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October 11, 2000|Jeff Leeds

Gore Tries for Middle-Class Appeal With New 'Trickle-Down' Attacks

This 30-second television commercial, titled "Down," was among three new spots released by Al Gore's campaign late last week. The two others promote Gore's proposals for a college tuition tax deduction and an expansion of Medicare to include prescription drugs. "Down" began airing in 15 states on Saturday.


The Campaign Company, composed of media consultant Carter Eskew and principals from two other firms, Squier Knapp Dunn and Shrum Devine Donilon.

The Script

Announcer: "The facts on George W. Bush's $1.6-trillion tax cut promise--almost half goes to the richest 1%. What trickles down? An average of 62 cents a day for most taxpayers. Bush gives almost half to the richest 1%, leaving 62 cents to trickle down to us. Al Gore builds on a foundation of fiscal discipline. Pay down the nation's debt. Protect Social Security and Medicare. A $10,000-a-year tax deduction for college tuition. Because the middle class has earned more than trickle down."

The Pictures

A $100 bill fills the screen as the camera slowly pulls back. Benjamin Franklin's face and the rest of the bill start to dissolve, melting into a row of coins. Gore is shown speaking in front of a crowd with an American flag behind him. Gore is shown looking solemn in front of a window. A man is shown working at a table in his home. Three graduates are shown smiling at each other.


Bush's tax plan actually would cost $1.3 trillion over 10 years. Gore is adding in the projected cost of higher interest payments that would come from paying the national debt more slowly. In claiming the tax cut would yield 62 cents a day, Gore is citing an analysis from the generally liberal Citizens for Tax Justice group. The group found that the bottom 60% of taxpayers would receive that benefit, or about $227 per year. The group is also the source for Gore's claim that almost half of Bush's tax cut is going to the richest 1% of taxpayers. If Bush's income tax cut proposal is combined with his plan to cut the estate tax, 42.6% of the benefits would go to the top 1%, the group found. Bush officials question the accuracy of an assessment that combines the estate and income tax benefits.


While the Democratic National Committee has been attacking Bush for months in its TV ads, this spot marks the first time the Gore campaign has sharply criticized the Texas governor. In this ad, Gore strategists hope to distinguish the candidates by class--linking Bush to the rich and Gore to the issues most popular among the middle class. Gore strategists are also trying to link Bush to the "trickle-down" economic policies of Bush's father and former President Reagan.


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