Jewish World Review August 10, 2004 / 25 Menachem-Av, 5764
Not so similar after all
The campaign trails of President Bush and Sen. Kerry overlapped Wednesday when both candidates held rallies less than a mile away from each other in Davenport, Iowa. While that may be a first for the two campaigns on the trail, it certainly was not the first time that the candidates have overlapped on issues.
Leading up to what is arguably the most important election since 1980, President Bush and Sen. Kerry have mostly offered similar policy positions on the most divisive issues of our time. Both have supported nearly identical plans for winning the war in Iraq, preserving tax breaks for the middle class and limiting government spending in an effort to cut the deficit in half by the end of this decade.
But there are, in fact, several important differences that separate President Bush from Sen. Kerry. For me, costly free-trade agreements and the outsourcing of American jobs to cheap foreign labor markets are two principle issues at which voters should take a closer look.
Sen. Kerry has said that, if elected, he would review the free-trade agreements signed by President Bush. But Sen. Kerry voted for these agreements and even voted to grant the President fast-track authority in negotiating those pacts. It remains to be seen whether Sen. Kerry has really changed his stance on free trade.
Despite his concern about the impact of outsourcing on our economy, his plan to limit the practice is only a beginning. Sen. Kerry's proposal calls for changing the tax code to discourage outsourcing, eliminating special tax breaks on foreign profits and granting more tax credits for companies that create new manufacturing jobs in the United States.
President Bush still considers outsourcing to be a new way of trading with other countries and a plus for the economy in the long run, as his chief economic adviser Gregory Mankiw declared in February. President Bush also plans to continue pursuing those costly free trade agreements that have resulted in the loss of countless jobs and a wider trade deficit. The administration's decision to not move ahead before the election with the Central American Free Trade Agreement has far more to do with politics than the President's preferences.
On immigration, President Bush and Sen. Kerry have both supported pro-immigration proposals, however their specific plans are different: There's bad and there's worse. In January, President Bush supported a guest worker program that would "match any willing employer with any willing employee." His massive immigration reform bill never made it to Congress, and the President hasn't brought it up much in his speeches since.
Sen. Kerry takes this issue a step further, supporting a path to citizenship for many of our country's 8 to 12 million illegal aliens. He has even pledged to send Congress an immigration reform bill within his first 100 days in office. Surely, Sen. Kerry has not fully examined the consequences of such an action. At least he's begun talking about security for our borders and our ports.
Health care may be the domestic issue in this election in which the candidates differ most. The President and Sen. Kerry have endorsed remarkably different approaches to lowering the surging costs of health care and expanding coverage to the nation's uninsured.
Sen. Kerry has embraced a proposal that his campaign says will expand coverage to an additional 27 million of the more than 40 million uninsured Americans through tax credits, by shifting large claims to Washington and expanding programs like Medicaid. That plan, however, comes with a price tag of at least $650 billion over the next 10 years, which should make it much tougher for him to halve the deficit as he says he would.
President Bush's proposal, on the other hand, will cost less than $100 billion over the same period, but it would insure at most 5 million uninsured Americans. The President's more limited plan emphasizes malpractice reform, consumer choice and extra tax credits.
The issues that will most affect our standard of living and our quality of life are, in my opinion: foreign policy, free trade, corporate outsourcing, education, health care, border and port security, and immigration. President Bush and Senator Kerry will have to be far more forthright and forthcoming on those issues to win my vote.
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08/02/04: The middle-class squeeze
07/19/04: Immigration crisis must be taken seriously
07/13/04: Terminating American jobs
07/06/04: The Road to True Sovereignty
06/22/04: Losing our advantage
06/14/04: Mexican trucking issue underscores flaws of NAFTA
06/07/04: Patriot games
06/01/04: Our first line of defense still needs attention
05/17/04: Wasting minds
05/11/04: Outsourcing of jobs leads to information leaks
05/04/04: Labor issues getting some much-needed attention
04/27/04: Outsourcing the jobs debate
04/20/04: Revisiting the final frontier
04/11/04: The source of terror
03/22/04: Our new consumer economy
03/15/04: Finding a balance between free trade and protecting our national interest
03/09/04: Choice between Bush and Kerry isn't much of a choice
03/02/04: Election stakes are getting higher
02/24/04: Help wanted: Free trade policies hurt working Americans
02/17/04: All the news that's fit
02/04/04: American jobs must be protected
01/03/04: Dangerously dependent
01/27/04: Who's working for working Americans?
01/20/04: U.S. selling itself short with "free" trade
01/12/04: Bush on the wrong track with immigration idea
01/05/04: Business leaders should resolve to lead by example in 2004
12/29/03: Immigration needs stricter, not looser, controls
12/11/03: Trade deficit with China a big problem
12/09/03: Let our children be children
12/01/03: Broken borders pose a serious health risk
11/25/03: Free trade costs plenty
11/18/03: European Union is playing a dangerous game
11/10/03: This time, it's not the economy
11/04/03: Overseas outsourcing is an alarming trend
10/28/03: Spending so much time 'making a living', we don't live
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08/06/03: An attack on progressive thought
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07/22/03: Real earnings, or really creative earnings?
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07/01/03: Border disorder
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03/24/03: Delusional Chirac may be a thorn in coalition's side, but new alliances are forming in response to 21st-Century threats without him and UN
03/18/03: Bush critics offer little more than hyperbole
03/11/03: Geopolitical visibility
03/04/03: Freedom: Our best export
02/27/03: Guns, butter and greasing the way
02/18/03: Looking for a silver lining
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12/30/02: No need to be so negative as new year approaches
12/23/02: NY's AG deserves credit for settlement
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10/29/02: Earnings estimates offer some hope
10/22/02: Economy's strength tied to national security
10/17/02: Harvey Pitt, get real!
10/08/02:Are we experiencing the fall before the rise?
10/01/02: Concerns about earnings are justified
09/24/02: Business leaders must abandon stall tactics
09/17/02: Wall Street's reality check
There's no better time for leaders to show resolve
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