Constitution. And, in my view, the Constitution ought to be interpreted as a document that grows with our country and our history.
And I believe, for example, that there is a right of privacy in the Fourth Amendment.
GORE: And when the phrase "strict constructionist" is used, and when the names of Scalia and Thomas are used as benchmarks for who would be appointed, those are code words, and nobody should mistake this, for saying that the governor would appoint people who would overturn Roe v. Wade. I mean, just -- it's very clear to me.
And I would appoint people who have a philosophy that I think would make it quite likely that they would uphold Roe v. Wade.
LEHRER: Is the vice president right? Is that a code word for overturning Roe v. Wade?
BUSH: Sounds like the vice president is not very right many times tonight. I just told you the criteria in which I'll appoint judges. I've had a record of appointing judges in the state of Texas. That's what a governor gets to do. A governor gets to name Supreme Court judges, and I've given...
BUSH: He also reads all kinds of things into my tax plan and into my Medicare plan. And I just want the viewers out there to listen to what I have to say about it.
GORE: That's a yes; it is a code.
LEHRER: Reverse the question. What code phrases should we read by what you said about what kind of people you will appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court?
GORE: It'd be very likely that they'd uphold Roe v. Wade. But I do believe it's wrong to use a litmus test.
But if you look at the history of a lower court judge's rulings, you can get a pretty good idea of how they're going to interpret questions. Now, a lot of questions are first impression. And these questions that have been seen many times comes up in a new context.
And so, but -- you know, this is a very important issue, because a lot of young women in this country take this right for granted, and it could be lost.
GORE: It is on the ballot in this election, make no mistake about it.
BUSH: I'll tell you what kind of judges he'll put on there. He'll put liberal, activist judges who will use their bench to subvert the legislature. That's what he'll do.
GORE: That's not right.
LEHRER: New subject, new question.
Vice President Gore, if President Milosevic of Yugoslavia refuses to accept the election results and leave office, what action, if any, should the United States take to get him out of there?
GORE: Well, Milosevic has lost the election. His opponent, Kostunica, has won the election. It's overwhelming. Milosevic's government refuses to release the vote count. There's now a general strike going on. They're demonstrating.
I think we should support the people of Serbia and the -- Yugoslavia, as they call Serbia plus Montenegro, and put pressure in every way possible to recognize the lawful outcome of the election.
The people of Serbia have acted very bravely in kicking this guy out of office. Now he is trying to not release the votes, and then go straight to a so-called run-off election without even announcing the results of the first vote.
Now, we've made it clear, along with our allies, that when Milosevic leaves, then Serbia will be able to have a more normal relationship with the rest of the world. That is a very strong incentive that we have given them to do the right thing.
GORE: Bear in mind, also, Milosevic has been indicted as a war criminal, and he should be held accountable for his actions.
Now, we have to take measured steps, because the sentiment within Serbia is, for understandable reasons, still against the United States, because their nationalism has led -- even if they don't like Milosevic, they still have some feelings lingering from the NATO action there. So we have to be intelligent in the way we go about it.
But make no mistake about it: We should do everything we can to see that the will of the Serbian people, expressed in this extraordinary election, is done. And I hope that he'll be out of office very shortly.
LEHRER: Governor Bush, one minute.
BUSH: Well, I'm pleased with the results of the elections, as the vice president is. It's time for the man to go. And it means that the United States must have a strong diplomatic hand with our friends in NATO. That's why it's important to make sure our alliances are as strong as they possibly can be, to keep the pressure on Mr. Milosevic.
But this'll be an interesting moment for the Russians to step up and lead as well, be a wonderful time for the -- for the Russia to step into the Balkans and convince Mr. Milosevic it's in his best interest and his country's best interest to leave office. The Russians have got a lot of sway in that part of the world, and we'd like to see them use that sway to encourage democracy to take hold.
And so it's an encouraging election. It's time for the man to leave.
LEHRER: But what if he doesn't leave, Mr. Vice -- what if all the things, all the diplomatic efforts, all the pressure from all over the world and he still doesn't go? Is this the kind of thing, to be specific, that you as president would consider the use of U.S. military force to get him gone?
GORE: In this particular situation, no. Bear in mind that we have a lot of sanctions in force against Serbia right now. And the people of Serbia know that they can escape all those sanctions if this guy is turned out of power.
Now, I understand what the governor has said about asking the Russians to be involved. And under some circumstances, that might be a good idea. But being as they have not yet been willing to recognize Kostunica as the lawful winner of the election, I'm not sure that it's right for us to invite the president of Russia to mediate this dispute there, because we might not like the result that comes out of that.
They currently favor going forward with a runoff election. I think that's the wrong thing. I think the governor's instinct is not necessarily bad, because we have worked with the Russians in a constructive way, in Kosovo, for example, to end the conflict there. But I think we need to be very careful in the present situation before we invite the Russians to play the lead role in mediating.
BUSH: Well, obviously we wouldn't use the Russians if they didn't agree with our answer, Mr. Vice President.
GORE: Well, they don't.
BUSH: But let me say this to you: I wouldn't use force. I wouldn't use force.
LEHRER: You wouldn't use force?
LEHRER: Why not?
BUSH: Because it's not in our national interest to use force in this case. I would keep pressure. I would use diplomacy.
There's a difference between what the president did, who I supported, in Kosovo and this. And it's up for the people in this region to figure out how to take control of their country.
LEHRER: New question.
How would you go about, as president, deciding when it was in the national interest to use U.S. force? Generally.
BUSH: Well, if it's in our vital national interests. And that means whether or not our territory -- our territory is threatened, our people could be harmed, whether or not our alliances -- our defense alliances are threatened, whether or not our friends in the Middle East are threatened. That would be a time to seriously consider the use of force.
Secondly, whether or not the mission was clear, whether or not it was a clear understanding as to what the mission would be.
Thirdly, whether or not we were prepared and trained to win, whether or not our forces were of high morale and high standing and well-equipped.
And finally, whether or not there was an exit strategy.
I would take the use of force very seriously. I would be guarded in my approach. I don't think we can be all things to all people in the world. I think we've got to be very careful when we commit our troops.
