In seeking to help the nation's poor, Gore's goal is to reduce the poverty level by 2004 to fewer than one in 10 Americans--a rate unseen since 1978, when the poverty rate for families was 9.1%. Ron Klain, a senior Gore advisor, said that prediction presumed a $1-an-hour increase in the minimum wage, expansion of tax credits for the working poor, a crackdown on deadbeat dads and a boost in Social Security for elderly women living alone.
Gore's plan seeks to cut in half over the next decade the gender gap in pay by increasing enforcement of antidiscrimination laws; providing training aimed at moving more women into high-tech, high-skill jobs; and providing loans and assistance to women who want to start small businesses. Women now earn 73 cents to every dollar earned by men.
Plans for an 'Innovation Agenda'
To create 10 million high-quality, high-tech, high-skill jobs over the next decade, Gore proposes the creation of an "Innovation Agenda" that would expand education and training programs to record levels, open foreign markets and pursue policies to help high-tech and e-commerce.
Gore's two other goals are familiar campaign promises: to pay off the national debt by 2012 and to put into "lock boxes" the surpluses from Social Security and Medicare. Gore would dedicate such funds solely to extending the lives of the two retirement programs.
"What Al Gore and Joe Lieberman are doing here defies conventional wisdom: They are putting out a detailed economic plan, full of specifics," said one campaign official.
The vice president offered a sneak preview of his economic speech on Tuesday.
Campaigning in Columbus, Ohio, Gore told employees of Resource Marketing Inc., an Internet marketing firm:
"Tomorrow, I'll be laying out very specific economic goals for our nation and the specific policies to achieve them. I'll be offering not just an economic plan, but a detailed budget plan," Gore said.
"You have a right to know that everything I'm proposing is fully paid for within a balanced budget that pays down the debt every year and secures the future of Social Security and Medicare."
Accompanied to the event by former astronaut and ex-Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio), Gore told the firm's workers that he would harness the power of the new economy, spread the wealth and close the so-called digital divide.
The key to that strategy, Gore said, is improving the nation's public education system. He vowed to make that "the No. 1 priority for the 21st century."
Also on Tuesday, the national environmental group Friends of the Earth endorsed Gore, calling him "the best hope for the nation's environment."
The organization's president, Brent Blackwelder, said: "There is a Grand Canyon of environmental differences between Al Gore and George W. Bush."