How will it affect you?
Presidential campaigns used to be easy, at least in the 20th century. The Soviet Union loomed, a malevolent spectre over every American debate, and candidates won and lost based on their perceived abilities to deal with the threat. In 1975, Gerald Ford proclaimed Poland to be free and started his campaign on a downward spiral. The Mondale campaign snickered at Reagan’s Star Wars baby, leaving the candidate open to charges of wimpiness. What difference a decade makes. Flush with the victory in California of Proposition 13, which mandated voter approval of tax increases, taxpayers began flexing their ballot box muscle. And the breakup of the Soviet Union catapulted domestic issues, long shunted aside, into the forefront of American politics. That is the situation facing Bill Clinton, Bob Dole and Ross Perot — the later reprising his 1992 Spoiler role — as they enter the final month of this presidential campaign. American City &County has asked the candidates for their views on several issues affecting local governments. Their responses:
PEROT Perot would cut federal income taxes and abolish the IRS, creating a paperless system instead. Raising taxes would be a last resort; cuts in domestic discretionary spending would be considered.
“We must have a new system that is more fair and less complicated. It will be tested and optimized with the latest computer technology before it is implemented. We will cut spending before we raise taxes and create an annual financial report to show Americans that we are following our plan. We would require that any future tax increases be approved in the next election to impose discipline on spending. We must carefully, thoughtfully and rationally make the changes that are necessary to put our house in order by redesigning, testing and making Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security work in a cost-effective manner; requiring the highest ethical standards for officials at all levels of government; pursuing real campaign finance reform, a balanced budget amendment and a federal budget that actually balances; creating a new tax system and a dynamic, growing job base with millions of Americans working at well-paying jobs; and pursuing trade agreements that promote jobs in the United States and allow us to trade on equal footing with foreign countries.
American cities and counties will be an integral part of making these goals a reality. The key to our success reviving our communities, improving our educational system and solving our problems at the level of government closest to the problem.”
Clinton In his 1993 deficit reduction plan, Clinton raised taxes on the top 1 percent of taxpayers. In his 1997 budget, he proposed $107 billion in personal tax cuts over six years. These include a $300-per-child tax credit for families making $75,000 or less. Clinton also proposes increasing some business taxes and vetoed a Republican-drafted balanced budget bill that lowered the tax rate on capital gains from 28 percent to 19.8 percent, claiming that the wealthy would be the primary beneficiaries.
“One of the primary goals of any meaningful tax reform should be balancing the budget. We won enactment of the largest deficit-cutting plan in history — cutting the deficit by more than half within four years. But meaningful tax reform cannot be achieved on the backs of those least able to carry it — our poor and our elderly. We must not explode the deficit, and we must not have a big tax shift from people making over $200,000 to all people making under $200,00. That’s not fair.”
DOLE As a senator, Dole championed a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, which would require that Congress and the president pass a balanced budget by 2002. The measure lost by one vote in the Senate. Additionally, Dole has presented a plan that would overhaul the current tax system, cutting income taxes by 15 percent and reducing capital gains taxes to 14 percent.
“I have always said that balancing the budget is my first priority, but we can balance the budget and cut taxes. The country deserves to do better. Better than years of slow growth. Better than stagnant wages and falling family incomes that Americans have known over the last four years. Better than the rising taxes that are squeezing American families.”
Environmental Policy/Takings Legislation
PEROT Perot supports takings legislation that would require compensation in cases where the owner has purchased his or her land before the environmental concern was known.
“We should not be rewarding speculators who purchase sensitive land in the hope that they can reap a profit from the federal government. Compensation would have to be determined on a case-by-case basis.”
Clinton The Clinton administration does not support House-passed takings legislation. It is also opposed to attempts to weaken the Endangered Species Act, the Yucca mountain nuclear waste storage project and attempts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration. Clinton vetoed the Republican budget, which would have repealed parts of the Endangered Species Act and rolled back the ban on use of DDT.
“The environment cannot protect itself. And if a presidential veto is required to protect it, then that’s what I’ll provide. I will veto legislation requiring that government pay property owners billions of dollars every time we act to defend our national heritage of seashores or wetlands or open spaces. If that law were on the books in every state in the country, local governments would completely have to give up zoning or be bankrupt every time they tried to change a zoning law. That is why every time it has been on the ballot in a state — and it’s been on the ballot 20 times, including in conservative Republican states — it has been defeated. Working together with states and local governments, [we will] minimize the act’s economic impact on the lives of private landowners, while upholding our responsibility to future generations to leave this planet and its species in better condition than we found them.”