The vice president and I have a disagreement about the use of troops. He believes in nation-building. I would be very careful about using our troops as nation builders.
BUSH: I believe the role of the military is to fight and win war and, therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place.
And so I take my responsibility seriously. And it starts with making sure we rebuild our military power.
Morale in today's military is too low. We're having trouble meeting recruiting goals. We met the goals this year, but in the previous years, we have not met recruiting goals. Some of our troops are not well-equipped. I believe we're overextended in too many places.
And, therefore, I want to rebuild the military power. It starts with a billion dollar pay raise for the men and women who wear the uniform, a billion dollars more than the president recently signed into law, to make sure our troops are well-housed and well-equipped; bonus plans to keep some of our high-skilled folks in the services; and a commander in chief who clearly sets the mission, and the mission is to fight and win war, and, therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place.
LEHRER: Vice President Gore, one minute.
GORE: Let me tell you what I'll do. First of all, I want to make it clear: Our military is the strongest, best-trained, best- equipped, best-lead fighting force in the world and in the history of the world. Nobody should have any doubt about that, least of all our adversaries or potential adversaries.
I -- if you entrust me with the presidency, I will do whatever is necessary in order to make sure our forces stay the strongest in the world.
In fact, in my 10-year budget proposal, I have set aside more than twice as much for this purpose as Governor Bush has in his proposal.
GORE: Now, I think we should be reluctant to get involved in someplace, in a foreign country. But, if our national security is at stake, if we have allies, if we've tried every other course, if we're sure military action will succeed, and if the costs are proportionate to the benefits, we should get involved.
Now, just because we don't want to get involved everywhere doesn't mean we should back off anywhere it comes up.
And I disagree with the -- with the proposal that maybe only when oil supplies are at stake that our national security is at risk. I think that there are situations, like in Bosnia or Kosovo where there's a genocide, where our national security is at stake there.
BUSH: I agree that our military is the strongest in the world today. That's not the question. The question is will it be strongest in years to come? And the warning signs are real. Everywhere I go around the campaign trail, I see people who -- moms and dads whose son or daughter may wear the uniform, and they tell me about how discouraged their son and daughter may be.
A recent poll was taken amongst 1,000 enlisted personnel, as well as officers, over half of whom are going to leave the service when their time of enlistment is up. The captains are leaving the service.
There is a problem, and it's going to require a new commander in chief to rebuild the military power.
The other day, I was honored to be flanked by Colin Powell and General Norman Schwarzkopf, who stood by my side and agreed with me.
BUSH: They said we could, even though we're the strongest military, that if we don't do something quickly, we don't have a clearer vision of the military, if we don't stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road. And I'm going to prevent that. I'm going to rebuild our military power. It's one of the major priorities of my administration.
LEHRER: Vice President Gore, how should the voters go about deciding which one of you is better suited to make the kind of decisions we've been -- whether it's Milosevic or whether it's whatever, in the military and foreign policy area?
GORE: Well, they should look at our proposals and look at us as people and make up their own minds.
When I was a young man, I volunteered for the Army. I served my country in Vietnam. My father was a senator who strongly opposed the Vietnam War. I went to college in this great city and most of my peers felt against the war, as I did.
But I went anyway, because I knew if I didn't, somebody else in the small town of Carthage, Tennessee, would have to go in my place.
I served for eight years in the House of Representatives, and I served on the Intelligence Committee, specialized in looking at arms control. I served for eight years in the United States Senate and served on the Armed Services Committee. For the last eight years, I've served on the National Security Council.
And when the conflict came up in Bosnia, I saw a genocide in the heart of Europe, with the most violent war on the continent of Europe since World War II. Look, that's where World War I started, in the Balkans.
GORE: My uncle was a victim of poison gas there. Millions of Americans saw the results of that conflict.
We have to be willing to make good, sound judgments.
And, incidentally, I know the value of making sure our troops have the latest technology. The governor's proposed skipping the next generation of weapons. I think that's a big mistake, because I think we have to stay at the cutting edge.
LEHRER: Governor, how would you advise the voters to make the decision on this issue?
BUSH: Well, I think you've got to look at how one has handled responsibility in office, whether or not -- it's the same in domestic policy as well, Jim, whether or not you've got the capacity to convince people to follow, whether or not one makes decisions based on sound principles, or whether or not you rely upon polls and focus groups on how to decide what the course of action is.
We've got too much polling and focus groups going on in Washington today. We need decisions made on sound principles.
And I've been the governor of a big state. I think one of the hallmarks of my relationship in Austin, Texas, is, is that I've had the capacity to work with both Republicans and Democrats. I think that's an important part of leadership. I think of what it means to build consensus. I've shown I know how to do so.
As a matter of fact, tonight in the audience there's one elected state senator who's a Democrat, a former state rep who's a Democrat, couple of -- one statewide officer's a Democrat. I mean, there's a lot of Democrats who are here in the debate too...
LEHRER: Go ahead.
GORE: Go ahead.
BUSH: ... because they want to show their support, that shows I know how to lead.
And so the fundamental answer to your question: Who can lead, and who has shown the ability to get things done?
GORE: If I could say one other thing...
LEHRER: All right. We're way over the three and a half minutes. Go ahead.
GORE: I think one of the key points in foreign policy and national security policy is the need to reestablish the old-fashioned principle that politics ought to stop at the water's edge.
When I was in the United States Congress, I worked with former President Reagan to modernize our strategic weaponry and to pursue arms control in a responsible way. When I was in the United States Senate, I worked with former President Bush, your father, and was one of only a few Democrats in the Senate to support the Persian Gulf War.
I think bipartisanship is a national asset, and we have to find ways to reestablish it in foreign policy and national security policy.
LEHRER: In a word, do you have a problem with that?
BUSH: Yes, why haven't they done it in seven years?
LEHRER: New subject, new question.
Should the voters of this election, Vice President Gore, see this on domestic area -- in the domestic area, as a major choice between competing political philosophies?
GORE: Oh, absolutely. This is a very important moment in the history of our country.
Look, we've got the biggest surpluses in all of American history. The key question that has to be answered in this election is, will we use that prosperity wisely in a way that benefits all of our people and doesn't go just to the few? Almost half of all the tax cut benefits, as I said, under Governor Bush's plan, go to the wealthiest 1 percent.
