- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 27, 2004

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry yesterday promised to create 10 million jobs in four years as he laid out an economic plan that cuts corporate taxes and taxes on middle-income families, but raises taxes on high-income wage earners.

“I won’t tell you that we can bring back every lost industry or every lost job or protect every job. But my plan will enable our economy to create jobs and to keep more good jobs here in America,” he said.

Creating new jobs and stopping the loss of existing jobs to other nations has become the defining economic issue early in the campaign, as job growth has lagged behind the rest of the recovery.

Mr. Kerry’s 10 million jobs pledge tops that of President Clinton, who at the beginning of his administration said the economy would create 8 million jobs — a goal he topped by 3 million. During President Bush’s term, meanwhile, the economy has shed more than 2 million jobs.

Speaking in Detroit in the first of a series of economic policy speeches he plans this spring, Mr. Kerry said he will cut the federal deficit in half in four years by reducing the size of the federal government.

Mr. Kerry also criticized Mr. Bush for his three tax-cut packages — including one the Massachusetts senator himself voted for in 2002.

“He tried tax giveaways for the wealthy and the budget went into deficit and the country lost jobs. So he tried it again, and the budget went deeper into deficit and the country lost more jobs. He tried it a third time, and the country went into record deficit,” Mr. Kerry said.

Those three bills were the 2001 $1.3 trillion tax cut, the 2002 post-September 11 stimulus package and the 2003 $350 billion tax cut. Mr. Kerry voted against the 2001 and 2003 bills, but for the 2002 package, which passed with broad bipartisan support. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, even attended the signing ceremony with President Bush.

Mr. Kerry’s speech yesterday focused on corporate taxes and recovering jobs lost overseas.

• He wants to end a provision that allows U.S. companies to defer U.S. tax payments on income earned by foreign subsidiaries, as an incentive for those companies to move jobs back to the United States.

• He would use the $12 billion savings from closing the deferment provisions to reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 33.25 percent.

• He would also offer a tax credit to cover new jobs in manufacturing and other industries that are losing work to other nations.

“Some may be surprised to hear a Democrat calling for lower corporate tax rates. The fact is, I don’t care about the old debates. I care about getting the job done and creating jobs here in the United States of America,” he said.

Republicans said the new plan was just another flip-flop in philosophy on Mr. Kerry’s part.

Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, who serves on the Senate Finance Committee with Mr. Kerry, said he supports Mr. Kerry’s corporate tax cuts, calling it “the single most important and effective tax change we can make for our economy today.”

“I must say, however, that I’m surprised by Senator Kerry’s support because Senator Kerry voted to increase this very same tax in 1993. If Senator Kerry had believed then what he says today, American corporations would have enjoyed a better competitive position compared with their foreign counterparts over the last decade,” he said.

Republicans also questioned the non-tax-cut parts of Mr. Kerry’s plan, saying they will hurt U.S. competitiveness.

Mr. Kerry used yesterday’s speech to answer Mr. Bush’s charge from earlier this week that the senator wants to raise taxes on Americans, including his past expressed support for a 50-cent gas tax increase. Mr. Kerry said those claims are misleading and that he will enact a tax increase only for those with incomes of more than $200,000 a year.

“The real difference between us on taxes could not be more simple. I will roll back the tax cuts for those who make over $200,000 a year so we can invest in health care and education, because that’s the right thing to do for America,” Mr. Kerry said.

Using Michigan as a platform for his jobs announcement was no coincidence. The state has a higher unemployment rate than the national average and is seen as a critical prize in November’s election.

In 2000, Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore won the state with 51 percent of the vote. Mr. Bush has already spent $1.3 million on ads in the state, the third-highest total, behind Florida and Pennsylvania.

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, a Republican, said Michigan should be a Bush campaign target this year because Mr. Kerry’s overall platform won’t go over well in the state.

The United Auto Workers endorsed Mr. Kerry this week, but Mr. Cox pointed to a 2002 news release from that union that blasted the Massachusetts senator for supporting higher fuel efficiency standards. The union said legislation sponsored by Mr. Kerry would hurt autoworkers’ jobs by “making it easier to outsource small-car production to other countries.”

“Clearly he’s going to overregulate us to death,” Mr. Cox said. “A friend of mine who works for the auto industry calls him the ‘Boston strangler’ because he’s going to strangle the domestic auto industry with regulations.

“He’s a threat to Michigan. I think when the voters of Michigan start to learn more about him, that’s going to become apparent,” he said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide