GORE: VP Assails Tax Hike for Bradley Health Proposal
Continuing the assault on rival Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley's health care plan, Vice President Al Gore used a new approach this weekend arguing that the "deeply flawed" proposal would result in an increase in taxes, the Washington Post reports. The new attacks were levied after Bradley's interview last week with the Washington Post during which he indicated that he felt so strongly about universal health care that he would consider raising taxes if the need arose. Although Bradley qualified his statements, Gore said that even mentioning a possible tax hike was an indication that Bradley questions how he would finance his massive health care proposal. Again highlighting the differences between their campaigns, Gore said, "I'm talking about tax cuts, Senator Bradley is talking about tax increases." Gore said that Bradley's proposal stemmed from political rather than policy motivations in an effort to gain the support of the far left. "He tried and tried to come up with a proposal for universal health insurance and couldn't figure out how to do it. And so his advisers served up to him a plan that was deeply flawed, that he made a mistake in adopting," Gore said, adding, "It isn't universal health insurance, it's not even close" (Balz/Connolly, 12/6). Even Republicans questioned Bradley's health proposal. Republican National Committee Chair Jim Nicholson said that any politician who had "the temerity" not to rule out a tax hike at this stage in the campaign "would almost certainly wind up pushing for one" (Allen, Washington Post, 12/6).
On the Defensive, Again
Noting that "every day there is another attack" on his plan, Bradley told USA Today that he has "tried not to get into this attack-counterattack." Calling health care a national priority, Bradley defended the cost of his plan. When asked what he would do should the economy turn and the surplus he would use to fund the plan diminish, Bradley said that he would "have to deal with it at that time." He said that the only possible options would be to cut spending or raise revenue, but indicated that he "didn't want to draw up a hypothetical possibility." In a back-handed slap at Gore, Bradley outlined the differences between his plan and the Clinton administration's failed 1993 health care reform attempt that Gore supported. He said, "We don't load the costs on small business, and we don't create a giant federal bureaucracy." Noting that physicians and consumers are unsatisfied with the current system, Bradley said that the "forces are coming together now that will create the context for fundamental reform" (12/6). Although he has levied some of his most pointed criticisms of Gore in recent weeks, Bradley continues to resist a full-out mud-slinging contest. He said, "You know, [Gore has] almost stopped talking about what he stands for so he can attack me full time. And I am trying to articulate my agenda systematically and clearly" (Goldschlag, New York Daily News, 12/5).
One for Gore
This weekend, Gore earned the formal endorsement of New Hampshire's top Democrat, Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, the Boston Globe reports (Zuckman, 12/5). Addressing a crowd of 400 Gore supporters on Saturday, Shaheen said, "Here in New Hampshire, Al Gore helped us turn the corner from recession to growth, from unemployment to opportunity. Al Gore is the best candidate to help us keep the prosperity going so it reaches every family in New Hampshire and across our country" (Gore 2000 release, 12/4).