I think we have to make the right and responsible choices.
GORE: I think we have to invest in education, protecting the environment, health care, a prescription drug benefit that goes to all seniors, not just to the poor; under Medicare, not relying on HMOs and insurance companies.
I think that we have to help parents and strengthen families by dealing with the kind of inappropriate entertainment material that families are just heartsick that their children are exposed to.
I think we have got to have welfare reform taken to the next stage.
I think that we have got to balance the budget every single year, pay down the national debt. And, in fact, under my proposal, the national debt will be completely eliminated by the year 2012.
I think we need to put Medicare and Social Security in a lockbox. The governor will not put Medicare in a lockbox. I don't think it should be used as a piggy bank for other programs. I think it needs to be moved out of the budget and protected. I'll veto anything that takes money out of Social Security or Medicare for anything other than Social Security or Medicare.
Now, the priorities are just very different. I'll give you a couple of examples: For every new dollar that I propose for spending on health care, Governor Bush spends three dollars for a tax cut of the wealthiest 1 percent. Now, for every dollar that I propose to spend on education, he spends five dollars on a tax cut for the wealthiest 1 percent. Those are very clear differences.
LEHRER: Governor, one minute.
BUSH: Man's practicing fuzzy math again. There's differences.
Under Vice President Gore's plan, he's going to grow the federal government in the largest increase since Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1965. We're talking about a massive government, folks. We're talking about adding to or increasing 200 new programs, 200 programs, 20,000 new bureaucrats. Imagine how many IRS agents it's going to take to be able to figure out his targeted tax cut for the middle class that excludes 50 million Americans.
There is a huge difference in this campaign. He says he's going to give you tax cuts; 50 million of you won't receive it. He said, in his speech, he wants to make sure the right people get tax relief. That's not the role of a president to decide right and wrong. Everybody who pays taxes ought to get tax relief.
After my plan is in place, the wealthiest Americans will pay a higher percentage of taxes than they do today, and the poorest of Americans, 6 million families, 7 million people, won't pay any tax at all.
It is a huge difference. It's the difference between big, exploding federal government that wants to think on your behalf and a plan that meets priorities and liberates working people to be able to make decisions on your own.
GORE: Let me just say, Jim, you haven't heard the governor deny these numbers. He's called them phony, he's called them fuzzy. But the fact remains, almost 30 percent of his proposed tax cut goes only to Americans that make more than $1 million per year.
GORE: More money goes to the...
GORE: Can I have a rebuttal here?
LEHRER: Sure, but I just want to see if he buys that.
BUSH: No, here, let me just tell you what the facts are. The facts are, after my plan, the wealthiest of Americans pay more taxes of the percentage of the whole than they do today. Secondly, if you're a family of four making $50,000 in Massachusetts, you get a 50 percent tax cut.
BUSH: Let me give you one example, the Strunk family in Allentown, Pennsylvania, I campaigned with them the other day. They make $51,000 combined income. They pay about $3,800 in taxes -- or $3,500 in taxes. Under my plan, they get $1,800 of tax relief. Under Vice President Gore's plan, they get $145 of tax relief.
Now you tell me who stands on the side of the rich? You ask the Strunks.
GORE: Well, he's...
BUSH: You ask the Strunks...
GORE: If I could get my...
BUSH: ... whose plan -- it makes more sense. And there's a difference of opinion. He would rather spend the Strunks' $1,800, and I would rather the Strunks spend their own money.
LEHRER: Do you see it that way, Vice President Gore?
GORE: No, I don't. And I'm not going to go to calling names on his facts, I'm just going to tell you what the real facts are. The analysis that he's talking about leaves out more than half of the tax cuts that I have proposed. And if you just add the numbers up -- he still hasn't denied it -- he spends more money on a tax cut for the wealthiest 1 percent than all of his new proposals for prescription drugs, health care, education and national defense combined. Now those are the wrong priorities -- $665 billion over 10 years for the wealthiest 1 percent.
Now -- and as I said, almost 30 percent of it goes to Americans that make more than $1 million per year.
GORE: Every middle class family is eligible for a tax cut under my proposal.
Let me give you some specific examples: I believe that college tuition up to $10,000 a year ought to be tax deductible so middle class families can choose to send their children to college. I believe that all seniors should be able to choose their own doctors and get prescription drugs from their own pharmacist with Medicare paying half the bill. I believe that parents ought to have more choices with charter schools and public school choice to send their kids always to a safe school. I think we need to make education the number one priority in our country and treat teachers like the professionals that they are, and that's why I have made it the number one priority in my budget, not a tax cut for the wealthiest.
BUSH: Let me talk about tax cuts one more time. This is a man whose plan excludes 50 million Americans.
GORE: Not so.
BUSH: He doesn't believe that -- well, take for example the marriage penalty. If you itemize your tax return, you get no marriage penalty relief. He picks and chooses. He decides whether -- who the right people are. It's a fundamental difference of opinion.
I want my fellow Americans to hear one more time. We're going to spend $25 trillion -- we're going to collect $25 trillion of revenue over the next 10 years, and we're going to -- projected to spend $21 trillion. Now, surely, we can send 5 percent of that back to you all who pay the bills. There is a problem.
I want to say something, Jim, wait a minute.
BUSH: This man's been disparaging my plan with all this Washington-fuzzy math.
I want you to hear a problem we've got in America. If you're a single mother making $22,000 a year and you've got two children, under this tax code, for every additional dollar you make, you pay a higher marginal rate on that dollar than someone making $200,000 a year. And that is not right.
BUSH: And so my plan drops the rate from 15 percent to 10 percent and increases the child credit from $500 to $1,000 to make the code more fair for everybody, not just a few...
LEHRER: All right.
BUSH: ... not just, you know, a handful. Everybody who pays taxes ought to get some relief.
LEHRER: All right, having cleared that up...
... we're going to a new question: education.
Governor Bush, both of you have promised dramatically -- to change dramatically public education in this country. But of the public money spent on education, only 6 percent of it is federal money.
LEHRER: You want to change 100 percent of public education with 6 percent of the money. Is that possible?