DOLE Dole argues that the Endangered Species Act is “seriously flawed” and counterproductive and says fear-mongeting and centralized control have harmed efforts toward real environmental progress. The Republican platform calls for a thorough review of the lands owned by the federal government with the goal of transferring lands that can best be managed by state, county and municipal governments. It also states that the United States should continue its commitment to addressing global climate change in a prudent and effective manner that does not punish the U.S. economy. Compliance with reduction of greenhouse gas emissions should be voluntary, according to Dole. In the past year, Dole has voted for decreasing the number of substances, that, when spilled, must be reported by businesses to the Environmental Protection Agency; limiting classification of new endangered species; allowing the government to sell federally owned parks and wilderness areas to reduce the deficit; and opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration.
“The anti-reform fog machine is already clogging the air with claims that these efforts will have dire effects on the health and safety of people and on the environment. Everyone wants to protect human health, safety and the environment. But the strongest laws do not always mean the most costly laws.”
PEROT Perot supports measures that would establish criteria for granting the right to immigrate into the United States.
“We must return immigration to a logical, orderly process where people fill out their applications and wait for approval. We must make sure illegal immigrants stop storming our borders. We must establish the correct criteria, such as our need for certain job skills or education, for granting the right to immigrate into the United States.”
Clinton Clinton would support limited cutbacks in legal immigration and opposes efforts to deny social services, like medical care and education, to illegal immigrants. He signed a law increasing border patrols by 50 percent and signed an executive order that would deny federal contracts to businesses employing illegal aliens. Clinton opposes legislation that would make English the official language of the United States.
“We support a legal immigration policy that is pro-family and pro-work by making naturalization easier for those eligible for citizenship. In addition, the administration will continue to protect those who fear persecution in their homeland. We are working to reform immigration policies by deploying more Border Patrol agents than any previous administration, increasing the number of agents at the southwest border by 40 percent since 1993 and strengthening anti-smuggling efforts to reduce the criminal transport and exploitation of illegal aliens; removing a record 51,600 criminal and other illegal aliens from this country in 1995 alone; and reimbursing states for a share of the costs of incarcerating criminal aliens and assisting with education and medical care costs.
DOLE Republicans in Congress have proposed reforms to current immigration laws that they say will reduce illegal immigration by 50 percent. The Republican plan doubles the number of Border Patrol agents over five years; makes illegal immigrants ineligible for most public benefits like welfare and Medicaid; and expedites the deportation of illegal aliens.
Dole supports California legislation denying social services and welfare benefits to illegal aliens. The Republican platform calls for a constitutional amendment or constitutionally valid legislation declaring that children born in the United States of parents who are not legally present in the United States or who are not long-term residents are not automatically citizens.
Dole also would support legislation declaring English ‘ official language of the United States.
“I view [the California legislation] not as a specific plan, but as a message to Washington and the president, to the Congress, to the executive branch, that if you cannot control your borders, then the states should not be required to pick up the tab. We are a nation of immigrants, but, somehow, I think that the American people have said that there are limits.”
PEROT Perot supports a system that would make the states laboratories in the health care reform business.
“We must understand that the ideal health care system for New York state will be quite different from the ideal health care system in Montana. Our states must be used as laboratories where different health care reform proposals can be tested and closely scrutinized. Once this is done, we can see which reforms will save the most money while giving Medicaid recipients the best health care. The federal government must then allow states to choose the best, most cost-effective proven programs for their people.”
As part of his efforts to balance the budget, Clinton is proposing to cut $124 billion in spending on Medicare by 2002. He opposes a Republican plan to award block grants to states as an alternative to federal Medicaid money.
“We have improved the quality of health care services provided to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in managed care through a number of initiatives, including the establishment of the Foundation for Accountability and the Medicare/Medicaid Health Plan Employer Data and Information program. We are also working with the states to test innovative approaches to Medicaid benefits and services, while preserving coverage guarantees for pregnant women, children, people with disabilities and older Americans. We will continue to expand the range of health plans available to Medicare beneficiaries to include new managed care options that will compete on the basis of cost and quality and work to provide unprecedented flexibility to states to administer Medicaid and eliminate the requirement that states must seek a federal waiver to establish Medicaid managed care programs. In the past three years, we have saved $15 billion just by fighting health care fraud and abuse. We must not abandon our fundamental obligation to the people who need Medicare and Medicaid.”
DOLE Dole supports the Republican plan to replace Medicaid with federal block grants to the states. He has also called on Clinton to form a bipartisan committee charged with revamping Medicare in an effort to keep the program solvent.
“According to the report of the Medicare trustees — three of whom are members of the president’s cabinet — if no actions are taken, Medicare will [be nonexistent] by the time it celebrates its 37th anniversary in the year 2002. I have called upon the president to join Republicans in a bipartisan effort to preserve, improve and protect Medicare. We saved Social Security with bipartisan cooperation in 1983, and we can do the same with Medicare.”