Vice President Al Gore’s Remarks at a Post-Debate Rally at Wayne State University
(October 14, 2000)
GORE: Thank you. Thank you Detroit. Thank you very much.
Sherry, I appreciate that introduction. And you know, Sherry was born here in Detroit, but her parents moved here to Michigan from Tennessee. And their family ties are in a county that is adjacent to my home county in Tennessee, and we actually have some common friends down there, and - is there anybody else here in Detroit that moved up from the South?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I'm from Huntingdon, Tennessee.
GORE: I'd heard that.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I'm from Huntingdon, Tennessee.
GORE: Is that right? All right!
Well, I'm right at home here. And I want to tell you it is a great honor to be here with all of you and see this magnificent crowd. I need your help on November seventh to keep our country moving in the right direction toward major change for working people and middle class families.
You know, we have a distinguished group up here, and I going to acknowledge them in a few minutes, but I want to say a word first of all about some current events. I'm noticing these flags here at half mast and our thoughts and prayers are very much with the families of the sailors,* and with our men and women in uniform who are on duty right now, around the world. And we are - we're praying as well for the success of the summit meeting that's going to be held on Monday, because, as you may know, just a short time ago the President announced there's going to be a summit with the leader of Israel and the leader of the Palestinian Authority, in Egypt, and I think we need a lot of prayers to make sure that meeting is a success.
I think that we need to also understand that our nation's ability to provide leadership in the world depends in part upon our national strength, our economic strength, our military strength and our moral strength. We need to form a more perfect union here and lift up those who have been left behind and enforce civil rights laws and have justice at home.
As we grieve for those who were affected by the violence there, we think not only of the Americans, we think also of the Palestinians and the Israelis and the suffering that families on both sides have felt. The scenes have been heartrending. And it is a time for us to lift them up in prayer as well.
It is also very important for us to recognize that here in the United States, we have a lot of unfinished business to do. Because our strength as a nation depends upon our ability to renew our democracy, every four years, every two years. We have one of those exercises underway right now. And this election on November the seventh is not only an opportunity to chose a President, but to chose a direction. I believe, my friends, that this choice is one of the most important that we have ever faced in our long history. Working people especially have a lot at stake. The other side has tried to tell the country that we were a whole lot better off eight years ago than we are today.
And I just don't believe it. Your reaction is the same as mine because I remember what it was like back then. We had the biggest deficits in history, our debt had been multiplied four times over, we were trickled down, I heard that phrase over there, an old phrase, still applicable. And, you know, the unemployment rate, the crime rate, the family break up rate, all of those signs were telling us we were headed in the wrong direction. And we've still got a lot of problems. But I'm telling you this, because we have put working people first, we have seen some progress. Because in the last eight years what's happened is we've replaced the biggest deficits with the biggest surpluses, instead of ballooning the national debt, we've been paying down the debt, instead of high unemployment, we now have the lowest African-American unemployment ever measured in America, the lowest Latino unemployment even measured in America, twenty two million new jobs and officially the strongest economy in the two hundred and twenty four year history of the United States of America.
But it's not good enough. I'm not satisfied when there are too many people who have been left behind. I'm not satisfied when there is still discrimination. I'm not satisfied when there's still inadequate housing, when there's still too many schools that are inadequate, when the environment still needs to be cleaned up, when too many people still don't have health care, I'm not satisfied, we can do better, my approach is: "You ain't seen nothin' yet!"
We're going to do much better. This election is not an award for past performance. I'm not asking any of you for your support on the basis of the economy we have. I'm asking for your support on the basis of the better, fairer, stronger economy that we're going to create together over the next four years. And we've got to start with a hard look at what our economic policies are all about.
Now there is as clear and stark a contrast in this election as I have ever seen in my lifetime of voting. Because what we've got on the one side is a proposal to change in the right direction, to put the middle class families of America first, to balance the budget, and keep our economy strong, to pay down the national debt so that it's not a burden on our children and grandchildren, and to invest in education and health care and the environment and in retirement security.
On the other side, we have a proposal from the Bush-Cheney group that wants to squander the surplus on a massive tax cut for the wealthy in this country, almost half of it will go to the wealthiest one percent, and they try to talk about fuzzy math, let me tell you. You can take their own numbers, take their own numbers, I don't believe in their numbers, but you just take their own numbers for purposes of argument, and what you will find, and they cannot dispute this - - I challenge them to dispute this, I challenge them to put a pencil to paper, and challenge this. Here's what their own numbers say: they are proposing to spend more money on a tax cut for the wealthiest one percent than all of the new spending they are proposing for health care, education and national defense all put together.
It's not a question of my opponent's heart or my heart. It's a question of priorities and our nation's heart. Where do we want to invest our treasure? In my faith tradition, in the book of Matthew it says: "Where your heart is, there also will be your treasure". I don't believe that America's heart is into investing almost half of all of this massive tax cut with the wealthiest of the wealthy. I think America's heart is with the children who need better schools, and a cleaner environment, and adequate health care. I believe America's heart is with seniors who are having too hard a time paying for their prescription drugs.
Now, let's talk also not only about our hearts, but also about hard-nosed common sense. The third biggest item in the federal budget today is interest on the national debt. We get nothing for it. We get to maintain the full faith and credit of the United States of America, and that's awfully important, but that money, in terms of what we get back above and beyond that, is essentially wasted every single year. And it's the biggest item of all.
Now, my plan calls for not only balancing the budget every single year, not only for paying down the national debt every single year, but for completely eliminating the national debt by the year 2012, which means that we will completely eliminate that third biggest item of federal spending in the entire budget, which means we'll have a stronger economy and a better chance to invest in our future.
And where tax cuts are concerned, I'm very much in favor of tax cuts, but the difference is he targets the tax cuts to the very wealthy; I target the tax cuts to middle class families who most need tax cuts. Because middle class families are the ones who are having a hard time making car payments and mortgage payments and making ends meet and doing right by their kids. They're the ones who have the hardest time paying taxes and that's why I want to give the tax cuts to middle class families in this country.
And by eliminating those debt payments, that's another way we can reduce the size of the federal government. I presided over the streamlining "Reinventing Government" program, that's reduced the federal government to the smallest size since President Kennedy's administration. And with this program I've outlined, as a percentage of our national income, it will be the smallest it's been in fifty years. The other side would actually expand the role of government, because they have proposed not only a huge $1.6 trillion tax cut, mostly to the wealthy, but also a $1 trillion dollar social security privatization proposal. Now let me tell you how that works. Let me tell you how it works. First of all, let me tell you how mine works, then and I'm going to tell you how theirs works.
I believe that we need to put social security and Medicare in a lockbox, insulated from the rest of the budget, in a place where money cannot be taken out of social security or Medicare for anything other than social security and Medicare. And if we handle it correctly, we can make that a part of paying down the debt, and put some of those interest savings back in the trust fund, and extend its life for fifty-five years. Also, I have proposed that it's time to do something about giving young working couples and young, single parent families the opportunity to save and invest more money on their own with a massive tax incentive to encourage more savings on the part of working people and middle class families.
If you make under $60,000 a year and under my plan, and put $1,000 into a savings account, under my plan the federal government will match it with $1,000 so you can build up your savings account. And more if you're under $30,000 and continued, at a lower level, all the way up to $100,000 of income. Now that savings plan comes on top of social security. It's social security plus a new savings incentive.
The other side's plan is social security minus, because they take a trillion dollars out of the social security trust fund and promise it to young working couples without telling them that, in return, when somebody forty-four years old today gets ready to retire, under their plan, social security will be bankrupt by the time that forty-four year old retires. Now, they have essentially promised that $1 trillion dollars not only to the young working couples they've promised not to cut social security benefits, a promise that can only be kept by also using that same trillion dollars to continue paying the benefits at the current level.
Now, if you take a trillion dollars, and promise it to two different groups, and it doesn't show up anywhere in the budget...
CROWD: Fuzzy Math!
GORE: Fuzzy math.
GORE: Fuzzy math. Are you with me?
GORE: Now let me give you another example of fuzzy math. I want to talk about health care. And I want to talk about what needs to be done on health care in this country. We've got 44 million people who are uninsured. Millions of them are children. We have some wonderful healthcare institutions in our country. Great doctors and nurses and health care professionals. But I believe it is time, long past time, to make some significant changes. I will pledge to you, that if you elect me President, within these next four years, I will guarantee that every single child in this country gets high quality, affordable health care.
How do we do that? We make it a priority. And this election is about priorities. It's not about me, it's not about my opponent, it's about you, it's about your family, it's about our country, it's about our priorities. And when you use the word "priorities" you're really talking about choices concerning our future.
Now you can see my priorities in what I'm proposing and what I fought for the last twenty four years, in the House, in the Senate, and in the Executive Branch. And you can see my opponent's priorities in what he has done over the last five years as Governor of Texas. In the debate two weeks ago - - or last week, I'm sorry - - he said that the number of uninsured children - - or Americans has been going up in the United States, while it's been going down in Texas. Did I hear that wrong, or is that what he said?
(CROWD AGREES WITH GORE)
GORE: Just wanted to check. Now the report came out yesterday showing that the number of uninsured Americans in the country as a whole has been going down. Not fast enough, but it is going down. And the report showed that in Texas it is one of the few states where the number of uninsured children has been going up. And the number of people who have not been able get Medicaid even though they are eligible for it in Texas has been going up. The report showed that one out of every ten uninsured children in America lives in the state of Texas. One out of ten uninsured children in America lives in Texas.
Now, just to recap: what I believe I heard last week was him saying that the uninsured population in America went up and the uninsured population in Texas went down. But what the figures seem to show is exactly the reverse. Now what is the phrase that describes that kind of calculation?
CROWD: Fuzzy Math!
GORE: I believe you're right. Fuzzy math. Fuzzy math.
Now let me tell you a little bit more about health care. We've got two major challenges before us right now. Both of them are pending in the Congress. And Debbie Stabenow and Carolyn Kilpatrick, Congressman Levin, Sander Levin, John Dingell and others have been tremendous leaders in helping to address these challenges, and I'm going to talk about them in a just a minute.