BUSH: Well, I tell you, we can make a huge difference by saying, "If you receive federal money, we expect you to show results."
Let me give you a story about public ed, if I might, Jim. It's about KIPP Academy in Houston, Texas. It's a -- it's a charter school run by some people from Teach for America, young folks that said, "Well, I'm going to do something good for my country. I want to teach." A guy named Michael runs the school.
It's a school full of so-called at-risk children. It's how we, unfortunately, label certain children. It means basically they can't learn. It's a school of strong discipline and high standards. It's one of the best schools in Houston.
And here are the key ingredients: high expectations, strong accountability. What Michael says is, "Don't put all these rules on us. Just let us teach and hold us accountable for every grade."
BUSH: And that's what we do. And as a result, these young, mainly Hispanic, youngsters are some of the best learners in Houston, Texas. That's my vision for public education all around America.
Many of you viewers don't know, but Laura and I sent our girls to public school. They went to Austin High School. And many of the public schools are meeting the call.
But, unfortunately, a lot of schools are trapping children in schools that just won't teach, and we'll change that.
Here's the role of the federal government: One is to change Head Start into a reading program.
Two is to say that if you want to access reading money, you can do so because the goal is for every single child to learn to read. There must be K-2 diagnostic tools, teacher training money available.
Three, we got to consolidate federal programs to free districts, to free the schools to encourage innovators like Michael to let schools reach out beyond the confines of the current structure to recruit -- teach-for-the-children-type teachers.
Four, we're going to say, if you receive federal money, measure third grade, fourth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade, seventh grade, eighth grade, and show us whether or not children are learning to read and write and add and subtract. And, if so, there will be a bonus plan and, and -- but if not, instead of continuing to subsidize failure, the money will go to the parent so the parent can choose a different public school. Federal money attributed to the child will go to the parent for a public school or a charter school or a tutorial or a Catholic school.
What I care about is children, and so does Michael Feinberg. And you know what? It can happen in America with the right kind of leadership.
LEHRER: Vice President Gore?
GORE: Look, we agree on a couple of things on education.
GORE: I strongly support new accountability; so does Governor Bush. I strongly support local control; so does Governor Bush.
I'm in favor of testing as a way of measuring performance, every school, every school district, have every state test the children. I've also proposed voluntary national tests in the fourth grade and eighth grade, and a form of testing that the governor has not endorsed. I think that all new teachers ought to be tested, including in the subjects that they teach.
We've got to recruit 100,000 new teachers, and I have budgeted for that. We've got to reduce the class size so that the student who walks in has more one-on-one time with the teacher. We ought to have universal preschool. And we ought to make college tuition tax deductible up to $10,000 a year.
I'd like to tell you a quick story. I got a letter today, as I left Sarasota, Florida. I'm here with a group of 13 people from around the country who helped me prepare and we had a great time. But two days ago we ate lunch at a restaurant and the guy who served us lunch sent -- got me a letter today. His name is Randy Ellis (ph), he has a 15-year-old daughter named Kailey (ph), who's in Sarasota High School. Her science class was supposed to be for 24 students. She is the 36th student in that classroom, sent me a picture of her in the classroom. They can't squeeze another desk in for her, so she has to stand during class.
I want the federal government, consistent with local control and new accountability, to make improvement of our schools the number one priority so Kailey (ph) will have a desk and can sit down in a classroom where she can learn.
LEHRER: All right. So, having heard the two of you, voters have just heard the two of you, what's the difference? What's the choice between the two of you on education, Governor?
BUSH: Well, the first is -- the difference is, there is no new accountability measures in Vice President Gore's plan. He says he's for voluntary testing. You can't have voluntary testing. You must have mandatory testing. You must say that if you receive money, you must show us whether or not children are learning to read and write and add and subtract. That's the difference.
You may claim you've got mandatory testing, but you don't, Mr. Vice President. And that is a huge difference.
Testing is the cornerstone of reform. You know how I know? Because it's the cornerstone of reform in the state of Texas. Republicans and Democrats came together and asked the question, "What can we do to make our public education the best in the country?" And we've done a long way working together to do so.
And the cornerstone is to have strong accountability and return for money. And in return for flexibility, we're going to ask you to show us whether or not -- and we ask to post the results on the Internet. We encourage parents to take a look at the comparative results of schools. We've got a strong charter school movement that I signed the legislation to get started in the state of Texas.
I believe if we find poor children trapped in schools that won't teach, we need to free the parents. I think we need to expand education savings accounts. That's something the vice president's vice presidential running mate supports.
Now, there's big differences of opinion. He won't support freeing local districts from the strings of federal money.
LEHRER: All right. How do you see the differences?
GORE: Well, first of all, I do have mandatory testing. I think the governor may not have heard what I said clearly. The voluntary national test is in addition to the mandatory testing that we require of states, all schools, all school districts, of students themselves, and required teacher testing, which goes a step farther than Governor Bush has been willing to go.
GORE: Here are a couple of differences, though, Jim: Governor Bush is in favor of vouchers, which take taxpayer money away from public schools and give them to private schools that are not accountable for how the money is used and don't have to take all applicants. Now, private schools play a great role in our society.
All of our children have gone to both public schools and private schools. But I don't think private schools should have a right to take taxpayer money away from public schools at a time when Kailey Ellis (ph) is standing in that classroom.
Let me give you another example. I went to a school in Dade County Florida where the facilities are so overcrowded, the children have to eat lunch in shifts with the first shift for lunch starting at 9:30 in the morning.
Look, this is a funding crisis all around the country. There are fewer parents of school-age children in the -- as a percentage of the voting population and there's the largest generation of students ever.
We're in an information age when learning is more important than ever. Ninety percent of our kids go to public schools. We have to make it the number one priority: modernize our schools, reduce the class size, recruit new teachers, give every child a chance to learn with one-on-one time in a quality -- high-quality, safe school. If it's a failing school, shut it down and reopen it under a new principal, with a turnaround team of specialists, the way Governor Jim Hunt does in North Carolina.
GORE: Here's another difference: The governor, if it's a failing school, would leave the children in that failing school for three years and then give a little bit of money to the parents, a down payment on a down payment for private school tuition, and pretend that that would be enough for them to go out and go to a private school.
