- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 29, 2000

“I'll make this clear pledge,” Vice President Al Gore announced last week. “As president, I will not add to the number of people doing work for the federal government … not even one position. And there will be more who leave those ranks than the ones who are replaced.” How special. Gore is pledging not to increase the size of the federal workforce, even as he proposes increasing federal spending by $1.4 trillion over 10 years, by his account. (The National Taxpayers Union came up with a different number. It added up all of Gore's pledges and figured the cost of his spending agenda to be more than $3.1 trillion over 10 years. It figures Bush's new spending would cost $840 million.) Not one new employee. Hmmmm. Does Gore plan on hiring robots to administer his new do-good programs? Or has his stable of advisers convinced him that he has nothing to lose by parodying himself by making yet another grandiose pledge on which he can't deliver? Consider the list of programs Candidate Gore has proposed. According to the campaign Web site, Gore and running mate Sen. Joe Lieberman have proposed universal preschool available to “all 4-year-olds and a growing number of 3-year-olds.” A Preschool Quality Fund would “offer professional development and promote high-quality preschools.” A Ready-to-Learn program would give states money for preschool early-reading programs. Gore proposes using federal tax money to reduce class size in public schools across America. He would lower class size in early grades to a national average of 18 students, and through grade 12 to 20 students. Gore's proposed 21st Century National Teachers Corps would offer up to $10,000 in college aid for would-be teachers and fund up to $10,000 in signing bonuses for professionals who become teachers. The Gore-Lieberman Retirement Savings Plus plan would match each dollar of savings up to $1,000 annually made by middle-class taxpayers. They would also enjoy a dollar-to-dollar match; the poor would get $3 for every $1 saved. Savers would be able to withdraw money for government-approved activities, such as buy ing a home or paying college tuition. A proposed National College Tuition Savings plan would “link existing state college savings and prepaid tuition plans.” “Because money is not enough for at-risk students,” the Gore 2000 Web site notes, the veep wants to expand Pell grants and increase funding for programs that prepare and help “at-risk students” succeed in college. A universal prescription drug benefit for all seniors on Medicare would make direct payments for “medically necessary prescriptions.” Seniors who wanted to participate would have to enroll as they become eligible for Medicare. “A Gore-Lieberman administration will expand the personnel and resources dedicated to enforcing our trade agreements,” the campaign pledges. Gore proposes “a new Democracy Endowment” that would publicly finance federal elections. Gore 2000 estimates the program would cost $7.1 billion in the course of seven years. (Figure it's so cheap because there is “no controlling legal authority.”) Gore also wants to let Americans ages 55 to 65 buy into Medicare. Hey, why not start at age 50? Or 40? And now he promises that he won't add a single worker to the federal workforce. An adviser told the Washington Post that federal efficiency could improve with technology and providing services online. (It's hard not to laugh out loud, isn't it?) Yes, voters are supposed to believe that Gore can vastly expand the role of government … which he says he would make “smaller” even as he has the federal government running local schools … and not need more federal employees to administer the grants, tax cuts, new benefits, Medicare enrollments and retirement savings withdrawal approvals. The issue here isn't Gore's dishonesty. Any thinking reader knows that an honest man wouldn't promise to lavish the public with the above programs, to protect Social Security, to expand Medicare, to balance the budget and to pay down the debt. Gore's honesty is an almost forgotten myth. The question of today's column, people, is: Just how stupid does Gore think American voters are?

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