LIEBERMAN: We’re not spending any more than is projected by the experts. In fact, unlike our opponents, we’re setting aside $300 billion in a reserve fund just in case those projections the nonpartisan experts make are not quite right. We understand that balancing the budget, keeping America out of debt is the way to keep interest rates down and the economy growing.
CHENEY: With respect to the surplus, we’ve got to make some kind of forecast. We can’t make 12 month decisions in this business. We’re talking about the kinds of fundamental changes in programs and government that are going to affect people’s lives for the next 25 or 30 years. And one of the difficulties we have is that for the last eight years, we ignored a lot these problems. We haven’t moved aggressively on Social Security. There are important issues out there that need to be resolved, and it’s important for us to get on with that business.
A: 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, and we take roughly one-fourth of it and return it in the form of a tax cut. The Senate Budget Committee has totaled up all the promises that Vice President Gore has made, and they total $900 billion above the projected surplus. The fact is that the program that we put together we think is very responsible. Over 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. The average American family is paying about 40% in federal, state and local taxes. We think it is appropriate to return to the American people so that they can make choices themselves in how that money ought to be spent, whether they want to spend it on education or on retirement or on paying their bills.
CHENEY: We are in trouble because the administration has not addressed these issues. We have the prospects of brownouts in California. We have a potential home heating oil crisis in the Northeast. We’ve got gasoline prices rising. For years, the administration has talked about reducing our dependence on foreign sources of oil, but they haven’t done it. We’ve got the lowest rate of domestic production of oil now in 46 years. Our imports are at an all-time record high. That means we’re more subject to fluctuations in price. We don’t have the refinery capacity. We haven’t built a new refinery in this country for over 10 years. We have a serious, long-term problem of our growing dependence on foreign sources of energy. That will always be the case, but we ought to be able to shift the trend and begin to move it in the right direction. We think we can do it in an environmentally sound manner.
Cheney credited Reagan with ending the Cold War, which he said led to the end of deficits. He suggested that Clinton deserves little credit for the good economic times; saying his appointment of Alan Greenspan was his only accomplishment. “I don’t think the economy suddenly turned around when Clinton and Gore arrived in Washington,” he said.
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