BUSH: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
LEHRER: Thirty seconds, Governor. OK.
BUSH: OK. First of all, most good governance is at the state level. See, here's the mentality: I'm going to make the state do this; I'm going to make the state do that.
All I'm saying is, if you spend money, show us results, and test every year, which you do not do, Mr. Vice President. You do not test every year. You can say you do into cameras, but you don't, unless you've changed your plan here on the stage.
GORE: I didn't say that. I didn't say that.
BUSH: Secondly -- and you need to test every year, because that's where you determine whether or not children are progressing to excellence.
Secondly, one of the things that we've got to be careful about in politics is throwing money at a system that has not yet been reformed. More money is needed, and I'd spend more money. But step one is to make sure we reform the system, to have the system in place that leaves no child behind, to stop this business about asking, "Gosh, how old are you?" If you're ten, we're going to put you here, if you're 12, we'll put you here, and start asking the question, "What do you know?" And if you don't know what you're supposed to know, we'll make sure you do early and before it is too late.
LEHRER: New question. We've been talking about a lot of specific issues. It's often said that, in the final analysis, about 90 percent of being the president of the United States is dealing with the unexpected, not with issues that came up in the campaign.
LEHRER: Vice President Gore, can you point to a decision, an action you have taken, that illustrates your ability to handle the unexpected, the crisis under fire, et cetera?
GORE: When the action in Kosovo was dragging on, and we were searching for a solution to the problem, our country had defeated the adversary on the battlefield without a single American life being lost in combat, but the dictator Milosevic was hanging on, I invited the former prime minister of Russia to my house and took a risk in asking him to get personally involved, along with the head of Finland, to go to Belgrade and to take a set of proposals from the United States that would constitute, basically, a surrender by Serbia. But it was a calculated risk that paid off.
Now, I could probably give you some other examples of decisions over the last 24 years. I have been in public service for 24 years, Jim. And throughout all that time the people I have fought for have been the middle class families, and I have been willing to stand up to powerful interests like the big insurance companies, the drug companies, the HMOs, the oil companies. They have good people and they play constructive roles sometimes, but sometimes they get too much power.
GORE: I cast my lot with the people even when it means that you have to stand up to some powerful interests who are trying to turn the policies and the laws to their advantage.
That's -- you can see it in this campaign. The big drug companies support Governor Bush's prescription drug proposal. They oppose mine because they don't want to get Medicare involved because they're afraid that Medicare will negotiate lower prices for seniors who currently pay the highest prices of all.
LEHRER: Governor Bush?
BUSH: Well, I've been standing up to big Hollywood, big trial lawyers -- what was the question? It was about emergencies, wasn't it?
LEHRER: Well, it was about -- well, well, OK.
BUSH: I -- you know, as governor, one of the things you have to deal with is catastrophe. I can remember the fires that swept Parker County, Texas. I remember the floods that swept our state. I remember going down to Del Rio, Texas.
And I've got to pay the administration a compliment. James Lee Witt of FEMA has done a really good job of working with governors during times of crisis.
But that's the time when you're tested not only -- it's a time to test your meddle. It's the time to test your heart, when you see people whose lives have been turned upside down. It broke my heart to go to the flood scene in Del Rio where a fellow and his family got completely uprooted.
BUSH: The only thing I knew to do was to get aid as quickly as possible, which we did with state and federal help, and to put my arms around the man and his family and cry with them.
But that's what governors do. Governors are oftentimes found on the front-line of catastrophic situations.
LEHRER: New question.
There can be all kinds of crises. Governor, question for you. There could be a crisis, for instance, in the financial area.
LEHRER: The stock market could take a tumble. There could be a failure of a major financial institution. What is your general attitude toward government intervention in such events?
BUSH: Well, it depends, obviously. But what I would do, first and foremost, is I would get in touch with the Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, to find out all the facts and all the circumstances. I would have my secretary of treasury be in touch with the financial centers, not only here, but at home. I would make sure that key members of Congress were called in to discuss the gravity of the situation. And I would come up with a game plan to deal with it.
That's what governors end up doing. We end up being problem- solvers. We come up with practical, common-sense solutions for problems that we're confronted with.
And, in this case, in case of a financial crisis, I would gather all the facts before I made the decision as to what the government ought or ought not to do.
LEHRER: Vice President Gore?
GORE: Yes, first, I want to compliment the governor on his response to those fires and floods in Texas. I accompanied James Lee Witt down to Texas when those fires broke out.
GORE: And FEMA has been a major flagship project of our reinventing government efforts. And I agree, it works extremely well now.
On the international financial crisis that come up. My friend, Bob Rubin, former secretary of treasury is here. He's a very close adviser to me and a great friend in all respects.
I have had a chance to work with him and Alan Greenspan and others on the crisis following the collapse of the Mexican peso, when the Asian financial crisis raised the risk of worldwide recession that could affect our economy, and starting -- and now, of course, the euro's value has been dropping, but seems to be under control.
But it started for me -- in the last eight years -- when I had the honor of casting the tie-breaking vote to end the old economic plan here at home and put into place a new economic plan that has helped us to make some progress -- 22 million new jobs and the greatest prosperity ever. But it's not good enough. And my attitude is, you ain't seen nothing yet. We need to do more and better.
LEHRER: So, Governor, would you agree there is no basic difference here on intervening -- federal government intervening in what might be seen by others to be a private financial crisis, if it's that --
BUSH: No, there's no difference on that. There is a difference, though, as to what the economy has meant. I think the economy has meant more for the Gore and Clinton folks than the Gore and Clinton folks has meant for the economy.
BUSH: I think most of the economic growth that has taken place is a result of ingenuity and hard work and entrepreneurship. And that's the role of government, is to encourage that.
But in terms of the response to the question, no.
GORE: Can I comment on that?
LEHRER: You may.
GORE: See, you know, I think that the American people deserve credit for the great economy that we have. And it's their ingenuity. I agree with that.
But, you know, they were working pretty hard eight years ago, and they had ingenuity eight years ago. The difference is, we've got a new policy, and instead of concentrating on tax cuts mostly for the wealthy, we want -- I want tax cuts for the middle class families, and I want to continue the prosperity and make sure that it enriches not just the few, but all of our families.
