- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 31, 2000

Al Gore continues to assault George W. Bush's $1.5 trillion tax cut plan because it would "spend all the budget surplus." But Mr. Gore's own federal spending plans and promises are costlier than Mr. Bush's tax cut by a long shot. These new spending proposals are so enormous tax increases might be necessary to keep the budget in balance under a Gore administration.
Mr. Gore's campaign proposals for universal federal preschool funding, drug benefits to seniors, the Kyoto global warming treaty, anti-smoking programs, expanded Medicaid health coverage, and the like would add $1.6 trillion to the federal budget over the next 10 years. And the price tag for his new entitlement programs could mushroom to about twice that amount in the decade after that. Gov. Bush is right: no Democratic presidential candidate in the last 30 years not Michael Dukakis, Walter Mondale or even George McGovern contemplated such a high-priced menu of new federal initiatives. In fact, the cost of Mr. Gore's spending schemes exceeds those of Ralph Nader's Green Party.
I have scoured through all of the spending proposals presented on the Gore 2000 web site or in the latest Clinton-Gore budget proposal presented to Congress. I have added to that the taxpayers' tab for all the special interest campaign trail promises Al Gore has made over the past several months. As the table shows, the biggest-ticket items are new entitlement programs. For example, Mr. Gore's gold-plated prescription drug benefit program for seniors would cost $432 billion. His "Retirement Savings Plus plan" would dole out another $200 billion in tax dollars to low-income workers many of whom cannot afford to save on their own because of the 15 percent Social Security tax. Expanding government health coverage to uninsured families would, conservatively estimated, cost $146 billion. His plan to provide free or subsidized preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds carries a $115 billion price.
Mr. Gore's blueprint also envisions beefing up the budgets of most of the federal regulatory agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the civil rights and antitrust snoops at the Justice Department. He wants $16 billion for teacher pay raises; a $200 million anti-smoking initiative (it is the least he can do; after all, his sister died at the hands of the evil tobacco companies), $45 million for curtailing violence at abortion clinics, $2 billion to combat urban sprawl, several hundred million to develop solar energy and other alternatives to fossil fuels, $2 billion for a "livable cities" plan, at least $1 billion more for researching global climate change, and the ultimate in political correctness: a new Labor Department program to "train women for high-tech jobs (no price tag listed)."
The precise total comes to $1.64 trillion of new spending through 2010, or almost $15,000 for every household in America. Note: This does not include the $500 billion of targeted tax carve-outs for 1970s-type initiatives such as "a tax credit to consumers for the purchase of more fuel-efficient cars and SUVs," "lifetime learning tax credits," and building energy-conserving homes.
What is perhaps even more astonishing than the blizzard of new programs endorsed by Al Gore is that he has suggested virtually no offsetting budget cuts. All this new spending would be paid for by squandering the expected tax surpluses. Out of the several thousand federal programs in the 1,600-page federal budget, Al Gore, the man who invented reinventing government, hasn't yet identified a single one in his presidential campaign that should be terminated. (Alas, neither has Mr. Bush.)
In the presidential debates and on the campaign trail, Mr. Gore has cultivated a fiscally moderate image. But this is simply the vice president reinventing himself. The truth is that from the moment he first entered Congress more than 20 years ago, Mr. Gore has been a relentless advocate of nanny-state government expansionism. In 1989 and 1990, Mr. Gore won the National Taxpayers Union award for the biggest spender on Capitol Hill, on both occasions nudging out Ted Kennedy for this dubious honor. In 11 of 13 years, Mr. Gore received the lowest possible NTU grade from NTU on taxpayer issues.
Nor is there much hope Mr. Gore's running mate will push him in a less taxpayer-hostile direction. NTU reports that Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, votes with taxpayers just 6 percent of the time, rating him a lifetime F grade as well. Mr. Gore still crows about voting against the Reagan tax cuts in 1981 even 35 million jobs and 10,000 points on the Dow Jones later. The Joint Tax Committee recently announced that if it were not for the Reagan tax cuts, the average income family today would be paying some $6,000 a year more in taxes.
If enacted. Al Gore's new generation of federal welfare state entitlement programs would be ticking fiscal time bombs with costs that would explode over the next decade, just when Baby Boomers are set to retire and the budget is expected to go back into deficit on its own. Mr. Gore's audacious $1.5 trillion agenda to nationalize day care, health care, education, crime fighting, transportation policy, health care, zoning and traffic patterns are brilliantly softened with conservative rhetoric about advancing "fiscal responsibility."
Al Gore is not so much a man who wants to reinvent government, as he is a man who wants to relegitimize it. His proposed blitz of new spending is more expensive than any other presidential candidate has sought since Lyndon Johnson unveiled the Great Society.
And just when we thought the era of big government was over.

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