- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 19, 2000

Vice President Gore's credibility did not fare well in Tuesday's third and final presidential debate. Poll numbers after the debate confirmed that Americans may be impressed with Mr. Gore's eloquence, but they just don't believe a word of what he says. Nor should they.

In his zeal to pillory the pharmaceutical industry, Mr. Gore asserted that "the big drug companies" are "now spending more money on advertising and promotion … than they are on research and development." In fact, according to a July study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, drug companies spent $21 billion on R&D; in 1998, compared to between $5.8 billion and $8.3 billion for advertising and promotion.

Mr. Gore also repeated Tuesday the claim that "our military is the strongest in the entire history of the world." This assertion is completely refuted by the Clinton-Gore administration's own 2001 budget, which reveals that inflation-adjusted U.S. defense spending in 2001 will be more than $100 billion less than it was in 1989.

In an attempt to deny Gov. George W. Bush's assertion that Mr. Gore favors bigger government, the vice president shamelessly repeated one of his most disingenuous statements. Since 1992, Mr. Gore said, "The federal government has been reduced in size by more than 300,000 people." What he failed to mention was the fact that more than 70 percent of federal civilian employment reduction has occurred in the Defense Department, hardly the appropriate strategy for creating a military that is the strongest in the history of the world.

Mr. Gore dissembled on education as well. He repeated his focus group-tested pledge to "give every middle class family a $10,000-a-year tax deduction for college tuition." He neglected to mention that the net effect of this promise would be merely to increase the annual tax benefit for college education from $2,000, which has already been legislated, to $2,800. Mr. Gore's campaign obviously learned long ago that a "10,000-a-year tax deduction" sounds much better than an $800 tax cut, and his television ads and debate pronouncements have been relentlessly exploiting this rhetorical deviousness ever since.

Mr. Gore also said he "see[s] a day in the United States of America where all of our public schools are considered excellent world-class." Wasn't that the vision in 1990 when the Goals 2000 program was implemented? Indeed, it was an official goal for American students to be "first in the world in mathematics and science achievement." Well, it's 2000 now. And according to the latest international study, which compared 21 countries, U.S. 12th graders ranked 16th in science, 19th in math and dead last in physics.

When confronted with his failure to reform Medicare during his eight years as vice president, Mr. Gore bragged that in 1993 he had "cast the tie-breaking vote to add 26 years to the life of Medicare." True. What he did not say was that the Senate vote in question raised Medicare payroll taxes by tens of billions of dollars. No doubt the taxpayers are thoroughly grateful for that. In the case of Medicare, as well, Mr. Gore stands for the status quo. He does so in the face of overwhelming evidence crying out for reform. He is smart enough to know this. Unfortunately, he has concluded that his desire for presidential power requires him to stop at nothing in pursuit of that power.

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