AUSTINTOWN, Ohio — Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry said yesterday that President Bush’s tax policies have helped accelerate the flow of companies moving out of the United States to take advantage of tax savings.
He also attacked Mr. Bush anew on the war in Iraq, saying there is evidence that long before the administration argued that aluminum tubes found to be headed to Iraq were evidence of Iraq’s continued nuclear program, top scientists had given an alternate explanation.
In response to a question from the audience at a town- hall meeting, he said the key finding from the September 11 commission’s report was the “dramatic, clear, unequivocal statement of the 9/11 commission that Saddam Hussein and Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, al Qaeda, whatsoever.”
“It underscores the degree to which America has been misled, and, most importantly, the degree to which this president took his eye off the real target, which is Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, and the terrorists in Afghanistan,” he said, vowing: “I will never take my eye off them.”
He pointed to a New York Times article yesterday that said intelligence officials had raised questions about the aluminum tubes, which the White House argued were for uranium centrifuges, a year before the push for war. Scientists had said the tubes could be for small artillery rockets.
Mr. Kerry said that, too, “raises serious questions about whether or not the administration was open and honest in making the case for Iraq.”
Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for the Bush campaign, countered that Mr. Kerry “had access to the same intelligence as the president,” and pointed to Mr. Kerry’s statement on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in August 2003 that his vote to authorize war was based on Iraq’s noncompliance with inspections, not its nuclear capabilities.
Mr. Kerry has promised to talk about national security even as he switches gears to set the stage for the remaining two presidential debates. Yesterday, he told voters in this part of Ohio, which has been particularly hard-hit economically, that Mr. Bush has lost touch with them.
“The president has been here many times. I think he was here yesterday. But the question is, does he really see and know what’s going on in the lives of middle-class Americans, the people struggling to get into the middle class?” he said.
He promised to reverse Mr. Bush’s tax policies and raise taxes on those who make more than $200,000 a year, while targeting tax cuts for health care and education to those who make less.
He then took aim at corporate-tax policies, arguing that business taxes have gone down to where 40 percent to 45 percent of corporations “pay no tax at all, even though they’re making a profit.”
Mr. Schmidt, though, said Mr. Kerry hasn’t offered a workable plan on any of those issues. “His plans for higher taxes and new spending will halt our economic growth and destroy jobs, and his own advisers have said that he can’t pay for all his new spending, which means higher taxes on all Americans,” the Bush spokesman said.
At an evening church service at East Mount Zion Baptist Church in Cleveland, Mr. Kerry told the Bible parable of the good Samaritan, and compared Mr. Bush to the priest and the Levite in the story who did not stop to help the injured man on the side of the road.
“I don’t want to reach, but I’ll tell you this — when I look at what happened over these last four years, these people who talk about doing good, they have crossed over to the other side, and they have walked on by,” he said.
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