NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Gore's Promises And The Money To Pay For Them

September 5, 2000

Political observers are noting that presidential candidate Al Gore has been promising voters big new programs -- and then trying to reconcile the costs with his announced budget restraints.

For example, Gore has budgeted only $20 billion a year for his Retirement Savings Plus proposal. Analysts say, however, that it would cost $160 billion a year. Without altering his campaign rhetoric, Gore has been forced to scale back eligibility for the program.

  • He promises tax-exempt savings accounts of up to $2,000 a year, with federal matching contributions for lower income taxpayers.
  • But he now excludes low income tax filers earning less than $5,000 a year, retirees and full-time students, in order to lower the cost.
  • That is because the cost, if all 144 million taxpayers participated, would soar to the $160 billion -- so he has declared 36 million taxpayers ineligible, assumes only half those eligible will participate, and delays the full tax break until 2010.
  • But if all the remaining 108 million taxpayers used the credit fully, the cost would still be $106 billion annually -- far above Gore's $20 billion a year budgetary promise.

Similarly, Gore's Internet site touts his "tax relief for stay-at-home parents." But that credit applies only to parents whose child is under one year of age.

Then there is his promise to make pre-school available "on a universal basis." But he fails to mention that to hold costs down, he has long since disqualified three-year-olds from his program.

Source: Bob Davis and John D. McKinnon, "Campaign Math: Promise High, Budget Low," Wall Street Journal, August 31, 2000.


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