Look, we have gone from the biggest deficits to the biggest surpluses; we've gone from a triple dip recession during the previous 12 years to a tripling of the stock market. Instead of high unemployment, we've got the lowest African-American and lowest Latino unemployment rates ever in history, and 22 million new jobs.
But it's not good enough. Too many people have been left behind. We have got to do much more. And the key is job training, education, investments in health care and education, the environment, retirement security.
And, incidentally, we have got to preserve Social Security. And I am totally opposed to diverting $1 out of every $6 away from the Social Security trust fund, as the governor has proposed, into the stock market.
I want new incentives for savings and investment for the young couples who are working hard, so they can save and invest on their own on top of Social Security, not at the expense of Social Security as the governor proposes.
BUSH: Two points: One, a lot of folks are still waiting for that 1992 middle class tax cut. I remember the vice president saying, "Just give us a chance to get up there, we're going to make sure you get tax cuts." It didn't happen. And now he's having to say it again. It's -- they've had their chance to deliver a tax cut to you.
Secondly, the surest way to bust this economy is to increase the role and the size of the federal government. The Senate Budget Committee did a study of the vice president's expenditures. They projected it could conceivably bust the budget by $900 billion. That means he's either going to have to raise your taxes by $900 billion or go into the Social Security surplus for $900 billion.
This is a plan that is going to increase the bureaucracy by 20,000 people. His targeted tax cut is so detailed, so much fine print, that it's going to require numerous IRS agents.
No, we need somebody to simplify the code, to be fair, to continue prosperity by sharing some of the surplus with the people who pay the bills, particularly those at the bottom end of the economic ladder.
GORE: If I could respond, Jim, what he's quoting is not the Senate Budget Committee, it is a partisan press release by the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee that's not worth the government -- the taxpayer-paid paper that it's printed on.
GORE: Now, as for 20,000 new bureaucrats, as you call them, you know the size of the federal government will go down in a Gore administration. In the Reinventing Government Program, you just look at the numbers. It is 300,000 people smaller today than it was eight years ago.
Now, the fact is you're going to have a hard time convincing folks that we were a whole lot better off eight years ago than we are today. But that's not the question. The question is, will we be better off four years from now than we are today?
And as for the surest way to threaten our prosperity, having a $1.9 trillion tax cut, almost half of which goes to the wealthy, and a $1 trillion Social Security privatization proposal, is the surest way to put our budget into deficit, raise interest rates and put our prosperity at risk.
BUSH: I can't let the man -- I can't let the man continue with fuzzy math. It's $1.3 trillion, Mr. Vice President. It's going to go to everybody who pays taxes. I'm not going to be one of these kinds of presidents that says, "You get tax relief and you don't." I'm not going to be a pick-and-chooser.
BUSH: What is fair is everybody who pays taxes ought to get relief.
LEHRER: I thought we cleared this up a while ago.
New question on Social Security: Both of you have Social Security reform plans, and we could spend the rest of the evening and two or three other evenings talking about them in detail.
GORE: Suits me.
LEHRER: We're not going to do that. But...
Many experts, including Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan, Vice President Gore, say that it will be impossible for either of you, essentially, to keep the system viable on its own during the coming baby boomer retirement onslaught without either reducing benefits or increasing taxes.
LEHRER: Do you disagree?
GORE: I do disagree, because if we can keep our prosperity going, if we can continue balancing the budget and paying down the debt, then the strong economy keeps generating surpluses. And here's what I would do. Here is my plan.
I will keep Social Security in a lockbox, and that pays down the national debt. And the interest savings, I would put right back into Social Security. That extends the life of Social Security for 55 years.
Now, I think that it's very important to understand that cutting benefits under Social Security means that people like Winifred Skinner, from Des Moines, Iowa who's here, would really have a much harder time, because there are millions of seniors who are living almost hand to mouth. And you talk about cutting benefits. I don't go along with it. I am opposed to it.
I am also opposed to a plan that diverts one out of every six dollars away from the Social Security trust fund. You know, Social Security is a trust fund that pays the checks this year with the money that's paid into Social Security this year.
GORE: The governor wants to divert one out of every six dollars off into the stock market, which means that he would drain $1 trillion out of the Social Security trust fund over the -- in this generation -- over the next 10 years. And Social Security, under that approach, would go bankrupt within this generation. His leading adviser on this plan actually said that would be OK, because then the Social Security trust fund could start borrowing. It would borrow up to $3 trillion.
Now, Social Security has never done that. And I don't think it should do that. I think it should stay in a lockbox. And I'll tell you this: I will veto anything that takes money out of Social Security for privatization or anything else other than Social Security.
BUSH: Well, I thought it was interesting on the two minutes he spent about minute and a half on my plan, which means he doesn't want you to know that what he's doing is loading up IOUs for future generations. He puts no real assets in the Social Security system.
The revenues exceed the expenses in Social Security to the year 2015, which means all retirees are going to get the promises made. So for those of you who he wants to scare into the voting booth to vote for him, hear me loud and clear: A promise made will be a promise kept.
And you bet we want to allow younger workers to take some of their own money. See that's a difference of opinion. The vice president thinks it's the government's money. The payroll taxes are your money. You ought to put it in prudent, safe investments, so that $1 trillion, over the next 10 years, grows to be $3 trillion. The money stays within the Social Security system. It's a part of the -- it's a part of the Social Security system.
BUSH: He keeps claiming it's going to be out of Social Security. It's your money, it's a part of your retirement benefits, it's a fundamental difference between what we believe.
I want you to have your own asset that you can call your own. I want you to have an asset that you can pass on from one generation to the next. I want to get a better rate of return for your own money than the paltry 2 percent that the current Social Security trust gets today.
So Mr. Greenspan missed the -- I thought, missed an opportunity to say there's a third way, and that is to get a better rate of return on the Social Security monies coming into the trust.
There's $2.3 trillion of surplus that we can use to make sure younger workers have a Social Security plan in the future -- if we're smart, if we trust workers and if we understand the power of the compounding rate of interest.
