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Dueling economic agendas: Clinton and Dole face off over divergent economic platforms.

A year ago, the media predicted that this presidential campaign would cause a bitter racial division with candidates exploiting the race card. But today, race is not the wedge issue it was predicted to be, at least up to now. Instead, economics has taken center stage.

Bob Dole was never much of a tax-cutting supply-sider. But sensing a weakness in the Democratic armor as a result of economic insecurity, he's suddenly become a prophet of the philosophy. Dole now promises that it is both the path to "soaring prosperity" and a balanced budget.

The idea behind supply-side economics is simple: If high taxes discourage savings and capital investment, and if these are the keys to economic growth, then one can Cut taxes, accelerate economic growth and generate new revenue for the government, all at the same time.

In theory, no one can dispute the concept. However, supporters and critics part company when it comes to determining how much savings, investment and government revenues are generated by a reduction in taxes. More importantly, skeptics ask whether the gain is ever likely to be great enough to balance a large budget deficit.

Dole's plan centers on a tax CUt package of $548 billion. This would be achieved by an across-the-board 15% cut in federal taxes, reducing the top rate on capital gains by one-half and offering a $500 tax credit for children up to 18 years of age. Individual retirement accounts would be allowed for wives of wage earners and a similar account would be allowed as a means of accumulating tax-free money for educational purposes. Finally, the portion of income subject to social security taxes would be lowered.

Clinton offers a different philosophy. Rather than propose a new economic agenda, the President defends his policies of the last four years. His tax plan was embodied in his 1993 economic package, which saw government spending cut, taxes on the wealthiest 1.2% raised, earned-income tax credits expanded and the federal deficit reduced. The President now proposes an additional $110 billion cut in taxes, along with a $1,500 tuition tax credit and up to a $10,000 college tuition IRA-type account for educational purposes.

At the same time that he has pushed for an increase in the minimum wage, Clinton has adopted a position on welfare similar to that of the Republicans. In fact, with only minor modifications, the welfare bill he signed into law is a Republican one. His philosophy for economic growth centers on opportunity, responsibility and reinventing government.

Once the campaign rhetoric ends and the dust settles, we are likely to be worse off in the long run if Dole's tax cut becomes a reality. With the economy growing at 4.8%, there is hardly room for tax cuts to stimulate growth any faster without uncovering an inflationary monster. The net result would be higher interest rates, nervous markets, slower growth and a much bigger deficit. A recent report by the Census Bureau says that children compose 48% of the chronically poor. The harsh welfare reform legislation written by Republicans and signed by Clinton is likely to make this situation worse. It's unfortunate that a portion of the nation's future is being sacrificed for political expediency.
Who's Got the Plan?

Economic Policy Dole's Policy Objectives Clinton's
Policy Objectives

Federal Taxes Proposes a $548 billion 1993 economic
plan cut
 tax cut. Cut federal taxes government
spending by $250
 15% across-the-board. billion and
raised taxes on
 Three-year phase in Estimated wealthiest
 cost: $406 billion. expanded earned
Proposes a $110
 billion tax cut
aimed at
 education and
child care.

Family Tax Credit $500 per child up to age 18. Expanded
earned-income tax
 Estimated cost: $75 billion. credit for 15
increased taxes
 on wealthiest
 Proposes $500
per child.

Education Tax Allow tax-free investment of $1,500 tuition
tax credit
Breaks family tax credit in IRA-type first two years
 educational account. Estimated IRA-type at
 cost: $13 billion. account.

Formula for Economic Cut taxes, reduce regulations, Create greater
Growth reduce share of government responsibility
 in economy. Increase savings community.
 rate. Balanced budget and government,
make it work
 lower taxes go hand-in-hand. better, focus
on creating
Lower trade
invest in

Thomas D. Boston, a professor of economics at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is a member of the B.E. Board of Economists
COPYRIGHT 1996 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:presidential contenders, Bill Clinton and Bob Dole
Author:Boston, Thomas D.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Column
Date:Nov 1, 1996
Previous Article:Racing toward the finish line: African American Democrats and Republicans eye the November races.
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