- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 3, 2002

Al Gore yesterday criticized President Bush's economic plan as "Enron accounting" and said recovery efforts should include investment in renewable energy technologies and more high-speed Internet connections for Americans.
The former vice president, author of the environmentalist book "Earth in the Balance," said Mr. Bush has employed a faulty economic recovery plan that emphasizes tax cuts.
"Investing in renewable, energy-efficient technologies will not only create new jobs and open new markets; it will give us new options as we confront the other problems that we're now facing," Mr. Gore said in a speech to the Brookings Institution in Washington.
The president, he said, should "challenge the telecommunication and computing industries" to provide Americans with "new data services that require high bandwidth."
"Both of these priorities are really at the heart of how America manages the big transition that the world's economy is going through right now. There are all kinds of exciting new technologies that can create millions of good new jobs, put the United States back in a position of leadership in the world economy and solve lots of problems at the same time," Mr. Gore said.
In his third speech in recent weeks, Mr. Gore derided Mr. Bush's 10-year, $1.3 trillion tax cut. Mr. Gore also questioned the president's political motivation for demanding that the United States deal with Iraq before the midterm elections.
"How can it be essential that we go to war prior to the election but absolutely fine to wait until after the election before we take any action to deal with the economy?" he said.
Mr. Gore asked that Mr. Bush re-evaluate the administration's tax cut by following an example set by President Reagan.
"I think he ought to do what President Reagan did and say, 'Let's reassess this.' I think he ought to have an open mind and accept responsibility for the fact that what he thought would happen, what he said would happen ain't happening. The economy's getting worse rapidly," Mr. Gore said.
"We ought to be making some tough choices and reassessing what parts of the plan work and what parts don't work. That's what President Reagan did. That's what President Bush should do."
The call for opening discussion about Mr. Bush's tax cut drew a swift response from House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican.
"Gore's speech hearkens back to the days of record tax hikes on seniors, small businesses and the middle class. He hasn't invented a new solution to the nation's domestic problems, so he sticks with the old favorite: more spending," Mr. Armey said.
"Under the Clinton-Gore budgets, taxes were always the first solution, fiscal discipline always the last."
Mr. Gore's speech was largely ignored by news outlets.
His comments were part of a larger strategy to position himself for the 2004 presidential race by focusing on the nation's flagging economy. He said the president and the Congress "should undertake a complete reassessment of our current economic blueprint because what we're doing today is not working." He compared Mr. Bush to "a lost driver" who won't stop to ask for directions.
Mr. Gore implied that the Bush administration's economic policy was dishonest and bordered on the illegal, citing the now-bankrupt Enron corporation, which used questionable accounting practices.
"Unfortunately, the president's budget and economic plan are based on what you might call, for lack of a better phrase, 'Enron accounting.' And specifically, what I mean by that and I mean this in all deadly seriousness they are projecting revenues that will never appear, and they are hiding expenditures that will appear," he said.
The former vice president said Mr. Bush has "irresponsibly" sought to "create the impression that our economic problems are primarily due to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001."
"The problem with that is that there's not a single serious and objective economist that agrees with the president's assertion. Unrelated factors principally including bad economic policy were clearly responsible for most of the economic damage that we have suffered," Mr. Gore said.
That contention drew a stern reply from a Republican National Committee spokesman.
"It's a point of fact that September 11th took billions of dollars out of our economy," Kevin Sheridan said. "That's not really up for debate. With all due respect to the former vice president, he should talk to any economist in America and they could set him straight."

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