GORE: Here's the difference: I give a new incentive for younger workers to save their own money and invest their own money, but not at the expense of Social Security -- on top of Social Security.
My plan is Social Security-plus. The governor's plan is Social Security-minus. Your future benefits would be cut by the amount that's diverted into the stock market. And if you make bad investments, that's too bad.
But even before then the problem hits, because the money contributed to Social Security this year is an entitlement. That's how it works. And the money is used to pay the benefits for seniors this year.
If you cut the amount going in, $1 one out of every $6, then you have to cut the value of each check by $1 out of every $6, unless you come up with the money from somewhere else.
GORE: I would like to know from the governor -- I know we're not supposed to ask each other questions, but I'd be interested in knowing, does that trillion dollars come from the trust fund or does it come from the rest of the budget?
BUSH: No. There's enough money to pay seniors today in the current affairs of Social Security. The trillion comes from the surplus. Surplus is more money than needed.
Let me tell you what your plan is: It's not Social Security- plus, it's Social Security plus huge debt, is what it is. You leave future generations with tremendous IOUs.
It's time to have a leader that doesn't put off, you know, tomorrow what we should do today. It's time to have somebody to step up and say, "Look, let's let younger workers take some of their own money and, under certain guidelines, invest it in the private markets." The safest of federal investments yields 4 percent. That's twice the amount and rate of return than the current Social Security trust does.
There's a fundamental difference of opinion here, folks. Younger worker after younger worker hears my call that says I trust you. And you know what, the issue is changing, because seniors now understand that the promise made will be a promise kept, but younger workers now understand we'd better have a government that trusts them. And that's exactly what I'm going to do.
GORE: Could I do a quick response to that, Jim?
LEHRER: We're almost -- let's...
GORE: This is a big issue. This is a big issue. Could we do another round on it?
LEHRER: We're almost out of time.
GORE: Just briefly. When FDR established Social Security, they didn't call them IOUs, they called it the full faith and credit of the United States. If you don't have trust in that, I do.
And if you take it out of the surplus in the trust fund, that means the trust fund goes bankrupt in this generation, within 20 years.
LEHRER: Go ahead.
BUSH: This is a government that thinks a 2 percent rate of return on your money is satisfactory. It's not. This is a government that says younger workers can't possibly have their own asset.
We need to think differently about the issue. We need to make sure our seniors get the promise made.
But I'm going to tell you, if we don't trust younger workers to manage some of their own money with the Social Security surplus to grow from $1 trillion to $3 trillion, it's going to be impossible to bridge the gap without -- what Mr. Gore's plan will do, causing huge payroll taxes or major benefit reductions.
LEHRER: New question.
BUSH: Yes, sir.
LEHRER: Governor Bush, are there issues of character that distinguish you from Vice President Gore?
BUSH: Well, the man loves his wife, and I appreciate that a lot, and I love mine. And the man loves his family a lot, and I appreciate that because I love my family.
I think the thing that discouraged me about the vice president was uttering those famous words, "no controlling legal authority." I felt like that there needed to be a better sense of responsibility of what was going on in the White House.
I believe that -- I believe they've moved that sign, "The buck stops here," from the Oval Office desk to "The buck stops here" on the Lincoln Bedroom. And that's not good for the country. It's not right.
We need to have a new look about how we conduct ourselves in office. There's a huge trust. I see it all the time when people come up to me and say, "I don't want you to let me down again."
BUSH: And we can do better than the past administration has done. It's time for a fresh start. It's time for a new look. It's time for a fresh start after a season of cynicism.
And so, I don't know the man well, but I've been disappointed about how and his administration has conducted the fund-raising affairs. You know, going to a Buddhist temple and then claiming it wasn't a fund-raiser is just not my view of responsibility.
LEHRER: Vice President Gore?
GORE: Well, I think we ought to attack our country's problems, not attack each other. I want to spend my time making this country even better than it is, not trying to make you ought to be a bad person. You may want to focus on scandals; I want to focus on results.
As I said a couple of months ago, I stand here as my own man, and I want you to see me for who I really am. Tipper and I have been married for 30 years. We became grandparents a year and a half ago; we've got four children. I have devoted 24 years of my life to public service.
And I've said this before and I'll say it again: If you entrust me with the presidency, I may not be the most exciting politician, but I will work hard for you every day, I will fight for middle class families and working men and women, and I will never let you down.
LEHRER: So, Governor, what are you saying when you mention the fund-raising scandals or the fund-raising charges that involved Vice President Gore? What are saying that the voters should take from that that's relevant to this election?
BUSH: I just think they ought to factor it in when they make their decision in the voting booth. And do a better job...
LEHRER: In what way?
BUSH: Pardon me?
LEHRER: In what way?
BUSH: Well, I just, you know, I think that people need to be held responsible for the actions they take in life. I think that...
LEHRER: Go ahead, excuse me.
BUSH: Well, I think that that's part of the need for a cultural change. We need to say that each of us need to be responsible for what we do. And people in the highest office of the land must be responsible for decisions they make in life.
And that's the way I've conducted myself as governor of Texas. And that's the way I'll conduct myself as president of the United States, should I be fortunate enough to earn your vote.
LEHRER: Are you saying all of this is irrelevant, Vice President Gore, to this office?
GORE: No, I think -- I think the American people should take into account who we are as individuals, what our experience is, what our positions on the issues are, what our proposals are.
I am asking you, again, to see me for who I really am. I'm offering you my own vision, my own experience, my own proposals. And incidentally, one of them is this: This current campaign financing system has not reflected credit on anybody in either party. And that's one of the reasons that I've said before, and I'll pledge here tonight, if I'm president, the very first bill that Joe Lieberman and I will send to the United States Congress is the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill.
And the reasons it's that important is that all of the other issues, whether prescription drugs for all seniors that are opposed by the drug companies, or the Patients' Bill of Rights to take the decisions away from the HMOs and give them to the doctors and nurses opposed by the HMOs and insurance companies, all of these other proposals are going to be a lot easier to get passed for the American people if we limit the influence of special interest money and give democracy back to the American people.
GORE: And I wish Governor Bush would join me this evening in endorsing the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill.
LEHRER: Governor Bush?
