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THE VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

Cheney: 'People Fed Up'; Lieberman: 'Promises Kept'

October 06, 2000

"We have the highest level of taxation now [than] we've had since World War II. The average American family is paying about 40% in federal, state and local taxes. We think it is appropriate to return [taxes] to the American people..."-- Dick Cheney

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"...Al Gore and I are committed to balancing the budget every year... to paying off the debt by the year 2012, when, by our calculation, our opponents' economic plan still leaves America $2.8 trillion in debt." -- Joseph I. Lieberman

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HERE ARE EXCERPTS, provided by the Federal News Service, from the vice presidential debate between Republican Dick Cheney and Democrat Joseph I. Lieberman. Bernard Shaw of CNN served as moderator. To read a complete transcript, or to see video, of the 90-minute debate, visit The Times' Web site at http://www.latimes.com/debates. Text and video of Tuesday's presidential debate between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore also are available on the site.

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Tax Cuts

(To a question about education, the candidates segued into a discussion of the tickets' tax proposals.)

LIEBERMAN: I think both of us agree that, leaving aside the Social Security and Medicare surpluses, there's $1.8 trillion in surplus available to spend over the next 10 years. . . . We're taking $300 billion off the top to put into a reserve fund. The rest of it we're going to use for middle-class tax cuts and investments in programs like education.

Now, there's a big difference here between these two tickets. Our opponents are going to spend $1.6 trillion of the $1.8 trillion surplus projected on that big tax cut that Al Gore talked about the other night so effectively. We're saving money to invest in education. You cannot reform education and improve it in this country without spending some money.

Al Gore and I have committed $170 billion for that purpose--to recruit 100,000 new teachers, to reduce the size of classrooms, to help local school districts build new buildings so our children are not learning in crumbling classrooms, and we're not just going to stop at high school.

We're going to go on and give the middle class the ability to deduct up to $10,000 a year in the cost of college tuition. Now that's a tremendous life-saving change, which will help people carry on their education and allow them to develop the kinds of skills that will help them succeed in the high-tech economy of today.

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CHENEY: Let's talk about this question of the surplus, because it really drives a lot of what we're talking about here, Joe. And if you look at our proposal, we take half of the projected surplus and set it aside for Social Security--over $2.4 trillion. We take roughly a fourth of it for other urgent priorities, such as Medicare reform and education, several of these other key programs we want to support. And we take roughly one-fourth of it and return it in the form of a tax cut to the American taxpayer. We think it is extraordinarily important to do that, but it is a fundamental difference between our two . . . approaches. . . .

The fact is that the program that we put together, we think, is very responsible. The suggestion that somehow all of it is going for tax cuts isn't true. Another way to look at it is that, over the course of the next 10 years, we'll collect roughly $25 trillion in revenue. We want to take about 5% of that and return that to the American taxpayer in the form of tax relief. . . . We think this is a totally reasonable approach.

Military Readiness

SHAW: Your question, Mr. Secretary. You and Gov. Bush charge that the Clinton-Gore administration have presided over the deterioration and overextension of America's armed forces. Should U.S. military personnel be deployed as warriors or peacekeepers?

CHENEY: My preference is to deploy them as warriors. There may be occasion when it's appropriate to use them in a peacekeeping role, but I think that role ought to be limited. I think there ought to be a time limit on it. . . . The reason we have a military is to be able to fight and win wars, and to maintain it with sufficient strength so that would-be adversaries are deterred from ever launching a war in the first place.

I think that the administration has in fact in this area failed in a major responsibility. We've seen a reduction in our forces far beyond anything that was justified by the end of the Cold War. At the same time, we've seen a rapid expansion of our commitments around the world, as troops have been sent hither and yon. . . .

SHAW: Senator, you're shaking your head in disagreement.

LIEBERMAN: Well, I am, Bernie, and most important, I want to assure the American people that the American military is the best-trained, best-equipped, most powerful force in the world, and that Al Gore and I will do whatever it takes to keep them that way.

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