- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 13, 2000

In a 191-page book his campaign released last week, Vice President Al Gore unveiled his long-term economic blueprint. Among the lofty goals he outlined were the elimination by 2012 of the $3.4 trillion federal debt; reduction of the poverty rate below 10 percent; protection of the Social Security and Medicare surpluses, etc. Achieving all these goals surely depends on the projected costs of Mr. Gore's proposals. Said Gov. George W. Bush, the Republican presidential nominee, "I want America to add up all the promises my opponent has made."

As it happens, the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), an independent, nonpartisan government watchdog group, has done just that. Throughout the campaign, NTU has conducted detailed analyses of Mr. Gore's speeches, press releases, issues briefs and his campaign's official web site. Wherever possible, NTU (www.ntu.org) has used nonpartisan, independent cost estimates, relying largely on the CBO, the administration's fiscal 2001 budget and NTU's own calculations. NTU's latest analysis, released Sept. 7, concludes that Mr. Gore's proposals would increase federal spending by an average of $273.1 billion per year over the next 10 years. That totals more than $2.7 trillion in additional spending. It completely overwhelms the non-trust fund cumulative surplus projected by the CBO of $1.9 trillion. And it leaves no room for reducing taxes. The inevitable result would be massive federal budget deficits exclusive of the trust funds. Mr. Gore's goal of eliminating the publicly held federal debt by 2012 would be smashed.

Drawing upon estimates prepared by the CBO and the Social Security Administration, the NTU report argues that Mr. Gore has significantly underestimated the cost of his proposals in many instances. In other cases, the vice president has simply failed to include a costly proposal in his own calculations. For example, Mr. Gore's promise to expand Social Security benefits for 8 million women and 3 million children would cost $294 billion over 10 years, according to an estimate by the Social Security Administration cited by NTU. Mr. Gore doesn't account for this massive expansion of Social Security in his trust fund calculations.

Mr. Gore's $253 billion prescription drug program for Medicare recipients would actually cost more than $400 billion over 10 years, according to a CBO estimate. By the Clinton-Gore administration's own calculations, complying with the 1997 Kyoto environmental treaty, which Mr. Gore supports, would cost at least $63 billion over the first seven years. But Mr. Gore doesn't talk about these costs on the hustings.

On and on NTU's list of hidden or unrecognized costs goes. Mr. Bush surely got it right at a rally in Scranton, Pa., last week. Mr. Gore, he said, "has the easy style of campaigning. Go to one community and make a promise here. Go to another community [and make another promise there]." Thanks to the National Taxpayers Union, no taxpayer can say he wasn't warned.

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