BUSH: You know, this man has no credibility on the issue. As a matter of fact, I read in the New York Times where he said he cosponsored the McCain-Feingold campaign fundraising bill, but he wasn't in the Senate with Senator Feingold.
And so I -- look, I'm going to -- what you need to know about me is I'm going to uphold the law. I'm going to have an attorney general that enforces the law; that if the time for -- the time for campaign funding reform is after the election, this man has outspent me, the special interests are outspending me, and I am not going to lay down my arms in the middle of a campaign for somebody who has got no credibility on the issue.
GORE: Well, well...
LEHRER: Senator McCain said in -- excuse me, one sec, Vice President Gore.
LEHRER: Senator McCain said in August that it doesn't matter which one of you is president of the United States in January, there's going to be blood on the floor of the United States Senate and he's going to tie up the United States Senate until campaign finance reform is passed that includes a ban on soft money.
First of all, would you support that effort by him, or would you sign a bill that is finally passed that included soft...
BUSH: I would support an effort to ban corporate soft money and labor union soft money so long as there was dues check off. I've campaigned on this ever since the primaries. I believe there needs to be instant disclosure on the Internet as to who's given to whom. I think we need to fully enforce the law. I mean I think we need to have an attorney general that says if the laws are broken, we'll enforce the law. Be strict about it. Be firm about it.
GORE: Look, Governor Bush, you have attacked my character and credibility and I am not going to respond in kind.
GORE: I think we ought to focus on the problems and not attack each other.
And one of the serious problems, hear me well, is that our system of government is being undermined by too much influence coming from special interest money. We have to get a handle on it.
And like John McCain, I have learned from experience. And it's not a new position for me; 24 years ago, I supported full public financing of all federal elections. And anybody who thinks I'm just saying it'll be the first bill I'll send to the Congress, I want you to know...
BUSH: Let me just say one thing.
GORE: ... I care passionately about this, and I will fight until it becomes law.
BUSH: I want people to hear what he just said. He is for full public financing of congressional elections. I'm absolutely, adamantly opposed to that. I don't want the government financing congressional elections.
LEHRER: Time up.
LEHRER: I would just say on that wonderful note of disagreement, we have to stop here.
And we want to go now to your closing statements. Governor Bush is first. You have two minutes.
BUSH: Thank you, Jim. Thank the University of Massachusetts. Mr. Vice President, thank you. It's been a good, lively exchange. Obviously, we have huge differences of opinion.
Mine is that I want to empower people in their own lives. I also want to go to Washington to get some positive things done. It's going to require a new spirit, a spirit of cooperation. It's going to require the ability of a Republican president to reach out across the partisan divide and to say to Democrats, "Let's come together to do what's right for America." It's been my record as governor of Texas. It'll be how I conduct myself if I'm fortunate enough to earn your vote as president of the United States.
I want to finally get something done on Medicare.
BUSH: I want to make sure prescription drugs are available for all seniors. And I want seniors to have additional choices when it comes to choosing their health care plans.
I want to finally get something done on Social Security. I want to make sure the seniors have the promise made will be a promise kept. But I want younger workers to be able to manage some of their own money, some of their own payroll taxes in the private sector under certain guidelines to get a better rate of return on your own money.
I want to rebuild our military to keep the peace. I want to have a strong hand when it comes to -- when it comes to the United States and world affairs. I don't want to try to put our troops in all places at all times. I don't want to be the world's policeman. I want to be the world's peacemaker by having a military of high morale and a military that's well-equipped. I want to have antiballistic missile systems to protect ourselves and our allies from a rogue nation that may try to hold us hostage or blackmail a friend.
I also want to make sure education system fulfills its hope and promise. I've had a strong record of working with Democrats and Republicans in Texas to make sure no child is left behind. I understand the limited role of the federal government, but it can be a constructive role when it comes to reform, by insisting that there be strong accountability systems.
And my intentions are to earn your vote and earn your confidence. I'm asking for your vote. I want you to be on my team.
And for those of you working, thanks. Thanks from the bottom of my heart.
And for those of you making up your mind, I'd be honored to have your support.
LEHRER: Vice President Gore, two minutes.
GORE: I want to thank everybody who watched and listened tonight because this is, indeed, a crucial time in American history. We're at a fork in the road. We have this incredible prosperity, but a lot of people have been left behind.
And we have a very important decision to make: Will we use the prosperity to enrich all of our families and not just the few?
GORE: One important way of looking at this is to ask, "Who are you going to fight for?" Throughout my career in public service, I have fought for the working men and women of this country, middle class families. Why? Because you are the ones who have the hardest time paying taxes, the hardest time making ends meet. You are the ones who are making car payments and mortgage payments and doing right by your kids.
And a lot of times, there are powerful forces arrayed against you. And make no mistake about it, they do have undue influence in Washington, D.C., and it makes a difference if you have a president who will fight for you.
I know one thing about the position of president: It's the only position in our Constitution that's filled by an individual who is given the responsibility to fight not just for one state or one district or the well-connected or wealthy, but to fight for all of the people, including especially those who most need somebody who will stand up and take on whatever powerful forces might stand in the way.
There's a woman named Winifred Skinner here tonight from Iowa. I mentioned her earlier. She's 79 years old, she has Social Security. I'm not going to cut her benefits or support any proposal that would. She gets a small pension. But in order to pay for her prescription drug benefits, she has to go out seven days a week, several hours a day, picking up cans. She came all the way from Iowa in a Winnebago with her poodle in order to attend here tonight.
GORE: And I want to tell her, I am going to fight for a prescription drug benefit for all seniors. And I'm going to fight for the people of this country for a prosperity that benefits all.
LEHRER: And we will continue this dialogue next week, on October the 11th, at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Caroline. The format then will be more informal, more conversational with the two candidates seated at a table with me.
The third will be October 17th, at Washington University in St. Louis. And that will follow a town hall-type format.
Also, ahead, the day after tomorrow, on October 5, there's the 90-minute debate between the Democratic candidate for vice president, Senator Joe Lieberman, and the Republican candidate, former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. It will be held at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. The moderator will be Bernard Shaw of CNN.
Thank you, Governor Bush, Vice President Gore. See you next week.
And for now, from Boston, thank you and good night.